Vision Payroll

September 30, 2011

Question of the Week: What Are the IRS and DOL Doing About Workers Who Receive 1099s?

IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
This week’s question comes from Steve, a small business owner.

Steve asks:

I’ve read about the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) and its application process with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). What are the IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) doing about workers who receive 1099s?

Answer: The IRS and DOL are entering into agreements that include the IRS and DOL as well as several states to share information and coordinate enforcement of current laws and regulations.

Memoranda Signed at Washington Ceremony

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently hosted a ceremony at DOL headquarters in Washington to sign a memorandum of understanding with the IRS that will improve departmental efforts to end the business practice of misclassifying employees in order to avoid providing employment protections. In addition, labor commissioners and other agency leaders representing seven states signed memoranda of understanding with the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and, in some cases, its Employee Benefits Security Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Office of the Solicitor. The signatory states are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah and Washington. Secretary Solis also announced agreements for the WHD to enter into memoranda of understanding with the state labor agencies of Hawaii, Illinois and Montana, as well as with New York’s attorney general.

DOL and IRS Will Share Information with Participating States

The memoranda of understanding will enable the DOL to share information and coordinate law enforcement with the IRS and participating states in order to level the playing field for law-abiding employers and ensure that employees receive the protections to which they are entitled under federal and state law.

Secretary Solis: We’re Standing United to End the Practice of Misclassifying Employees

“We’re here today to sign a series of agreements that together send a coordinated message: We’re standing united to end the practice of misclassifying employees,” said Secretary Solis. “We are taking important steps toward making sure that the American dream is still available for all employees and responsible employers alike.”

Commissioner Shulman: We Will Work Together More Efficiently to Address Worker Misclassification Issues

“This agreement takes the partnership between the IRS and DOL to a new level,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “In this new phase of our relationship, we will work together more efficiently to address worker misclassification issues, and better serve the needs of small businesses and employees.”

Misclassification Can Create Economic Pressure for Law-Abiding Business Owners

Business models that attempt to change, obscure or eliminate the employment relationship are not inherently illegal, unless they are used to evade compliance with federal labor laws — for example, if an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor and subsequently denied rights and benefits to which he or she is entitled under the law. In addition, misclassification can create economic pressure for law-abiding business owners.

Memoranda Arose as Part of the Misclassification Initiative

These memoranda of understanding arose as part of the department’s Misclassification Initiative, which was launched under the auspices of Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force with the goal of preventing, detecting and remedying employee misclassification.

Contact Vision Payroll Today

Contact Vision Payroll if you have further questions on the memoranda of understanding.

July 11, 2011

Prince George’s County Public Schools Agrees to Pay $4.2 Million in Back Wages

Prince George’s County Public Schools Agrees to Pay $4.2 Million in Back Wages
Prince George’s County Public Schools Agrees to Pay $4.2 Million in Back Wages
The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has obtained an agreement for Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools system (PGCPS) to pay $4,222,146 in back wages due 1,044 workers to resolve violations of the H-1B temporary foreign worker program. Investigators from the department found that PGCPS illegally reduced the wages of the H-1B workers by requiring them to pay fees that the school system was required to pay.

H-1B Visas Are for Temporary Hiring in Certain Specialty Occupations

The H-1B program allows employers to hire foreign professionals in certain specialty occupations to work temporarily in the US. Workers hired under the H-1B program must be paid at least the same wage rates and benefits as those paid to US workers doing the same job in the same area, so that the wages of similarly employed US workers are not adversely affected.

Foreign Workers Have Been Paid Back Wages

“The Labor Department has the responsibility for ensuring that employers who use the H-1B program follow the law and do not place US workers at a disadvantage to H-1B workers,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “We are pleased this investigation has been resolved with workers paid all the back wages to which they are entitled.”

Civil Money Penalties Will Also Be Paid

Due to the willful nature of some of the violations, PGCPS also has agreed to pay $100,000 in civil money penalties and to be debarred for two years from filing new petitions, requests for extensions or requests for permanent residency for foreign workers under any employment-based visa program. Under the statute governing the H-1B program, willful wage violations are subject to a debarment period of at least two years. Violations are willful when an employer knew or acted in reckless disregard for whether its actions were impermissible.

