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IRS Extends Time to Make IRA, HSA Contributions and File Forms 1040On March 29, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2021-21, which extends tax deadlines for filing Form 1040 series returns and other deadlines to May 17, 2021. The Notice, issued as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, follows a prior IRS extension (also to May 17, 2021) of the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year.

The Form 1040 series includes Form 1040, Form 1040-SR, Form 1040-NR, Form 1040-PR, and Form 1040-SS. Businesses and other types of taxpayers that file federal income tax returns on forms outside of the Form 1040 series are not eligible for the extension. In addition, the Notice does not alter the April 15, 2021 deadline for estimated tax payments.

Contributions to IRAs and Other Accounts

The Notice automatically postpones, to May 17, 2021, the time for individuals to make 2020 contributions to their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs and Roth IRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), and Coverdell education savings accounts.

Notice 2021-21 also postpones, to June 30, 2021, the due date for Form 5498 series returns related to these accounts (Form 5498, Form 5498-ESA, Form 5498-SA). These forms must usually be filed with the IRS and furnished to participants and beneficiaries by the due date specified in general instructions for other information returns. The period beginning on the original due date of those forms and ending on June 30, 2021, will be disregarded in calculating any penalty for failure to file.

Click here to download the legal update

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Employee Benefits New Relief Package Grants Free COBRA Coverage for Qualifying EmployeesOne of the many lifelines for workers in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is a new COBRA subsidy that completely covers the cost of continuation coverage for qualifying individuals from April 2021 through September 2021. Here’s what you need to know about this important health insurance assistance.

What is the COBRA Subsidy that Just Became Law?
The new Biden administration hopes to make it easier for people to access this essential healthcare. With the March 2021 passage of ARPA, the administration stepped in to subsidize the full cost of COBRA coverage through the end of September 2021.

But, why pass this subsidy now?
When a person is employed, a portion of their health insurance premium is often paid for by the employer. But, if someone is laid off or has their hours cut—as many millions of Americans experienced during the course of coronavirus pandemic—and they decide to opt to continue coverage under COBRA, they’re typically responsible for the full cost of the health insurance premium.

The amount charged for COBRA coverage can’t exceed 102% of the cost of the plan, but temporary health insurance is often more difficult to buy without a steady income—and costs can reach nearly $500 per person, per month. These complications are what make the new COBRA subsidy so important, as it’s designed to provide key assistance for struggling workers.

COBRA Subsidy 2021 Eligibility
Every employee who involuntarily loses their health insurance beginning in April 2021 is eligible for the entire sixth-month subsidy—including if they experienced a reduction in hours. Employers and employees alike should note that the subsidy only covers the cost of the health insurance premiums, not copays, deductibles, or co-insurance.

How Will the 2021 COBRA Subsidy Help Employees and Employers?
The 2021 COBRA subsidy is likely to impact both employees and employers in the following ways:

  • For employees, this provision can help qualifying individuals maintain health plan coverage—especially important during a dangerous pandemic.
  • For employers, laid-off employees would still have access to the organization’s health plan at no cost to the employer or the worker. However, there may be some administrative difficulties for employers administering the subsidy.

Experts are still working through the details of the bill and its many provisions. In an article published by SHRM, the publication notes that the subsidy will be delivered to employers first using a payroll tax credit, who will then pass it on to employees (or former employees) who are enrolled in COBRA.

What Else Should Employers Know About Free COBRA Coverage?
The ink on ARPA is still fresh, meaning that employers can expect more guidance from federal agencies as it becomes available.

With this in mind, the coverage period for this subsidy begins on April 1, 2021, and ends on Sept. 30, 2021. Employers must notify their employees about this subsidy beginning April 1, and can expect the Department of Labor (DOL) to provide sample notification letters for employers to use when communicating these options to their employees.

 

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Employee Benefits OSHA Issues New COVID 19 Worker Protections After Executive OrderIn response to one of many executive orders signed by President Biden, OSHA recently issued new COVID-19 workplace guidelines to keep employees safe during the pandemic. Find out what HR teams should know about this incoming set of regulations.

How Does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Protect Workers?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the U.S. government under the Department of Labor (DOL). OSHA’s mission is to aid in the prevention of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Employers are required to adhere to certain OSHA regulations that ensure compliance with these goals, including record-keeping for on-the-job injuries and illnesses and providing a hazard-free workplace.

