Using Technology for Better Communication

Using Technology for Better Communication

Though a wide variety of helpful communication technologies have developed over the last few years, convincing companies to adopt them takes time. In a recent article for Employee Benefit Adviser, Caroline Hroncich addresses why it’s time for employers to seriously consider upgrading.

Benefits advisers need to adjust their frame of reference in order to catch up with the times. Hroncich recommends that they:

  • Adopt a year-round communication strategy, rather than only touching bases with employees during the annual open enrollment meeting
  • Introduce a mobile application that gives employees access to helpful information about their benefits
  • Retool the internal employee communications program‚Äîthink of it as internal marketing

For more details, read the article in full at Employee Benefit Adviser.

Payroll Management Tips

Payroll Management Tips

When it comes to an employer's responsibility for non-exempt workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are many requirements businesses must follow related to payroll. In one example, there are strict regulations on what information employers must document for each non-exempt worker. While there's no requirement on how the information is recorded, there are three main categories. 

Personal details: This should include the employee’s name, complete address, Social Security number, date of birth and gender. 

Job details: This must include the worker’s job description and hours clocked in each day and week. 

Pay details: The employee’s hourly wage based on straight time, and how employees are compensated – be it hourly, weekly, by project or item-based. Records should include the number of hours worked each week, per day or per week non-overtime earnings, overtime earnings per work week, and the compensation paid to the employee for the pay period. Also included should be the day of the employee's check, the time period of the work described, and all deductions or increases to the worker’s wages. 

Depending on the type of record, employers have different time requirements for record archival. Payroll records must be maintained for 36 months. Schedules, timecards and deduction records for employee earnings must be held for 24 months and be readily accessible for inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

When there is minimal deviation from an employee’s schedule, employers simply have to confirm the employee adhered to the schedule. When there is a large deviation (working fewer or more hours than normally scheduled), the actual number of hours worked should be noted. It doesn't matter how time is kept for an employee, as long as it's kept – be it manually written by the worker, a supervisor or HR rep or with a time clock. 

Other Documentation 

The IRS explains that employers are required to complete Form W-2 to maintain compliance with tip and wage payments. This should be completed and submitted by the end of the calendar year. 

Employees who fill out the Form W-4 can mitigate estimated tax liability by specifying how much to have withheld from their compensation by their employer. An employee can claim exemption from federal income tax withholding if she had no income tax liability the prior year and does not expect to pay taxes in the coming year. However, the employer is still required to deduct the FICA tax for that employee. 


Also known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), employers are required to withhold two different types of taxes: Social Security and Medicare. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), employers are responsible to calculate and remit these taxes based upon each employee’s wages.  

For the 2019 tax year, Social Security taxes for employer and employee are both 6.2 percent, or 12.4 percent total. This tax is limited to the first $132,900 in wages. The Medicare withholding rate is 1.45 percent of wages for both employer and employee, totaling 2.9 percent. Unlike Social Security taxes, for Medicare there's no cap on the employee's total salary. Additionally, for wages exceeding $200,000 for 2019, only the employee is taxed an additional 0.9 percent, in addition to the 1.45 percent (for a total of 2.35 percent of any wages exceeding $200,000 for the 2019 calendar tax year) for Medicare taxes. 

Individual Estimated Taxes 

Estimated Taxes are meant to satisfy many forms of taxes, and not just income tax obligations. They also includes the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and self-employment taxes. Whether it's a single entrepreneur, a business partner or someone with equity in an S corporation, as long as they have $1,000 or greater in tax obligations, they have to pay estimated taxes, generally on a quarterly basis. When it comes to corporations, the threshold for estimated tax payments is $500 when they prepare their taxes.  In addition to taxpayers under the tax liabilities outlined above, estimated taxes are not required for individuals who meet the following: there was no tax owed for the preceding year, the individual was a U.S. citizen or resident for the entire year, and the last tax year was for 12 months. Also note that self-employed workers must pay both the employer and employee portion of the FICA tax. 

Much like the evolving landscaping of the U.S. Tax Code, the world of payroll is also subject to ongoing changes that are imperative to maintaining compliance. 


Lost Inheritance: How to Find a Deceased Parent’s Assets

Lost Inheritance: How to Find a Deceased Parent’s Assets

If you have a relative who recently died and left you in charge of his or her finances, you are not alone. You probably have colleagues at work in the same boat. A neighbor or two (or 10) and even your millennial yoga teacher might very well be working through a quagmire of wills, probates and assets nobody can find. You are definitely not the only one. 

The internet has made it much easier to keep track of our checking, savings and investment accounts. But the elder generation generally missed out on the convenience of dashboard consolidation and app trackers. What most of them leave behind are file cabinets full of bank statements and old bills, bookshelves of file folders and prospectuses – perhaps once carefully catalogued. You may start rummaging through papers and not find anything more recent than five years ago. 

How do you wrap your hands around investments and assets you know your dad owned when you have no idea where they are? 

Bear in mind that when there is no activity in an account for a year or more, assets may be deemed dormant or abandoned. They could eventually become property of the domicile state through a process called escheat, so it is important that you do not wait too long before finding lost assets. 

Start at Home

If your parent used a computer, you should get access to his file folders and dig into his email account to see if he received any electronic communications from financial companies. If he wasn’t computer literate, then start with the mail. It may take six months to a year to get your hands on all of the paperwork, but if your relative did not sign up for electronic delivery then companies are required to send him statements through the U.S. mail. 

