DOL Sample Notices from Employers to Employees – REQUIRED!

This month, the DOL provided temporary guidance and sample notices that employers can use to inform employees about the exchanges.  The original deadline for providing this  was 3/1/13 but has been changed to 10/1/13 to coincide with the Exchange or Marketplace open enrollment period.  Employers can send notice sooner using the model notices provided by the DOL or can wait until formal guidance is provided later this year.

The notice requirement applies to all employers that are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act. (Most employers!)

Helpful Info:

  • This one-time notice must be provided to all current employees as of 10/1/13 and to new employees as they are hired.  For 2014, the notice must be provided to new employees within 14 days of their start date.
  • Employers must provide this notice to all full-time and part-time employees, regardless of whether the employee is enrolled in an employer-sponsored medical plan and even if they do not offer any health coverage to employees.
  • Notices must be in writing and can be delivered electronically, subject to ERISA standards.
  • There are two versions of the notice: (1) Notice for employers that DO offer medical coverage to some or all of their employees (2) Notice for employers that DO NOT offer medical coverage to any employees
  • Employees and dependents who become eligible for COBRA will also have the option to purchase coverage through the Exchange/Marketplace and potentially receive a premium subsidy.  The model COBRA notice that employers use has been revised to include information about the Marketplace.

Contact our office for a copy of any “model notices” mentioned above or follow the links below:

  • Exchange Model Notice for Employers Who Offer a Health Plan to Some or All Employees (must be distributed to current employees no later than October 1, 2013)
  • Exchange Model Notice for  Employers Who Do Not Offer a Health Plan (must be distributed to current employees no later than October 1, 2013)
  • Revised Model COBRA  Election Notice (provided to eligible employees and dependents when  a qualifying event occurs)


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American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

Although Congress averted many of the consequences of a possible tumble over the fiscal cliff with last-minute action, we would like you to be aware of the impact of the bill that was passed — known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 — signed into law January 2, 2013.


We have compiled an overview of the key provisions of this new law. We encourage you to review them and call us if you have any concerns about how your tax situation will change as we prepare your returns for this filing season.


  • A Tax Increase on the Highest Incomes in 2013. Although most taxpayers avoided a tax increase, rates did rise for top earners. Taxpayers (including those who receive income through partnerships and S corporations) who earn more than $400,000 ($450,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly) have a marginal tax rate of 39.6%. All other existing rates remain the same.


  • Higher Capital Gains Rates for Top Earners. The same individuals who are subject to the new 39.6% top rate on income now face a 20% rate on capital gains and dividends, up from 15%. Taxpayers in the 10% and 15% income brackets have a zero capital gains rate and those in the middle will continue to pay 15%.


  • Higher Personal Exemptions Phase-out Levels. The phase-out levels for personal exemptions and itemized deduction have been raised to $300,000 for married couples and surviving spouses and $250,000 for individuals.


  • Permanent AMT Inflation Indexing. The alternative minimum tax originally was intended to prevent high-income individuals from avoiding taxes. In the absence of a patch for last year, more than 60 million middle-income taxpayers might have been subject to the AMT on their 2012 income. After years of last-minute AMT “patches,” the new law permanently indexes the AMT to inflation starting in tax year 2012. For income you earned in 2012, the exemptions are $50,600 for individuals and $78,750 for married taxpayers filing jointly.


  • Restoration of the Full Rate for Social Security and Medicare Taxes. The law did not extend the 2% cut for the employees’ portion of the Social Security payroll tax, which means it will go back to the full rate of 6.2% on income up to $113,700 in 2013.


  • Clarity on Estate and Gift Taxes. After years of uncertainty in this area, the new law holds the estate and gift-tax exclusion at $5 million, indexed for inflation ($5.12 million in 2012). The top tax rate jumped to 40% from 35% as of Jan. 1, 2013, but without this change, it would have soared to 55% with a $1 million exclusion amount. The act made permanent the estate tax portability election, which allows a surviving spouse to use a deceased spouse’s unused exemption amount.


  • Marriage Penalty Relief Retained. Certain taxpayers filing jointly will no longer have to worry about paying more than if they filed as single taxpayers; joint filers also will enjoy a larger standard deduction.


  • Education Tax Benefits Extended. Many deductions for education expenses were set to expire at the end of last year, but they will remain in place under the new law. For example, the law extends the deduction for qualified education expenses through 2013 and retroactively for the 2012 tax year.
  • Conversions to Roth Retirement Plans. The new law allows participants in an employer-sponsored 401(k) to transfer any amount to a Roth 401(k) — the funds will be taxed upon conversion. 


