Employer News | Quarterly Newsletter | Spring 2020

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Spring | Volume #164

Here at the Division of Retirement and Benefits, we may or may not be “at work,” but we are working for you! We are processing benefits, answering questions, and providing socially distanced assistance as we continue to serve our members during this crisis. If you have questions or concerns, the Member Service Contact Center (MSCC) is open and fully operational to support telephone and email requests. Call toll-free (800) 821-2251 or in Juneau (907) 465-4460 or email doa.drb.mscc@alaska.gov.

Counselors are available for telephonic appointments. To schedule an appointment, call the MSCC or visit our online scheduling page.

The Division of Retirement and Benefits staff are working to ensure your benefit applications are processed, your questions answered, and that you have any assistance we can provide.

We care about you and look forward to seeing you soon!

Employer Conference 2020

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is uncertain whether or not we will be able to meet in person for the Employer Conference this year. We want to make sure to provide the same experience—or as close to it as we can—but we need your help. 

Please take our short Employer Conference 2020 Survey and help us design this years conference to best suit your needs. 

TRS 2019/2020 Year End Reporting
Do Not Forget to Submit TSE Events!

As the end of the school year approaches, it is time to revisit the year-end reporting procedures for the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). It is important that the year-end reports are submitted timely and each member’s school year contributions and salaries are correct in the TRS.

Teacher’s Service End [TSE] event date must be reported for ALL teachers at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. The TSE date to be entered will be the day after the last day worked for the school year or June 30, 2020.

Please note that any payroll information received after July 15, 2020, will not be posted to the members’ accounts before the annual interest calculation; nor will it appear on the members’ 2019-2020 TRS annual statement. This could be a significant amount since many of the closing reports include three or four months of contributions and salary information for members. As a reminder, in accordance with AS 14.25.065 (b) and AS 14.25.370 (b), late fees (interest) may be assessed on normal/final payrolls submitted after July 15, 2020.

For those TRS members whose contracts require working during the summer, summer wages should be reported on July and August payroll reports using the employer match percent for the 2019-2020 school year.

This includes TRS members who:

  • Have contracts with a 12-month work schedule and payments scheduled for 12 months; or
  • Have summer school teaching service that is covered under a newly written contract tied to the 2019-2020 school year and is separate from the school year contract. You will must report a STAT back-to-work date and a second TSE date if the teacher has a break before the normal school year starts.

For example, Susie’s last day of her contract year is May 26, 2020. She has a summer school contract that begins June 8 and ends June 26. A TSE event must be entered for May 27, 2020 and a STAT event entered for June 8, 2020. A TSE event must then be entered for June 27, 2020.

Please check your email for the TRS 2019-2020 year-end letter with more specific information regarding end-of-year reporting.

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True-Up—Reminder to Review True-Up Records with Each Payroll Submission

The Division calculates Defined Contribution Retirement (DCR) true-up adjustments daily and provides them in eReporting. The true-up adjustments correct for over and/or under-reporting of the following contributions:

  • DCR Employer match (ER),
  • DCR Occupational Death & Disability (ODD),
  • DCR Retiree Medical Plan (RMP),
  • DCR Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), and
  • Defined Benefits Unfunded Liability (DBUL).

Please review the true-up report with each payroll submission. All true-up records for each year listed must be adjusted with each payroll submission, even if it is a net zero adjustment. The true-up will allocate the contributions to the proper money type.

Please contact your payroll contact if you have any questions regarding the true-up process or about specific true-up records in eReporting.

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Still Paying Employer Payroll by Check? Electronic Payment Preferred

The Division encourages employers to switch over to ACH for faster processing. There are two payment options:

  1. eReporting ACH with Bank Account Activation (preferred method)
    • Go to eReporting
    • Open the Banking Tab
    • Set-up EFT
    • Bank account will be PENDING until your financial institution finalizes approval
    • Once ACTIVE, you can submit payment with ACH
    • Payment is submitted with payroll, and only the Signed Summary report is needed for processing
  2. eReporting Other ACH with no Bank Account Activation
    • No activation is required in eReporting
    • Submit payment with Other ACH
    • Signed Summary along with an ACH Memo is required to be sent in together for processing

If you have questions related to the conversion to electronic payment, please contact your payroll contact.

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Annual Census Audits

The Division’s auditors KPMG are gearing up for census audits. Census audit selection is based on the employer size and can occur every year, every five years, or every ten years. The Division’s external auditor chooses employers for a census audit around July of each year. Employers will receive a notification that they have been selected and can expect to provide PERS- and TRS-related data to the external auditors within a specific time frame.

To aid you in preparation for this process, it is important for employers to keep detailed records of their transmissions to the Division and to ensure those transmissions reconcile to the employer payroll records. If you have questions related to the transmission records, please contact your payroll contact.

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Payroll Errors and Posting of Contributions to Member Accounts

It is imperative that employers respond to emails from the Division regarding payroll processing errors. Payroll errors hold up the posting of contributions to a member’s account. Please make it a priority to respond to emails regarding payroll errors so that your payroll can be processed timely.

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Office Closures

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers Temporarily Closed
In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and discontinued face-to-face service throughout the country until further notice.

The IRS is continuing to process tax returns, issue refunds, and help taxpayers to the greatest extent possible. Taxpayers are highly encouraged to go to IRS.gov for help and online tools.

Social Security Offices Closed to the Public
All local Social Security offices are closed to the public for in-person service effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This decision protects the population they serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Social Security Administration will continue to provide critical services.

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SCAM ALERT—Social Security Scam Related to COVID-19

The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has received reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter.

Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, in order to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures. Please remember, Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits because their offices are closed.

It is important to remember NEVER give sensitive or confidential information without first verifying that the caller or letter received is legitimate. 

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IRS: Employee Retention Credit Available for Many Businesses Financially Impacted by COVID-19

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages, paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.

Does my business qualify to receive the Employee Retention Credit?
The credit is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations.

There are only two exceptions:

  • State and local governments and their instrumentalities, and
  • Small businesses who take small business loans.

Qualifying employers must fall into one of two categories:

  1. The employer's business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter.
  2. The employer's gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer's gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

For more information, visit IRS.gov

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Fiscal Year 2021 Employer Contribution Rates Available

The Alaska Retirement Management Board (ARMB) has established Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) employer contribution rates for the PERS/TRS Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution Retirement (DCR) plans.

Please refer to the FY21 Employer Contribution Rates on our website for complete information. If you would like to view past employer rates, visit our Employer Services webpage, then click Resources.

For questions about employer contribution rates, please contact Christina Maiquis at (907) 465-1845 or via email at Christina.Maiquis@alaska.gov.

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Employer On-Behalf Funding

Fiscal Year 2020

The Division of Retirement and Benefits will apply Fiscal Year 2020 PERS and TRS employer on-behalf funding provided by House Bill (HB) 39 (Section 35) to complete payrolls received in our office by July 15, 2020. Fiscal Year 2020 covers payrolls containing payroll end dates from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

A complete payroll is defined as a payroll that has all elements needed to process the payroll. This includes the receipt of the funds in the State of Alaska’s bank account by July 15, along with the required and correct memo (if the payment is a wire or push ACH).  Additionally, a complete payroll includes a signed payroll summary and the necessary employer payroll detail needed to process the payroll.

After the July 15, 2020, cutoff has been reached and all applicable payrolls have been processed, the Division will complete the annual on-behalf funding true-up. We anticipate emailing employer on-behalf year-end statements that include the true-up by mid-August 2020.

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