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Designing Human-Centered Corporate Culture

naoto-quoteMany companies believe culture is impalpable and cannot be altered. However, policies and practices can be intentionally designed, tested, and changed. Designer Robert L. Peters says, “Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” Today some of the most modern companies are engaging employees by designing policies and practices that address four core human needs; physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual; the same factors used in human-centered product design. Below are examples of this human-centered design methodology that may work for your company culture.

Physical

guy-with-weight-2Company policies and practices should be used to promote employees’ health. Sitting at your desk for hours on end can cause a multitude of life-threatening illnesses, yet so many companies support this type of behavior in their culture. Answering questions like; white policies and practices are in place to encourage people to move can help reduce health care costs and sick leave while improving your employees’ health.

Emotional

guy-with-hearts-2Company policies and procedures should make employees feel valued. Being “valued” is a key adjective with the highest levels of performance. Statistics show that employees who agree with the statement, “My manager genuinely cares about my well-being,” are 84% more likely to stay at their current company, 86% more engaged, and 66% more focused than those who disagreed.

Mental

guy-with-team-2Company cultures should be designed to improve or complement our natural cognitive developments. Studies show that multi-tasking actually increases errors and the time required for each task. Even still, employees are often asked to be more responsive than ever. Leaders should focus on the question, “What policies and practices could be altered to help people focus on one thing at a time?”

Spiritual

Many Millennials have put values before money when looking for jobs. guy-meditating-2A study recently found that 1 out of every 2 Millennials actively pursue companies with values similar to their own and is more likely to leave when their values are not aligned. Does your company have an inspiring vision or mission that helps people find greater meaning in their work?

The Result

guy-with-money-2The best corporate cultures actively analyze how they are meeting people’s core needs and then make adjustments to their practices accordingly. People are more committed, more engaged, and more likely to stay at their organization when companies do this. Beyond that, the financial gains appear to follow when companies have human-centered cultures. This alone will be one of the greatest competitive advantages in the age of knowledge work.

2016 EEOC Litigation Data Released

The EEOC recently released the national enforcement data for the 2016 fiscal year.  According to this report, the total number of EEOC charges received in 2015 increased from 89,385 received in 2015 to 91,503 received in 2016.

In addition, according to the report, in 2016, the EEOC resolved 97,443 charges and secured more than $482 million for victims of discrimination in private, federal and state and local government workplaces.

Retaliation claims remain the most popular claims filed. Race claims, Disability claims, Sex/Gender claims and Age discrimination charges round out the top five.  The total breakdown of charges by type is as follows:

Retaliation
42,018 45.9%
Race  32,309 35.3%
Disability 28,073 30.7%
Sex/Gender 26,934 29.4%
Age 20,857 22.8%
National Origin 9,840 10.8%
Religion 3,825 4.2%
Color 3,102 3.4%
Equal Pay Act 1,075 1.2%
Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act 238 0.3%

In addition, the EEOC has also released the breakdown of claims received by state.  The top 10 states are:

Type of Charge
Total Charges Retaliation Race Disability Sex/Gender Age
Texas 9,308 4,633 3,244 2,775 2,765 2,000
Florida 7,610 3,530 2,285 2,221 2,332 1,661
California 5,870 2,937 1,905 1,912 1,560 1,517
Georgia 5,273 2,577 2,165 1,462 1,684 1,028
Illinois 5,072 2,327 2,255 1,466 1,325 1,633
Pennsylvania 4,564 1,964 1,228 1,646 1,255 1,198
North Carolina 4,372 2,077 1,705 1,384 1,265 885
New York 3,740 1,604 1,084 1,061 1,202 865
Alabama 3,371 1,211 1,865 647 934 503
Virginia 2,945 1,242 1,069 921 881 583

Sign up for our upcoming Training on April 27th over these topics and how you avoid them by clicking the link: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=xnpotodab&oeidk=a07edza8d3u2d970291

Take Steps Now for Tax Filing Season

Get ready today to file your 2016 federal income tax return.
Print Publication 5273, Take Steps Now For Tax Filing Season

Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

What You Need to Know

  • Processing delays are likely for filers with expired Individual Tax Identification Numbers.
  • There are two reasons an ITIN would expire December 31, 2016:
    • If you have not used your ITIN on a U.S. tax return at least once for tax years 2013, 2014 or 2015 or
    • If your ITIN has the middle digits 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN)

What You Need to Do

  • You can renew your ITIN now if it expired and you plan to use it on a U.S. tax return.
  • No action is needed by expired ITIN holders who don’t need to file a tax return next year.
  • There are new documentation requirements when applying for or renewing an ITIN for certain dependents.
  • To avoid delays, ensure accurate W-7 and valid ID documents are submitted.
  • Find more information at IRS.gov/ITIN.

Refunds

What You Need to Know

  • Expecting a refund? Some refunds must be held until February 15.
    • According to a new tax law change, the IRS cannot issue refunds before February 15 for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit.
    • This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits.
  • The IRS will begin to release EITC/ACTC refunds starting February 15. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27. Read more about refund timing for early EITC/ACTC filers.

What You Need to Do

  • Be careful not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations.

  • You don’t need to wait until February 15 to file your tax return. While the IRS must hold the refund until February 15, it will begin taking the steps it normally does to process your tax return once the filing season starts.
  • File a complete and accurate return and include all known refundable credits with your original return.
  • Check Where’s My Refund on IRS.gov or the IRS mobile app, IRS2Go, after February 15 for your personalized refund status.

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

What You Need to Know

  • Some taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need to know their 2015 Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, to e-file their 2016 tax return.

  • When self-preparing your taxes and filing electronically, you must sign and validate your electronic tax return by entering your prior-year AGI or your prior-year Self-Select PIN. Using an electronic filing PIN is no longer an option.

What You Need to Do

  • If you have a copy of your 2015 federal income tax return, your AGI is on line 37 of the Form 1040; line 21 on the Form 1040-A or line 4 on the Form 1040-EZ.x
  • Learn more about how to verify your identity and electronically sign your tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return

Protecting Taxpayers

What You Need to Know

  • To better protect taxpayers, the IRS recently upgraded its identity verification process for certain online self-help tools. The purpose is to prevent taxpayer impersonations and account takeovers by identity thieves.

What You Need to Do

  • Because the Secure Access platform is more rigorous, it helps if you prepare to register in advance.
  • The new authentication is currently being applied to Get Transcript Online.

IRS Help

What You Need to Know

  • All IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers now operate by appointment only.
  • Many questions can be resolved on the IRS.gov website without visiting a TAC.

What You Need to Do

  • Start with IRS.gov for help including tools, filing options and other services and resources.
  • If you believe your tax issue cannot be handled online or by phone, always check IRS.gov for days and hours of service as well as services offered at the IRS TAC location you plan to visit. For most services you must call to make an appointment.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/steps-for-tax-filing-season

IRS Gives Expanded Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Matthew; Parts of Four Eligible States Have Until March 15 to File

WASHINGTON –– Hurricane Matthew victims in much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have until March 15, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. This includes an additional filing extension for those with valid extensions that run out at midnight tonight, Oct. 17.

The IRS is now offering this expanded relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance. Moreover, taxpayers in counties added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.

The IRS is taking this step due to the unusual factors involving Hurricane Matthew and the interaction with the Oct. 17 extension deadline.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Oct. 4, 2016. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until March 15, 2017, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the Jan. 17 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2015 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until today, Oct. 17, 2016. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2015 returns were originally due on April 18, 2016, those are not eligible for this relief.

A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Oct. 31 and Jan. 31 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. It also includes the special March 1 deadline that applies to farmers and fishermen who choose to forgo making quarterly estimated tax payments.

In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Oct. 4 and before Oct. 19 if the deposits are made by Oct. 19, 2016. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2016 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2015). See Publication 547 for details.

Currently, the following areas are eligible for relief:

North Carolina: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson counties.

South Carolina: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Orangeburg and Williamsburg counties.

Georgia: Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties.

Florida: Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia counties.

The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by severe storms and flooding and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

IRS-2016-135, Oct. 17, 2016

Trump’s Tax Plans Are Going To Be “Huge”!

