Mason-Draffen, a business reporter, writes a column about workplace issues.
DEAR CARRIE: I am a member of the support staff at a local school. I am paid for 10 months, not 12. My boss is leaving his position at the end of this school year, and I am concerned that I am going to be asked to work in the summer to help train his replacement. I have family commitments for the two months I am off, so I can’t work — and don’t want to work — during that time. If I am told I must work during the summer, do I have any recourse since I am paid only for 10 months?
— Stealing Summer
DEAR STEALING SUMMER: Unless some contract limits your hours, the school can require you to work any number of hours throughout the year. And if you are hourly, it has to pay you for all the time you work, in addition to any contract stipulations.
That said, you should be up-front with the school about your family commitments to see if it can work around your schedule. Since school will be out, your employer may be able to offer you a lot of flexibility if you are tapped for summer duty.
DEAR CARRIE: I have been teaching in a local school district for more than 25 years. I, along with 30 of my colleagues, was notified in a letter of an unfortunate clerical error made from the time we were hired. We were paying too much in taxes because our benefit payments were deducted on a post-tax, rather than a pre-tax basis. The payroll department, which sent the letter, said it would make amends by going back to the first of this year. But that seems so unfair because the district can go back as far as seven years to recoup overpayments from employees. It appears to be a costly double standard for employees. Is it an IRS regulation, or is the district setting its own rules? — Taxing Lesson
DEAR TAXING: IRS rules do come into play here, and they may allow your employer more leeway on how far back it can request refunds for you.
The IRS rules don’t permit your employer to correct the tax overpayments back to when you were hired. But the rules may allow the school district to go back more than a year to get your refund for overpaying Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Generally, an employer may correct over-paid taxes by filing Form 941-X, which is a claim for a refund based on a filed Form 941, a quarterly federal tax return for employers, said certified public accountant Carol Markman, who works in the Westbury-based office of the Pennsylvania accounting firm EP Caine & Associates. The claim for a refund must be filed within three years of the date the Form 941 was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, as reported on that form, whichever is later, she said.
Your employer must initiate the process because it sent the taxes to the IRS, Markman said.
The employer has to file a Form 941-X for each calendar quarter to obtain the refunds and file a Form W-2-C to report the changes for each year that over withholding to the employee occurred, she said. The employee will then have to file Form 1040-X for each year using the information on the Form W-2-C to claim the overpayment and obtain a refund, Markman said.
“Each employee must consent to support an employer claim for refund of over-collected Social Security tax and Medicare tax,” she said.