Employer News | Quarterly Newsletter | Winter 2022

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Winter 2022 | Volume # 171

Introducing BEARS—An Improved Way To Deliver Benefits

The Division of Retirement and Benefits has been working on a major project to modernize its data system and improve the administration of pension and insurance benefits for its members and participating employers. This system, known as BEARS (Benefits and Retirement System) will feature secure, timely, accurate, and consistent data, allowing the Division to provide enhanced customer service to its members, including self-service tools to accommodate on-demand requests.

Part of the BEARS project is the development of an improved Employer Services Portal. This portal will support consistent processes, enhanced accuracy, and security for our participating employers. The effect of these updated features will be increased efficiency in work management for both Division staff and you, the employer.

We anticipate the BEARS system, including the Employer Services Portal, will launch in the latter part of 2023. Prior to launch, the Division will support employers with instruction and training in using the new BEARS features. We will provide regular updates about the progress of the BEARS project, including training sessions, in future issues of Employer News and other communications.

If you have any questions regarding the BEARS implementation and the new Employer Services Portal, please contact the Division through the dedicated email set up for that purpose: DRB.BEARS.Communication@alaska.gov.

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IRS Pension Plan Limitations for Calendar Year 2022

The IRS has announced the pension plan limitations for 2022. The pension plan limitations that specifically apply to the pension contributions submitted to the Division include:

  • 401(a)(17) Compensation Limit: For calendar year 2022, the compensation limit has been increased to $305,000. The compensation limit is the maximum amount of compensation that employee contributions are allowable. This limitation applies to the PERS, TRS, JRS, and EPORS. Gross earnings and employer contributions are still required to be reported to the Division if an employee’s compensation exceeds the limit.
  • 457 Deferred Compensation Limits: For calendar year 2022, the DCP contribution limit is $20,500. Participants may contribute an additional $6,500 in the year they turn age 50 or greater for an annual maximum of $27,000. This represents the annual allowable of $20,500, plus the additional $6,500. The catch-up maximum is $41,000. This represents double the annual maximum of $20,500.

SBS Limitation for Calendar Year 2022

The Social Security Administration has announced that the 2022 base wage has increased to $147,000. The SBS base wage mirrors the Social Security limits.

If you have any questions regarding the IRS pension limitations, especially if you have an employee who will meet or exceed the limitations, please reach out to your payroll contact.

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2021 PERS and TRS Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports and Financial Statements Available Online

The 2021 Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports and Audited Financial Statements for the PERS and TRS are available online. To request hard copies, please email doa.drb.accountants@alaska.gov.

PERS Publications

TRS Publications 

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Taxpayers Beware: Tax Season is Prime Time for Phone Scams

With the new tax season upon us, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reminds taxpayers to be aware that criminals continue to make aggressive calls posing as IRS agents in hopes of stealing taxpayer money or personal information.

Listed below are some telltale signs of a tax scam, along with actions taxpayers can take if they receive a scam call.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without allowing taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.

Taxpayers who receive these phone calls should:

  • Record the number and then hang up the phone immediately.
  • Report the call to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or by calling (800) 366-4484.
  • Report the number to phishing@irs.gov and be sure to put “IRS Phone Scam” in the subject line.
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Economic Impact Payments

All third-round Economic Impact Payments (EIP) have been issued. Eligible people who did not receive their third-round EIP may make a claim through the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Parents of a child born in 2021, or parents and guardians who added a new qualifying child to their family in 2021, that did not receive a third-round EIP for that child may be eligible to receive up to $1,400 for the child by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Visit IRS.gov for more about the Recovery Rebate Credit and information you can share with your eligible employees.

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Employees Not Eligible for Home Office Deduction

The home office deduction allows qualified taxpayers to deduct certain home expenses when they file taxes. To claim the home office deduction on their 2021 tax return, taxpayers must exclusively and regularly use part of their home or a separate structure on their property as their primary place of business.

The details below can help taxpayers determine if they may claim this deduction:

  • Employees are not eligible to claim the home office deduction.
  • The home office deduction, calculated on IRS form 8829, is available to both homeowners and renters.
  • There are certain expenses taxpayers may deduct. These include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, depreciation, and rent.
  • Taxpayers must meet specific requirements to claim home expenses as a deduction. Even then, the deductible amount of these types of expenses may be limited.
  • The term "home" for purposes of this deduction:
    • Includes a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat, or similar property.
    • Also includes structures on the property, such as an unattached garage, studio, barn, or greenhouse.
    • Does not include any part of the taxpayer's property used exclusively as a hotel, motel, inn, or similar business.
  • Two basic requirements must be satisfied for the taxpayer's home to qualify as a deduction:
    • A portion of the home must be used exclusively to conduct business on a regular basis.
    • The home must be the taxpayer's principal place of business. A taxpayer can also meet this requirement if administrative or management activities are conducted at the home and there is no other location to perform these duties.
  • Expenses that relate to a separate structure not attached to the home may qualify for a home office deduction. They will qualify only if the structure is used exclusively and regularly for business.
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True-Up—Reminder to Review True-up Records with Each Payroll Submission

The Division calculates Defined Contribution (DCR) plan 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)
  • 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 reach out to 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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User Name and Password Confidentiality in eReporting

Your user name and password should always remain confidential to ensure the security of your payroll records.

Employer eReporting requires employers using the system to establish a user account for each employee who needs access to the system. If another employee will be assisting with submitting payrolls when you are out of the office, they must contact the Division of Retirement and Benefits to obtain their own unique user ID and password. You can be liable for any submissions made by an unauthorized user using your credentials.

In addition, when an employee no longer needs access to eReporting due to a promotion, transfer, or termination, a LogonID Request form must be submitted timely to delete their access. This form is required for any new user, to delete a current user, and for any changes to a current user’s account.

In order to request a new user, delete a user, or change a user’s access, please submit the Employer Services logonID Request form signed by your employer representative or administrator. The form can be found at Alaska.gov/drb.

Reminder: Your password will expire every 90 days. Please notify your DRB active payroll contact if you need a password reset.

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Full Backouts

Employers, please inform your Division payroll contact before you perform a full back-out of an employee’s contribution. This is especially critical when it comes to the PERS DCR, TRS DCR, and SBS plans, as market losses and fees may have been incurred that cause the account balance to be less than the back-out. Employers are responsible for all market losses or fees imposed by Empower Retirement for backing out ineligible contributions.

One way to prevent full backouts is to check, review, and verify all information BEFORE submitting personnel information. Check to ensure the employee is hired into the correct plan, either Defined Benefit (DB) or Defined Contribution (DCR), and verify the Social Security Number has been entered accurately.

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