Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Delay in Affordable Care Act Health Coverage Reporting Requirements Announced

On Monday, December 28, 2015, the IRS issued Notice 2016-4. The Notice announced that the IRS extended the due dates for reporting the information required under Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code for the 2015 tax year as follows:

  • the due date for furnishing to individuals the 2015 Form 1095-B and the 2015 Form 1095-C is extended from February 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016; and
  • the due date for filing with the IRS the 2015 Form 1094-B, the 2015 Form 1095-B, the 2015 Form 1094-C, and the 2015 Form 1095-C is extended from February 29, 2016 to May 31, 2016 (the electronic filing deadline is also extended from March 31, 2016 to June 30, 2016).

The IRS indicated that it is prepared to accept the filing of these information returns, but decided to extend the deadlines for 2015 only following consultation with stakeholders that caused the Service to conclude that employers and other coverage providers needed additional time to take the necessary actions to report this information. The IRS explicitly encouraged employers and other coverage providers to furnish the statements and file the information returns as soon as they are ready.

The IRS further indicated that, for 2015, it was suspending the provisions regarding automatic and permissive extensions of time for furnishing these forms to individuals and filing them with the Service. In other words, the extended deadlines for 2015 cannot be further extended. The IRS encourages employers and other coverage providers not meeting the extended deadlines to nevertheless furnish and file the forms, and indicated that the Service would take such actions into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.

The Notice also provided limited transition relief to individual taxpayers that file their 2015 tax returns before receiving either their 2015 Form 1095-B or 2015 Form 1095-C and whose eligibility for a premium tax credit was affected as a result of the extension.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

For more information about this announcement and other employee benefi ts law matters, contact Jason Mettley, Richard Kennedy, Levi Logan, or any other Meyer, Unkovic & Scott attorney with whom you have worked.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Judge Rules City of Pittsburgh Did Not Have Authority to Enact Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Elaina Smiley
On August 3, 2015 the Pittsburgh City Council passed the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, which was signed into law by Mayor Peduto on August 13, 2015. The ordinance required employers to provide paid sick leave to most employees working within the geographical boundaries of the City of Pittsburgh.  Under the ordinance, employees would accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked for up to 40 hours of paid sick time for employers with fifteen or more employees, and 24 hours of paid sick time for employers with fewer than fifteen employees. The ordinance was initially scheduled to be effective on January 11, 2016.

The ordinance was challenged by the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association and various other businesses operating in the City.  They argued that the City of Pittsburgh is a home rule charter municipality governed by state law which places limitations on the City's authority to enact any ordinance determining any duty, responsibility, or requirement of a business or private employer.  The Judge disagreed with the City's argument that it was empowered to adopt the ordinance by the Disease Prevention and Control Law.

The court agreed with the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association and found that the City of Pittsburgh did not have the statutory authority to enact the Ordinance.  By Order dated December 21, 2015, the Judge ruled that the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance is invalid and unenforceable.  Therefore, employers have no legal obligation to provide any paid sick time for employees working in the City of Pittsburgh.

For more information about this decision and other employment law matters, contact Elaina Smiley, or any other Meyer, Unkovic & Scott attorney with whom you have worked.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Proposed Rule for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees

On October 19, 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published a proposed rule to amend its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations with respect to students in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math ("STEM").

F-1 students may apply for Optional Practical Training ("OPT") that permits the student to remain after graduation to work with an American business for 12 months. In 2008, rules were promulgated that allowed STEM students to pursue an additional 17 month OPT extension to work for an employer that uses E-verify. These 2008 rules were recently invalidated on procedural grounds. However, the Court gave the DHS until February 12, 2016 to promulgate a new rule. In response to the Court order, DHS has promulgated new proposed rules on OPT STEM extensions, including the following noteworthy changes:

(1) students who would have previously been eligible for participation in the 17-month OPT STEM extension would be eligible for a 24-month extension;

(2) the proposal addresses which fields of study may serve as a basis for OPT STEM extensions based on the U.S. Department of Education's published definitions;

(3) employers would be required to implement formal programs to mentor and train students in their selected STEM study;

(4) an F-1 student participating in OPT in a field that is not STEM based, but holding a previously obtained STEM degree, may still seek an OPT STEM extension utilizing their prior degree in STEM;

(5) the employer will have to attest that it will not terminate U.S. workers as a result of offering OPT to students;

(6) STEM eligibility will be limited to students with degrees from accredited schools and DHS will have discretion to conduct on-site visits to verify whether employers are meeting program requirements; and

(7) DHS would temporarily extend an F-1 student's duration of status and employment authorization if the student is a beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B petition (the so call "Cap-Gap Extension").

If the Final Rule does not take effect prior to February 13, 2016, there will be uncertainty for those currently on their OPT STEM extension or those applying for extensions. DHS noted that if the Rule is not finalized in time, it will lack authority to approve applications, and is evaluating options to address pending applications such as returning them and requiring re-filing upon completion of a final rule.

For more information about F-1 Student Visas and other immigration matters, please contact Joel PfefferElaina Smiley, or Gary M. Sanderson.