Top Reasons for Workplace Discrimination Claims

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled more than 99,109 workplace discrimination claims—securing more than $398 million from employers in the private and public sectors. Discrimination lawsuits can be time-consuming and expensive for employers and result in a loss of employee morale or reputation within the community.

Top 10 Causes of Discrimination Claims:

Per the EEOC, below are the top 10 reasons for workplace discrimination claims in the fiscal year of 2017:

  1. Retaliation—41,097 (48.8 percent of all charges filed)
  2. Race—28,528 (33.9 percent)
  3. Disability—26,838 (31.9 percent)
  4. Sex—25,605 (30.4 percent)
  5. Age—18,376 (21.8 percent)
  6. National origin—8,299 (9.8 percent)
  7. Religion—3,436 (4.1 percent)
  8. Color—3,240 (3.8 percent)
  9. Equal Pay Act—996 (1.2 percent)
  10. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act—206 (0.2 percent)

The percentages add up to more than 100 percent because several lawsuits were filed alleging multiple reasons for discrimination.

What Should Employers Do?

Employers should take the following six steps to protect themselves from discrimination claims:

  1. Audit their practices to uncover any problematic situations
  2. Create a clear anti-retaliation policy that includes specific examples of what management can and cannot do when disciplining or terminating employees
  3. Provide training to management and employees on anti-retaliation and other discrimination policies
  4. Implement a user-friendly internal complaint procedure for employees
  5. Uphold a standard of workplace civility, which can reduce retaliatory behaviors

For more information on discrimination claims and for tips on how to protect your business, contact Sapoznik Insurance today.

This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. 

Tips for Selecting a Mental Health Professional

For many Americans seeking help from mental health professionals, selecting a provider is an important decision that should be made carefully. Credentials, competence and your comfort level with the provider are worth considering.

There are different types of professionals out there to help. The following are the most common for mental health care:

Psychiatrists

Have medical degrees, can prescribe medication and have completed three years of residency training (beyond medical school) in mental health care.

Psychologists

Have a doctorate in psychology and, generally, complete one or two years of internship before licensure.

Professional Counselors

Have a minimum of a master’s degree in a mental health discipline, and at least two years of post-graduate supervised experience.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Typically have a master’s degree or doctorate in marriage and family therapy, and at least one year of supervised practice.

Social Workers

Have a minimum of a master’s degree in social work and at least two years of post-graduate supervised experience.

Who’s the Best Fit?

Finding the right mental health professional requires a bit of work. If you are depressed or have another serious mental illness, it can be challenging to do that work on your own. If you are in this situation, ask family, friends or your primary physician for assistance. Here are some reliable ways to locate a provider:

  • Through referrals by physician, friends or family members
  • Ask your health insurance company for a list of providers
  • Check your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at work for a referral

Also take into account factors that are important to you like age, race, gender, religion and cultural background. It is not wrong to rule out certain providers because they don’t meet the criteria; you will be establishing a long-term relationship with this person, and you need to feel as comfortable with him or her as possible.

9 Essential Questions to Ask

  1. What types of treatment do you provide?
  2. What is your training or experience with my problem area?
  3. How will we determine treatment goals?
  4. How will we measure my progress?
  5. What do you expect from me?
  6. What are your office hours?
  7. How do you handle emergencies?
  8. Do you charge for missed appointments?
  9. Are you in my health plan’s provider network?

Mental Health Awareness is Key to Getting the Help You Need

Mental illness affects one in five adults in the United States each year; that’s about 43 million people.  The most prevalent mental illnesses are depression and anxiety, affecting 18.1% of ages 18 years and older each year. Emotions are healthy. Humans are designed to experience grief, loss, sadness, and fear. However, if these healthy emotions turn to anxiety or depression, it may be a sign of a deeper issue. Anxiety disorders are treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive the treatment they need.

