Child Support Report is In–Payroll Doing a Great Job!

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has submitted its Annual Report to Congress FY 2015.  The report outlines its accomplishments and provides a status for the program. This fiscal year marked the 40th anniversary of the Child Support Program, which was established in 1975.  In total, $32.4 billion  in child support was collected in FY 2015.  Of this $24.3 billion or 75% was collected through income withholding from the employee’s paycheck.  Well done payroll professionals!

 

PA Child Support Changes–More Problems for Payroll

Pennsylvania has recently passed legislation on collecting fees for withholding child support payments. Normally this is good news for payroll. However, the PA legislature has really gone out of its way to make it tough for payroll to enforce the new rules.  If I can get on my soap box for one moment, this is the reason I dread state legislatures getting involved in enacting legislation that is payroll related before check with payroll professionals, which they never do! This legislation, in fact,  could cause “nightmares” for payroll systems as it goes against the norm for collecting such fees.  Basically it boils down to this, which was distributed by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE):

On July 1, 2016 Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 64, which amends Section 4348(j) of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Section 4348(j) permits employers to charge their employees an administrative fee for withholding income for support.  Employers were previously permitted to deduct up to two percent of the ordered amount per pay period as reimbursement for administrative costs related to withholding support. Effective August 30, 2016, employers may deduct a one-time fee of $50 for reimbursement of expenses related to withholding income for support. The two-percent fee is no longer permitted. There are no other changes to the law. Pennsylvania’s income withholding requirements stipulate that administrative fees cannot be deducted from the withholding amount and that Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) limitations apply to amounts withheld from the obligor’s income.

The Pennsylvania Bureau of Child Support Enforcement is providing the Frequently Asked Questions below to address concerns related to the implementation of the new fee. Additional questions regarding the implementation of Act 64 should be directed to the Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit at 1-877-676-9580. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 1. Can employers assess the fee on subsequent orders?

Answer: The one-time $50 fee applies to each employee, not each order. Therefore, employers may only collect up to $50 in administrative fees for the duration of the individual’s employment, regardless of the number of income attachments received for the employee.

2. How should employers handle employees who left employment and were subsequently rehired? When can the fee be reassessed?

Answer: The $50 one-time fee limitation applies for the duration of the individual’s employment. Seasonal, transient, and other typically low-income employees will be adversely affected by Act 64 if each subsequent rehire with the same company is regarded as a new eligibility period for the $50 one-time fee. Therefore, rehired individuals are only eligible for a new $50 fee when their start date is greater than one year from their previous leave date.

3. What should employers do if they are unable to update their payroll system before the August 30, 2016 effective date?

Answer: Employers may withhold the one-time $50 fee at any time during the income attached employee’s tenure with the company. Employers who are unable to update their payroll systems before August 30, 2016 may elect to withhold the fee after their system updates are complete. Employers may not continue to withhold a percentage fee until they are able to take the $50 one-time fee.

So payroll can only deduct a one-time fee per employee no matter how many income withholding orders are received for that employee.  PA child support has also provided additional clarification after releasing the above information.  One addresses the issue of insufficient funds.  If there are not enough funds to take the entire fee in one pay period, can it be pro-rated and taken over multiple periods?  PA Child Support says yes, the employer may deduct the fee over multiple periods if there are insufficient funds to deduct in a single payment.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions for payroll.  I will keep you posted on any further changes to the PA child support situation as they come in.

 

OCSE Redesigns Website with Users in Mind

This is a first for us today.  We have a guest blogger.  Tristan Anderson from the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). OCSE has redesigned and launched their new website.  Her blog post today will help guide users through this new, redesigned OCSE website with all its great new features.  Welcome Tristan:

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow:

Technology moves fast. What once was new can quickly become old and outdated. Although we redesigned and launched a new website in 2012, by 2014 it no longer fit our users’ needs. In September 2012, only 12 percent of the people visiting our website did so on a mobile device. By September 2013, almost 25 percent were mobile users — a 102 percent increase in just 12 months! Each year we see a steady increase in the number of mobile users.

ocse blog picture 2On average, about 35 percent of our visitors are on their mobile device. To keep up with demand, we decided to redesign our website and make it mobile-friendly. That means our site will re-adjust the content to fit the size of any device, whether it is a desktop computer, a smart phone, a tablet, or something else.

Considerations for developers

  • Define your audience — who needs to know what? Our site must meet the needs of a variety of audiences: from parents to child support professionals, employers, and other partners; all groups need accurate information specific to them.
  • Identify top tasks — why are people visiting our site and what do they need? To answer these questions, we went to frequent website visitors.

User testing with employers

User testing with employers gave us insight into why you visit our website and how you navigate it. Based on feedback, we organized the main menus and submenus to accommodate your top tasks.

Here are examples of the most popular reasons you visit our website:

Understand employer responsibilities

Learn about electronic and online services

Find a complete list of federal forms used by employers

Access state contact information and program requirements

Get answers to frequently asked questions on a variety of topics

As more people visit websites using mobile platforms and as technology moves forward, you will see more updates and refinements. If you’d like to help test our site or have suggestions for improvements, contact Tristan Anderson at tristan.anderson@acf.hhs.gov.