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FICA Tip Credit: Serving Up Savings

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Owning a restaurant seems like a glamorous idea, or at least it did to me, but there’s more to running a restaurant than cooking good food and mingling with customers. In order to be a successful restaurateur you have to have a good grasp on the fundamentals on running your establishment. You have to meet customer demands, maintain inventory as well as staff and manage expenses. Ensuring that expenses are recorded properly and issued appropriately might be one of the most daunting tasks, especially with the ever-changing regulations under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Going into 2014, new modifications have been prompted yet again and should be noted.

By law employers must pay taxes on these tips earned, as they are seen as income. Fortunately, there is a loophole known as a tax credit that allows restaurant owners to recover most of the money taken from tips. Those that choose to leverage this credit have the opportunity to save significant amounts of money.

What is FICA Tip Credit?

Food and beverage establishments accustomed to tipping, are entitled to a 45(B) credit for part of the taxes paid on tips earned by employees. An amount of 7.65% can be taken as a business credit on your corporate tax return.

What’s Changed?

According to the Revenue Ruling for 2012-18, service charges can no longer be included in the FICA  Tip Credit Report. Rather, service charges are determined as wages not tips and must be filed differently. The IRS guidance issued four criteria for determining whether amounts paid by patrons should be regarded as service charges or tips.

Criteria to be considered a tip:

  • The payment must be made free from compulsion.
  • The customer must have the unrestricted right to determine the amount.
  • The payment should not by the subject of negotiation or dictated by the employer.
  • The customer has the right to determine who receives the payment.

It is important to note that tip pooling, tip sharing and gratuities are no longer applicable for the FICA Tip Credit and are subject to taxes.

Benefits of Applying

Aside from the tax credits scarce identity among restaurant owners, it must be formally requested, which may also indicate why many are not taking advantage of it. However, owners using FICA tip credit potentially save hundreds for every employee that correctly reports their tip earnings. If you consider all servers and staff, the savings are substantial. Eligible applicants, it would behoove you to familiarize yourself with FICA tip credit and determine the best plan for your business. With regards to eligibility, there are two established criteria for the FICA tax credit:

  • Businesses have employees who were given tips for providing, delivering and serving food or beverage for consumption.
  • Businesses paid or those that incurred employer social security and Medicare taxes on these tips.

How to Calculate a FICA Tip Credit

On average a server makes $2.13 an hour plus tips. With FICA tip credit, a server makes $5.15 an hour (based on the old minimum wage). After tips, a server ends up making roughly 11 dollars. With FICA, the employer pays taxes on the 11 dollars earned, but is entitled to credit at the end of the year on the difference between minimum wage and the actual amount earned by the employee.

Take for example, Billy. Billy worked 40 hours a week making $2.13 an hour. Billy reported $300 in tips for the entire week. The Federal wage rate is $5.15 an hour for the purpose of FICA tip credit. In this case, a restaurant owner would save over $713.44 annually for this one employee. Here’s how it looks all spelled out.

Weekly Wages = Hours Worked X Hourly Rate + Reported tips

40 x $2.13 + $300 = $385.20

Wages Paid at Minimum Wage = Hours Worked x Federal Wage Rate

40 x $5.15 = $206.00

Tax Credit = Weekly Wages – Wages Paid at Minimum Wage x FICA

$385.20 – $206.00 x 7.65% = $13.72

Annual Savings per Employee = Tax Credit x Payroll Frequency

$13.72 x 52 weeks = $713.44 annually

The Paycom Solution

The savings allotted to restaurant owners from FICA are significant but the process in which to keep track with expenses can be a mess. However, Paycom can help by automatically producing a FICA Tip Credit Report that can be generated every pay period. No more hassle and confusion, everything is done for you. And with the ease of a single application and capability to alleviate compliance risks, Paycom allows you to focus on what really matters, your customers.

 



Author Bio: Lauren is an enthusiastic writer who is passionate about numerous topics surrounding the HCM industry including talent management and acquisition, technology, document management and leadership, just to name a few. Lauren has been with Paycom for over a year and has taken on roles as a blogger, social strategist and community relations coordinator. In her spare time she enjoys DIY“ing,” exploring the city and keeping up with her two dogs, Deacon and Cookie.

