Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

We all win by voting “YES” on Proposal 1!

Proposal 1 will make sure 100 percent of the estimated lost revenue will be reimbursed to communities when the Personal Property Tax (PPT) is eliminated.

Eliminating the PPT is expected to create up to 15,000 jobs and increase business investment by $450 million.

As you know, Proposal 1 would end the unfair and antiquated double tax (also known as the personal property tax) small businesses pay every year on the equipment they already own, while stabilizing funding for police, fire, jails, roads, schools, senior services and other important municipal services.

Business Leaders for Michigan recently produced a short, simple video explaining how Proposal 1 would benefit all of Michigan. Watch the new video here:

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce urges you to vote Yes on Proposal 1. Please share this information with your voting friends and acquaintances.

Reform-Alert-Header-2014

Update to previous alert from July 26, 2013: Federal agencies release proposed rule on 90-day waiting period limitation

On Feb. 20, the Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly released both the final rule and proposed rule on 90-day waiting periods.

The final rule on waiting periods applies to plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015. For the 2014 plan year, compliance is based on the proposed rule from 2013, which states that group health plans (including grandfathered, non-grandfathered and self-funded plans) and group health insurance coverage issuers cannot apply a waiting period that exceeds 90 days.

The final rule maintains that eligibility conditions that are not based solely on the passage of time are generally acceptable unless designed to avoid compliance with the 90-day waiting period limitation.

  • If a group health plan conditions eligibility for health care on an employee regularly working a specified number of hours per period (or working full time), and it cannot be determined that a newly hired employee is reasonably expected to meet the required number of hours (or work full time), the health plan may take a reasonable period of time to determine whether the employee meets the plan’s eligibility conditions. A time period designed to determine whether such an employee meets the plan’s eligibility conditions is considered compliant with the 90-day waiting period limitation if coverage is made effective no later than 13 months from the employee’s start date plus, if the employee’s start date is not the first day of a calendar month, the time remaining until the first day of the next calendar month.

Health insurance issuers may rely on the eligibility information reported by employers (or other plan sponsors) and will not be considered in violation of the 90-day waiting period limitation if:

  • Issuers require plan sponsors to make a representation regarding the terms of any eligibility conditions or waiting periods imposed by plan sponsors before an individual is eligible to become covered under the terms of the plan (and requires plan sponsors to update this representation with any applicable changes); and
  • Issuers have no specific knowledge of the imposition of a waiting period that would exceed the permitted 90-day period.

All calendar days are counted beginning on the eligibility date, including weekends and holidays. Employee coverage must begin on or before the 91st day of eligibility.

Proposed rule on waiting periods and orientation periods
The proposed rule on orientation periods may be relied on for the 2014 plan year.

The proposed rule, issued in conjunction with the final 90-day waiting period rule, allows for a “reasonable and bona fide” employment-based orientation period of no more than one month.

During this time the employer and employee can evaluate whether the employment situation is satisfactory, and standard orientation and training processes begin.

The Proposed Rule may be relied on throughout 2014 and if a final rule is more restrictive, reasonable time for compliance will be provided.

More information can be found at:

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*Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is not responsible for the content or practices of the destination website.
The information in this document is based on preliminary review of the national health care reform legislation and is not intended to impart legal advice. The federal government continues to issue guidance on how the provisions of national health reform should be interpreted and applied. The impact of these reforms on individual situations may vary. This overview is intended as an educational tool only and does not replace a more rigorous review of the law’s applicability to individual circumstances and attendant legal counsel and should not be relied upon as legal or compliance advice. As required by US Treasury Regulations, we also inform you that any tax information contained in this communication is not intended to be used and cannot be used by any taxpayer to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is proud to support Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities’ campaign to protect local community services and help small businesses create jobs – without increasing taxes for anyone.

This important proposal will be on the August 5 primary ballot across Michigan. We encourage you to learn more about this proposal and to vote YES in August.

This proposal would create 15,000 jobs in Michigan by eliminating the personal property tax on small businesses. Businesses must pay this tax every year on every piece of equipment they own, which is unique to Michigan and puts our state at an economic disadvantage when competing for new businesses and jobs. This proposal would immediately eliminate the personal property tax on small businesses and phase it out over nine years for larger businesses.

Many communities rely on revenue from the personal property tax to fund local services like police, fire, ambulances, jails, roads, schools, parks and libraries even though it is an unreliable revenue source. This referendum guarantees that 100 percent of the money a community loses from the elimination of the personal property tax will be replaced using the more stable State Use Tax.

This proposal is not a tax increase – for anyone. It is paid for by eliminating special corporate tax breaks that the legislature has voted to end, and by establishing a statewide Essential Services Assessment paid only by manufacturers receiving a personal property tax reduction.