Reacting to a stressful or life-changing event such as losing a job, or losing a loved one is healthy. As we look to take care of our minds and bodies, it is important to realize the point where sadness turns into depression or worry turns into anxiety attacks.  Being mindful of these distinctions is crucial. When you start to drown your feelings by drinking a few glasses of wine at night to de-stress, or your mood starts to limit your day-to-day activities, this is an indication it is time to stop for a moment and seek help. Depression and anxiety can be a serious condition, impacting every aspect of your life, from your appetite to sleeping.

Most people turn to their primary care health provider; others reach out to a mental health professional for counseling, and some might need more intensive treatment to stay safe and stabilized. Knowing when to ask for help is critical. Keep in mind that if you are feeling down, people are acting concerned about you, and others are helping you more than usual, it is time to ask a professional for help.  There is no shame in asking!

I have patients that routinely tell me that the money spent on counseling is the best investment in themselves they have ever made. Be mindful of how you are feeling. If you are struggling or if you notice that things aren’t right, take the time to talk to your doctor or mental health professional to get back on track and start feeling like yourself again.

Here are six quick tips to help you manage your anxiety and depression:

  1. Turn your bedroom into a Zen palace
  2. Keep a regular bedtime hour
  3. Have a routine one hour before bedtime
  4. Avoid devices with screens, anything that causes stress or mental stimulus before heading to bed
  5. Exercise regularly
  6. Go outside every day

Dr. Nelson is Director of Clinical Services at The Florida House Experience in Deerfield Beach.  The Florida House is an innovative treatment center for mental health and substance use disorders that utilizes a whole person model treating clients medically, clinically, and with the latest technology in order to live happy and productive lives.

Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

In recent years, electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have flooded the market. Many people are turning to e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking; however, questions remain about their safety and effectiveness.

What is an Electronic Cigarette?

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices typically made of plastic or metal. E-cigarettes are often created to look like tobacco cigarettes or cigars, and commonly used in place of smoking a tobacco product.

E-cigarettes vaporize the liquid, which usually contains nicotine and other chemicals. The act of inhaling vapor through an e-cigarette is known as “vaping.” Over the past several years, e-cigarette offerings have increased, with hundreds of brands and thousands of flavors to choose.

Why Use an Electronic Cigarette?

Many people are looking to e-cigarettes as a way to slowly wean off traditional, tobacco-containing cigarettes. The amount of nicotine in the vaporized liquid varies, thereby allowing people to reduce the amount of nicotine they use over time gradually. Since vaping e-cigarettes so closely resembles the act of traditional smoking, some believe that e-cigarettes offer a more natural transition to a smoke-free lifestyle than nicotine gum and patches do.

Health Hazards

The vital difference between traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes is that electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco. However, they still do contain some of the chemicals found in conventional cigarettes like nicotine (unless you choose a nicotine-free cartridge).

Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant and can cause increased blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. Some e-cigarettes have also been found to contain formaldehyde, a chemical that has the potential to cause cancer.

Adverse effects of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes may include pneumonia, congestive heart failure, disorientation, seizures and other health problems. Nicotine has also been linked to reproductive health problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and respiratory problems.

E-cigarette Regulation

E-cigarettes have been called a “gateway” to smoking and criticized for targeting teenagers with candy-like flavors like chocolate, birthday cake, and cotton candy. When e-cigarettes first entered the market, there was no minimum age requirement for purchasing them.

However, on May 5, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Retailers will now be required to verify that all customers are at least 18 years old, and they will no longer be able to distribute free samples. E-cigarettes must also now carry warnings that they contain the addictive substance, nicotine.

Additionally, the FDA requires all e-cigarettes that went on sale after February 2007 to get FDA approval. The e-cigarette market was virtually non-existent before 2007, so this means that every e-cigarette, as well as every flavor and nicotine level, will need to be approved. E-cigarette makers have two years to gain FDA approval for their products.

In Summary

While e-cigarettes were initially promoted as a way to help people quit traditional cigarettes, doubts remain about their safety and long-term health consequences.

For more information on how to quit smoking using FDA-approved methods, visit smokefree.gov.

Mental Health Awareness: Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders affect over 57 million adults in America—more than 26 percent of the U.S. population.

