TASC Receives a BIRT Excellence Award

Madison, Wis. (November 14, 2011) –TASC (Total Administrative Services Corporation) was honored recently by Actuate Corporation, a leading Business Intelligence (BI) vendor.  The accolade—for achieving outstanding business performance with the BIRT®-based business intelligence applications—was presented during an awards ceremony held November 9, 2011 in New York City. On behalf of TASC, Executive Vice President of Business Technology Services (BTS) Karl Richards accepted the award, titled “Actuate’s 2011 Excellence Award in the BIRT Implementation category.”

TASC provides a wide range of employee benefits solutions. This recognition praises the innovative way TASC seamlessly integrated BIRT’s robust iServer and BIRT Data Objects into MyTASC, enabling the company to deliver a one-of-a-kind online customer service tool—compete with service dashboards, production metrics, service request submission and tracking, and much more. Through its online portal, MyTASC, TASC serves over 600,000 customers throughout the United States.

“We are excited to receive the Actuate Excellence Award for our BIRT implementation,” said Richards. “TASC chose Actuate BIRT for its integration capabilities and ability to rapidly consolidate a wide variety of diverse data sources, and for its scalability to meet TASC’s web traffic demands now and in the future.”

TASC used the technology to build the ground-breaking MyService Center. This one-of-a-kind service tool presents highly detailed on-the-spot administrative information and unparalleled accountability to help TASC’s customers learn about features that make their jobs easier and increase their employees’ satisfaction. With MyService Center, customers can submit secure requests for assistance, receive direct and personal communication from TASC, calculate the amount of their tax savings, monitor their use of Plan resources, and more. This business intelligence tool gives TASC’s MyService Center advanced dashboard capabilities, presenting users with a comprehensive resource score card.

“We use BIRT to build a sophisticated service offering and completely integrated the program with our system,” states Richards. “Our customers receive open access to an unbelievable wealth of Plan resources and information to enhance their satisfaction, all within the comfort and familiarity of our website.”

TASC prides itself on delivering innovations designed to improve its services, to enhance its accountability, and increase its performance. One of the first third-party benefits administrators to provide a mobile app, TASC is poised to release the next phase of its mobile platform, which will allow users to submit and complete the request for reimbursement process, including the ability to submit photographs of receipts as substantiation.

TASC Partners with HFS Benefits

TASC and HFS Benefits have joined forces to provide quality benefits programs throughout Maryland and the nation.

Madison, Wis. (October 24, 2011) –TASC (Total Administrative Services Corporation), a provider of tax-advantaged medical and other benefits account management services, announces the acquisition of Hirsch Financial Services (HFS) Benefits, a Maryland-based third-party administrator. By joining forces with HFS Benefits, TASC adds an office in Hunt Valley, Maryland, along with all of HFS Benefits’ employees and 2,000+ customers. HFS Benefits currently offers Flexible Spending Account, Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), Health Savings Account (HSA), Transit, and COBRA administration.

In partnering with TASC, President Jim Hirsch seeks to enhance HFS Benefits’ capabilities, by adding new benefits offerings such as FMLA administration, debit card with a cash account for medical reimbursements, mobile account management technology, and an online Reimbursement Wizard.

“By partnering with TASC, not only will we continue to deliver the optimal service our customers have come to expect, we will be able to do even more,” says Hirsch. “We are excited about the future and about being able to enhance our services.”

TASC Releases Latest Debit Card Innovation

The TASC Card now features an industry-first combination! This debit card offers a cash account in conjunction with the usual benefits account!

Madison, Wis. (October 16, 2011) – The next generation in healthcare payment systems has arrived. TASC (Total Administrative Services Corporation), which provides employers from small to large with innovative, tax-advantaged employee benefits programs, has released the latest innovation in employee benefits account debit card technology. Used by over 2,300 Cardholders to date, the new TASC Card provides Participants with unparalleled access to funds, as well as greater flexibility and convenience when using those funds. More than 250,000 Plan Participants will begin to take advantage of this innovative new card over the next few weeks.

The revolutionary TASC Card actually manages two separate accounts. (1) As TASC pioneered several years ago, the TASC Card's MyBenefits account is connected to various employee benefits account(s), such as Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). Plan Participants use the benefits accounts to make purchases that are deemed eligible by their specific benefits account(s). (2) With MyCash, the TASC Card is now connected to a cash account as well. When using the funds in the MyCash account, purchases are not limited regarding their type.

The TASC Card is smart! It automatically determines the eligibility/ineligibility of each item being purchased, and knows whether to use MyBenefits, MyCash, or a combination of both. For eligible benefits account purchases, the MyBenefits funds are accessed first. For all other items—or if MyBenefits funds are insufficient to cover the eligible items—the TASC Card will automatically access MyCash to complete the purchase. As long as MyCash funds are adequate a TASC Card holder will never face embarrassing declines again.

Since 1975, TASC has used technology to enhance employee benefits account administration, and to make these benefits more accessible to employers and employees alike,” stated TASC Chief Executive Officer Daniel N. Rashke. “The new TASC Card is our latest innovation designed to ensure our customers receive the greatest benefit possible from their participation in these accounts.” 

