Fall 2017 Updates

New Version of I-9 Form and Instructions
On July 17, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a new version of Form I-9 and accompanying instructions. As of September 18th, employers must use this form, or they may be subject to penalties. While the core aspects of the form have not changed, there are minor revisions, such as the addition of an option for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad to List C, and renumbering of all List C documents except the Social Security Card. The new version of the form can be downloaded here.

Long-Term Capital Gain Tax Reform (Proposal)
There are currently tax reform plans heating up in Congress that would do away with the 0% tax rate on long-term capital gains. The proposal in the House would tax profits from stocks and other assets held for more than a year at 6%, 12.55%, or 16.5%, depending on your tax bracket. While this is below the current top rate of 23.8%, it is not as favorable as 0%. For 2017, those taxpayers who fall into the 10% and 15% tax brackets with taxable income as high as $75,900 married filing jointly qualify for the 0% long-term capital-gains rate. So if you qualify for the 0% rate, make use of it while you still can.

Federal Court Strikes Down Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule
On August 31, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas struck down the Obama administration’s 2016 overtime rule. The rule would have expanded overtime protection for more than four million “white collar” workers including executive, administrative, and professional employees. If the law would have gone into effect, it would have essentially doubled the minimum salary for these overtime exempt employees. In the court’s decision, it held that the Department of Labor exceeded its authority by raising the salary threshold too high by doubling it. This court ruling will likely end the possibility of future litigation over the rule. The Department of Labor is still examining whether to adjust the salary level. For now, these employees will continue to qualify for an exemption from the federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, if they are compensated on a salary basis at a rate not less than $455 per week ($23,660 annually) and perform certain job duties, as outlined by the DOL.

NY Paid Family Leave Act Goes Into Effect January 1, 2018
On January 1, 2018, the New York Paid Family Leave Act (“PFLA”) goes into effect. The PFLA allows qualifying employees to take paid family leave for several different situations including the birth of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition or due to military deployment for an active duty member of the Armed Forces. All NYS employers are required to provide PFL benefits for their employees on or before January 1, 2018. Employers that are currently covered under NYS Disability Benefits through a private insurance carrier must obtain PFL coverage through the same insurance carrier. Employers that are not covered with Disability Benefits Coverage may purchase private PFL insurance coverage by getting coverage through the NYS Insurance Fund. Prior to January 1, 2018, employers should take the necessary steps to prepare for the implementation of PFLA, such as preparing to collect employee contributions, updating employee handbooks, and posting adequate notice in order to make employees aware of their rights and responsibilities under the PFLA. For more information regarding the PFLA, click here.

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