Decrease of Vermont SUI Tax Rates and Taxable Wage Base

unemployment tax rate vermont

The Vermont Department of Labor announced the second decrease in state unemployment insurance (SUI) tax rates starting July 1, 2018.

State unemployment taxes remitted to the Vermont Department of Labor on a quarterly basis are deposited into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and used for the payment of unemployment insurance benefits to eligible claimants.

The health of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund resulted in the Department moving from Tax Rate Schedule IV to Tax Rate Schedule III. Consequently, the highest UI tax rate will be reduced from 7.7 percent to 6.5 percent and the lowest UI tax rate will decrease from 1.1 percent to 0.8 percent.

Another result of the change in the tax rate schedule is that the maximum weekly unemployment benefit will be indexed upwards to 57% of the average weekly wage, also effective July 1, 2018. Therefore, the previous maximum weekly benefit amount of $466 will increase to $498.

If this positive economic trend continues, employers in Vermont will also see a $2,000 reduction in the taxable wage base on January 1, 2019, meaning that it will decrease to $15,600 for 2019 from $17,600 for 2018.


How Your Company Can Benefit from WOTC

WOTC Overview

Since its beginning in 1996, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) has benefitted both employers and employees by encouraging businesses to hire individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.

The main objective of this federal tax credit incentive is to enable employees to gradually move from economic dependency into self-sufficiency as they earn a steady income and become contributing taxpayers.

By hiring individuals from target groups who meet specific criteria, an employer can receive from $2,400 to $9,600 in maximum credit per new hire, in the form of a dollar-for-dollar reduction in their tax liability.

Target Groups

In order to incentivize workplace diversity and facilitate access to good jobs for American workers, this program offers tax credits in an effort to overcome employment barriers faced by targeted groups of workers including:

  • Unemployed Veterans
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Recipients
  • Food Stamp (SNAP) recipients
  • Designated Community Residents
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Referrals
  • Ex-Felons
  • Supplemental Security Income Recipients
  • Summer Youth Employees
  • Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient

Each group has its own eligibility requirements that the individual must meet in order for the employer to qualify for the credit.

No credit is available unless the worker completes at least 120 hours of work. The credit is reduced if the individual works at least 120 hours but less than 400 hours.

It is available only for new hires. Wages paid to an individual who was previously employed and is rehired do not qualify. In addition, wages paid to certain individuals who are related to the employer or business owner do not qualify.

How to Calculate the Credit

The amount credit employers can claim varies and depends upon which target groups are hired, the wages paid to those individuals in the first year of employment, and the number of hours the employees worked.

Full credit is calculated at 40 percent of first year wages up to $6,000, for a maximum tax credit of up to $2,400. In this case, employees are required to work a minimum of 400 hours or more.

For a partial credit of 25 percent up to $1,500, a new employee is required to work at least 120 hours but less than 400 hours.

WOTC Benefits

Reducing Federal Tax Liability

WOTC benefits can significantly reduce your corporate federal tax liability, and in some cases, WOTC can completely eliminate it. Employers need to have an income tax liability to be able to use the credit which cannot exceed the amount of income tax owed.

In case there is no tax liability, employers can still apply for the credit. Unused credits can be carried back one year, and carried forward on future tax returns for up to 20 years. It is therefore likely that you will be able to use the credit in the future, once there is tax liability.

Reducing a company’s federal income tax liability reduces a company’s cost of doing business, and participation in the WOTC program may help fund other projects, or even assist in the expansion of your business.

Increasing Profitability and Cash-flow

Each WOTC-qualified employee can increase profitability by as much as 80%, as compared to a non-WOTC-qualified employee.

By taking advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, you can increase cash flow, therefore improving your margins and sustainability. With an increasingly high cost of doing business these days, WOTC can make your company more profitable.

No Limit on The Number of Individuals An Employer Can Hire

There is no restriction on the number of new hires who can qualify you for the tax savings. Whether your business hires 10 or 10,000 eligible employees, your tax credits will continue to pile up and improve your profit margin.

20% of New Hires Are Potentially Eligible

Even if you have never applied for WOTC before, it’s highly likely you have hired or will hire employees who meet the qualification criteria. Typically, about 20% of new hires qualify for credit depending on the industry. Some industries may experience an even higher rate of qualification.

According to U.S. Department of Labor, there were 5.6 million new hires in April 2018. With an average of 20% of those workers eligible for WOTC tax credits, that’s more than $2.4 billion in tax credits that potentially could have been claimed.

How to Maximize Participation in WOTC

Getting the most from WOTC involves managing many challenges like meeting deadlines established by law, submitting forms to state agencies, monitoring hours and wages, providing supporting documentation, and calculating tax credits. Due to complex administrative process, significant resources are required to implement the program correctly. Nevertheless, there is an easy way to avoid all the hassle with WOTC and stop missing out on tax credit opportunities.

With the right partner, you can outsource the WOTC administration and automate the entire process to end up with maximized credit yield without adding staff or increasing administrative expenses. An online screening platform takes new hires through the questionnaire electronically and logically, enabling the immediate submission of forms with e-signature. On the other hand, manually completed forms are frequently filled out incorrectly, are missing information, or do not reach the State in time to meet the submission deadline, leaving you with missed credit opportunities.