Financial Literacy for the Millennial Workforce

Dollars and Sense: Financial Literacy for the Millennial Workforce

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Budgeting, borrowing and debt management can be intimidating topics to even the most experienced professionals. But according to Harvard finance professor Mihir Desai, teaching financial literacy to today’s workforce — especially millennials — is important.

In our most recent episode of the HR Break Room podcast, Desai, author of The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return, discussed why and what employers can do about it. Here are three takeaways from that conversation.

Most millennials are in debt

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report stated that 81% of college-educated millennials surveyed said they had at least one long-term debt. In the same survey, 54% expressed concern about how they will pay back student loans, with only 27% actively seeking professional assistance to do so. These numbers indicate a growing need for financial education among today’s largest working generation, whose members witnessed the Great Recession a decade ago — the nation’s worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Make your organization the go-to center

Offering financial education programs is an attractive perk to today’s top talent. Many of the brightest employees of this generation are eager to learn more about how they can better handle their finances. Whether they are paying back student loans, planning a wedding or preparing for their first child, understanding how to manage their income is going to be a huge priority them.

By offering employees workshops, lunch-and-learns or company retreats on the topic, you not only make your organization more attractive to talent, but you also win the loyalty of your workforce and build an even better employee experience.

Meet their needs head-on

Start by identifying the specific financial needs of your people. Hold department meetings or send surveys to learn their pressure points. Once you discover the most urgent areas, plan an event or create materials to address and assist those needs.

This could encompass a wide array of topics, including financial wellness, the power of savings through an employer, tax advantages, budgeting, and understanding 401(k) and retirement plans. Whether a series of seminars or a one-off class, any program geared toward their needs can generate outstanding loyalty.

As more young and in-debt employees enter the workforce, the more valuable and attractive such financial education will become. Offering your employees the opportunity to be financially more savvy than their peers could be the next step in ensuring your people are set up for long-term success.

For more about financial literacy for today’s workforce, read How Investing in Financial Literacy Improves Employee Retention and click here to listen to the HR Break Room podcast interview with Harvard professor Mihir Desai.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Experience, Featured, Millennials

Caleb Masters

by Caleb Masters


Author Bio: Caleb is the host of The HR Break Room and a Webinar and Podcast Producer at Paycom. With more than 5 years of experience as a published online writer and content producer, Caleb has produced dozens of podcasts and videos for multiple industries both local and online. Caleb continues to assist organizations creatively communicate their ideas and messages through researched talks, blog posts and new media. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys running, discussing movies and trying new local restaurants.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Trump Announces 2 Changes to ACA

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Update 10/18/2017 – On October 17, Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray announced a tentative bipartisan deal to help stabilize the ACA Marketplaces and potentially fund Cost Sharing Reduction payments for two years. The bill must pass both the Senate and the House before it becomes effective, and would also require President Trump’s signature.

On Oct. 12, President Donald Trump ordered comprehensive changes to the nation’s health insurance system while also, in a separate move, ended health care subsidies for low-income Americans. The White House billed the decisions as relief to those suffering under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while the opposition condemned these changes as actions aimed at undercutting the ACA.

Expansion of association health plans and short-term insurance

The executive order signed by Trump directs federal agencies to make it easier to set up “association health plans,” which are groups of small businesses that pool together to buy insurance. The order also seeks to broaden the definition of short-term insurance from three months to almost a year in duration.

By expanding both these types of plans, the administration expects insurance to be less costly than the plans sold on the state-based insurance exchanges, which provide more extensive coverage options. One concern, however, is healthy customers will jump out of the individual markets for cheaper plans, leaving sicker customers on the underwritten exchanges.

Health care subsidies to end

Trump also will end health care subsidy payments to insurance companies that used them to pay out-of-pocket costs for low-income people receiving coverage through the exchanges. The future of these payments have been in doubt for months – dating back to the Obama administration – because of a lawsuit filed by House Republicans. The lawsuit alleged the Obama administration was paying these subsidies illegally because Congress had never authorized the cost-sharing arrangement.

