Several pieces of proposed legislation introduced in the 118th Congress’ first session could significantly alter the American payroll landscape. Bills in committees in the House of Representatives and Senate aim to expand employee participation in retirement programs and stock-purchase programs, increase FMLA leave allowances for spouses, investigate workforce challenges for long-term care workers, equalize tax rights for all married couples, eliminate income tax on election worker compensation, expand and simplify participation in various visa programs, bar employers from interfering with former employees’ ability to pursue similar employment, increase pay equity, and increase research and development credits for small businesses.
Senate Bills in Committee:
S2512. Introduced on July 26, 2023, and currently under review in the Senate Finance Committee, the “Auto Reenroll Act of 2023” would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code to allow employers to reenroll non-participants in the company retirement program at least once every three years unless the employee opts out again. Only employees who are not currently participating in the plan would be automatically opted in at the level of the employer’s available match. This bill is mirrored by HR4924, currently under review in the House Committees on Ways and Means and Education and the Workforce.
S2574. Introduced on July 27, 2023, and currently under review in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, the “Fair Access for Individuals to Receive (FAIR) Leave Act” would allow both spouses working for the same company to take individual 12-week FMLA leaves for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
S2584. Reintroduced from the last Congress on July 27, 2023, and currently under review in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, the “Supporting Our Seniors Act” would create a National Advisory Commission on long-term care services for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The Commission would focus on a number of challenges facing the availability of affordable long-term care, including workforce adequacy.
House Bills in Committee:
HR4322. Introduced on June 23, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committee on Ways and Means, the “Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act” would afford the same tax benefits to any married couple regardless of gender.
HR4521. Introduced on July 10, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committee on Ways and Means, the “Election Worker Tax Benefits Act” would exclude all qualified election worker compensation from being taxable.
HR4647. Introduced on July 14, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committees on Education and the Workforce and the Judiciary, the “High-Skilled Immigration Reform for Employment (HIRE) Act” would increase the annual H-1B visa cap from 65,000 to 130,000 and eliminating the additional exemption cap of 20,000. The bill would also provide grant funding of $25 million to increase education efforts in the science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) fields.
HR4708. Introduced on July 18, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committees on the Judiciary and Education and the Workforce, this “HIRE Act” is also known as the “H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers Act” and takes aim at the H-2A and H-2B visa programs. Under the bill, certifications issued to employers would be in effect for a period of three years and returning workers previously holding H-2 visas would no longer need to conduct an immigration interview upon return.
HR4896. Introduced on July 26, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committees on Ways and Means, Small Business, and Education and the Workforce, the “Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act” would give tax incentives to S Corporation owners to sell their stocks to Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), and create the position of an “Employee Ownership Advocate” at the Department of Labor to encourage the expansion of employee ownership programs at small businesses.
HR4919. Introduced on July 26, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committee on Ways and Means, the “Oppose Limitless Inequality Growth and Reverse Community Harms (OLIGARCH) Act” would create a wealth tax with four brackets. The tax would be calculated based on the taxpayer’s individual net assets, rather than income in a given year, and would apply only to individuals or trusts with assets equaling the greater of more than $50 million or 1000 times the median household wealth as determined annually.
HR4932. Introduced on July 26, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committees on Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, and the Judiciary, the “End Employer Collusion Act” would bar employers from entering into “no-poach” agreements with other employers. The bill would also stop employers from entering agreements that directly restrict the future employment of any employee, as well as from using restrictive employment contracts.
HR5053. Introduced on July 27, 2023, and currently under review in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the “Wage Equity Act” would amend the Equal Pay Act to require differences in pay to be based on “legitimate business reasons,” encourage businesses to undergo a voluntary pay analysis tackle existing disparities, create a grant program to educate women on how to negotiate pay raises, protect the right of employees to discuss compensation with their peers, protect the right of employers to have a salary expectation conversation with prospective employees, and require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on the so-called “manager gap.”
HR5056. Introduced on July 27, 2023 and currently under review in the House Committee on Ways and Means, the “Fostering Innovation and Research to Strengthen Tomorrow (FIRST) Act” would increase the research and development tax credit to 40%, the Alternative Simplified Credit (ASC) to 28%, and the Credit for Firms with Limited Research History to 14%. These credits may be taken against payroll tax up to the amount allowable under the limitation on the use of the cash method of accounting in Code Sec. 448(c).
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