Electronic WOTC questionnaire can become a seamless part of your hiring process, allowing you to avoid all administrative hassles of the program. Complete automation of the complex and time-consuming screening and reporting steps results in the higher certification rate and increased compliance and you pay only once actual credits are secured on your company’s behalf.

Improve Your Bottom Line with Tax Savings

The WOTC program has been a win-win situation for both employers and employees. Employees previously considered lacking skills and abilities or having a disability to employment simply were not hired because they were considered too much of a risk. With WOTC they get an opportunity to gain employment in what otherwise would be a losing situation. With high unemployment rates across the nation, the WOTC program continues to assist employers to boost their bottom line with millions of dollars in federal income tax savings.

In the past, WOTC may have seemed cumbersome, paper intensive and time consuming to many employers. Nowadays, however, electronic solutions make this process simple and smooth, allowing you to leverage WOTC benefits to your business and save a lot of money.

Being a program that is very well received, WOTC is much better now than it used to be because it has been expanded with new categories and extended for almost 5 years. It allows employers to free up money, invest it in other areas of company and increase profitability and cash flow.

Contact us today to find out how you can outsource WOTC administration, reduce tax liability, increase cash flow, and take advantage of this tax incentive. Reach out via email at info@emptech.com or call us at 1-800-518-3874.


California Consumer Privacy Act & Its Impact on Tech Companies

 privacy-law

Overview of the California Consumer Privacy Act

California lawmakers passed new privacy legislation, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, and made a step forward in creating one of the most significant regulations controlling the data-collection practices of technology companies.

After a series of failures to protect consumers’ data and a growing awareness of how technology companies exploit user information, it is not surprising that this legislation went from draft to law in just one week.

AB 375 was unanimously approved by the State Senate and Assembly and goes into effect in 2020. It will probably have a major impact on technology, media and entertainment companies, and could lead to other states passing similar laws.

As the first law of this kind in the United States, AB 375 aims to deliver transparency over personal data use, gives Californians more control over the information businesses gather on them and imposes new penalties for non-compliance.

AB 375 and GDPR

Over the next 17 months, many tech companies will have to meet AB 375’s requirements on the processing and protection of personal data, many of which are similar to the requirements under the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in late May.

Both AB 735 and GDPR highlight the following:

  • Transparency – Consumers have the right to know what personal information is being collected about them and for what purpose.  
  • Control over Selling Personal Information – Consumers have the right to know if their personal information is being sold or disclosed and to decide whether to opt out of the sale. Also, businesses cannot discriminate against customers who refuse to sell information.
  • Access and Deletion – Consumers have the right to request a disclosure of the categories and specific pieces of personal information that have been collected. They can also request deletion of their personal data.
  • Data Breach Liability – Personal data breaches are violations of both AB 375 and GDPR. Consumers can institute a civil action in this case.

What is the difference between GDPR and AB 375?

Even though the California Consumer Privacy Act mirrors the GDPR in many regards, there are significant differences between them. Many companies already worked towards meeting GDPR requirements, but they need to address the California Consumer Privacy Act separately. For example, AB 375 prescribes disclosures, communication channels and other concrete measures that are not required to comply with GDPR and contains a broader definition of personal data. It also establishes broad rights to access personal data without certain exceptions available under GDPR and imposes more rigid restrictions on data sharing for commercial purposes.

Impact of AB 375

Companies around the world will have to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act if they receive personal data from California residents and exceed one of three thresholds:

  • $25 million or more in gross annual revenue;
  • Obtaining personal information of 50,000 or more California residents, households or devices annually; or
  • 50% or more of their annual revenue coming from the sale of personal data.

The California Consumer Privacy Act puts tech companies under the spotlight as it will undoubtedly transform the way businesses in the technology industry operate. Top data companies will be required to restructure many of their policies and procedures in order to become AB 375 compliant.

Even though this regulation applies to every type of business, much of the burden falls on the tech sector. Amounts of data produced increase daily and much of the data is personal and used for various reasons by tech companies. Because of the massive amount of data being processed and controlled, technology companies can become open to potential fines for non-compliance, data loss and data breaches.

With digital transformation trends, more and more companies are relying on cloud services. Therefore, cloud providers and data centre providers will have to increase security measures and processes within their organizations in order to protect and handle customer data and ensure compliance with AB 375.

Companies such as Google and Facebook have already implemented many of new privacy protection measures to comply with the EU GDPR. Facebook claims to support AB 375, although it is “not perfect,” and, together with other companies, it looks “forward to working with policymakers on an approach that protects consumers and promotes responsible innovation.”

With AB 375 not going into effect until the beginning of 2020, it is still possible to amend it. Head of state government affairs at the Internet Association, Robert Callahan claims “it is critical going forward that policymakers work to correct the inevitable, negative policy and compliance ramifications this last-minute deal will create for California’s consumers and businesses alike.” However, before tech companies can try to make California lawmakers to amend the law, it is necessary to access the impact of the initial version and identify what changes to request.

