It Isn’t Me – It’s the Economy
Americans, tired of being told they aren’t saving enough for retirement, have a message of their own, according to Allstate’s fifth annual “Retirement Reality Check“ survey. Over 1,600 people born between 1946 and 1978, with household incomes of $35,000 or more, sent the clear message that they’re doing just fine, given the resources they have. Respondents made it clear that if they are expected to save more money, they need to be paid more, and 60 percent thought the economy needed to improve to allow them to save more.
Respondents said they are financially stretched until the kids are out of college, and they worry about saving closer to retirement day. The Allstate survey showed that 43 percent look forward to retirement with apprehension and 8 percent with outright dread. At least 74 percent of respondents insist that they are on top of things, and 30 percent expect to “enjoy” retirement.
When asked which statements describe them well, respondents said they are disciplined (87 percent overall), educated about investments (71 percent) and good savers (78 percent), according to the Allstate survey. However, 50 percent of respondents said their savings and investments, not including their home, total less than $75,000 and 52 percent said they have less than $50,000 in accounts marked for retirement such as individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans.
Overall, 36 percent of respondents admit to feeling overwhelmed about how to finance their retirement, and 41 percent say they worry they’ll outlive their retirement savings.
“Clearly some people’s pay is increasing faster than inflation, while others are falling behind,” Greenwald said. “The key point in the Allstate ‘Retirement Reality Check’ survey is that people responded that they can’t save more unless they get a raise, even if they’re already earning more than $150,000. That suggests that many people are more focused on spending than saving.”
IRS Plays Grinch this Christmas
Even Santa Claus could end up in an IRS audit for giving his elves gifts the wrong way. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) issues the following holiday quiz:
You gave Jim a gift certificate for a Christmas turkey. Did your bookkeeper remember to apply federal income tax withheld, Social Security, Medicare and other employment taxes?
You handed Alice a production bonus for working overtime to meet the order. Did payroll include the bonus in her regular wages when calculating her overtime pay?
You left Bill two basketball tickets on his keyboard with a “Thanks for your hard work.” Did your company pay its share of Social Security, Medicare and other employment taxes on their cost?
You presented Alice’s gold watch at her retirement party. That’s taxable? You bet; all employment taxes apply.
You announced Bob’s $50 suggestion award at the company party. Hope you didn’t tax that – if you followed the peculiar rules on eligibility, amount and how it is presented.
Unfortunately, ignorance of the tax law is no excuse in an IRS or wage-hour audit. Don’t wait until the New Year to find out about tax liability.
Costly Harassment Claims Involve More Than Sex
According to a recent study by G. Neil Corporation, workplace harassment has become a major issue for employers, because a single claim can seriously damage a company’s bottom line. It is not just large corporations that are at risk; private-sector organizations are the most common targets of harassment claims.
“Sexual harassment gets most of the headlines, but settlements and jury verdicts are frequently established on claims of harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability and other protected categories,” says Ashley Kaplan, head of the labor law team at Florida-based G. Neil Corporation. “To protect yourself from these risks,” she says, “take action to prevent harassment from occurring and minimize your liability if a claim is ever filed.”
Hostile work environment harassment occurs when an unwelcome comment or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
Kaplan recommends three actions for employers to take immediately for self-protection:
Review your policies to ensure that they do not pertain solely to harassment based on sex.
Train managers, supervisors and line employees on the need to prevent all forms of harassment.
Take all harassment claims seriously, investigate them fully and take appropriate remedial action promptly.
And the Survey Says…
The Grant Thornton Survey of U.S. Business Leaders provides insight on how CEOs are managing the expectations of stakeholders by making strategic choices while mitigating potential risks. CEOs are under pressure with stakeholders scrutinizing their every move, customers raising the bar of expectations and competition from international competitors.
While CEOs are making bold decisions to capitalize on opportunities in this fast-paced business environment, they are still relatively slow to cut unprofitable business lines, products and markets.
Business leaders understand that technology is essential to growth and are making investments in this area. While they realize this can be risky, CEOs understand there is a greater risk in not making the appropriate investment in technology.
Restructuring prices is seen as a high-risk move. However, to meet required margin levels, companies are restructuring to combat increasing medical and benefits costs, and the rising cost of fuel and raw materials.
There has been a shift in business development strategies from current markets to new markets. A changing customer demographic and threats from new competitors have made this central to business development strategy. Domestic markets became saturated; companies are expanding into new markets internationally.
More than ever, CEOs are being held accountable for everything that happens within the organization. Business leaders concur that the CEO now needs to be as knowledgeable of company operations as the COO.