We strongly encourage you to sign up for Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities’ email alerts at www.strongandsafecommunities.com to receive updates from this important campaign to strengthen Michigan communities and help local small businesses create jobs.

Reform-Alert-Header-2014

On Feb. 10, the final regulations for the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions (also referred to as the “employer mandate”) under the Affordable Care Act were released by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of the Treasury.

These final regulations provide different types of safe harbors to employers in 2015, depending on the type of employer or plan offered. The triggers for the tax penalties also vary depending on the type and timing of the safe harbor option an employer may qualify for (and chooses to implement).

Key safe harbors for 2015 are outlined below:

Applicable large employers with 50 to 99 full-time equivalent employees may not be subject to the employer mandate requirements until the first day of their 2016 plan year.

An applicable large employer is not subject to tax penalties for any calendar month in 2015 (and for the portion of the 2015 plan year that falls in 2016 if it has a non-calendar plan year) if it meets all three major requirements and certifies that it qualifies for this safe harbor:

  1. An applicable large employer has at least 50 and no more than 99 full-time equivalent employees during 2014 so that it meets the workforce size requirements.
  2. There are no reductions to an employer’s workforce size or overall hours of service between Feb. 9, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2014.
    • However, reductions made due to “bona fide” business reasons are allowed. The regulations provide examples of “bona fide” reasons that include changes in the economic marketplace, sales of business divisions or other similar reasons.
  3. An applicable large employer must maintain the health coverage it previously offered between Feb. 9, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2015 (or on the last day of the 2015 plan year).

An employer will certify its eligibility requirements on designated IRS forms (1095-C for self-funded large employers and 1094-C for fully insured large employers) by Jan. 31, 2016. These forms have not yet been issued by the IRS.

Applicable large employers with calendar or non-calendar plan years and new employers may qualify for this safe harbor.

Percentage threshold to offer coverage is 70 percent for all applicable large employers

For all applicable large employers in 2015, including employers with 50 to 99 full-time equivalent employees that do not qualify for the safe harbor described earlier, the employer will be liable for tax penalties only if:

  1. The applicable large employer does not offer coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time employees and their dependents (unless the employer qualifies for the 2015 safe harbor for dependent coverage described later in this alert), and at least one of the full-time employees receives a premium tax credit to help pay for coverage on a Marketplace (Exchange); or
  2. The applicable large employer offers coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time employees and their dependents (unless the employer qualifies for the 2015 safe harbor for dependent coverage), but at least one full-time employee still receives a premium tax credit to help pay for coverage on a marketplace.
    • This may occur because the employer did not offer coverage to that employee or because the coverage that was offered to that employee was either unaffordable to the employee or did not provide minimum value.

This percentage threshold only applies for 2015. The percentage of employees that must be offered coverage to limit employer mandate liability increases from 70 to 95 percent in 2016.

Change in 2015 tax penalty calculation for employers with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees

An employer with 100 or more full time equivalent employees during 2014 is still subject to the tax penalty in 2015 for not offering health coverage to at least 70 percent (will increase to 95 percent in 2016) of its full-time employees and their dependents. This means a tax penalty will be assessed if the employer (a) does not provide health coverage at all, or (b) the employer does not offer coverage to at least 70 percent of its full-time employees and at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit on the Marketplace.

For 2015, this tax penalty calculation is different. The tax penalty will be calculated by subtracting 80 full-time employees (instead of 30):

  • 2015: Annual penalty calculation is $2,000 x (number of full-time employees minus 80)
  • 2016: Annual penalty calculation is $2,000 x (number of full-time employees minus 30)

This safe harbor is only available for each calendar month in 2015 (and for any months that fall in 2016 for a 2015 plan year). For example, a group with a July 1 plan year would be able to use the tax penalty calculation above for July 2015 through June 2016.

Applicable large employers with non-calendar year plans

An applicable large employer may receive relief from tax penalties for any month prior to the first day of the 2015 plan year if it meets the following requirements:

  1. Maintained a non-calendar plan year as of Dec. 27, 2012 and not changed its plan year after this date to begin later.
  2. Meets one of the following three tests:
    1. offers affordable coverage meeting minimum value requirements to its eligible employees (under the terms of the non-calendar plan as of Feb. 9, 2014) by the first day of the 2015 plan year
    2. covered at least 25 percent of all employees on any date between Feb. 10, 2013 through Feb. 9, 2014, or offered coverage to at least 33 percent of all employees during the most recent open enrollment period ending before Feb. 9, 2014
    3. covered at least 33 percent of its full-time employees as of any date between Feb. 10, 2013 through Feb. 9, 2014, or offered coverage to at least 50 percent of full-time employees during the most recent open enrollment period ending before Feb. 9, 2014
  3. Offers coverage to at least at least 70 percent of full-time employees and their dependents (unless the employer qualifies for the 2015 safe harbor for dependent coverage) as of the first day of the 2015 plan year.

