Simplifying the Payroll Process

Payroll is not an area where business owners can afford to cut corners. Vensure Employer Services offers payroll processing and administration services as a comprehensive answer to various business needs. Finally, real-time access to the information employees rely on most.

 

Payroll Processing, the Vensure Way

Vensure Employer Services has both the advanced technology and technical expertise to relieve clients of the unproductive burden of payroll. While we understand that most business owners would rather watch paint dry than process payroll, it is that one unloved task that all companies with employees, regardless of their size, have to do. That is where we come in. Vensure’s comprehensive payroll processing services provide peace of mind in the complex and ever-changing world of paycheck processing. Since Vensure is known in the industry as having one of the best payroll departments, we gathered a couple of our Lead Payroll Technicians, Arielle Goodman and Cesar Castellanos, and talked to them about what makes Vensure stand out from the rest.

When asked what sets Vensure apart, without hesitation, both agreed it was Vensure’s superior customer service and outstanding teamwork. “I love the knowledge-pool that comes with being a close-knit payroll team,” said Cesar. “I can be stuck in a situation that I’ve never experienced before but know that I can reach out to my team and have someone guide me to a resolution instantly. I enjoy the client interactions I have every day. Building rapport with my clients helps me understand their exact business needs.” Arielle added, “I love working with the payroll team at Vensure because we are all about teamwork! We work together and help each other with problem-solving for our clients. We are all constantly learning and growing as a department.”

While Vensure delivers payroll processing, as well as other services customized to meet each client’s needs, it is our simple, secure and convenient 24/7 online access to payroll, along with Reality Check, Vensure’s proprietary check printing solution, which helps attract new clients. Our comprehensive suite of services allows both employers and employees to monitor and manage their information via a secure website from anywhere. “Vensure is great because we provide options,” says Arielle. “That flexibility allows employers to feel more comfortable submitting their payroll. Our web option is particularly great because it allows employers to have full control over the process. We are always here to assist with any questions or concerns.” Cesar agreed.

Our comprehensive payroll processing services can also help minimize the risks of falling out of compliance. Our operations department is made up of several specialized teams, to stay on top of ever-changing laws. These teams include Payroll, Payroll Tax, Operations Maintenance, Unemployment, and Garnishments. When asked what each felt were some of the most important features to using Vensure to manage payroll, Cesar responded, “Vensure’s payroll services come backed with an entire office of knowledgeable staff to assist with any unusual situation our clients may have. We provide dedicated specialists to streamline payroll and get employees paid as accurately as possible.” Arielle added, “Success is when all of our clients have their payroll processed perfectly and on time, when all of our clients feel listened to and appreciated, and they feel like their needs have been met.” With that being said, we wondered how Vensure’s payroll department keeps up to date on changes in the industry. “We hold meetings every week to discuss many topics relevant to payroll and our payroll team,” said Arielle. “For example, when we were gearing up for the W2 season we went over all the possible questions or concerns a client or employee could have and the best way to resolve them. This kept everyone on the same page and made sure we were using the correct policies.” Cesar added, “Our bi-weekly team and lead meetings not only help us to stay up to date with current processing trends, but they also help to provide an open floor for discussion regarding any questions any technicians may have.”

Finally, when asked what makes Vensure’s Payroll Technicians the best in the industry, Cesar responded, “Two words… being analytical. Anyone can sit behind a desk and press keys all day, but it takes analytical thinking to understand the payroll process from beginning to end. It may be cliché to say, but Vensure’s technicians thinking outside the box comes in handy, and asking questions accelerates knowledge in understanding how to meet specific client needs.” Arielle added, “Companies have many options for us to help them. Our payroll technicians work personally with clients from start to finish each week to make their payroll processing easier.”

Whether you are a start-up or an established business, Vensure can assist you with creating or streamlining your processes to ensure you are prepared to navigate the complexities of processing your payroll.

Premium Billing Options

ACA News Update

Dear Vensure Client:

With your ESC Open Enrollment period currently happening or just around the corner, we would like to take this opportunity to explain the billing method for you and the employees (EEs). As you read the varying points offered under each plan, we hope that you will better understand your payment options.

PREMIUM BILLING OPTIONS

The ESC Fixed Medical Indemnity rates are calculated to match the employer’s payroll cycle(weekly, bi-weekly, or semi-monthly). Many of you currently have EEs enrolled in the Indemnity product, so you already understand how this works. This product is separate from the MEC and MV plans, but can be coupled with either of these products.

ESC FIXED MEDICAL INDEMNITY Weekly Payroll Deduction Files (via Verisource)

  • Employer only deducts on weeks when the employee worked.
  • Pre and post-tax.
  • Missed premium model allows employees to skip deductions and not repay (claims are not paid if incurred during periods of missed deductions).
  • Employee may make direct payment to provider for missed deductions, but it is not required.
  • Weekly/Bi-Weekly/Semi-Monthly coverage, as determined by your current payroll frequency.

MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE (MEC) Direct Pay (via Verisource)

  • Payments are accepted monthly via credit card, paycard or debit card.
  • Not available on a Section 125 plan.
  • Monthly coverage.

MINIMUM VALUE PLAN (MVP) Direct Pay

  • Payments are accepted monthly via credit card, paycard or debit card.
  • Not available on a Section 125 plan
  • Pre-determined contribution levels have been established and provided to each of you
  • Employer contributions drafted via ACH each month.
  • Credit given for any employees who do not have an authorized credit card payment.
  • Monthly coverage.

Monthly List Bill

  • Employer pays bill in full and deducts as needed from employees.
  • Pre or post tax.
  • Monthly coverage.

DIRECT PAY PROCESS FOR MEC OR MVP

  • Employee completes enrollment form.
  • Application is processed, including matching demographic data from the group eligibility file with a hire date or first paycheck date.
  • PAI mails employee a Confirmation of Coverage(COC) letter, along with ID cards.
  • Employee goes to the PAI website to submit credit card information or calls PAI call center.
  • Employee must supply information in order to access the payment form, such as credit card information and email address.
  • Forms of payment include Visa, MasterCard, debit or prepaid card, so long as there is sufficient credit/funds available.
  • Card information is not stored with PAI.
  • On the 15th of each month, PAI submits a file with MEC or MVP enrollees for processing.
  • Failed transactions (invalid cards or insufficient credit) generate an email to the employee, instructing them to contact PAI customer service to make payment arrangements
  • Employees have until the last day of the following month to make payment or the policy is cancelled and they are not eligible to re-enroll until the next annual Open Enrollment period.
  • Employer contributions on the MVP will be drafted via ACH on the 15th.
  • PAI’s premium database will combine the employee direct pay with the employer contribution to match the total cost.
  • If either the employee or employer amounts do not come in on the 15th, the records will go to an error file for PAI to reconcile.
  • Employers will receive credit on the following month for any contributions made for employees who failed to make their direct payment.
  • MEC Only: Employees wishing to start coverage immediately, but miss the 15th cutoff for their first direct payment, can call PAI customer service to have a one-time payment taken over the phone.
  • Direct pay does not include individual employee payments by personal check.Coupon books are not an option for the MEC or MVP.

UPCOMING TOPICS

  • How PCORI/TRF fees are billed.
  • TRAX ACA compliance software for employers.

CONTACTS

  • Ryan Scott – ryan.scott@vensure.com
  • Anna Hoebing – anna.hoebing@vensure.com

FUN FACTS

  • A cough releases an explosive charge of air that moves at speeds up to 60mph. A sneeze can exceed speeds of 100mph. Take cover!
  • Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system.

State Minimum Wage Increases On The Rise

Almost every week there is another report on minimum wage increases. Awareness of these changes is important to every business, large or small. In recent months several states have increased their minimum wage, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. A few of the upcoming minimum wage changes are listed below.

Connecticut
The new minimum wage law in Connecticut includes three annual wage rate increases. The first increase raises the rate to $9.15 on January 1, 2015, to $9.60 in 2016, and to $10.10 in 2017.

Massachusetts
On January 1, 2015, the minimum wage in Massachusetts will increase to $9.00 per hour, to be followed by an increase to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2016 and $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2017. The law states the Massachusetts minimum wage law must always be at least $0.50 higher than the effective federal minimum wage rate.

Rhode Island
The third consecutive annual minimum wage increase for Rhode Island is effective on January 1, 2015 and will increase the current rate to $9.00 per hour. The increase allows Rhode Island to engage in competitive hiring with neighboring states.

Vermont
Minimum wage increases in Vermont are set to begin January 1, 2015, with the current rate rising to $9.15 per hour. Additional annual increases will go into effect beginning January 1, 2016 with the rate increasing to $9.60 per hour, followed by $10.00 per hour in 2017, and $10.50 per hour in 2018. Starting in 2019, the Vermont minimum wage will annually increase by 5% or the Consumer Price Index percentage increase. The amount used will be determined by which of the two percentages is the lowest. Beginning January 1, 2015, employees receiving tips as a portion of their wages, must be paid a minimum of one-half the state minimum wage.

Additional Minimum Wage Increases
Presently, several state wage laws include annual minimum wage increases, effective on the first day of January. The Consumer Price Index is typically used to determine the rate increases. State labor departments normally announce the new wage rate in October for the following year.