Circuit Court Overrules IRS Attempt to Deny a Kansas Farmer's AgriPlan Deduction

Milo and Sharlyn Shellito operate a family farm in Kansas, where they raise cattle and grow wheat, corn and soybeans. Like every hardworking farm family, the Shellitos are always looking for ways to run their farm more cost-effectively, and to that aim they set up an AgriPlan in 2001. For ten years they’ve been enjoying the many benefits made possible by this medical reimbursement program which allows qualified farmers to deduct 100% of their federal, state and FICA taxes for family medical costs. Average plan savings are $4,000 a year!

AgriPlan includes comprehensive instructions that walk farmers through the steps needed to ensure compliance with employment and tax rules—issues that can be especially tricky when a self-employed individual hires a spouse. For the Shellitos this included establishing that as the farm’s owner and operator, Milo makes all decisions regarding farm operations and directs his wife’s work on the farm, and that Sharlyn is a farm employee who works about 40 hours a week.

To implement AgriPlan, the Shellitos created and signed an employment agreement for Sharlyn. She opened an individual checking account in her name, and used this account to pay family insurance premiums and medical bills not covered by insurance for the couple and their two children. Besides reimbursing her for these expenses, Milo paid her $100 per month in wages.

Following the rules of AgriPlan closely, Sharlyn kept a daily log of her hours spent on farm work, and the couple kept tax records that reflected this arrangement, deducting and reporting payroll taxes and issuing IRS W-2s. Each year the Shellitos provided TASC with a detailed year-end accounting of amounts claimed for medical expenses and insurance premium reimbursements. TASC in turn provided them with a report indicating the total allowable benefit amount, which they then reported as a business expense deduction.

Having followed AgriPlan to the letter, the Shellitos had few concerns when they learned that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) planned an audit of their income taxes.

The IRS audit

The audit commenced in 2004 and looked at tax years 2001 and 2002. During this time, the family’s non-taxable medical expenses were $15,593 and $20,897 (for 2001, 2002, respectively) resulting in savings of $3,995 and $6,947 respectively. According to the Shellitos’ accountant, Geran Kuhlmann, the IRS agent on the case had disallowed the medical insurance premium deductions because they had been established in the name of the taxpayer instead of the employee. “That was an oversight on the part of their insurer,” said Kuhlmann. “The Shellitos had alerted the insurance company, and when they started getting billings in the spouse’s name, they assumed that ownership had been changed.”

Kuhlmann advised the Shellitos not to accept the IRS’s decision—a choice which resulted in unexpected consequences. “The agent not only disallowed the health insurance, she pretty much disallowed everything on the medical,” said Kuhlmann.

Fortunately, the Shellitos had a backup plan: the AgriPlan Audit Guarantee. “TASC appointed one of its lawyers to take over and all we had to do was supply him with proof that we’d complied with the plan,” said Sharlyn.

The IRS built their case on the assertion that Sharlyn was not a bona fide employee of her husband. As evidence, the IRS cited that before 2001 Sharlyn had worked on the farm without compensation for about 20 years, and that on their IRS Form 1040 for the years in question, Sharlyn’s occupation was listed as housewife. The fact that Sharlyn’s wages originated from the couple’s joint checking account was also a sticking point for the IRS.

TASC turns case around

After losing two Tax Court appeals, the case was sent to the Tenth Circuit Court. “Without TASC we would have never gotten this far,” says Sharlyn. “We would have had to hire an attorney on our own and that would have cost us a lot of money—probably more than we owed.”

A three-member judicial panel unanimously reversed the Tax Court’s decision. One major issue was the faulty reasoning used to determine whether Sharlyn was Milo’s employee. The Tenth Circuit didn’t dictate Sharlyn’s employment status, it simply required the Tax Court to examine the issue again, this time using the common law tests to determine if Sharlyn was—or was not—Milo’s employee.

The Court of Appeals also dismissed the argument that funds for medical reimbursement must be paid from a separate account—that such reimbursements cannot be paid out of a joint checking account—saying the argument that Sharlyn owned half of the funds in the joint checking account did not withstand scrutiny. Lastly, the Tenth Circuit Court emphasized that no minimum wage must be paid in these situations—and that there was nothing wrong with Sharlyn’s compensation combination of small cash wages and relatively large fringe benefits!

AgriPlan makes it easy to stay on the right side of tax laws

In handing down their ruling, the Tenth Circuit Court stated that the Shellitos had “crossed all of the t’s and dotted all of the i’s with respect to the employment relationship.” “It was 100 percent important,” said Kuhlmann. “If they hadn’t followed AgriPlan’s instructions so closely, I think they would have lost this case.”

“The Shellitos did so well in the Court of Appeals because of the instructions, advice and support from TASC,” added tax expert Vern Hoven. “And their entire legal defense didn’t cost them a dime!”

The Shellitos continued using AgriPlan throughout the audit and are using the program to this day. Their advice for other family farmers: “Join it!”

“It’s easy, it works, and you can count on TASC to stand with you if you run into problems,” said Sharlyn. “I can’t recommend it enough.”