After the most significant election in our nation’s history, the votes are in and Republican nominee, Donald Trump has been elected to become the 45th president of the United States. President-elect Trump’s tax plan looks to reduce taxes across the board, including making the business tax rate more competitive and creating new opportunities to grow our economy. Before any proposed changes can be made, they must be approved by Congress. See below to see how Trump’s plan compares to our current system.

Business Tax

  2016 Donald Trump
Corporate Tax Rates Top rate of 35% Top rate of 15%
Alternative Minimum Tax Applies to corporations Eliminated
Pass-through Entities Income taxed as ordinary income on individual tax return Option to elect a flat tax of 15% on pass-through income
Capital Investments Capitalized and depreciated Option to expense or capitalize; If expensing, interest costs are non-deductible
Unrepatriated Earnings Not taxed until brought back into US One time tax of 10% of total unrepatriated earnings
Childcare Deductions Employer-provided day care credit capped at $150,000 Employer provided day care credit capped at $500,000; Additional deduction for employer contributions to employee childcare costs
Corporate Tax Deductions/Credits Includes Research and Development credit, Domestic Production Activities Deduction, etc Eliminate except for Research and Development
Inversion Transactions Foreign firms owned 80% or more by US shareholders are considered US firms for tax purposes No specific proposal

Income Tax

  2016 Donald Trump
Ordinary Income Rates 7 brackets with top rate of 39.6% Single                                       12% $0-37,500                        25% $37,500-112,500           33% over $112,500              Married                                   12% $0-75,000                        25% $75,000-225,000           33% over $225,000        **Head of Household status is eliminated
Standard Deduction $6,300 (single)                       $12,600 married)                     $9,300 (Head of Household) $15,000 (single)                     $30, 000 (married)             Head of Household eliminated
Personal Exemption $4,050 Eliminated and included in the standard deduction
Itemized Deduction Phase out begins:                   $259,400 (single)                     $311,300 (married) Total itemized deductions capped at:                       $100,000 (single)                 $200,000 (married)
Like-kind Exchanges Accrued under federal law No specific proposal
Net Investment Income Tax 3.8% on AGI above:             $200,000 (single)                 $250,000 (married) Eliminated
Alternative Minimum Tax AGI above:                             $200,000 (single)                     $250,000 (married)                  Trusts with income over $12,400 Eliminated
Capital Gains/Dividends Rates Maximum rate of 20% with one year holding period No change
Child/Dependent Care Expenses Child/Dependent Care Credit limited for AGI over $43,000 Above the line deductions for children under age 13 and for care for elderly dependent;             Dependent Care Savings Accounts (DCSA)- deductible $2,000 contribution every year
Carried Interest Taxed at rates on capital gains Taxed as ordinary income
Estate Tax Exclusion of $5.45 million adjusted for inflation, top rate of 40% Eliminated, Except for estates over $10 million which will be subject to capital gains tax
Gift Tax Lifetime exclusion of $5.45 million adjusted for inflation; Annual exclusion of $14,000 per donee Eliminated
Retirement Savings Contributions No limit on lifetime contributions No specific proposal
UHY LLP. Certified Public Accountants. News Alert. UHY LLP News, 9 Nov. 2016. Web. 9 Nov. 2016. 

Managing Time-Off Requests for the Upcoming Election

Election Day is November 8th and it is anticipated that voter turnout will reach a record high. As a result, employers should prepare for an increase in the number of employees requesting time off to vote. Under what circumstances, if any, are Georgia employers required to grant this type of request? Read ahead to learn more.

In states where voting leave is required, state law dictates the conditions under which voting leave must be provided, if at all. The laws also set forth the amount of time that an employee must receive for this type of leave. As demonstrated below, depending on the state, the leave may be paid or unpaid.

In Georgia, while time-off to vote is unpaid, employees should be given the time necessary to vote, not to exceed two (2) hours. The employee must give a reasonable notice that they would like to take advantage of the time-off, and Georgia employers may schedule the hours in which each employee leaves the workplace to vote. Encouraging your employees to vote early is one way to minimize time taken off on November 8th.