How to prepare for AB 375

Companies will need to take a number of steps to comply with AB 375’s requirements, such as:

  • Prepare data maps, inventories or other records of all personal information as well as information sources, storage locations, usage and recipients.
  • Provide designated methods for submitting data access requests, such as a toll-free telephone number.
  • Update privacy policies including a description of California residents’ rights.
  • Provide a clear “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link on the business’ Internet homepage.
  • Determine the age of California residents and implement processes to obtain parental or guardian consent for minors under 13 years and the affirmative consent of minors between 13 and 16 years to data sharing.
  • Introduce additional security measures to guard against data breaches.

AB 375 Non-Compliance Penalties

Failure to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act could be costly to businesses with civil penalties resulting from an action by the state Attorney General of up to $7,500 per violation. Also, in the event of a breach of personal information, AB 375 provides consumers with statutory damages of no less than $100 and no more than $750 per consumer per incident, or actual damages, whichever is greater. Finally, the Act directs the Attorney General to solicit broad public participation in developing regulations to implement the Act and, as part of that process, to develop specific rules and procedures dealing with opt-out and other provisions within one year of the date of enactment.

Changes in Privacy Law Landscape

The emergence of the California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU General Data Protection Regulation proves that personal data is finally becoming a recognized value. Given the recent scandals involving Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Equifax and numerous tech companies that used personal data of other people like their own property, it is no surprise that data protection legislation started to change rapidly, making users directly involved in the process of data sharing.

AB 375 requires tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon to disclose the type of data they are collecting on customers, to reveal the advertisers and other third parties with whom they share user information, and to disclose data-sharing information in order to protect user information. Thus, it could significantly obstruct the way they do business and share user data.

Even though tech companies’ representatives are planning to lobby to further amend the law, the fact remains that AB 375 introduces more complex privacy law setting not only in California, but also in the rest of the United States and the world, given the impact of this state on the global economy.


How to Manage DHS and SSA TNC Properly?

managing TNC

As a fast, efficient, and easy to use program, the E-Verify successfully determines legal employment eligibility in a manner that employers can support. Most of them go through this process easily, but there are some issues that may arise if there is a mismatch of information, resulting in a Tentative Nonconfirmation Notice (TNC).

If you and the employee in question act swiftly, a TNC may be just a small annoyance.

On the other side, failure to take action can lead to serious consequences.

WHAT IS A TNC?

A TNC occurs when there is a mismatch of information recorded on your employee’s Form I-9 and the information in the government databases.

E-Verify compares the information employees provide on Form I-9 and government records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). If the information matches, the employee receives an “Employment Authorized” response in E-Verify. However, if the information does not match government records, E-Verify will display a temporary case status that may require additional action. In these cases, E-Verify returns a TNC response.

There are legitimate reasons why employees may receive a TNC and it does not mean that they are unauthorized to work. As an employer, always take this into consideration and follow the proper procedures in E-Verify, designed to ensure fair treatment for all employees. Also, in case of a TNC, the law protects employees against any adverse action unless the TNC becomes a Final Nonconfirmation.

SSA TNC AND DHS TNC

There are two types of TNCs – SSA and DHS.

An E-Verify case can come back as a mismatch with the SSA database if employees have had any changes to their personal information or citizenship/immigration status that have yet to be updated or given to the SSA. It is also possible that the information in the SSA database is incorrect or that an employer made a mistake when entering the information.

The same conditions that could cause an SSA TNC could also lead to a DHS TNC. In addition, an employee’s case may come back as a TNC if there are any mismatches with the employee’s identification or immigration documents. This does not necessarily mean that the documents are forged as it can be triggered by a data entry error somewhere in the process.

NECESSARY STEPS

Both the employer and employee have responsibilities when E-Verify returns a TNC result and need to follow specific steps.

The first thing you should do is check the accuracy of the information you entered. If you notice any data entry errors based on the information your employee gave you in the Form I-9, you will be able to invalidate the query. In case you find that the information was entered correctly after comparing it to the Form I-9, you will need to begin the TNC dispute process.

Begin with notifying the employee of the TNC case in private and present the TNC Further Action Notice. This document explains what a Tentative Nonconfirmation is, how to contest the information, who to contact, and the rights of an employee.

The next step is for the employee to decide whether to contest or not. If the employee chooses to contest, you must initiate a referral in the E-Verify system and provide them with a TNC Referral Letter that is automatically generated. This letter instructs the employee to contact the appropriate government agency (SSA or DHS) within 8 federal government work days to resolve the case.

While the employee works to resolve the matter, they must be allowed to continue to work. It is important for employers to access the E-Verify system for updates daily as well as to refrain from asking the employee to provide updates during the TNC process.

Eventually, the E-Verify query’s status will change to one of the following:

  • Employment Authorized;
  • No Show;
  • Final Nonconfirmation;
  • Review and update data/resubmit;

If the employee does not contest the TNC, or if the query ultimately results in a Final Nonconfirmation, you must terminate the worker’s employment. Otherwise, your company may face possible fines and penalties for knowingly continuing to employ an unauthorized worker.

Regardless of the final outcome, you must close every case in the E-Verify system.

For Employment Authorized queries, you can simply close the cases in E-Verify, indicating that you continue to employ the individuals. For “Final Nonconfirmation” queries, you must indicate whether the employee was terminated.

