Montana Form MW-4
Important news from the State of Montana. New to the 2019 calendar year, is the Montana Employee’s Withholding Allowance and Exemption Certification or Form MW-4. This new form is Montana preparing for the big changes happening to the Federal Form W-4 and the Federal Tax Tables for 2020. For now, Montana recommends that only new hires and anyone claiming exempt from MT Income Tax, fill this out.
The APA advises that if an employee asks a payroll practitioner how many allowances the employee can or should claim, the employee should be encouraged to perform a “Paycheck checkup”. This is done by using the IRS’s withholding calculator. The employee should determine the appropriate number of allowances to claim.
New FMLA Forms Available from Department of Labor
Executive Summary: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) notices and certification forms on September 4, 2018. The new forms are valid until August 31, 2021, and are available for download from the DOL Website. Notably, the DOL did not make any material changes to the prior forms; however, employers should begin using the updated forms immediately. While employers are not required to use the DOL forms, their use is recommended and can assist with the request and award of Family and Medical Leave (FML), specifically:
Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities: The Notice of Eligibility, available here, is provided to an employee who applies for FML. This notice advises the employee if he or she is eligible for FML. The employer must provide the completed form to the employee within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances, after being told by the employee that he or she needs to take leave or after the employer otherwise learns of the employee’s need to take leave. If an employer determines that the employee is not eligible to take FML, it must provide at least one reason why the employee does not meet the established eligibility requirements.
Designation Notice: The Designation Notice, available here, informs the employee whether his or her FML request is approved. Once an employer has sufficient information to determine whether an employee qualifies for FML, it has five business days, absent extenuating circumstances, to notify the employee. If an employer requires the substitution of paid leave in conjunction with the use of FML, the Designation Notice must inform the employee of the employer’s policy. Also, if an employer wants a returning employee to provide a fitness-for-duty certification before returning to work (which is always recommended), a statement to that effect must be included on the Designation Notice, accompanied by a list of the essential functions of the employee’s position or a job description. If the employee’s request for leave is not designated as FML, the employer must notify the employee of any additional information that may be required in order to designate the time as FML.
Employee Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act: The most current FMLA-required workplace poster, available here, must be posted in a conspicuous location where it can be readily seen by all employees and applicants for employment. The General Notice or its contents, must also be distributed to each employee; this requirement may be satisfied by including a FML policy, which includes all required information, in an Employee Handbook.
Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition: The form, available here, is for use when an employee requires leave for his or her own serious health condition.
Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition: The form, available here, is for use when an employee requires leave for a son, daughter, parent or spouse who has a serious health condition.
Certification for Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave: The form, available here, is for use when an employee requires leave for a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is a covered military member on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation.
Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Current Servicemember for Military Family Leave: The form, available here, is for use when an employee requires leave to care for a covered Servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of the covered Servicemember.
Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave: The form, available here, is for use when an employee requires leave to care for a covered Veteran with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of the covered Veteran.
Montana’s minimum wage will increase to $8.50 on Jan. 1
Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced on September 28, 2018, that Montanans earning minimum wage will see the rate increase to $8.50 per hour beginning January 1, 2019.
“Every Montanan who works hard should have the opportunity to get ahead. We’re among a handful of states where each year minimum wage workers take home a little extra in their paychecks, but there’s more to be done,” said Governor Bullock. “We must continue to help working families succeed by bringing in better jobs, helping businesses expand and investing in areas like apprenticeships and education.”
In the 2006 General Election Montana voters approved Ballot Initiative I-151 to raise the minimum wage and require that the minimum wage be adjusted annually for inflation. As a result, Montana Code Annotated Section 39-3-409 requires the Department of Labor and Industry to adjust the Montana minimum wage for inflation using the CPI-U.
The minimum wage rate for 2019 was determined by taking the current minimum wage of $8.30 and increasing it by the CPI-U increase from August of 2017 to August 2018. The CPI-U increased by 2.68% over the year ending August 2018. To keep the minimum wage at the same purchasing power as the prior year, the wage should increase by $0.223 per hour. The resulting wage is $8.523 and statute specifies that the wage must be rounded to the nearest 5 cents.
An estimated 8,200 Montana workers, 1.8% of the workforce, currently earn less than $8.50 per hour and are likely to see higher wage rates in 2019 due to the increase. In 2017, the industry with the largest number of workers earning minimum wage was the accommodations and food services industry followed by the retail trade industry. Food Preparation Workers and Sales are occupational groups with large number of minimum wage workers.
Public Service Announcement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Cybercriminals Utilize Social Engineering Techniques To Obtain Employee Credentials To Conduct Payroll Diversion
Alert Number: I-091818-PSA
Questions regarding this PSA should be directed to your local FBI Field Office.
Local Field Office Locations: www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field
The IC3 has received complaints reporting cybercriminals are targeting the online payroll accounts of employees in a variety of industries. Institutions most affected are education, healthcare, and commercial airway transportation.
Cybercriminals target employees through phishing emails designed to capture an employee’s login credentials. Once the cybercriminal has obtained an employee’s credentials, the credentials are used to access the employee’s payroll account in order to change their bank account information. Rules are added by the cybercriminal to the employee’s account preventing the employee from receiving alerts regarding direct deposit changes. Direct deposits are then changed and redirected to an account controlled by the cybercriminal, which is often a prepaid card.
To mitigate the threat of payroll diversion:
- Alert and educate your workforce about this scheme, including preventative strategies and appropriate reactive measures should a breach occur.
- Instruct employees to hover their cursor over hyperlinks included in emails they receive to view the actual URL. Ensure the URL is actually related to or associated with the company it purports to be from.
- Instruct employees to refrain from supplying log-in credentials or personally identifying information in response to any email.
- Direct employees to forward suspicious requests for personal information to the information technology or human resources department.
- Ensure that log-in credentials used for payroll purposes differ from those used for other purposes, such as employee surveys.
- Apply heightened scrutiny to bank information initiated by employees seeking to update or change direct deposit credentials.
- Monitor employee logins that occur outside normal business hours.
- Restrict access to the Internet on systems handling sensitive information or implement two-factor authentication for access to sensitive systems and information.
- Only allow required processes to run on systems handling sensitive information.
The FBI encourages victims to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to their local FBI field office, and file a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov. If your complaint pertains to this particular scheme, then please note payroll diversion in the body of the complaint.
W-2 Email Phishing Scam
For personal and corporate income tax purposes, many states have issued a press release urging employers, including small and large businesses, public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments, and charities, to educate their payroll staff about Form W-2 phishing scams in which thieves trick them into disclosing sensitive information to claim fraudulent refunds. In these scams, cybercriminals impersonate chief operating officers, school executives or others in authority. These criminals use a technique known as business email compromise or business email spoofing to send emails to payroll personnel requesting copies of Forms W-2 for all employees. Since Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income, and withholdings, cybercriminals use that information to file fraudulent tax returns, or they post that information for sale on the “Dark Net.”
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has created a special email notification address specifically for employers to report Form W-2 data thefts. Victims can report W-2 data loss to the IRS by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make sure that the email is routed properly, taxpayers should type “W2 Data Loss” in the subject line of the email. Taxpayers should not attach any information or data which could personally identify an employee. Businesses and organizations that fall victim to the scam, and organizations that only receive a suspect email but do not fall victim to the scam, should send the full email headers to email@example.com and use “W2 Scam” in the subject line. (CCH Daily Alerts)