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myHR: November 28, 2012

Talking Taxes: A Crash Course on Penn’s Tuition Benefit

Tuition assistance is a popular benefit for faculty and staff at Penn—and with good reason. It covers 100% of the tuition, general and technology fees for up to six course units per academic year for credit courses you take at Penn. But if you’re considering using our tuition benefit to pursue your academic interests, you need to know how it could affect your taxable income.

If you enroll in an undergraduate (or post-baccalaureate) program at Penn, your tuition benefit is tax-free. But if you participate in a graduate program (whether degree or non-degree), part of your tuition benefit is considered taxable income. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows the first $5,250 in graduate tuition benefits to be tax-free, and anything in excess of that is added to your W-2 as income. Penn pays the taxes on your behalf by withholding them from the total gross benefit you receive, so you may be responsible for some out-of-pocket costs.

Keep in mind this IRS provision is set to expire at the end of the year. While it has been extended several times since its initial creation, Congress hasn’t declared whether it will be extended again. If it isn’t renewed, your tuition benefit for graduate programs will be taxable from the first dollar for the spring 2013 term.

For more information about Penn’s tuition benefit, and for the latest news on the graduate tuition tax exemption, click here.


Simple Steps to a Productive Workplace

Creating a productive workplace doesn’t happen overnight. First you need to build an environment filled with respect, loyalty and support in order for your team to thrive on the job—and we’ll show you how!

Join us on December 6 to learn why It’s So Simple. This video will show you how to be a top-notch leader and build a workplace based on teamwork and trust. You’ll learn how to make your employees happy—and productive—by giving them freedom to do their jobs, make mistakes and learn along the way.

You’re welcome to bring a lunch to this free workshop. Click here for complete details and to register.


Retirement Planning 101

Save, save, save is the general rule of thumb when it comes to retirement planning. But getting started is more difficult than you think, right? Wrong! Follow these simple steps to get on the road to retirement.

Don’t wait for the perfect time. There’s no ideal time to save for retirement. But the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be. Start by contributing a small amount of your salary to one of Penn’s retirement plans. Then gradually increase your contributions over time.

Maximize your money. You can contribute up to $17,500 to your retirement savings for calendar year 2013 (based on the annual IRS contribution limits). And if you contribute to Penn’s Tax-Deferred Retirement (TDR) Plan, you can amp up your savings even more since Penn matches your contributions dollar-for-dollar for up to 5% of your salary.

Invest the easy way. If you’re not sure how to invest your savings, both of Penn’s retirement plan vendors offer default investment funds so you don’t have to make the decision yourself. The TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Fund and the Vanguard Target Retirement Fund are managed funds that automatically adjust your investment mix based on how close you are to retirement age. They take a more aggressive stance when you’re still far from retirement and become more conservative over time.

For more information on how to save for retirement at Penn, click here.


Get Smart with Your Maintenance Medications

Taking your prescription drugs is critical to your health. But if you have a long-term condition, routine visits to the pharmacy can take a toll on your time and your wallet. That’s why Penn’s prescription drug benefit offers you a 90-day maintenance program—to make it easier for you to stay on top of your health.

Offered by Medco/Express Scripts (the University’s prescription drug carrier), the 90-day maintenance program offers the following advantages:

  • More medication—you can get up to a 90-day supply of your prescription instead of a 30-day supply.
  • More convenience—you can have your medications delivered right to your home through mail order (with free shipping), or you can pick them up in person at a participating pharmacy.
  • More bang for your buck—you pay a lower coinsurance when you purchase a 90-day supply of your prescription.

 For more information on the 90-day maintenance program, contact Medco/Express Scripts at 1-877-621-8798 or