Note that the relief does not apply to employees also eligible for or covered under a calendar year plan offered by the applicable large employer.

Dependent coverage safe harbor

Another safe harbor is available for applicable large employers with 2015 plan years where dependent coverage:

  1. Is not offered,
  2. Does not meet minimal essential coverage requirements, or
  3. Is offered to some, but not all, dependents

This applies to employers that take steps during 2015 (or the 2015 plan year) to extend coverage to dependents that were previously not offered coverage during the 2013 and/or 2014 plan years. This is not an option for employers that offered, but then dropped, dependent coverage during the 2013 and/or 2014 plan years.

Under the employer mandate a dependent is a biological and/or adopted child of an employee who has not reached age 26. This excludes foster children and stepchildren (only for the employer mandate). It also excludes an employee’s spouse being considered as a dependent.

Points for clarification

The employer shared responsibility provision does not apply to employers with less than 50 full-time equivalent employees.

Employers affected by the employer mandate are encouraged to seek their own legal counsel as each employer’s situation will be unique to the type of safe harbor that an employer may qualify for.

More information can be found at:

Additional guidance is pending.

 

*Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is not responsible for the content or practices of the destination website.

The information in this document is based on preliminary review of the national health care reform legislation and is not intended to impart legal advice. The federal government continues to issue guidance on how the provisions of national health reform should be interpreted and applied. The impact of these reforms on individual situations may vary. This overview is intended as an educational tool only and does not replace a more rigorous review of the law’s applicability to individual circumstances and attendant legal counsel and should not be relied upon as legal or compliance advice. As required by US Treasury Regulations, we also inform you that any tax information contained in this communication is not intended to be used and cannot be used by any taxpayer to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.

Reform-Alert-Header

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advised Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, individuals will have an extra week to enroll in coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014. The delay is to account for technical issues experienced with the healthcare.gov website. The original Dec. 15 deadline for people to apply for coverage effective Jan. 1 has been extended to Dec. 23.

The President’s announcement came in response to concerns expressed by individuals and groups who had received notification that their current plan would be discontinued because it was not compliant with Affordable Care Act requirements.

The delay does not change the 2014 open enrollment period which began Oct. 1, 2013, and runs through March 31, 2014.

For 2015 coverage, HHS announced applicants can sign up starting Nov. 15, 2014, rather than Oct. 15, 2014, and have until Jan. 15, 2015, rather than Dec. 7, 2014, to complete the process.

The extension will allow the federally run Marketplace more time to prepare for the next open enrollment period and allow insurers to make appropriate rate decisions.

Where can I find more information?

More information can be found at healthcare.gov.*

*Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is not responsible for the content or practices of the destination website.

The information in this document is based on preliminary review of the national health care reform legislation and is not intended to impart legal advice. The federal government continues to issue guidance on how the provisions of national health reform should be interpreted and applied. The impact of these reforms on individual situations may vary. This overview is intended as an educational tool only and does not replace a more rigorous review of the law’s applicability to individual circumstances and attendant legal counsel and should not be relied upon as legal or compliance advice. As required by US Treasury Regulations, we also inform you that any tax information contained in this communication is not intended to be used and cannot be used by any taxpayer to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop and provide to each state a single, streamlined application for (Small Business Health Options) SHOP enrollment. Alternatively, states may elect to develop and use their own application, subject to approval by CMS, but Michigan is currently not developing its own applications. Draft applications for employers and employees, including logic for the online applications, were initially proposed in January 2013.

On May 31, 2013, CMS released revised paper applications for employers and employees. Many of the changes to the paper application were clarifications in the directions, including the addition of a section to help employers determine if their business may be eligible. CMS also strengthened the language regarding providing false information on the application and provided employees with the opportunity to opt out of dental coverage. You can view the revised applications by following the links provided below.

The SHOP also changed the follow-up deadline and now anticipates following up within one to two weeks of application submission, instead of three to four weeks. CMS does not promise to make a decision on eligibility within that timeframe, but states that employers and their employees will get information about the next steps to complete for health coverage through the SHOP.

Employers and their employees will be able to submit an application for the SHOP online, using a paper application, over the phone through an agent or broker, or in person through an agent, broker, or navigator. In most cases, CMS expects that small employers will be able to receive a real-time eligibility determination when applying online. Coverage effective dates may be earlier for applications filed online than for those filed on paper.