If no one continues to live at his home, the easiest way to do this is to notify the post office to route all of his mail to your address. To do this, you will need to complete a Forwarding Change of Address order at the post office and provide proof that you are authorized to manage the deceased’s mail. 

As you’re rummaging through Dad’s paperwork, here are some tips on what to do: 

  • Look for bills and check if those entities are holding a utility deposit;
  • Look for statements for bank accounts, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, CDs, dividend or payroll checks, life insurance policies and retirement accounts;
  • Look for any record of a safe deposit box, such as a bill for the rental or a key; if he has one it is most likely located at his bank branch;
  • Contact his past employers to ask if they have any record of pensions, retirement plans or employer-purchased life insurance for your parent.¬†

Once you get your hands on any statements, call the company or broker listed. You will need to send them certain documents to verify your parent is deceased (or a durable power of attorney document if he is incapacitated). Different firms and circumstances might have different requirements, but you’ll definitely need to send a copy of the death certificate. You may also be asked to provide a Court Letter of Appointment naming you as executor, a “stock power” of attorney that enables you to transfer ownership of stock, a state tax inheritance waiver, affidavit of domicile, trustee certification showing successor trustee, and/or a letter of authorization for joint accounts. 

You’ll need to call and provide these or similar documents for each institution where your parent holds assets. Don’t worry, these companies have trained staff to help guide you through the legal process of how to manage the assets of deceased account owners. 

Move to the Internet

Check unclaimed property lists at every state where your father lived. Get started at, a free website that allows you to search for unclaimed property held by each state. Also search at to conduct a national search. 

Go to the Pros

If you’re sure your relative had more assets than you’re able to find, consider hiring a forensic accountant. These professionals have the tools and expertise to find offshore accounts, shell companies and other types of financial accounting practices. For example, a forensic accountant may request an IRS transcript that reports past 1099-DIV and 1099-INT distributions. Note that banks are required to issue such forms for account activity involving $10 or more. 

You also may want to share your task with your own financial advisors. They might be able to recommend ways to help you track down, transfer and manage your parents’ assets, particularly if you need to set up income sources for another parent or relative. The point is, you don’t have to go it alone. This is a common problem and there are experts to help you work through it – but it will likely take time, patience and a lot of paperwork.

What to Know about Employee Benefits

What to Know about Employee Benefits

Companies offer employee benefits of many different levels. While most employee benefits are required by state and federal law, other types of perks are offered to employees beyond the typical options to create corporate loyalty, worker retention, and an increase in employee satisfaction.

The term “employee benefits” encompasses all non-wage compensation received by an employee. Benefits vary greatly from company to company and can make up either a small or a large portion of an employee’s overall compensation package.

Some benefits that are required by federal and/or state law include:

  • COBRA Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Family and medical leave
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Workers compensation

Additional options, such as retirement plans and healthcare plans, are not technically mandated by law but are both highly regulated by governmental bodies. These two types of benefits are often included in, and generally make up a large portion of, an employee benefits package.

Beyond the mandated and regulated benefits listed above, there exist a large variety of other employee options. Most businesses can pick and choose which benefits they want to offer to their staff. While company owners have great leeway in being creative with the benefits they offer, some of the most common employee benefits include a combination of the following:

  • Dental and/or vision plans
  • Life insurance plans
  • Paid vacations, holidays, or sick leave
  • Child care
  • Flexible schedules or work-from-home options
  • Tuition reimbursement or student loan assistance
  • Maternity, paternity, and adoption leave

In the past few years, however, some companies have begun offering employees benefits beyond the ordinary. Many organizations are providing their employees with more nontraditional benefit options to attract and retain top talent. A few of these options include:

  • Unlimited vacation and sick days
  • Gym and health access
  • Banking discounts/Lower loan interest
  • Pet insurance
  • On-site services such as food services, dry cleaning options, and child care

As you seek a new job, decide between multiple job offers, or negotiate the renewal of an employment contract, it’s important to take stock of the benefit coverage being offered and seek a benefits package that meets your needs completely and offers you the best options for a balanced and fulfilling career.

Is SIP Trunking Good For Your Business?

Is SIP Trunking Good For Your Business?

This article discusses what SIP trunking is and how it could potentially help your business grow. SIP trunking is essentially the ability to make or receive phone calls over the internet as long as both parties have a phone number. It is cheaper for most clients and can save money in the long haul for your entire office. 

To view this article, click HERE to access the original content.

8 Useful Tips For Any Business

8 Useful Tips For Any Business

This article discusses daily tips that may be valuable for any businessperson. Some of the tips include going slowly, spending more time on recruitment, and not doing it for the money.

To view this article, click HERE to access the original content.

Leading Your Family Business Successfully

Leading Your Family Business Successfully

This article discusses points that can help on your way to a successful family business. From recognizing the advantages of family ownership to treating every family member equally, these tips are valid and should be taken into consideration.

To view this article, click HERE to access the original content.

Looking Forward to a New Human-Focused Future

Looking Forward to a New Human-Focused Future

In a world that is mostly living online in different social media platforms, it is important to remember what human to human interaction can do. This article discusses how entrepreneurs can look forward and make a new human-focused future.

To view this article, click HERE to access the original content.