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The STARS Act or “Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality Act of 2014” has finally been introduced in the House of Representatives after months of intense lobbying by the Society of American Florists and other partners.

So what is the STARS Act and how does it affect the cut-flower industry?

Under the current law there are varying definitions of what constitutes a “seasonal worker” which has created some confusion.  The STARS Act would create one simple definition of a “seasonal worker” in order for small businesses to more easily comply with the Affordable Care Act.

This act would help small businesses which have been hindered by having to offer health insurance and other benefits to employees who would normally fall under part-time employment laws.  This confusion has put seasonal employers (like flower producers) at risk for serious tax liabilities.

The STARS Act would provide a clear definition of a “seasonal worker” as “a worker who is employed on a seasonal basis for six months or less during the calendar year, consistent with Department of Treasury regulations.”  It would also make it clear to small seasonal employers as to what extent they are subject to the Affordable Care Act mandate.   This could give them the tools and understanding necessary for compliance.

The actual Library of Congress summary as written by the Congressional Research Service is as follows:

Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality Act of 2014 or the STARS Act – Amends the Internal Revenue Code to exempt seasonal employees from the definition of “full-time employee” for purposes of the employer mandate to provide employees with minimum essential health care coverage.

Defines “seasonal employee” as an employee who is employed in a position for which the customary annual employment is not more than six months and which requires performing labor or services that are ordinarily performed at certain seasons or periods of the year.

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