“Encouraging” the Repayment of Student Loan Debt

By Jeff Chang

Many of the public agencies we work with have expressed a strong interest in programs and arrangements that will help or encourage their employees to pay off their student loan debts. These programs can be important recruiting, retention and collective bargaining tools for employers. Frankly, under existing tax law, there are few — if any — ways for an employer to “help” its employees with the repayment of student debt incurred prior to employment on a nontaxable basis. This is because practically all “employer-made” payments for or on behalf of an employee will be considered taxable, unless a specific statutory exclusion from income is available. As a result, if an employer helps an employee repay his or her student loan by directly or indirectly paying the lender, this will generally be considered additional taxable income to the employee.  Continue reading

Tagged , | Comments Off on “Encouraging” the Repayment of Student Loan Debt

Why You Need to “Monitor” Full-time, Temporary Employees

By Jeff Chang

Due to budget restrictions and general hiring freezes, many California public agencies are forced to fill workforce gaps with temporary employees from staffing agencies. This practice, while quite common, is not well-understood — particularly when it comes to eligibility for CalPERS.

Misconception No. 1: Workers obtained from “temp” or staffing agencies are always the responsibility of those agencies Continue reading

Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Why You Need to “Monitor” Full-time, Temporary Employees

Time for a Defined Contribution Plan Checkup?

By Jeff Chang

Many public sector employers maintain various defined contributions plans (either 401(a) or 457(b)) in addition to their participation in a large, public-defined benefit system, such as CalPERS, CalSTRS or a ’37 Act county plan. There are a number of reasons that these plans get little attention from their sponsors. But, there also are a number of very good reasons why the public agencies that maintain them should give them a “checkup” from time-to-time.  Continue reading

Tagged , | Comments Off on Time for a Defined Contribution Plan Checkup?

The Battle Over “Vested Rights” In California

By: Jeff Chang

Those of you who follow California public pension issues closely already know about the pending California Supreme Court cases focusing on the “vested rights doctrine.” Some of you may have attended, or viewed, my recent webinar, “Preparing for Changes in the ‘Vested Rights Doctrine’ – Understanding Plan Design Options – Best Best & Krieger” or attended an earlier presentation at the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers conference where Public Retirement Journal Owner Amy Brown and I discussed and made predictions about the pending cases. Continue reading

Tagged , | Comments Off on The Battle Over “Vested Rights” In California

They’re Yours, They’re Mine or They’re on Their Own: More On Employee vs. Independent Contractor

By: Jeff Chang

Previously, in Yours, Mine or Ours?, we examined the basics of “who” your  employees are for employee benefits purposes. We also discussed some of the adverse tax and business consequences that can befall employers who either don’t understand who their common-law employees are or attempt to treat their common-law employees as someone else’s employees. Hopefully, we have convinced many of you that it is better to understand and analyze these issues rather than assume that your outsourcing arrangement works for all purposes. Continue reading

Tagged , , | Comments Off on They’re Yours, They’re Mine or They’re on Their Own: More On Employee vs. Independent Contractor