Short-week payments not excludable as benefits from wages

Short-week benefits paid by a multiple-employer trust to workers who worked less than a certain number of hours in the prior month were not excludable from wages for FICA purposes as supplemental unemployment compensation benefits because they did not satisfy the requirements set forth in Rev. Rul. 56-249, 1956-1 CB 488, and Rev. Rul. 90-72, 1990-2 CB 211. Although the trust summary plan description stated that employees were required to qualify for state unemployment benefits in order to receive payments from the trust, in fact, the employer submitted to a third-party administrator a list of all employees who worked less than a stated number of hours, and the employer would not know whether the employees had applied for state unemployment benefits.

Finally, automatic short-week benefits constituted wages for FICA and FUTA purposes, unless the benefits were made to individuals who otherwise qualified for excludable regular benefits (i.e., if the automatic short-week benefits immediately preceded or followed a week in which an employee received regular benefits). (IRS Chief Counsel Advice 201639015, August 16, 2016.)

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