  • Tax Relief for Mortgage Loan Modifications. Taxpayers struggling to pay their mortgages, or whose home values have fallen below their purchase price, were given another year of tax relief on any qualifying “indebtedness income” they may receive as a result of a loan modification or short sale on their principal residence.


Also, taxpayers who have net investment income beginning in 2013 will face a 3.8% surtax on categories of certain unearned income, potentially increasing the total tax rate to 43.4%. This tax was already slated to go into effect as a result of health care reform.

Article provided by Pam Lineros, CPA.  817-274-9995

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Have a Blue Cross Policy? Check out their new wellness portal! – login here

Learn more about the wellness portal here:

Take health assessments.

Take online classess on health eating, weight management, managing stress, tobacco cessation.

Earn points and redeem for prizes in their online shopping mall.

Track your diet and excercise progress with the Tools and Trackers.



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Looking for a healthy game-day chili recipe?

Try this Slow Cooker White Chili recipe, courtesy of Whole Foods, that is guaranteed NOT to blow your diet!

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Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Care Act: follow the link for a list

Preventive Services

If you have a new health insurance plan or insurance policy beginning on or after September 23, 2010, many preventive services must be covered without your having to pay a copayment or co-insurance or meet your deductible. This applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider.
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Most people are willing to have more preventive health services done if they were FREE.

It’s quite possible that many services are available at no cost to you.  Visit the Prevention & Wellness page on to find out what many insurers are required to cover.

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Over 65 and working for a company with an HSA?

Before you start contributing, you need to familiarize yourself with how this affects your Social Security benefits and how Medicare comes into play.

According to the notice issued by the IRS in 2004 (Notice 2004-50, in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2004-33 – see the end of post for exact notice):

You can contribute to an HSA if you are not enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B.  The catch is that if you elect not to enroll in Medicare Part A, you cannot receive Social Security benefits.  This was challenged in a federal appellate court in 2011 in Hall v. Sebelius, but the court sided with the government saying that in order to receive Social Security benefits, the individual must be enrolled in Medicare Part A.  That case may be further appealed, but for now that appears to be the law.  

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IRS Notice 2004-50

Q-2.  May an otherwise eligible individual who is eligible for Medicare, but not enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B, contribute to an HSA?        

A-2.  Yes.  Section 223(b)(7) states that an individual ceases to be an eligible individual starting with the month he or she is entitled to benefits under Medicare.  Under this provision, mere eligibility for Medicare does not make an individual ineligible to contribute to an HSA.  Rather, the term “entitled to benefits under” Medicare means both eligibility and enrollment in Medicare.  Thus, an otherwise eligible individual under section 223(c)(1) who is not actually enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B may contribute to an HSA until the month that individual is enrolled in Medicare.   

Example (1).  Y, age 66, is covered under her employer’s HDHP.  Although Y is eligible for Medicare, Y is not actually entitled to Medicare because she did not apply for benefits under Medicare (i.e., enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B).  If Y is otherwise an eligible individual under section 223(c)(1), she may contribute to an HSA.           

Example (2).  In August 2004, X attains age 65, applies for, and begins receiving Social Security benefits.  X is automatically enrolled in Medicare.  As of August 1, 2004, X is no longer an eligible individual and may not contribute to an HSA.


Summary provided by Carolyn Dove of The Dove Firm PLLC  –
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Does FREE preventive healthcare for you and your family sound good?

It’s possible that under the Affordable Care Act, you and your family may be eligible.
What does this mean for you?  If your plan is subject to these new requirements, you may not have to pay a copayment, co-insurance, or deductible to receive recommended preventive health services, such as screenings, vaccinations, and counseling.
To read the details and find out what preventative services might be covered.  Please follow this link to read the complete article on the government’s healthcare site:  ‘Learn about free preventive care for you and your family.’
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SHB and Bland I.S.D.

SHB and Bland I.S.D.

Thank you to the Bland Independent School District for a great Employee Benefits Fair last week!
Pictured: SHB staff members, Julissa Chubbs, Alicia Speer and Bryan Keathley with the Superintendents of Bland I.S.D. before the 2012 employee benefits enrollment.

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Preventing Dehydration in Kids – Fall sports are approaching

From our friends at BlueCross Blue Shield:
Before the glare of the Friday night lights or the divots on the soccer field, follow these tips to make sure your young athlete is well-fueled and hydrated for a new season of practices and games.

Make sure fluids are available at all times. Water should never be restricted during play or practice.
Avoid caffeinated and carbonated beverages. Make sure your children drink enough milk, which is essential for healthy bone growth and strength.
During strenuous activity, athletes should drink 4-to-8 ounces of water every 15-to-20 minutes.
Encourage children to drink before they’re thirsty. Athletes can become dehydrated before they feel thirst. Not getting enough fluids and calories can lead to fatigue and a sudden drop in performance.

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