Payroll News for 2017

January 06, 2017

This newsletter summarizes key changes affecting your pay and actions you may want to consider at the start of the New Year, including:

  • You should review and verify:
    • Your benefits and/or parking deductions reported on your first 2017 pay advice to ensure amounts withheld are aligned with your elections.
    • Your W-4 address is current and accurate.
    • Your federal and state withholding is correct, as well as the number of exemptions claimed.
  • If you recently relocated to a different state or plan to during 2017, please update your state tax withholding form.
  • If you are entitled to claim “exempt” from federal or state withholding, please submit the appropriate documentation before February 15, 2017.
  • You should always question messages requesting account information, if in doubt forward to abuse@gwu.edu or contact the IT Support Center at 202-994-4948.  

 Benefits Tax Document for 2016

In early 2017, some employees will receive the tax form, Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, that will contain detailed information about their health care coverage. If you were enrolled in health care coverage with GW or were considered a full-time employee at any point in 2016, you should receive a Form 1095-C.

If you receive the form, it is important to keep it for your records because you will need it to file your taxes for 2016.  The information you report from the form will be used to determine whether you will pay a penalty for failing to have health care coverage as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare. Think of the form as your “proof of insurance” for the IRS.

If you have any questions, please contact Benefits Administration at: benefits@gwu.edu.

Qualified Transportation Benefits

The monthly limit for pretax transportation benefits for 2017 is $255, same as 2016.  If you would like to enroll or make changes to your transit benefits, including changes to metro parking, you can find the appropriate forms at: https://payroll.gwu.edu/commuter-benefits or contact Payroll Services at payroll@gwu.edu

The monthly limit for pretax qualified parking is $255/month, same as 2016. You can sign-up or change your current parking benefit at any time during the year by going to the online benefits enrollment system: go.gwu.edu/easyenroll.  

Social Security and Medicare Tax Changes for 2017

The Social Security Administration announced that the Social Security wage base for 2017 will be the first $127,200 of earnings, an increase from $118,500 in 2016.  The employee’s portion of Social Security will remain at 6.2%.  The employee’s Medicare tax rate will remain at 1.45% for wages up to $200,000 and 2.35% for wages greater than $200,000. 

New Benefit Rates Take Effect in January 2017

New benefit deduction rates and/or open enrollment changes for health and welfare benefits take effect on January 1, 2017.  These rates will be reflected in the pay dated January 13, 2017 for biweekly paid employees and January 31, 2017 for monthly paid employees.  It is very important that you take the time to verify that your deduction amounts are correct and reflect the changes you made during open enrollment.  You can access a copy of your most current benefits confirmation statement by visiting go.gwu.edu/easyenroll.   If there are any discrepancies, please immediately contact Benefits Administration at 1-888-449-8236 or email benefits@gwu.edu.

You can also visit https://benefits.gwu.edu for important information regarding your 2017 benefit plans as well as instructions on how to access temporary benefit cards, flexible spending account deadlines and additional resources and reminders.

Verify/Update Your Personal Information

Avoid the hassle of your W-2 being lost in the mail!

Review your current pay stub to verify your name is spelled correctly and it reflects your correct mailing address.  Don’t forget to check the zip code and apartment number, if applicable.   It is very important to maintain a correct W-4 address.  Your W-4 address is also used by Benefits Administration and benefit vendors to communicate benefit and retirement information to you throughout the year.

The address reflected on your pay stub is your Form W-4 address and is where your 2016 Form W-2 will be mailed if you haven’t opted to receive your W-2 on-line.  Address changes can be made through GWeb Information.  You may also obtain a Form W-4 from the Faculty Staff Service Center (FSSC) located on the 1st floor of Rice Hall or on the Payroll Services web site at http://payroll.gwu.edu/payroll-forms.  Please note, if you use employee self-service you are not required to complete a Form W-4 if you are only changing your W-4 address.  See link to instructions for updated W-4 below.

Please remember, if your state of residence changes you must also complete a new state tax withholding form.

Review Your Current Federal and State Withholding. Now is a good time to review the federal and state withholding allowances you currently claim.  Your current withholding allowances can be found in GWeb Information or on your pay stub.  GWeb Information can be used to change your filing status or update your number of withholding exemptions.  You can also complete a new Form W-4 and drop it off at the FSSC or send to Payroll Services.  See link to instructions below.

The IRS recently announced that the personal exemption amount for 2017 is $4,050, same as 2016.  The standard deduction is $12,700 for married couples filing jointly, an increase from $12,600 in 2016 and $6,350 for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately, an increase from $6,300 in 2016. 

Employees Claiming Exempt from Federal Tax Withholding

Employees that filed a Form W-4 in 2016 claiming exemption from federal withholding taxes will have to file a new 2017 Form W-4 no later than February 15, 2017.  If a new Form W-4 is not submitted, the IRS requires the university to withhold taxes based on the withholding status of single and zero (0) exemptions.

Employees Claiming Exempt from State Tax Withholding

If you claimed exemption from state withholding taxes and you live in Maryland or Virginia, you must renew that exemption each year.  If Payroll Services does not receive a new state withholding form by February 15, 2017 requesting “exempt”, your withholding status will default to single and zero (0) exemptions.

Resources to Take Action

Understanding Your Pay and Form W-2

If you are new to the workforce or have questions about how your net pay is calculated, we invite you to read a brochure that can be found on the Payroll Services website titled “Understanding Your Pay and Form W-2”.  This brochure includes basic information on how your pay is calculated and information that is included in your Form W-2. 

Employee Self Service Options

Employee self-service (GWeb Information) is the safest method for updating critical payroll information.   Resources available through GWeb Information are:

Direct deposit information - instructions can be found at: https://payroll.gwu.edu/sites/payroll.gwu.edu/files/downloads/Update_Direct_Deposit_Instructions.pdf

Updating your Form W-4 - instructions for changing your filing status or your number of exemptions can be found at:  https://payroll.gwu.edu/sites/payroll.gwu.edu/files/downloads/How_to_update_W4_Form.pdf

Updating your state withholding – instructions can be found at:  https://payroll.gwu.edu/sites/payroll.gwu.edu/files/downloads/How_to_Update_State_Taxes_1.pdf

Form W-4 Address – Instructions for updating your Form W-4 address can be found at:  https://payroll.gwu.edu/sites/payroll.gwu.edu/files/downloads/How_to_update_W4_Address.pdf

Please remember, if your state of residence changes you must complete a new Form W-4 and  a new state tax withholding form.

Form W-2 - Your 2016 Form W-2 will be available on-line on or around January 23 by going to GWeb Information.  Instructions can be found at:  https://payroll.gwu.edu/sites/payroll.gwu.edu/files/downloads/Electronic_W2_Instructions_0.pdf.   

Accessing your Form W-2 electronically is secure and keeps your personal information from being sent via regular postal mail.  If you have previously consented, you do not need to consent again for 2016.

If you receive a paper Form W-2, they will be mailed on or around January 25 to your W-4 address on record.

Please remember that you should always be wary of messages requesting account verification or personal information such as your passwords, GWid, Social Security number or credit card information.  Never reply to an email with your password, GWid or PIN. Always hover over links to verify them before clicking. If you have any questions about the validity of a link you see or a message you receive, please forward it to abuse@gwu.edu or contact the IT Support Center at 202-994-GWIT (4948) or ithelp@gwu.edu.