For more specific information regarding Georgia voting, please see this excerpt from our HR Strategies handbook:

HR Strategies and your worksite employer encourage employees to participate in the political process by voting in public elections. In general, an employee who wishes to vote is expected to do so before or after his/her scheduled shift. However, the Company understands that there may be times when your work schedule might not leave you enough time outside of your shift to vote. If, on the day of any municipal, county, state or federal political party primary or election in which you are qualified and registered to vote, the polls open less than two hours before the start of your shift and close less than two hours after the end of your shift, you will be permitted to take, as necessary, up to two hours off work to vote. To be granted time off to vote, you must provide reasonable advance notice to your supervisor. In order to provide you with sufficient time to vote while minimizing business disruption, your supervisor/manager will specify the particular hours you may take off work to vote.

If you are not located in Georgia, we have provided a list of each state’s voting leave information. Whether an employer is required to grant employee’s request for time off to vote depends on the laws in the state in which the employee works. The below table shows which states provide voting leave and which states do not.

No Voting Leave Provided Unpaid Voting Leave Paid Voting Leave
Connecticut Alabama Alaska
Delaware Arkansas Arizona
Florida Georgia California
Idaho Kentucky Colorado
Indiana Massachusetts Hawaii
Louisiana Mississippi Illinois
Maine New Mexico Iowa
Michigan North Dakota Kansas
Montana Ohio Maryland
New Hampshire Wisconsin Minnesota
New Jersey Missouri
North Carolina Nebraska
Oregon Nevada
Pennsylvania New York
Rhode Island Oklahoma
South Carolina South Dakota
Vermont Tennessee
Virginia Texas
Washington Utah
Washington DC West Virginia
Wyoming
This article was prepared in conjunction with information provided by our Employment Practices Liability Insurance Provider.

IRS Has a Reminder for Extension Filers

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service has an important reminder for taxpayers who filed for an extension and face an Oct. 17 filing deadline: the adjusted gross income (AGI) amount from your 2014 return may be needed to electronically file a tax return.

The IRS reminds all taxpayers that they should keep a copy of their tax returns and supporting documents for a minimum of three years. Going forward, keeping copies of tax returns is even more important as the IRS makes changes to protect taxpayers and authenticate their identity.

The IRS recommends extension filers using a software product for the first time plan ahead. They should locate a copy of their 2014 tax return or alternatively, order a tax transcript, a process that may take five to 10 calendar days. The adjusted gross income (AGI) is clearly labeled on both the tax return and the transcript

Taxpayers who prepare their own electronic tax returns are required to electronically sign their return by using a five-digit, self-selected personal identification number (PIN). In order to authenticate their identities, taxpayers will now also need to enter either of two items: their prior-year AGI or their prior-year self-select PIN and their date of birth. If married filing jointly, both taxpayers must authenticate their identities with this information.

The IRS is phasing out the use of the Electronic Filing PIN, which is no longer available as an alternative except for those taxpayers who had obtained an e-file PIN earlier this year. The IRS emphasizes that those filers may use their e-file PIN for this year only.

Generally, tax-preparation software automatically generates the prior-year AGI and/or self-select PIN for returning customers. However, taxpayers who are new to a software product must enter the prior-year AGI or prior-year self-select PIN themselves.

How to find AGI

The adjusted gross income is gross income minus certain adjustments. On the 2014 tax returns, the AGI is found on line 37 of Form 1040; line 21 on Form 1040A and line 4 on Form 1040EZ. Taxpayers who e-filed and did not keep a copy of their original 2014 tax return may be able to return to their prior-year software provider or tax preparer to obtain a copy.

Taxpayers who lack access to their prior-year tax returns also may go to irs.gov/transcript and use Get Transcript Online or Get Transcript by Mail. A transcript is a summary of the tax return or tax account. There are various types of transcripts, but the Tax Return Transcript works best. Look for the “Adjusted Gross Income” amount on the transcript.

Taxpayers must pass Secure Access authentication in order to access Get Transcript Online and immediately access their transcripts. Taxpayers who cannot pass Secure Access authentication should use Get Transcript by Mail or call 800-908-9946, and a transcript will be delivered to the home address within five to 10 calendar days.

IRS-2016-124, Sept. 22, 2016

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