You can keep on top of all changes in minimum wage laws applying to your business by checking the state government web sites for each email notifications and other important wage law information available for employers. Look out for email notifications from Vensure regarding these changes as well.

How to Obtain Past Year(s) W-2 Forms from the IRS

NOTICE: We have mailed out W-2s, and you should be receiving them shortly.

Some business transactions require that you show past and present proofs of income. Your W-2s come in handy at this time because they show your wages earned and taxes paid while you were working for specific employers. The Internal Revenue Service recommends that taxpayers keep copies of past W2s for as long as possible. However, things happen and sometimes documents go missing. If you’re missing W-2s from previous years, try to get copies from the respective employers. If that doesn’t work, learn how to get old W-2s from the IRS.

Order Transcript | Online or Phone

Use the IRS Order a Transcript application to view and print your transcript(s) immediately. You may also call the IRS self-service line at 1-800-908-9946 to order your transcript(s). If you order by phone, follow the prompts and select 3, then 1 to quickly complete your order. Once you get your transcript order form, complete it, sign it and send it to the address listed in the instructions. This printout will not include W-2 or state and local information. In addition, you cannot use the online method if you want the transcript sent to an address that is different from what the IRS has on file for you. Give the agency 5-10 business days from the time they receive your signed request.

Order Transcript | Form 4506-T

Request a free transcript from the IRS by filling out Form 4506-T. This method is effective if you want the transcript sent to a different address than what the IRS has on file for you. Include your personal data on the form, such as name, address and Social Security number. On line 6, enter tax form number “1040.” Then, check line 8 to ask for the transcript. On line 9, put the W-2 year(s) that you need. You may request up to four years of prior W-2s on one form. If you need more data, fill out another 4506-T. Mail or fax the 4506-T to the address or fax number that corresponds with your resident state. This information is included on the form.

Request Copy of Actual Transcript | Form 4506

Fill out Form 4506 to request an exact copy of a previously filed and processed tax return from the IRS. This method gives you photocopies of your W-2 attachments for the tax year(s) in question. The W-2s also include state and local information if you were subject to those types of withholdings. You may request up to eight years of tax returns on one form. For more than 8 years, you must attach another Form 4506. At the time of publication, a fee of $50 applies to each tax return you request. Mail the form and your payment to the address listed on the form. Allow up to 75 calendar days to process your request.

Considerations

The IRS provides W-2 transcript information for up to 10 years and copies of tax returns for up to seven years. W-2 data for the present year is not available until the following year after the document has been filed. For example, for tax year 2012, your employer files your 2012 W-2 with the Social Security Administration during the first quarter of 2013. Then, the information is sent to the IRS by the end of the second quarter of 2013. You may request the form from the IRS after they receive it from the Social Security Administration.

How to Obtain W-2s from VenSure

2013 W-2s have been mailed and are now available online. To obtain current and past W-2s online, go to HRP Web and click on Employee Inquires > W-2 Reprint > the year in question. As long as payroll was processed through VenSure, past W-2s will be available online.

State Minimum Wage Increases

Dear Valued Client,
Although federal minimum wage will stay the same, many states have announced increases. Effective January 1st, 2013 these states will be increasing the minimum wage:

  • Arizona to $7.80 per hour
  • Colorado to $7.78 per hour ($4.76 per hour for tipped employees)
  • Florida to $7.79 per hour ($4.77 per hour for tipped employees)
  • Missouri to $7.35 per hour
  • Montana to $7.80 per hour
  • Ohio to $7.85 per hour ($3.93 per hour for tipped employees)
  • Oregon to $8.95 per hour
  • Rhode Island to $7.75 per hour
  • Vermont to $8.60 per hour ($4.17 for tipped employees)
  • Washington to $9.19 per hour

Labor posters are automatically updated and mailed to you through our 3rd party vendor. Should you not receive your updated poster within 30 days of the effective date, please contact your Client Relations Manager for assistance.

Sincerely,
Vensure Employer Services

2014 Tax Reminder – NO ACTION NECESSARY

Dear Valued Clients,

As many of you are aware with the New Year, there are many changes/updates to federal and state tax laws and forms. Vensure is working to get the updated forms and information to our clients as it becomes available; however, not all forms and information regarding changes to laws are made available until well after the beginning of the year with retroactive effective dates. We will be updating the News section of our website to keep you informed of the latest compliance information, as well as sending E-blasts and updating the Client Center with the latest forms. Until such time, please continue to use the existing forms in the Client Center.

The New Year is a good time to have employees review their taxes and make any necessary changes. Please be sure to update HRP Web with any new employee information.