TIPS TO AVOID A TNC

While TNCs cannot always be avoided, there are a few things that you can do as an employer to reduce the chances of receiving them.

Form Accuracy

When completing the Form I-9, make sure that the information entered by the employee is correct. Check that the identification documents they provided for Section 2 have the same information as what was given in Section 1.

This helps you to prevent avoidable TNCs and potential fines if your I-9s are audited in the future.

Careful Data Entry

When copying information from the Form I-9, be careful not to make any mistakes in your data entry. If you are processing several cases at the same time, try not to rush through the process. Always remember to double check the information before submission.

Update Information

If an employee is aware that they have had a change in their information such as their name, citizen/immigration status, or anything else relevant, they should make sure that the information has been conveyed to the proper agencies.

Rely on paperless documentation

Avoid common discrepancies with an electronic I-9 and E-Verify compliance system. Emptech’s electronic platform provides you with proper and complete management of DHS and SSA TNCs as well as guidance of the referral letter process when an employee contests an E-Verify TNC. I-9 analysts also review the Form I-9 and any supporting documents for you. This ensures that there are no clerical errors or obvious issues that can be resolved, potentially halting the TNC process and preventing any further action.

Although TNCs occur in less than 3% of all cases that are submitted, it is natural for employers to be concerned about the process and the impact it may have on employees. While it may not happen often, there are some helpful tactics for speeding up the process, ensuring I-9 compliance and avoiding the situation all together.

By carefully entering the employee’s information into E-Verify to begin with, and diligently taking the recommended follow up actions in the event of a TNC, employers should be confident that their employees are authorized and that they are free from any potential civil or criminal liabilities.

Stay on top of I-9 process and prevent TNCs by integrating electronic I-9 software that automatically transfers the information from the employee’s electronic Form I-9 to E-Verify. Keep your I-9 management under control, remain compliant, and spare yourself the trouble.

Call us today at (phone number) or reach out via email at info@emptech.com to learn more about how the electronic I-9 solution can meet the needs of your company.


How to Avoid I-9 Non-Compliance

i9 noncompliance

Federal law obligates employers to fill out an I-9 form for each employee, ensuring the new hires are lawfully entitled to hold a job in the U.S. To many employers, the I-9 may appear to be a simple two-page piece of hiring paperwork but its simplicity is illusory.

This form must be handled with utmost precision and individual attention as errors regarding the I-9 non-compliance are very common and can cost you an arm and a leg.

Unlike many other forms on which an error can be easily corrected, the I-9 errors can result in heavy fines and penalties, even if the employer did not hire someone not authorized to work in the country. Not having a properly completed I-9 form can result in fines of up to $2.1k per employee, so making sure it is completed accurately and on time for every new employee has to be your top priority.

I-9 Compliance Measures

1. Respecting deadlines

Accurate and timely completion of the Form I-9 is essential to compliance with federal regulations and failure to do so can result in substantial fines for employers. Taking into consideration that one of the biggest problems can be avoided by being aware of the I-9 deadlines, you need to make sure to act in accordance with them.

Best practices are as follows:

  • You must complete and date Section 1 no later than the first day of employment and no earlier than the acceptance of job offer.
  • According to the infamous three-day rule, you must complete Section 2 of the form three days latest after the employee begins work for pay. In case that the employee works for fewer than three days, you need to verify identification documents on the first day of work for pay.
  • When an employee’s employment authorization document expires, the employer must re-verify the employee’s employment authorization no later than the date the employment authorization expires, and use Section 3 of the Form I-9 for this purpose. Also, when rehiring an employee within 3 years of the initial completion of the I-9, Section 3 may be completed instead of a new I-9.
  • As an employer, you must keep completed I-9s on file for each employee on payroll and must retain (together with retaining) original I-9 Forms for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.

Adhering to these deadlines can help you avoid problems and fines.

2. Missing I-9s

Many non-compliance issues stem from missing forms. Failing to maintain correctly completed I-9 can result in various fines, reduced workforce, negative publicity and criminal liability.

You can avoid missing I-9’s by storing your I-9s in the same place. The easiest way to do this is by automating I-9’s and storing them electronically so you can always easily find them.

3. Clerical Errors

A simple misspelling or a clerical error on an I-9 can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars during an I-9 inspection. If you think that this can’t happen to you, think again because it is much more common than you may expect.

Federal law applies two central types of errors – technical and substantive violations.

Technical errors, for example, consist of common misspellings, and failing to ensure the document numbers provided in Section 1 correspond to the same document numbers provided in Section 2 or Section 3.

Substantive violations range from employee’s failure to sign in Section 1 to employers’ failure to re-verify on or before the date on which the employee’s current work authorization expired. If the failure is technical, the employer may be granted a 10-day grace period to correct the failure. If the failure is substantive, there is no grace period to make a correction.

Consider adopting the practice to periodically audit and make any necessary corrections to the I-9s. These periodic self-audits and corrections will assist you in demonstrating a good-faith effort to comply with the law in the event of a government audit.

Here are additional tips to help you avoid common clerical mistakes:

  • Check your I-9 forms to guarantee all Sections are complete;
  • Review dates provided prior to filing the Form I-9 to ensure dates were not mixed up;
  • Check the SSN provided in each space to ensure that numbers are the same throughout the document.