These objectives have been put to the test during the coronavirus pandemic. Between providing personal protective equipment (PPE), working remotely, and enforcing social distancing measures, many employers have struggled to keep up with the guidelines that help keep employees safe from COVID-19. As a result, pandemic-related lawsuits against American employers are on the rise.

OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance in 2021
On Jan. 21, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order that directs OSHA to provide more COVID-19 safety guidelines. On Jan. 29, 2021, OSHA released these new regulation guidelines on its website.

Many of the components of this guidance remain consistent with previously released recommendations:

  1. Making a COVID-19 Vaccine/Vaccine Series Available at No Cost to All Eligible Employees: Including providing information and training about the safety and benefits of vaccinations.
  2. Maintaining Safety Standards Despite Employee Vaccination Status: Workers who are vaccinated should still follow protective measures like mask-wearing until more evidence about post-vaccination transmission is available.
  3. Providing Masks to Employees: Face coverings should be provided at no cost to the employee, among other recommended guidelines.
  4. Continue Offering FFCRA Leave: While still available through March 31, 2021, FFCRA leave is no longer mandatory. With this said, employers that do offer voluntary FFCRA leave are eligible for a tax credit to cover costs related to employee time off.
  5. Providing Guidance About Screening and Testing: Employers should follow state or local guidance and priorities for screening and testing in workplaces. Workplace testing can be arranged through the employer’s health provider or in coordination with the local or state health department.

 For the full list of guidance, visit osha.gov.

OSHA Considering Emergency Temporary COVID-19 Standards for 2021
The executive order also mandates OSHA to determine the necessity of new emergency temporary safety standards for the workplace and implement and enforce these measures if applicable. New emergency standards are required to be issued by March 15, 2021.

There is a difference between OSHA guidance and emergency temporary standards. The former constitutes a set of recommended guidelines for employers while the latter includes rules that must be followed by employers—and is enforceable by OSHA. While not yet released, temporary, enforceable directives could include:

  1. Requiring mask-wearing in the workplace; and
  2. Making short-, medium-, and long-term changes to better protect employees on the job and ensure equity in enforcement.

What Else Should HR Know About New OSHA Requirements for Employers? The same executive order stated that it will launch a new national program to focus OSHA coronavirus enforcement efforts on violations that put the largest number of employees at serious risk. While little is known about the program at this time, the refocused enforcement initiative is likely to impact larger employers and industries on the frontline of the pandemic, including healthcare workers, food supply workers, and more.

HR professionals should stay on top of the two deadlines set by the Biden administration and adjust practices accordingly. As a reminder, these dates include: 

    • New OSHA Guidance: Issued on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021
    • New  Emergency Temporary Standards: By Monday, March 15, 2021

 

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Join us at any of the upcoming, free Acrisure compliance webinars!

January 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar Feb 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance WebinarMarch 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar April 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to download the calendar of upcoming webinars

If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to your Gulfshore Insurance Account Manager.

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Emplyee Benefits Updated Guidance Regarding the COVID 19 VaccinesOn December 16, 2020, just days after the first doses of COVID-19 were administered in the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidance providing employers with critical information regarding the intersections of mandated employee COVID vaccinations and federal employment laws. This guidance confirms the EEOC’s position that employers must first seek an accommodation for employees who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for disability or religious-related reasons before taking any action against them.

Employers cannot automatically terminate workers who refuse the vaccine because of a disability or religious beliefs before first conducting an individualized assessment that considers whether the workers pose a direct threat, said the agency in its update of COVID-19 related guidance.

In focusing on disability-related issues, the factors to be considered in determining whether there is a direct threat are: the severity of the potential harm; the likelihood the potential harm will occur; and the potential harm’s imminence. Employers cannot exclude the employee from the workplace “unless there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation (absent undue hardship) that would eliminate or reduce this risk, so the unvaccinated employee does not pose a direct threat,” the guidance said.

Before terminating an employee, employers must also determine if any other rights apply under equal employment opportunity laws or other federal, state or local authorities. Similarly, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation if a worker refuses to be vaccinated because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs, unless it poses an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Among the other vaccine-related questions addressed by the new guidance, it states the vaccination itself is not a medical exam, although pre-screening vaccination questions may implicate the Americans with Disabilities Act’s provision on disability-related inquiries, and the employer must show that these questions are “‘job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

The guidance also states that requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination is not considered a disability-related inquiry. The guidance does not address issues including whether an employees’ anxiety about receiving a vaccination can be considered in deciding whether a reasonable accommodation should be considered.

Click here to read the updated guidance

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.