Sincerely,

Vensure

ACTION REQUIRED: W2 Reminder Notice

IMPORTANT REMINDER Regarding 2013 W-2s

Dear Valued Client,

We are fast approaching year-end and W-2 time for 2013. In order to ensure that W-2s are issued timely and accurately, we are requesting that you report to us any cash or non-cash items that have not been previously reported to Vensure through the normal payroll process that need to be included on employees’ W-2s. Examples of this may include, but are not limited to, third party sick pay, fringe benefits, and personal use of a company vehicle. Also, as of the 2012 tax year, the IRS requires the employer paid portion of group medical be included in box 12 of Form W-2. If you are contributing to your employees’ group medical, please provide the amount contributed to each employee’s health care cost. This is not a taxable event to the employee, however it is now required for informational purposes on the Form W-2.

Please consult with your Accounting Department or CPA to determine if any additional information needs to be reported on Form W-2 for 2013 that has not been previously reported to Vensure. We will need to receive this information no later than Friday, December 27, 2013 in order to prevent any penalties or fees for late filing. Any information received after this date will incur penalties and additional fees or may not be accepted.

Please feel free to contact your Payroll Representative or Client Relations Manager if you have any additional questions in regards to this notice.

Sincerely,
Robert Attridge
Vice President of Operations
Vensure Employer Services

Navigating Through Payroll Deductions (1)

Managing payroll requires strict attention to which deductions are legally allowed. Seemingly small mistakes in this regard can lead to major legal problems. It’s critical to ensure you’re in compliance with rightful allowable deductions at all times. This overview, while not comprehensive, is a brief look at the basics of mandatory, legal and unlawful deductions. Each individual case must considered in detail, as various policies apply in different situations and in each state.

Mandatory Deductions

By law, these deductions are required to be withheld from an employee’s gross earnings:

  • FICA Tax – FICA deductions fund both Social Security and Medicare. Although each tax is calculated at different rates, the aggregate monies are collected together via the FICA deduction.
  • Federal Income Tax.
  • State Income Tax – If applicable.
  • Local Tax – If applicable, as directed by county, city or other regional mandates.
  • Wage Garnishments – Imposed by federal or state law.

Voluntary Deductions

These are deductions that may legally be taken, but are not required to be deducted from the employee’s gross pay. Voluntary deductions may be initiated by the written request of the employee. With that said, an employee’s written permission doesn’t always legally grant the deduction of monies from a paycheck, such as deducting the balance of monies owed to the employer when receiving a final check due to termination.

Lawful deductions that an employer may withhold include:

  • Voluntary contributions to health plans, pension plans, IRA accounts and union dues.
  • For exempt employees, sick or personal days, FMLA leave and disciplinary actions.

It is important to note that permissions regarding what is or is not allowed can depend on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt. An employer may dock the wages of a non-exempt employee in order to reimburse for damaged property or similar expenses for which the employee is directly responsible, but these deductions may not take the employee’s total wages below minimum wage. This is true even if the employer suffers losses due to the employee’s theft of company money or property.

Further, if such deductions are incurred during a week which includes overtime earnings, specific rules apply that require the overtime wage to remain at the original (i.e., not docked) rate.

Unlawful Deductions

  • Gratuities.
  • Reducing pay for exempt employees providing little or poor work (but, zero work during the week can trigger withholding).
  • Uniforms – The Fair Standards Labor Act does not require that employees purchase uniforms; however, this business expense may be passed to employees in some states (though, you are still required to ensure the total earnings minus the deduction is not putting the employee below minimum wage), yet is unlawful in other states, such as California.
  • Other items that benefit the employer; e.g., business cards, company photographs, company mandated medical examinations.
  • Work-related expenses.

Not only are federal court decisions interpreted in various ways by the state courts, many states have specific statutes detailing what may and may not be deducted from paychecks (even with the employee’s written “consent”). Wandering into murky territory regarding deductions can spell trouble for a company and those involved in authorizing the questionable deductions. Always make sure you are familiar with the specific requirements of your state before you just assume a deduction is lawful.

If you’re ever in doubt about how to proceed, contact us, and avoid making a tricky situation worse!

Sincerely,

Vensure Employer Services

Vensure Announces New Paycheck Security Features – No Action Required

Dear Valued Client,

Venture is excited to announce a new security feature on all Vensure issued payroll checks and statements. Paychecks and direct deposit statements, sent regularly to your employees, now feature a new and improved look which includes new paper stock and improved shading to protect private financial information directly related to your employees. As always, the Vensure press and seal checks are secure payroll documents for those who prefer traditional paychecks. In addition, they eliminate the need for envelopes, add additional security, are tamper proof and highly confidential. Each check is delivered, sealed and signed by a Vensure officer.

The ability to provide payroll checks and distribute them securely is a vital function for small and medium size businesses. We’re excited to offer this enhanced security feature for your benefit.

Sincerely,
Vensure Employer Services