4. Incomplete I-9s

The most common I-9 clerical error lays in incomplete I-9s.

Clearly marked corrections of certain errors on the Form I-9 are usually allowed. However, it is prohibited to erase any incorrect information, back-date, or recreate any of the documents. When you make corrections it is very important to cross out wrong information and insert the correct or missing information by using a different color of ink.

Make sure every correction is initialed and dated by the person allowed to make the permitted correction. In addition to this, employers should keep Form I-9 files separately from general employment files in order to protect employees’ confidential information, prevent possible allegations of document abuse, and be able to easily produce I-9s if needed.

5. E-Verify Compliance

E-Verify is an internet-based system that allows employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees and is likely to become mandatory nationwide.

E-Verify works by electronically comparing the information from an employee’s form I-9 with records available to the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security to verify the identity and employment eligibility of each newly hired employee.

Contrary to popular belief that E-Verify is the electronic equivalent of form I-9, E-Verify does not replace I-9. The two work together to validate that an employee is authorized to work in the U.S.

You may receive a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) when either the Department of Homeland Security or Social Security Administration identifies something entered on the I-9 as not matching their records.

Even though you cannot always avoid TNCs, there are a few things that you can do as an employer to reduce the chances of receiving them:

  • When completing the Form I-9, always make sure that the information entered by the employee is correct.
  • Check to ensure that the identification documents that they provided for Section 2 have the same information as what was given in Section 1. This will not only prevent avoidable TNCs, it will also prevent potential fines if your organization’s Forms I-9 are audited in the future.
  • Be careful not to make any mistakes in your data entry when copying information from the Form I-9. Always double check the information before submission.
  • If an employee is aware that they have had a change in their information such as their name, citizen/immigration status, or anything else that is relevant, they should make sure that the information has been conveyed to the proper agencies.

The Best Way to Handle I-9 Compliance

You want to prevent common and costly penalties reaching $2,100 per employee?

Replace paper-based forms that require a lot of administrative coordination and are highly prone to errors and violations with Emptech’s cost-effective and cloud-based I-9 platform.

You can create trackable, cloud-based and compliant I-9s in seconds by relying on our cloud-based electronic system that is fully integrated with E-Verify and an official partner with USCIS. Thus, you virtually eliminate criminal and civil liabilities and significantly reduce the inevitable risk of errors.

The electronic platform removes the administrative burden from both you and your employees while assessing, improving and maintaining your I-9 compliance. At the same time, you can enjoy full transparency with round the clock online access to activity tracking and reports.

Ensuring compliance is a complicated, time-consuming and continuous task that involves various non-compliance risks. That is why you’ll have a dedicated team of analysts at your disposal at all times. The electronic solution powered by human subject matter experts is simplest, fastest and most effective path to your peace of mind.

USCIS regulations permit, and even encourage, electronic employment eligibility verification.

Avoid non-compliance risks, save up to 2.1k per employee, and have audits result with positive outcomes with the electronic solution that drives compliance, cost-effectiveness, and allows your HR team to focus on your most valuable resource – your employees.

Call us today at 1-800-518-3874, or reach out via email at info@emptech.com to learn more about implementing the electronic I-9 solution.


WOTC – Paper vs. Paperless Application

WOTC paper vs paperless application

Many employers are not aware of the Worker Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program, and that they could be receiving a significant amount of tax credits every year. The WOTC program is voluntary for businesses to take advantage of and its aim is to:

  • promote the hiring of individuals who qualify as a member of a target group, and
  • provide a federal tax credit to employers who hire these individuals.

U.S. employers can potentially earn tax credits up to $9,600 per qualified new employee. The exact tax benefit amount that a business can receive depends on several factors, including how long the new employee was unemployed, the employee’s salary and the number of hours worked in the first year.

The first step is to identify new hires from the credit-eligible groups. For most businesses, identifying these individuals is a labor-intensive task because it requires more work than simply taking the usual hiring steps. Only new-hires are eligible to be submitted for tax credits if they fall within the specified target groups. This doesn’t include current or rehired employees.  

Taking into consideration the strict application deadlines and required paperwork, WOTC administration can be a difficult task for busy staffing professionals to perform.

Once an employer identifies WOTC-eligible workers, it’s time for the paperwork. Required forms must be completed and the filing of those forms is time-sensitive. As with all things tax-related, proper forms and timely filing is critical. Taking into consideration the strict application deadlines and required paperwork, WOTC administration can be a difficult task for busy staffing professionals to perform.

However, WOTC management companies, like Emptech, offer you a paperless solution encompassing everything from electronically tracking candidate eligibility to submitting documentation on an employer’s behalf, thus ensuring that all regulations are met correctly in order to obtain earned credits.

Multi-Point & Lengthy Process

In accordance with the IRS, two initial steps of the WOTC process include completing the key document, IRS Form 8850 by the day the job offer is made and after the individual is hired. Therefore, as an employer, you need to have your employees complete their portion of the IRS 8850 prior to accepting a job offer; while they are still in the application process. Then, you complete your portion of the 8850 after the employee is hired, which means that tracking is very important for any company still screening for WOTC on paper.

