DOL Issues Information Request on Overtime Exemption
August 1, 2017
The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a request for information (RFI) on the overtime regulations that were finalized in 2016. The new overtime rule more than doubled the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) annual wage threshold for who can qualify for overtime, from $23,660 to $47,476. It was blocked from taking effect last December by a Texas district court order.
In the RFI, the DOL has requested responses to 11 sets of comprehensive questions including information about the standard duties tests. AFS plans on submitting comments by the September 25, 2017 deadline. This is the first step in the administrative rulemaking process in order for the agency to propose a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and thereafter to finalize a new rule.
Treasury Department Targets Several Tax Rules for Possible Changes
The U.S. Department of Treasury has released its interim report on reducing the tax regulatory burden. The report, identifies eight federal tax regulations issued on or after Jan. 1, 2016, which impose an undue burden on U.S. taxpayers, add undue complexity to the federal tax laws, or exceed statutory authority of the IRS. Of particular interest to some foundries is the listing of the Treasury’s proposed regulation which would disallow or curtail many valuation discounts used in estate planning when calculating gift and estate tax liability. AFS had submitted comments last year calling on the Department to formally withdraw the proposed regulations “Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes; Restrictions on Liquidation of an Interest,” 81 Fed. Reg. 51,413 (August 4, 2016). AFS had noted that the proposed regulations would discourage families from continuing to operate and build their family foundries and passing them on to future generations.
The interim report also includes final rules that recharacterize certain corporate debt as equity, a rule that limits the tax benefits of intercompany loans, as well a rule which made it harder for U.S. companies to transfer certain assets to foreign corporations, where they can defer U.S. taxation until they bring income home.
Treasury is seeking public comments on the interim report and asks whether and how the rules should be "rescinded or modified." A final report on how the Department plans to mitigate the burdens of these regulations is due to the president by Sept. 18. AFS will be filing comments on Treasury’s report and will call for the withdrawal of the estate tax proposal and underscore how the proposed regulations far exceeded IRS’s statutory authority and would have a significant financial impact on family-owned foundries.
OSHA issues Silica Compliance Guidance for General Industry
In July, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a Small Entity Compliance Guide for General Industry and Maritime to help small business employers comply with the agency's Final Respirable Crystalline Silica.
The guide describes the steps that employers are required to take to protect employees in general industry from the hazards associated with silica exposure. These requirements include: assessing worker exposures; using engineering and work practice controls to keep exposures below a specified safety threshold; and offering medical exams to certain highly exposed workers. Enforcement of the final rule in general industry, including foundries is scheduled to begin June 23, 2018. The rule is under litigation by AFS and other groups.
Trump Administration Releases NAFTA Negotiating Objectives
On July 17, the Trump Administration released its negotiating objectives for the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The 17-page document sent to Congress can be found here. The priority list is the first look at the key agenda items for the upcoming negotiations with Canada and Mexico over NAFTA.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the revamped agreement will focus on eliminating “unfair subsidies, market-distorting practice by state-owned enterprises” and will work to protect intellectual property.” In addition, the administration will attempt to strengthen NAFTA’s rules of origin to ensure those benefits don’t aid countries outside the agreement. Additionally, negotiators will seek to “incentivize” the sourcing of U.S. goods. No details were provided on how that might be done. Formal talks are expected to get underway in August.
Revised Form I-9 Now Available
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Metalcasting employers can use this revised version or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17. On Sept. 18, employers must use the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.
The agency made revisions related to the list of acceptable documents. All changes are included in the revised Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9.