Serving over 200 companies and more than 2000 families since 1988

2882 Sand Hill Rd. Ste. 119 - Menlo Park, CA 94025 - (650) 854-8963 - (800) 564-4476
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A quality group health insurance plan is the backbone of your employee benefit package. But even the most comprehensive plans have their limits, and therefore your employees might experience some gaps between the coverage they need and the coverage they have. In particular, health insurance plans rarely cover vision exams, glasses, or contact lenses. The good news is that you can offer your employees a vision insurance plan as an added, voluntary benefit. They can opt in at no added cost to you (if you set it up that way), but will appreciate the opportunity to obtain quality vision care at group rates. Why Do Employees Choose Vision Insurance? For most of your employees, their benefits package isn’t just about their needs. Their families depend upon these insurance options, too. Vision insurance can cover the entire family, allowing for annual vision checks, and glasses or contact lenses when needed. While health insurance plans generally cover eye exams for children under age 19, spouses are not included, nor are children over 19 who are still utilizing a parent’s policy. Children under age 19 typically have an exam and glasses covered, but you can’t go to just any eye doctor, you must stick to a specific list of providers. Also, considering the amount of “screen time” most of us are getting these days, we all stand a greater chance of needing vision assistance at some point. Even those who have always enjoyed 20/20 vision might find that as they get older, reading glasses become necessary. A Complement to Health Insurance. Eye exams can detect more than just vision problems. Often, the first signs of many health problems are noticed by an optometrist or opthamologist. These can include diabetes, brain tumors, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more. And of course, certain degenerative eye disorders like glaucoma and macular degeneration are first detected by a vision screening. When caught early, treatment can save the patient’s sight or at least slow the progression of the disease. Increased Workplace Safety. Vision impacts job performance, too. As an employer, you are likely aware of the various liability issues that can exist in the workplace. Regular vision screenings not only keep employees healthy and happy; they could increase productivity and reduce the risk of accidents as well. Vision insurance offers a valuable voluntary benefit at a comparatively low price. Give us a call to learn more about adding vision insurance to your menu of...

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Many employers have discovered the benefits of offering their workers premium-only plans (POP), which allow employees to pay their health insurance premiums with “before tax” dollars. This means the premiums are deducted from paychecks on a pre-tax basis, saving them money. Of course, as with any other tax code provision, employers are subject to strict regulations when opting for POPs. In particular, the law states that the plan must be non-discriminatory, meaning the plans cannot discriminate in favor of key or highly-compensated employees with regard to eligibility, contributions, or benefits. If the plan’s design benefits a reasonable cross-section of employees, and enrollment is available to all, the plan will most likely pass eligibility and benefits standards. Keeping the plan simple and uniformly available will cut down on the number of tests that the employer must pass. Therefore, in these cases employers only need to worry about the Concentration Test and Dependent Care Test. The Concentration Test states that the non-taxable benefits received by “key employees” must not exceed 25 percent of benefits received by all employees in total. First, we must define key employees, according to IRC 416 (i): Officers of employer who earn more than $160,000 annually Those with at least one percent ownership in the company who earn more than $150,000 annually Those with more than five percent ownership in the company Then, the test formula simply divides the total benefits of Key Employees by the total benefits received by all employees. If the resulting percentage is greater than 25 percent, the plan fails the Concentration Test. The remedy is fairly simple: Key employees must simply pay more of the cost of benefits on an after-tax basis, in order to keep their percentage of benefits below 25 percent. Employers should run the Concentration Test regularly to ensure continuous compliance with the law. Certain special rules do apply, regarding ownership percentages with regard to spouses or family members of key employees. In these cases, professional guidance is essential. For more information on non-discrimination testing and POP plans, please contact us and we’ll be happy to...

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It’s April, and that means tax refund season has arrived once again. Yes, a vacation or new furniture sounds tempting, but you might be wondering about ways to put your tax refund to its best use. We have a few suggestions that can help secure your financial future. Consider Life Insurance Whether you already have a life insurance policy, or you’ve been considering this important coverage, you know that the point is to offer long-term security to your family in the event that something happens to you. But many people face obstacles in securing a life insurance policy, such as: Fitting the monthly premiums into their budgets Remembering to pay premiums (and if you forget, your coverage could lapse) Wondering if they really have enough life insurance, especially when situations changeBy enrolling in a life insurance policy now and using your tax refund to cover the next year’s premiums, you can address all of these issues. Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) If you have out-of-pocket medical costs, you can start or contribute to an existing HSA and use that money for future medical bills. One nice benefit of an HSA is that the money you contribute is tax exempt. So not only do you save for expenses, but you also cut your tax liability. We can answer questions for you regarding HSAs and also help you to start one. Contribute to a Roth IRA You can contribute up to $5500 per year to a Roth IRA and this money will grow tax free. If you are married, both you and your spouse can contribute $5500 to a Roth IRA. When you retire, the funds in your Roth IRA can be withdrawn without any tax liability, making a Roth IRA an advantageous retirement income source. For more information on any of these solutions, please give us a call. We can help you decide what makes the best sense for you and your family and can answer any questions that you might...