Anxiety disorders commonly occur in conjunction with other mental or physical illnesses, last at least six months and can get worse without treatment. There are six types of anxiety disorders: panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, specific phobia and generalized anxiety disorder.

Panic Disorder

This condition affects about 6 million U.S. adults and is twice as common in women. It is characterized by sudden attacks of terror—known as panic attacks—which are usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweating, dizziness and/or weakness. During these attacks, sufferers may flush or feel chilled, their hands may tingle or feel numb and nausea or chest pain may occur. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom or a fear of losing control. They can occur at any time—even during sleep. About one-third of people who experience panic attacks become so fearful that they refuse to leave home. When the condition progresses this far, it is called agoraphobia—a fear of open spaces.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD sufferers have persistent, upsetting thoughts or obsessions, and use rituals to control the anxiety these thoughts produce. Most often, the rituals end up controlling the person with OCD. For example, if someone is obsessed with germs and dirt, he or she may develop a compulsion for excessive hand washing. OCD is estimated to affect over 2 million adults in the United States.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD develops after a traumatic event or experience that involved physical harm or the threat of it. PTSD is common in war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as kidnapping, abuse or a car accident. People with PTSD may startle easily, become emotionally numb (especially to people with whom they used to be close), lose interest in things they used to enjoy, and become irritable, aggressive or violent. They avoid situations which remind them of the original incident, and anniversaries of the incident are usually very difficult. PTSD affects nearly 8 million adults in the United States but can occur at any age.

Social Phobia

Also called social anxiety disorder, social phobia is diagnosed when individuals become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. People with this phobia have an intense, persistent and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of doing things that will embarrass them. They may worry for days or even weeks before a dreaded situation. Many with social phobia realize that their fear is unwarranted, but are still unable to overcome it. This phobia affects about 15 million American adults.

Specific Phobias

A specific phobia is an intense, irrational fear of something that actually poses little or no threat—such as heights, escalators, dogs, spiders, closed-in places or water. These types of phobias affect over 19 million adults in the United States and affect women twice as often as men. Like social phobia, sufferers understand that these fears are irrational, but feel powerless to stop them. The causes of these phobias are not well understood, but symptoms usually appear in childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with GAD go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to worry about. An estimated 6.8 million American adults have GAD, and it also affects women twice as often as men. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months. Physical symptoms accompanying this condition include fatigue, headaches, irritability, nausea, frequent urination and hot flashes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In general, anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy or both. Before treatment begins, a doctor must conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine whether a person’s symptoms are caused by an anxiety disorder or a physical problem. Sometimes alcoholism, depression or other coexisting conditions have such a strong effect on the individual that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until those conditions are brought under control.

Those with anxiety disorders usually try several different treatments or combinations of treatment before finding the one that works for them.

How to Get Help

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, the first step to take is to visit your physician. He or she can determine if your symptoms are caused by an anxiety disorder, another medical condition or both. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, you will be referred to a mental health professional.

For more information, contact the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at www.nimh.nih.gov or

866-615-NIMH (6464).

Source: NIMH

New Rules for Disability Claims

On Jan. 5, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that effective April 1, 2018, employee benefit plans must comply with new requirements for disability benefit claims.

In 2016, the DOL released a final rule to strengthen the claims and appeals requirements for plans that provide disability benefits and are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The final rule was scheduled to apply to claims that are filed on or after Jan. 1, 2018. However, on Nov. 24, 2017, the DOL delayed the final rule for 90 days—until April 1, 2018—to give stakeholders the opportunity to submit comments on the final rule’s benefits and costs.

According to the DOL, the information it received during the delay period did not justify modifying or rescinding the final rule. Thus, the final rule will take effect without change.

ACTION STEPS

ERISA plans that include disability benefits must comply with the new procedural protections, effective for claims that are submitted after April 1, 2018. Entities that administer disability benefits claims, including issuers and third-party administrators, will need to revise their claims procedures to comply with the final rule.