The next step involves the Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) Form 9061 or ETA Form 9062 if the employee has been conditionally certified as belonging to a WOTC target group by a state workforce agency, Vocational Rehabilitation agency, or another participating agency. This means that upon hiring, the employee needs to complete the Individual Characteristics Form, but there are also sections that have to be completed by employers, such as company legal address, FEIN, starting title, starting wage, etc.

The final step is to submit the completed and signed IRS and ETA forms to a state workforce agency. Employers need to take into consideration that each state agency has their own submission methods and if the WOTC documents aren’t filed on time, the application for the tax credit will be denied

On the other hand, if you choose to work with Emptech, this entire process is reduced to only one step only. It entails completing an electronic or web Preliminary Information Request.

Only once our system identifies someone that potentially qualifies for WOTC, Forms 8850 and 9061 are combined into an electronic WOTC Questionnaire, thus removing the need for your applicants to be bothered more than once. When the screening process is completed and there is a candidate identified as tax-credit-eligible, they are moved into the certification process. Your  company only has to get involved only to provide the necessary information. After this, your HR team doesn’t have to worry about a thing – we take over the process again by submitting everything to the state and tracking the status of each application. Finally, upon receiving a certification, we will do the calculations to see how much your company can claim when you submit your corporate taxes.

Compliance

In a paper process environment, there is zero validation of what an applicant inputs. They could miss fields that are critical, complete portions that should not be completed, partially complete fields, and so on. The only way that an employer could get around this is having their hiring team to screen the forms for mistakes, taking up more of their valuable time.

Also, if there are mistakes on the forms, the consequences range from needing to complete or correct the forms to the application receiving a “denied” status from the state agency. At times the employer needs to appeal a denial in hopes of rectifying the compliance issue, which takes up even more of the hiring team’s time.

Furthermore, WOTC deals with applicants or new employees and, as such, no company wants to leave a bad impression on their newly found talent. Given that the process itself is voluntary, anything that can be done to make it seamless is critical to success.

Emptech’s WOTC Questionnaire has built in validation asking your applicant to input critical information that the state agencies need. At the same time, the electronic questionnaire is designed to show only the relevant questions to the applicant and provides more white space with a minimalist look and feel. This promotes compliance and simplicity while producing a progressive image of your company.

Storage, Retention and Tracking

When screening for WOTC and dealing with the Form 8850, as an employer, you need to keep track of the 8850 in the event that someone who completed it is hired. This creates more work and stress for the HR team, as failure to see their process through to completion results in potential loss of revenue for your company.

Today, companies are likely to have multiple systems to handle their HR needs. Some portions of the hiring process may be on paper, while some are completed electronically. Having to navigate and deal with two distinct process leads to further time spent and stress for your HR team.

In some situations, an applicant might not be hired for months after completing the WOTC application, is required to complete the form again. While the form itself is simple, this shows a lack of organization on your company’s part. Also, this point can be critical at times as some of the target groups may be dealing with very sensitive issues for individuals, such as being previously unemployed, receiving social security income, food stamps, or a felon, etc. An applicant might be brave enough to be forthcoming with that information once, but it is questionable whether they would do it again.

On the other hand, Emptech keeps all your WOTC information on a cloud platform. It stores applicant Form 8850, Form 9061, supporting documents, email correspondence, letters for the state agencies, as well as, certifications and denials from the state agencies all in one WOTC Management location. Such effective document management results in increasing accuracy and high protection against any document loss. Our document storage security routines are the highest in the industry. Through AWS-S3, Emptech processes any uploads and attachments via Lambda function to clear documents for any viruses that may be embedded in the document. All documentation are version controlled with a complete history ensuring information is never lost or corrupted.

Therefore, all of the Storage issues mentioned above disappear when you use Emptech as your WOTC solution as it stores, retains and tracks WOTC applications for their full life cycle and through the retention period.

Solution

Your current process does not have to remain as complicated and costly as it is today.  

Use Emptech’s electronic WOTC solution to replace out of date and insecure paper routines that require significant resources both during the onboarding experience, as well as, during the administrative process. The system easily combines the IRS 8850 and ETA 9061 virtually to create a seamless and efficient way for you to manage the WOTC process.

As an employer using electronic WOTC solution, you are able to embed an intuitive and secure web link to easily determine WOTC eligibility. Our dedicated support team perfects pre-screened eligible candidates on your behalf.

Significant advantages your company will experience include web-based mobile optimized any time access, integrated tax credit calculation supported by our integrated payroll feed, algorithmic technology maximizing credit results and the user experience,  technology validation ensures compliance, consolidated credits earned reporting, dedicated WOTC analysts to ensure all credits received and taken.

The best of class technology will surely impress your applicants with a technically savvy process that is seamless at the same time, and leave them with a favorable lasting impression of your company and not a cumbersome WOTC process.

Contact us today at info@emptech.com or via phone: 800-518-3874 to book a demo and learn more about simplifying your internal WOTC workflows.