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You might already know that Open Enrollment, offered each fall, provides us all with the chance to review our healthcare plans and make any necessary changes. Then, the decisions you have made during Open Enrollment will apply to the following year’s coverage. But what if your needs change outside of the Open Enrollment period? Is it ever possible to change your healthcare coverage? Actually, yes. If you experience what is called a Qualifying Life Event, you will be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. During this time, you can indeed alter your healthcare plan or enroll in a new one. So, what are these Qualifying Life Events? You lose your healthcare coverage – from job loss, expiration of a student plan, or lost eligibility for Medi-Cal You turn 26 and “age out” of your parent’s plan You get married or divorced Adding a new child to the family (through birth or adoption) A death in the family You move to a different zip code, and your plan does not offer service there You’re a student, and move to or from the location of your school You’re a migrant worker, and move to or from your place of work Moving into, or out of, a shelter or some other type of transitional housing Release from jail or prison Changes in your income, that change the type of coverage for which you are eligible You become a US citizen You gain membership in a recognized Native American tribe Starting or ending your Americorps service What do you do next? If you believe you have experienced a Qualifying Life Event, and you wish to change your healthcare coverage, give us a call. We can review the details with you and help you determine the health insurance coverage options that are available to you. But don’t delay; your Special Enrollment Period only lasts 60 days from the date of the Qualifying Life Event. Get started right away, so that you have time to evaluate your options and choose the right plan for your...

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When it comes to federal income taxes, nothing ever seems uncomplicated. But we do strive to bring you the latest news about changes in our tax code, so that you can avoid errors and plan appropriately. With that idea in mind, here are eleven new changes in various areas, that will affect both you and your employees in 2019. These new figures took effect January 1, so make sure you’ve updated your records. 401(k) pre-tax contribution limit for 2019 has been increased from $18,500 to $19,000 this year. This limit also applies to 457, 403(b), and Thrift Savings Plans. The catch-up contribution limit for the same qualified retirement plans will remain at $6,000 for 2019. This type of contribution is available to those age 50 and over only. The IRA contribution limit has been increased from $5,500 to $6,000. The catch-up contribution limit for IRAs remains at $1,000. The new health savings account (HSA) contribution limit for individual coverage will be $3,500 in 2019. For those with family plans, HSA contribution limit will be $7,000. The HSA catch-up contribution limit for those age 55 and older will remain at $1,000 this year. The flexible spending account (FSA) contribution limit is increased to $2,700. The minimum deductible for high deductible health plans (HDHP) remains the same this year, at $1,350 for individual plans. The minimum deductible for HDHP family plans remains at $2,700. The maximum out-of-pocket expenditure for individual HDHPs will be $6,750 in 2019. This maximum applies to expenses other than premiums, such as deductibles and co-pays. The out-of-pocket maximum for family HDHPs will be $13,500. If you have any questions about these items, please call our office to clarify. We’ll be happy to help you determine how these changes apply to you and your...

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Owners of small and mid-sized businesses often face tough choices with regard to their operating budgets. This dilemma might lead you to concentrating too many tasks into one department, or even attempting to juggle it all yourself. While this pioneering mindset is admirable, setting aside your HR needs could be a costly mistake in the long run. Let’s break down the two primary ways that a solid HR program will benefit your business, and help you to grow. HR saves you money. An experienced human resources department can help you detangle the web of costs and penalties associated with having employees. For example…. The potential cost of lost productivity, rehiring, onboarding and training expenses from one bad hire: $50,000 The potential penalty for wage and hour violation under the Fair Labor Standards Act: $10,000 The potential cost of each Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) violation: $7,000 And these are just a few examples of the liabilities faced by business owners. That’s why each dollar invested in HR saves 10 dollars in long-term investigation and litigation costs. A good HR program can even make you money. A key goal of an effective HR program is to successfully engage employees and boost productivity. But how do those goals translate to your bottom line? According to researchers at Cornell University, a review of several hundred companies found that those who invested in key HR practices saw… A 22 percent boost in sales growth 23 percent faster profit growth Turnover decreased by 67 percent   They also found that these companies enjoyed… Greater customer retention Higher productivity More operating income Increase in referrals Lower employee absenteeism Fewer safety incidents   Contact us to learn more about establishing an effective human resources program. It’s not as difficult as you might believe, and the benefits speak for themselves.   Sources for stats: Cornell University Watson Wyatt Entrepreneur.com St Cloud University...

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