Where can I find more information?
Revised applications can be found here: Application for Employers and Application for Employees.*

*Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is not responsible for the content or practices of the destination website.

BCBS-Pantone-Blue

The information in this document is based on preliminary review of the national health care reform legislation and is not intended to impart legal advice. The federal government continues to issue guidance on how the provisions of national health reform should be interpreted and applied. The impact of these reforms on individual situations may vary. This overview is intended as an educational tool only and does not replace a more rigorous review of the law’s applicability to individual circumstances and attendant legal counsel and should not be relied upon as legal or compliance advice. As required by US Treasury Regulations, we also inform you that any tax information contained in this communication is not intended to be used and cannot be used by any taxpayer to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.

This post was reprinted from a Press Release by Stepheni L. Schlinker, Press Secretary for Accident Fund Holdings, Inc.

LANSING, Mich. – The latest Michigan Future Business Index survey of small and midsize business leaders shows the state’s job providers ‘tapping the breaks’ due to a variety of national economic uncertainties. While business owners say they remain optimistic that Michigan is headed in the right direction, they also say their shrinking bottom lines are causing them to take a second look at earlier hiring and wage increase plans.

“These surveys are very useful to Accident Fund for taking the economic pulse of small and midsize business owners,” Mike Britt, president of Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, which commissions the survey, said. “Small business is the core of our state’s economy, and they’re concerned that the slowed national economy, coupled with a new dose of regulations will temper Michigan’s economic recovery and job growth just as we’re on the mend. Small and midsize businesses are our customers, so their feelings about the economy are as important to us as they are to them.”

Britt added that the survey shows quite a bit of good news. There are signs that business leaders believe Michigan’s recovery continues, albeit at a slower pace, with survey respondents reporting continued growing sales, and more of them revealing plans for new product and service line launches and location openings.

Dissatisfaction with the state’s economy has ticked up one point since June to 57 percent, while satisfaction has dropped two points to 41 percent, though satisfaction with the economy is still 14 points stronger now than it was a year ago.

Additionally, the percentage of businesses with new hires is still 20 points higher than one year ago, but statistically unchanged since June of this year. New hiring remained the strongest in West Michigan and there has been a significant increase in hiring among larger businesses (35%) as well as those in construction, manufacturing and distribution (26%). Also a positive sign, 40 percent of business owners reported in the latest MFBI survey that sales had increased over the previous six months, a two-point increase from the June 2012 survey.

Other positive results from the survey include:
• Six-month business outlook. While optimism has ebbed slightly since June, a majority (52 percent) of respondents still believe the business outlook for the next six months remains good, with 17 percent saying it is “very good.”

• Hiring and layoffs. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they plan to hire more employees in the next six months. While that number is two points lower than it was in June, it’s still nine points higher than in October 2011. The outlook for new hires remains strongest in the Detroit Metro region (26%). Larger businesses and new businesses, especially childcare, are hiring the most new employees (33%).

• Increased wages. The outlook for increased wages continues to improve marginally, as 26 percent of respondents said they plan to increase wages for their employees within the next six months – up two points from 24 percent in June 2012. Employers in West Michigan are most likely to increase wages for workers, with 32 percent indicating they will do so. Additionally, wages are most likely to climb within the financial, insurance and real estate sectors – 32 percent of those employers said they will raise compensation.

“The results of this latest Future Business Index survey are less encouraging than I had hoped,” said Chris Holman, CEO of the Michigan Business Network and publisher of the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. “Michigan is still in a vulnerable position at this infancy stage of recovery. The current concerns over the ‘fiscal cliff’ and the growing anxiety over added health care costs are causing Michigan businesses to recalculate their strategies for capital and human resource investments. We need to see quick action by the President and Congress on these two issues to ease uncertainty and reignite the recovery.”

The Michigan Future Business Index, commissioned by Accident Fund and the Michigan Business Network, is conducted semi-annually by Marketing Resource Group, Inc. (MRG). The survey has been conducted since 2006. A total of 1,015 Michigan business owners, operators, officers and managers were interviewed for the October 2012 survey.

To view a summary of the most recent Michigan Future Business Index, please visit the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America website at http://www.accidentfund.com or the Michigan Business Network website at http://www.michiganbusinessnetwork.com/.

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Accident Fund Insurance Company of America
Founded in 1912 and headquartered in Lansing, Mich., Accident Fund Insurance Company of America is a licensed workers’ compensation insurer in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Accident Fund is rated “A-” (Excellent) by A.M. Best and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Accident Fund Holdings, Inc., the 13th largest workers’ compensation insurer in the United States. For more information, visit Accident Fund’s website at http://www.accidentfund.com.