ERISA Requirements

Section 503 of ERISA requires every employee benefit plan to:

  • Provide adequate notice in writing to any participant or beneficiary whose claim for benefits under the plan has been denied, setting forth the specific reasons for the denial, written in a manner calculated to be understood by the participant; and
  • Afford a reasonable opportunity to any participant whose claim for benefits has been denied for a full and fair review by the appropriate named fiduciary of the decision denying the claim.

The DOL first adopted claims procedure regulations for employee benefit plans in 1977. In 2000, the DOL updated its claims procedure regulations by improving and strengthening the minimum requirements for employee benefit plans, including plans that provide disability benefits. Effective for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended ERISA to include enhanced internal claims and appeals requirements for group health plans.

Additional Protections for Disability Claimants

The final rule requires that plans, plan fiduciaries, and insurance providers comply with additional protections when dealing with disability benefit claimants. The final rule includes the following requirements for the processing of claims and appeals for disability benefits:

  • Improvement to Basic Disclosure Requirements: Benefit denial notices must contain a complete discussion of why the plan denied a claim and the standards used in making the decision.
  • Right to Claim File and Internal Protocols: Benefit denial notices must include a statement that the claimant is entitled to receive, upon request, the entire claim file, and other relevant documents. Benefit denial notices also have to include the internal rules, guidelines, protocols, standards or other similar criteria of the plan that were used in denying a claim, or a statement that none were used.
  • Right to Review and Respond to New Information Before Final Decision: The final rule prohibits plans from denying benefits on appeal based on new or additional evidence or rationales that were not included when the benefit was denied at the claims stage unless the claimant is given notice and a fair opportunity to respond.
  • Avoiding Conflicts of Interest: Plans must ensure that disability benefits claims and appeals are adjudicated in a manner designed to ensure the independence and impartiality of the people involved in making the decision. For example, a claims adjudicator or medical or vocational expert could not be hired, promoted, terminated or compensated based on the likelihood of the person denying benefit claims.
  • Deemed Exhaustion of Claims and Appeal Processes: If plans do not adhere to all claims processing rules, the claimant is deemed to have exhausted the administrative remedies available under the plan, unless the violation was the result of a minor error and other specified conditions are met. If the claimant is deemed to have exhausted the administrative remedies available under the plan, the claim or appeal is deemed denied on review without the exercise of discretion by a fiduciary and the claimant may immediately pursue his or her claim in court.
  • Certain Coverage Rescissions Are Adverse Benefit Determinations Subject to the Claims Procedure Protections: Rescissions of coverage, including retroactive terminations due to alleged misrepresentation of fact (for example, errors in the application for coverage), must be treated as adverse benefit determinations that trigger the plan’s appeals procedures. Rescissions for nonpayment of premiums are not covered by this provision.
  • Notices Written in a Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Manner: Similar to the ACA standard for group health plan notices, the final rule requires that benefit denial notices be provided in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner in certain situations.

Delay of Final Rule

On Nov. 24, 2017, the DOL delayed the applicability of the final rule by 90 days—until April 1, 2018. According to the DOL, after the final rule was published, concerns were raised that its new requirements would impair workers’ access to these benefits by driving up costs. The DOL concluded that consistent with President Donald Trump’s policy on alleviating unnecessary regulatory burdens, it was appropriate to give the public an additional opportunity to submit comments on the potential impact of the final rule.

On Jan. 5, 2018, the DOL announced that the final rule will take effect on April 1, 2018, without any changes. According to the DOL, it received over 200 letters from stakeholders regarding the final rule. However, the information it received did not establish that the final rule imposes unnecessary regulatory burdens or significantly impairs workers’ access to disability insurance benefits.

This Compliance Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

The Heart and Mind Connection

Even though the brain and the heart are located far from one another in the body, they are intrinsically connected and have a significant impact on how each other functions.

The two organs communicate via the muscular walls around the heart, which are connected to the brain in the circulatory system. As the brain releases hormones telling the body what to do, receptor cells in your blood vessels pick up these messages. Also, there are nerve endings that travel from the brain to the muscular walls of the heart. These nerves send messages to the muscle tissue to either relax or contract.