Certain Fees Reduced Workers’ Wages Below Legal Limits

The H-1B visa program requires that employers pay certain fees, including an anti-fraud fee and a filing fee, when they utilize the program. Instead of paying these fees and other costs associated with recruiting H-1B workers and filing their visa petitions, PGCPS required the foreign workers to pay them. As a result, the workers’ earnings were reduced below the amount legally required to be paid. The Wage and Hour Division’s investigation covered fees associated with the H-1B application process from May 2005 to January 2011.

Agreement Subject To Approval

The agreement is subject to approval by an administrative law judge.

September 26, 2010

Maryland Unemployment Wage Base to Remain at $8,500

Assistant Secretary Julie E. Squire
Assistant Secretary Julie E. Squire
Assistant Secretary Julie E. Squire of the Division of Unemployment Insurance of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has announced that the taxable wage base for 2011 will remain at $8,500, unchanged from 2010. Rate information for 2011 will be available in the coming months.

Wage Base Has Been Unchanged Since 1992

The wage base in Maryland has been at $8,500 since 1992.

Find Out the Wage Base for All States by Visiting the Vision Payroll Unemployment Taxable Wage Base Page

Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on Maryland unemployment taxable wage base or visit our Unemployment Taxable Wage Base page.

July 13, 2010

Maryland Restaurateur Pleads Guilty to Harboring Illegal Aliens

According to the office of Rod J. Rosenstein, US Attorney for the District of Maryland, George Anagnostou has pleaded guilty to harboring twenty-four illegal aliens who were employed at Timbuktu restaurant in Hanover, Maryland and By the Docks restaurant in Middle River, Maryland. Also participating in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge William Winter of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare, Sr.

“Employers who take advantage of illegal labor to gain a competitive advantage for their own profit should take note of today’s guilty plea,” said William Winter, Special Agent in Charge for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Baltimore. “ICE is committed to investigating companies who engage in illegal employment schemes and targeting the profits that motivate them.”

According to the announcement, Anagnostou did not prepare a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for several employees. When he received “no-match” letters from the Social Security Administration, he made no effort to investigate further and continued to employ those workers identified.

Anagnostou also provided housing to several of the illegal alien employees and in many cases he “deducted rental payments from the overtime owed to the illegal alien employees, many of who regularly worked up to 80 hours a week and were routinely paid in cash to avoid their tax liability. Anagnostou did not claim the rental income on his tax returns, nor did he withhold FICA taxes from these overtime payments, as he was legally required to do.”

In addition to facing up to ten years in prison, “Anagnostou is required to forfeit $378,386.21 from five bank accounts; $99,890 seized from the restaurants and Anagnostou’s home on March 11, 2010; an additional $256,696.67, also believed to be proceeds of the crime and payable by check to Immigration and Customs Enforcement upon sentencing; and a 2009 Harley Davidson.”

Vision Payroll recommends that employers familiarize themselves with Form I-9 and its requirements so that they may be prepared and filed for each new hire. Also, employers may not ignore obviously fake or fraudulent identification documentation and must make an effort to verify social security numbers that have been reported as mismatched.

July 22, 2009

Tip of the Week: Minimum Wage Hikes Take Effect this Week

The federal minimum wage will increase to $7.25 on Friday, July 24, 2009. Therefore, all work performed after July 23, 2009 should be compensated at the higher rate. In addition, the minimum wage will also increase to $7.25 in the following areas: Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Also, the minimum wage in the District of Columbia will increase to $8.25. Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on the minimum wage increases.

July 20, 2008

State Minimum Wages to Increase

Several states have minimum wage increases effective for work performed after July 23, 2008. Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia all have increases to $6.55 to match the federal minimum wage. The District of Columbia minimum wage increases to $7.55. Different minimum wages may be paid to certain classes of employees in some situations. Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on minimum wage law changes.

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