 


Senator Tim Kaine Proposes Addition of Military Spouses to WOTC Eligibility

military spouses employment act

Within the past year, we have seen changes and additions to The Work Opportunity Tax Credit. There
has been a retroactive extension and the addition of the Long-Term Unemployed to eligible WOTC
recipients. Now, another addition to WOTC is being proposed, a tax credit to employers for hiring
military spouses.

The Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018

The bill is known as The Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018. Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia,
Senator John Boozman (R-AR), and Jon Tester (D-MT) are introducing the bill. The goal is to hire
underemployed and unemployed military spouses. Reports indicate between 12-25% of military spouses
are unemployed, with another 25% of military spouses underemployed.

According to Federal News Radio, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), decided to propose the bill after a meeting
with military spouses and employers in October. Kain further explained the idea for the bill came from
the notion of “getting an interview and having an employer look at you and say ‘Wow, you’re really
qualified, but boy, you’re probably going to have to move in a year and a half, maybe I should hire
someone who is going to be here longer.”

Flexible Spending Accounts for Childcare

On top of hiring initiatives for military spouses, the bill also pushes to provide access to flexible
spending accounts for childcare. This would provide a pre-tax option to savings similar to what many
large organizations offer in The United States. Lack of funds for childcare or reliable options for
childcare greatly affect the ability for both spouses to remain employed.

The Military Spouse Employment Act will stand behind not only military personnel but also their
families. The bill will add a new level of support for military spouses by encouraging employers to hire
qualified individuals who often get passed up on opportunities due to circumstances out of their control.
The bill will also provide childcare saving options not currently available to military personnel.

Follow our blog for the latest updates on The Military Spouse Employment Act and The Work Opportunity Tax Credit. To learn how Emptech can assist you in screening for WOTC and obtaining all available tax credits, feel free to reach out at info@emptech.com or give us a call at 800-518-3874.


Trump Proposes The UI System Funds Paid Family Leave Program In Every State

paid leave
Photo Credit: Kaiser Family Foundation

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Yesterday, President Donald Trump, through the Office of Management and Budget, released their proposed 2019 budget for the fiscal year 2019 which begins on October 1st.

21% Decrease In DOL Budget

While the Budget proposal does request $9.4 billion for the Department of Labor, it is a 21% decrease of $2.6 million from the 2017 budget-enacted level. Included in the budget proposal is what President Trump had promised as a candidate: a Nationwide Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program.

Paid Leave Program Proposal

Under the plan, the Paid Leave Program would allow paid family leave to new mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents to take time off from work for the purpose of recovering from childbirth and bond with a new child. The FY2019 Budget Proposal states that the Plan would be supported by the Unemployment Insurance system to allow States to establish paid parental leave programs “that is most appropriate for their workforce and economy”.

As written, the language within the FY2019 Budget Proposal suggests that the program will not be federalized but instead, have funds allocated from the $9.4 billion to each State to establish their own paid parental leave programs.

Currently only five states have a paid family leave program ranging from 6 weeks to 16 weeks time off: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York (began January 1, 2018) the State of Washington (begins January 1, 2020), and the District of Columbia (begins July 1, 2020).

Another 23 states introduced one or more paid family leave proposals into their State legislative sessions within the past 3 years; all failed to gain enough votes to pass due to concerns over how those individual state’s programs would be funded.  

However, given inclusion into the FY2019 Federal Budget language that allocates funds to support state Paid Family Leave Programs, I would expect to see more States offer their own PFL programs within the 2018 legislative sessions.

Follow this blog to keep up to date or contact us via email at info@emptech.com or phone at 800.518.3874


Trump Proposes Mandatory E-Verify Today

e-verify-mandatory
Photo Credit: NSBA

Monday, February 12, 2018

Today, President Donald Trump, through the Office of Management and Budget, released their proposed 2019 budget for the fiscal year 2019 which begins October 1st.

E-Verify Mandatory Nationwide

The proposal explains that $23 million will be invested to expand the E-Verify program for mandatory nationwide use. The $23 million is on top of the $208 million being requested for 300 additional ICE Special Agents, support staff and the infrastructure needed to carry out Homeland Security’s mission to ensure that only those with a legal right to work in the United States are employed. Per the proposal, the budget also has language to receive reimbursement of the $208 million from the application fees of those requesting immigration legally into the United States.

Information on the proposed nationwide use of mandatory E-Verify is still coming out of Washington. To keep up to date, follow our blog, email at info@emptech.com or call 800.518.3874.


Employers, Protect Your Employees from Security Data Breaches Before It’s Too Late

protect employees from security breaches

Have you recently checked how your employees feel about safety of their personal, very sensitive data (or should we say – Personally Identifiable Information) that’s stored across your HR administration and Payroll systems?

If not, here’s friendly advice: it is about time.

The major security breach in 2017 will be long remembered, for it has affected 44% of the US citizens, compromising 145 million (!) social security numbers, over 200,000 credit cards, driver’s license numbers and other personal information.

Here’s what’s really going on: employees nationwide are FURIOUS.

The Infamous Security Breach

After Equifax announced the data breach back in September 2017, the Internet exploded with search queries on how to protect yourself from the breach and its consequences. This question is still trending on Google, and no one is going to forget about this soon.

equifax breach trending

People are enraged. For months they have been unable to find a way to cancel the company’s services, yet – the threats of data abuse are still imposed upon them.