Since these two organs communicate, mental health can have a dramatic effect on heart health and vice versa.

Stress

The mind’s response to a perceived or actual threatening situation is known as stress. The body responds to the stress by increasing:

  • Blood pressure
  • Respiratory rate
  • Heart rate
  • Oxygen consumption
  • Blood flow to skeletal muscles
  • Perspiration
  • Muscle tone

When you experience these responses on a regular basis as a result of stress, you are putting your body at an increased risk of heart disease.

Stress-Reducing Meditation

To combat the potentially life-threatening damage stress could have on your heart, there are several meditation techniques you can try. These techniques aim to achieve a relaxation response to reduce stress, improve the immune system and prepare the body for traumatic situations in the future.

Here are three ways to meditate:
  • Go into a quiet environment and sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Then, focus your attention on one thing such as a word, phrase or sound. Repeat that one thing over and over again. If you find that your mind wanders, refocus back. Do this exercise for 20 minutes to escape the stressors of your life.
  • Progressive relaxation is another useful exercise. Lie down or sit in a quiet area. Focus your attention on the muscle groups in your feet and slowly move through each group until you reach your head. As you go through each muscle group, try to imagine that you are actually breathing through those organs. As you “exhale”, release the tension from the group. As an alternative, you may tighten the muscles in each group for several seconds, and then physically release the tension.
  • A third meditation exercise is to imagine that you are clearing your body of the toxins that you want to get rid of. For instance, visualize that you are freeing your arteries of plaque. Concentrate on releasing that energy, which will ultimately reduce the tension in your mind.

This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.

Spending Resolution Affects ACA Taxes

OVERVIEW

On Jan. 22, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law a short-term continuing spending resolution to end the government shutdown and continue funding through Feb. 8, 2018. The continuing resolution impacts three taxes and fees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Specifically, the continuing resolution:

  • Delays implementation of the Cadillac tax on high-cost group health coverage until 2022;
  • Provides an additional one-year moratorium on the health insurance providers fee for 2019 (although the fee continues to apply for 2018); and
  • Extends the moratorium on the medical device excise tax for an additional two years, through 2019.

ACTION STEPS

Employers should be aware of the evolving applicability of existing ACA taxes and fees so that they know how the ACA affects their bottom lines. Sapoznik Insurance will continue to keep you informed of changes.

Cadillac Tax Delayed

The ACA imposes a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost group health coverage, also known as the “Cadillac tax.” This provision taxes the amount, if any, by which the monthly cost of an employee’s applicable employer-sponsored health coverage exceeds the annual limitation (called the employee’s excess benefit). The tax amount for each employee’s coverage will be calculated by the employer and paid by the coverage provider who provided the coverage.

Although originally intended to take effect in 2013, the Cadillac tax was immediately delayed until 2018 following the ACA’s enactment. A federal budget bill enacted for 2016 further delayed implementation of this tax until 2020, and also:

  • Removed a provision prohibiting the Cadillac tax from being deducted as a business expense; and
  • Required a study to be conducted on the age and gender adjustment to the annual limit.

The continuing resolution delays implementation of the Cadillac tax for an additional two years, until 2022.

There is some indication that this additional delay will lead to an eventual repeal of the Cadillac tax provision altogether. Over the past several years, a number of bills have been introduced into Congress to repeal this tax. Although President Trump has not directly indicated that he intends to repeal the Cadillac tax, he has stated that repealing and replacing the ACA is a key goal of his administration.

Moratorium on the Providers Fee

Beginning in 2014, the ACA imposed an annual, nondeductible fee on the health insurance sector, allocated across the industry according to market share. This health insurance providers fee, which is treated as an excise tax, is required to be paid by Sept. 30 of each calendar year. The first fees were due Sept. 30, 2014.

The 2016 federal budget suspended collection of the health insurance providers fee for the 2017 calendar year. Thus, health insurance issuers were not required to pay these fees for 2017. However, this moratorium expired at the end of 2017.

