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CATA Bulletin
February 3, 2003


Chicago helps with income tax filings for low-wage earners

November 23, 2010

Chicago dealers should alert their employees about a city program that helps low-income Chicago residents fill out their tax forms, get tax credits and invest any refunds before they are spent. The program is an effort to help more eligible taxpayers use the Earned Income Tax Credit, which refunds some or all of the federal income tax paid by low-income workers. "Millions of dollars are going unclaimed because people don't know about it or how to claim it," said Sue Hales, a spokeswoman of the Internal Revenue Service. The project provides free tax preparation at 25 sites in Chicago and 18 sites in the suburbs. Tax preparers also help taxpayers sign up for free bank accounts. More than 900,000 Illinois families may be eligible for the tax credit but only about 750,000 take advantage of it, IRS and other officials said. A single taxpayer earning up to $11,060 is eligible. Families with two children may earn up to $34,178 and still take advantage of the credit, which can be as high as $4,140. The EITC awareness campaign also is informing employees about the Child Tax Credit. That credit now is worth up to $600 per child and is available to more families, even those who do not owe income taxes. Employers can help by notifying their employees about the EITC and the availability of credit by printing information on pay stubs and displaying posters, and by enlisting employees to serve as volunteer tax preparers at organizations that help low income families files for the credit. "We're trying to get more people involved," said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. "It's a way to help families." To participate, call Myer Blank, executive director of the Chicago Tax Assistance Center, at 312-744-1000. To find a free tax preparation center, call 311, Chicago's non-emergency information line. Outside Chicago, call 312-409-1555.

Simple steps can help employers deflect unionization

November 23, 2010

Adopt appropriate corporate policies and practices • Prohibit solicitors on dealership property during work hours. • Control bulletin board postings. • Enforce policies against harassment. Maintain employer-employee communications • Be visible and accessible • Establish formal and informal procedures to overcome problems and complaints. • Distribute up-to-date employee handbooks. • Conduct periodic attitude surveys. Review employee pay and benefits • Stay in-line with competitors. • Listen to suggestions for no-cost/low-cost perks Enforce discipline fairly • Be consistent. • Allow for an informal appeals process. Administer employee evaluations
• Get meaningful training for those responsible for performance evaluations. • Document all incidents, establish a paper trail. • Explain why raises or promotions were not awarded, or feelings may fester. • Conduct exit interviews.

Measuring the performance of technicians

November 23, 2010

It is possible to measure a technician's productivity, efficiency and proficiency. But what does each measurement mean? A dealer must know that to determine if a technician's time has been allocated well and if they use that time well. "Technician productivity" is the actual time worked in a day versus the number of clock hours available in that day. The National Automobile Dealers Association recommends 85 percent to 87.5 percent as a productivity guideline, since non labor-related activities can consume 15 percent to 20 percent of available time. As an equation, Productivity = Hours worked ??hours available "Technician efficiency" is the actual number of hours a technician takes to perform the labor, as opposed to the number of labor hours sold. It boils down to the ability of a technician to beat a time standard published in a flat rate manual issued by the factory or an independent company. Top NADA 20 Group dealers recommend efficiency guidelines of 125 percent (factory manual) and 135 percent (non-factory manual). Efficiency = Flat rate hours produced ??hours worked "Technician proficiency" is a measure that combines productivity and efficiency, and compares hours produced to hours available. Proficiency provides the truest measure of a technician's use of time. The NADA recommends that technicians always be 100 percent proficient, with peaks to 120 percent. Proficiency = Hours produced ??hours available Learn more about the equations in a new NADA video training program, "A Perfect Match for Service Management: Profit, Productivity and People." The program can be ordered in VHS video and compact disk formats, and orders include an accompanying 20- page study guide. To order the program, call the NADA at 800-252-6232, ext. 2. Cost to NADA members is $189 plus shipping, plus $10 for each additional study guide.

Martin Boyer deflects unemployment claims

November 23, 2010

One hundred fifteen CATA dealer members reported a combined 537 unemployment claims to the Martin Boyer Co. during the fourth quarter of 2002. The company's efforts saved those dealers a total of $852,930 in benefits by contesting the claims. The claims activity among the CATA dealers in the fourth quarter more than doubled the previous quarter, said Paul Schardt of Martin Boyer. The company monitors any unemployment claims against its clients. About 200 CATA dealers are clients of Martin Boyer. Claims that can be protested and subsequently denied help minimize an employer's unemployment tax rate. The rate can vary between .06 percent and 6.8 percent of each employee's first $9,000 of earnings. The average unemployment tax rate among Illinois employers is 3.1 percent, or $279 a year. "The unemployment tax is really the only controllable tax, in that it's experience- driven," said Schardt. An exemployee's claim affects the employer's tax rate for three years. Client fees are $2.10 per employee, per fiscal quarter. For the fee, Martin Boyer monitors all unemployment claims, files any appeals, represents the client at any hearings, verifies the benefit charge statements and confirms the client's unemployment tax rate. To discuss retaining the company, call Schardt at 312-381-8241.