US citizens confronted serious consequences, such as being a victim of identity theft 15 times in less than three months! They have been desperately calling support and requesting that their files be deleted — in vain.

Why are they worried to that extent?

Because the stolen PII is sold on the dark web that is not easily accessible to vast majority of web users, nor user-friendly. The price of a Social Security Number is as low as $1. “Family packages” go around $10 per a “bundle of SSNs”. These are extremely popular because they allow tax fraud.

Terrifying enough yet?

Here’s more: hackers can often access PII long before a breach has been exposed to the public. Equifax, for example, announced the breach to the general public on September 7th, while the first unauthorized access occurred July 29th.

Can it get any worse?

Yes, it can. The company knew the outdated Java framework called Struts was vulnerable to security standards. Patches to remedy the vulnerabilities were available months before the breach but were not put into place.

How Furious Are Employees?

They are fuming — and they have every right to be. The company has refused to delete their files, even though their disregards for security put them in harm’s way. Now, those affected are addressing the media. Not only are employees restricted from deciding who has the right to access their PII — they were also informed that trying to prevent data inputs will result in serious consequences. NY Times’ journalist, Rob Lieber, writes about employees’ endeavors and the emails he has received since Equifax revealed the breach:

“Peter Herman, a self-described recovering attorney in Charleston, S.C., had a typical experience: a long wait, a number of prompts, a disconnection and a firm “no” on deleting his file. Then came an odd warning from the live human being he did reach. Any attempt to get his lenders to stop sending payment information to Equifax, Mr. Herman said he had been told, might result in his credit score being ruined because his payments would be marked late.”

How Employees Really Feel

Beyond rage, employees feel let down, powerless, and afraid. They do not want to be seen as a mere number in a system, but as a valued employee with the right to data security. Employees worry about their safety day in day out, desperately seeking a resolution to this injustice.

You, as an employer, have the power to give your employees a sense of protection, by advocating for their digital security.

To test the idea of an individual employee trying to resolve this issue through their own company rather than through direct source of breach, Ron Lieber of NY Times, asked his employer — the NY Times — “to cancel its contract with Equifax for a service called Work Number, which provides employment verification and other details like work history and salary.”* After considering the idea, his employer decided to accept his request.

*To get the broader image of that event, and what it means for millions of unhappy employees around the country, read Roy’s full article here.

This Affects Your Company, Too

Your employees may be thinking and feeling the same. They may be scared to bring up their feelings due to negative consequences they could face afterwards. Your employees are under a lot of stress, and now more than ever they need to be reassured their company cares about employee security.

If your employees feel that their safety and security is not put first, they will perform less productively or work less efficiently in teams. Ensure your employees feel safe and protected. Find a vendor focused on your employees’ data security, so they can focus on their job at hand.

What Can You Do?

Communicate with Your Employees

Proper, honest, and direct communication is the best way to avoid a problematic situation. No matter how busy you are, find time to meet with your employees and openly discuss the current state and possible solutions. Do your best to understand their points of view, and take their requests into consideration.

Conduct A Survey

If bringing the entire company around the table is next to impossible, and you can’t manage to organize team meetings, invest some time into creating a survey. Send all your employees a personal email to let them know you are on their side, reassure them that you have their best interest in mind, and ask them to fill out the survey to help you understand their needs.

Explain How Your Security Systems Work

Comfort words are nice, but they don’t solve any problems. After the exposure, employees need proofs that their information is truly protected in order to finally feel relieved.

Make an effort to explain to your employees how your security systems work in a nutshell, let them know who, and under which circumstances, can access their data, and if they are notified upon such an event.

Look at The Issue from An Employee’s Perspective

Nobody is immune to a breach, whether you are a summer intern or the CEO. Your personal data is all stored in the same place, and lack of security means you are just as susceptible to a data breach. As a decision maker, you can choose a vendor who takes security seriously.

Listen to Your Employees

…and find a solution everyone will benefit from.

Let us spare you the headache of inadvertently exposing your company’s employees to identity theft and financial losses.

Meet Verifyfast: a 100% FREE of charge A VOIE solution that eliminates unwanted entities from obtaining employee information.

You will gain access to a team of experienced professionals that act as your outsourced VOIE department, dedicated to disseminating only the approved data to the approved verifiers.

Verifyfast is not a data reseller, but a direct furnisher of data focused on employee experience and security.

Ease your employees’ minds: the verification of income and employment can happen only after the employee has given permission for the verification. Both you and your employees can review who requested a verification, the type of verification requested, and the time and date of the verification. A verifier must go through several layers of security to ensure they were given permission by the employee to receive the verification.

All your data and applications rest in a closed, secure network with up-to-the-minute intrusion detection using current threat models. This closed environment is audited annually to SOC 1 and SOC 2 standards. All data is encrypted in transit and at rest.

Verifyfast runs constant scans against the most recent database of threats on both network and applications. Any framework vulnerabilities are exposed and addressed immediately. The application model is simple: it does not introduce outside frameworks, reducing our footprint of potential vulnerabilities.

Call us today at 1-800-518-3874, or reach out via email at solutions@verifyfast.com. Let’s make sure security issues never waste your company’s valuable time and resources.