The continuing resolution provides an additional one-year moratorium on the health insurance providers fee for the 2019 calendar year. However, the continuing resolution specifically declines to extend the moratorium through 2018. Therefore, the fee continues to apply for the 2018 calendar year.

Employers are not directly subject to the health insurance providers fee. However, in many cases, providers of insured plans have been passing the cost of the fee on to the employers sponsoring the coverage. As a result, this one-year moratorium may result in significant savings for some employers on their health insurance rates.

Moratorium on the Medical Devices Tax

The ACA also imposes a 2.3 percent excise tax on the sales price of certain medical devices, effective beginning in 2013. Generally, the manufacturer or importer of a taxable medical device is responsible for reporting and paying this tax to the IRS.

The 2016 federal budget suspended collection of the medical devices tax for two years, in 2016 and 2017. As a result, this tax did not apply to sales made between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017.

The continuing resolution extended this moratorium for an additional two years, through the 2019 calendar year. The continuing resolution provides that this additional delay applies to sales made after Dec. 31, 2017. Therefore, as a result of both moratoriums, the medical devices tax will not apply to any sales made between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2019.

 

This ACA Compliance Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

Furnishing Deadline Delayed for 2017 ACA Reporting

OVERVIEW

On Dec. 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-06 to:

  • Extend the due date for furnishing forms under Sections 6055 and 6056 for 2017 for 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018; and
  • Extend good-faith transition relief from penalties related to 2017 information reporting under Sections 6055 and 6056.

Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing forms with the IRS for 2017. The due date for filing with the IRS under Sections 6055 and 6056 remains Feb. 28, 2018 (April 2, 2018, if filing electronically).

ACTION STEPS

The IRS is encouraging reporting entities to furnish statements as soon as they are able. No request or other documentation is required to take advantage of the extended deadline.

Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting

Sections 6055 and 6056 were added to the Internal Revenue Code (Code) by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  • Section 6055 applies to providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), such as health insurance issuers and employers with self-insured health plans. These entities will generally use Forms 1094-B and 1095-B to report information about the coverage they provided during the previous year.
  • Section 6056 applies to applicable large employers (ALEs)­­—generally, those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, in the previous year. ALEs will use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report information relating to the health coverage that they offer (or do not offer) to their full-time employees.

Extended Furnishing Deadline

The IRS has again determined that some employers, insurers and other providers of MEC need additional time to gather and analyze the information and prepare the 2017 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to be furnished to individuals. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 provides an additional 30 days for furnishing the 2017 Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C, extending the due date from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018.

Despite the delay, employers and other coverage providers are encouraged to furnish 2017 statements to individuals as soon as they are able.

Filers are not required to submit any request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06. Because this extended furnishing deadline applies automatically to all reporting entities, the IRS will not grant additional extensions of time of up to 30 days to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. As a result, the IRS will not formally respond to any requests that have already been submitted for 30-day extensions of time to furnish statements for 2017.

Impact on Filing Deadline

The IRS has determined that there is no need for additional time for employers, insurers and other providers of MEC to file 2017 forms with the IRS. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS for 2017. This due date remains:

  • 28, 2018, if filing on paper; or
  • April 2, 2018, if filing electronically (since March 31, 2018, is a Saturday).

Because the due dates are unchanged, potential automatic extensions of time for filing information returns are still available under the normal rules by submitting a Form 8809. The notice also does not affect the rules regarding additional extensions of time to file under certain hardship conditions.

Employers or other coverage providers that do not meet the due dates for filing and furnishing (as extended under the rules described above) under Sections 6055 and 6056 are subject to penalties under Section 6722 or Section 6721 for failure to furnish and file on time. However, employers and other coverage providers that do not meet the relevant due dates should still furnish and file. The IRS will take this into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.

Impact on Individuals

Because of the extended furnishing deadline, some individual taxpayers may not receive a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their 2017 tax returns. Taxpayers may rely on other information received from their employer or other coverage providers for purposes of filing their returns, including determining eligibility for an Exchange subsidy and confirming that they had MEC for purposes of the individual mandate.

