Employer News | February 2018

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In This Issue

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Audit Section
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Employer Services


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EmCon 2018 Call for Training Topics


2018 is the year for our biennial employer training conference customarily held in Juneau during the month of October.

The DRB would like employer input on training topics employers wish to see presented at the conference.

To review the topics at the 2016 EmCon, click here

If you have specific areas of interest, please email Kathy Lea, Chief Pension Officer at kathy.lea@alaska.gov

    Employer Manual Revision Task Force

    During 2018 the DRB will be working on updating the Employer Manual for both the PERS and TRS to include greater guidance for employer representatives in relation to issues arising in audits and other information needed by employers for more accurate administration of the PERS and TRS Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans at the employer level.

    Employer volunteers are needed to review the current manual and make recommendations for improvements.  If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Benefit Education and Counseling Manager Roberto Aceveda at roberto.aceveda@alaska.gov

    Updated Tax Withholding Tables and Form W-4

    In January 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released updated tax withholding tables based on tax reform legislation enacted December 22, 2017, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”.  The updated tax withholding tables are now available at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/n1036.pdf.  Employers are encouraged to begin using the updated withholding tables no later than February 15, 2018.

    The updated withholding tables are designed to work with the current Form W-4 “Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate” that employees already have on file.

    The IRS is revising Form W-4 and will issue updated forms soon. The IRS is also working on the tax withholding calculator on its website to reflect additional changes in the new law, such as changes in itemized deductions, increases in the child tax credit, the new dependent credit, and repeal of dependent exemptions. Employers will be notified as soon as the updated tax withholding calculator is available. Employers are encouraged to continue to use the 2017 Form W4 until the updated forms are out or finalized.

    The IRS will provide available information on its website about the new tax withholding tables to help educate employers and employees to avoid too much or too little withholding.

    Additional information and FAQs about the new tax withholding tables based on the tax reform legislation is available at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-withholding-tables-frequently-asked-questions.

    FICA Temporary Emergency Worker Exclusion

    The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is a U.S. law that created a payroll tax requiring a deduction from employee paychecks as well as matching employer contributions.  Withheld FICA amounts go toward the funding the of the Social Security and the Medicare programs.

    The Social Security Amendments of 1967, with an effective date of January 1, 1968, stated that services performed by an individual temporarily hired to serve as an employee on the basis that a condition of emergency exists are mandatorily excluded from FICA tax withholding.

    The eligibility for FICA exemption under the temporary emergency worker exclusion is contingent upon the following key factors:

    • There must be an employee-employer relationship,
    • the employment relationship must be established on a temporary basis, and
    • employment must be in case of fire, storm, snow, earthquake, flood, or similar emergency. In addition to the nature of the employment based on an emergency, the position itself must be of an emergency nature i.e., lifesaving or life protecting services.

    For additional information on this exclusion, please see the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Emergency Worker Exclusion Guide in the SSA Program Operating Manual System, Section SL 15005.010 (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms/images/poms19/19150/G-SL_15005.010.pdf).