Until now, the Trump administration had continued the payments on a monthly basis. A group of state attorneys general has indicated it will sue to block the administration from ending these payments, which it claims will cause the individual markets to unravel.

ACA Awaits Repeal or Repair

What this means for employers

Neither of these changes is aimed primarily at employers subject to the ACA employer mandate, so clients using Paycom’s ACA services likely won’t see a direct impact to their obligations under the law. However, the tweaks indirectly could result in higher costs to employer-sponsored plans.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in ACA, Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured

Jason Hines

by Jason Hines


Author Bio: Jason Hines is a Paycom compliance attorney. With more than five years’ experience in the legal field, he monitors developments in human resource laws, rules and regulations to ensure any changes are promptly updated in Paycom’s system for our clients. Previously, he was an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson. Hines earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and his juris doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. A fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hines also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife and daughter.

Financial Literacy Improves Employee Retention

How Investing in Financial Literacy Improves Employee Retention

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As defined by Investopedia, financial literacy is education and understanding on efficiently managing personal finance areas, including investing, insurance, real estate, retirement and budgeting.

Financial stress can contribute to diminished quality of customer service; increased administrative costs, due to wage garnishment and loans from 401(k) accounts; and a distracted workforce with lower levels of productivity. Minimize these outcomes and invest in a loyal workforce by prioritizing your employees’ financial literacy.

Did you know that more than 81% of college-educated millennials have at least one term debt, but only 24% can demonstrate basic financial knowledge. With such a need, how can organizations use financial education programs to recruit top talent and engage employees?

Gain competitive edge

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 37% of HR professionals believe employees at their organization have missed work for a financial emergency in the last year, while 61% describe their employees’ financial health as “fair” or “less than fair.” Employ a significant number of millennials? SHRM has found the 25-to-34 age group to be the most financially stressed of all.

Many employers believe that educating their employees on financial literacy will reduce turnover and build employee loyalty, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Financial Wellness at Work report. If employee retention is a priority in your business, the financial know-how of your workforce should be as well.

In fact, 60% of employers surveyed by management consulting firm Aon Hewitt in 2017 said that the financial well-being of their employees has increased in importance in the last two years. Maintain or gain a competitive advantage in hiring and retention by ensuring that your employees feel valued with education that resonates with their needs.

Make it accessible

One cost-effective initial step to improving your employees’ financial literacy is sharing information on its topics. Many organizations provide literature about their 401(k) or employee stock options; others add additional resources to meet their employees’ specific needs.

These other options include training their people on investing or basic budgeting techniques, whether through a learning management system or in-person workshops. Some employers may connect their employees with a third-party financial adviser, or offer financial counseling during crises as a part of an employer assistance program.

Financial literacy may be intimidating to your employees, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, Harvard finance professor Mihir Desai uses stories, literature and music in his 2016 book, The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return, to demonstrate that financial principles can and should be accessible.

Click here to listen to the HR Break Room podcast interview with Mihir Desai.

Become a trusted resource

Your employees already make several important financial decisions when they come to work. They may decide which health care plan best fits their needs, whether or not to invest the fully matched amount in their 401(k) or how much of their paycheck should divert automatically to their savings account.

Improving their financial literacy builds upon the financial decisions they already make at work, and demonstrates that your company prioritizes investing in them. Employees who feel valued are more likely to be loyal, productive members of your workforce.

For more about financial literacy in the workplace, read Dollars and Sense: Financial Literacy for the Millennial Workforce.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Experience, Featured, Millennials


Author Bio: Jason Bodin has been the communications pulse for a number of organizations, including Paycom, where he serves as director of public relations and corporate communications. He helped launch Paycom’s blog, webinar platform and social media channels. He aided in the development of Paycom’s tool to assist organizations in complying with the Affordable Care Act, one of the largest changes in health care the country has seen. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Bodin previously worked for ESPN and FoxSports. In his free time, he enjoys adventuring with his family, reading and strengthen his business acumen.

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