Taxpayers do not need to wait to receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C before filing their 2017 returns. In addition, individuals do not need to send the information they relied upon to the IRS when filing their returns but should keep it with their tax records.

Extension of Good-faith Transition Relief from Penalties for 2017

Notice 2018-06 also extends transition relief from penalties for providing incorrect or incomplete information to reporting entities that can show that they have made good-faith efforts to comply with the Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements for 2017 (both for furnishing to individuals and for filing with the IRS).

This relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement. No relief is provided for reporting entities that:

  • Do not make a good-faith effort to comply with the regulations; or
  • Fail to file an information return or furnish a statement by the due dates (as extended).

In determining good faith, the IRS will take into account whether a reporting entity made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting the required information to the IRS and furnishing it to individuals (such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission to the IRS or testing its ability to transmit information to the IRS). The IRS will also take into account the extent to which the reporting entity is taking steps to ensure that it will be able to comply with the reporting requirements for 2018.

 

This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

30 Facts You May Not Know About Rachel Sapoznik

Chief executive officers and presidents are the backbones of their company and many times we only get to see one side of them. When it comes to our CEO and president Rachel Sapoznik, this is not the case – here are 30 facts you may not know about Rachel to round off Sapoznik’s 30-year anniversary.

 

  1. What is your favorite talent?
    • I love being the family photographer and capturing all that we do together. A fun fact, I was the high school yearbook photographer.
  2. Tell us a fun fact about yourself

    • For better or worse, I love to sing – I have terrible voice

  3. Who would play you in a movie of your life?
    • Jennifer Lopez because she can carry it all
  4. What is your favorite movie?
    • Selina
  5. What job would you be terrible at?
    • Anything that has to do with painting
  6. Shark diving, bungee jumping, or skydiving?
    • None
  7. What is something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to?
    • Skydiving
  8. Who inspires you? Who do you aspire to be like?
    • Norman Braman, George Feldenkreis, My Aunt Juliette
  9. What was the last book you read without skipping through anything?
    • Lead Without a Title Robin Sharma
  10. What kind of phone was your first cell phone?
    • Carphone and then Nextel walkie-talkie
  11. If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
    • Donald Trump, I would like to know what it is going on in this country and how it feels to go from a business person to a politician
  12. Gin, vodka, or tequila?
    • Tequila
  13. Do you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth?
    • Savory
  14. What is your favorite food to eat?
    • Filet Mignon
  15. What is your guilty pleasure?
    • Popcorn
  16. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
    • My children, and building a business from my home
  17. Tell me about the best vacation you’ve ever taken.
    • I loved going on Mediterranean cruises with my children and parents. It was such a great way to see the world.
  18. Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?
    • Spa
  19. What is one of the weirdest things you used to do as a teenager?
    • I am not sure if it is weird, but I use to love imitating Donny Osmond
  20. What drives you to do what you do?
    • I love helping people
  21. What did you love most about the place you grew up?
    • It just always felt like home, I felt comfortable, I loved having family all around so much so that my office is down the street from where I grew up and two of my kids live in the neighborhood now.
  22. What trajectory are you hoping to push yourself onto? Where do you want to head?
    • I love what I do both professionally and personally. I want to continue to mentor young women and to teach them that with hard work you can do what you love and be there for your family. No one said it was easy, but it is possible.
  23. Who was someone you looked up to when you were little — someone you considered to be a mentor?
    • My dad
  24. Favorite song?
    • Anything by Donna Summer, except for She Works Hard for the Money.
  25. What is your go-to karaoke song?
    • Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
  26. If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
    • Golda Meir
  27. What is something people do not know about you?
    • I love to dance, I love going to the playground and playing with my grandchildren and being a kid again.
  28. When you’re having a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
    • I either visit my grandchildren and let loose or blow dry my hair.
  29. What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?
    • Electricity
  30. What are you looking forward to most in 2018?
    • Seeing the company continue to grow and to continue the journey of balance in my life.