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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
November/December 2013

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W-2 forms to be distributed in January, filing deadline April 15

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With tax time approaching, this is the time of year when taxpayers receive forms to help prepare their income tax returns for 2013. One of the most important documents you will receive is your Form W-2, which is given to you by your employer. Form W-2 provides your wage and salary information, and the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck. Your Form W-2 for 2013 will be sent by TDCJ's Payroll Processing Department to your unit or department human resources office for distribution by January 31. Inactive employees who are on leave without pay or separated as of the printing date will receive their 2013 Forms W-2 by mail at their home address, also no later than January 31.

To make sure you are withholding the correct amount to pay your income tax, update your Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, upon getting married or divorced or adding a new member to your family. You may submit Form W-4 any time you need to change your withholding tax deduction. The form should be filled out in its entirety and submitted either to your unit or department human resources office, or directly to the Payroll Processing Department. Remember, withholding too little means writing a check at the end of the year, while withholding too much means temporarily losing access to your money.

A convenient way to reduce your taxes is to open or increase your contributions to a tax-deferred 401(k) or 457(b) retirement savings plan. The Texa$aver Program is a deferred compensation program which allows employees to set aside money for retirement through payroll contributions to a 401(k) or 457(b) account, and serves as a supplemental retirement savings account with a tax advantage. You may contribute to the 401(k) or 457(b) or both, and contributions may be made on a Traditional (pre-tax) or Roth (after-tax) basis or both. You may open or increase contributions to your retirement savings plans at any time. For more information about these plans, go to the Texa$aver Website or call the Texa$aver customer service number toll free at 800-634-5091.

Another way to reduce your tax rate is to sign up for a Flexible Spending Account for day care and health care expenses. TexFlex Day Care and Health Care accounts allow you to pay these expenses with your pre-tax earnings, allowing you to avoid federal income and Social Security tax on money in these accounts. This pre-tax deduction lowers your taxable income, which lowers both your federal income tax and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax.

You can enroll in a Flexible Spending Account within 31 days of hire, during Annual Enrollment or when a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) occurs, such as marriage or divorce, birth or the addition of a new dependent. The annual contribution limits for Plan Year 2014 are $2,500 for the health care account and $5,000 for the day care account. You should estimate your contribution to these accounts as precisely as possible, since TexFlex is a use-it-or-lose-it program, that is, you will lose any amount left in your account after the end of the plan year. For more information, contact TexFlex customer service toll free at 866-353-9839 or visit their website at www.texas.payflex.com.

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Healthy lifestyle, stress reduction counseling help keep holiday blues away

Holiday stress ornament

For most people, the holidays are a time of celebration, but the added demands of the season can also lead to increased emotional and physical stress. Here are some important things you can do throughout the year which will help you deal with the added stress of the holiday season and improve your health over the long term.

Regular checkups are an essential part of every wellness program. You should visit your health care provider at least once a year for an overall evaluation and to discuss medical screening and exams you may need to discover any existing health issues and to find potential problems before they become more serious.

Never underestimate the importance of healthy diet and regular exercise as part of your daily fitness routine. Always include an assortment of foods from the major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy. Exercise at least two and a half hours each week, and be sure to check with your doctor before you begin a new exercise program.

Even if you get regular checkups, eat right and exercise, a busy holiday schedule can be overwhelming. If possible, take some time for effective planning. Make a list of everything you need to do during the season and check items off as you accomplish each task. When shopping, remember your spending limits and stay within your means. Before you go to the store for food or gifts, make a budget and then stick to it. Be aware of your limits and remember that it's all right to decline an invitation. People will understand that you cannot attend every activity which takes place during the holiday season. Choose your activities wisely by participating in events which are most important to you.

Finally, if you find yourself having difficulty dealing with holiday stress, seek professional help. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has established the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help support employees in both their professional and personal lives. EAP provides professional help with stress reduction; nutrition and general wellness; identifying and dealing with problems such as alcoholism, drug dependency or psychological disorders; and even referrals for help from legal resources and financial experts. EAP employees do not work for TDCJ and communications with them are confidential. There is no charge for contacting the EAP. For more information about the EAP, call 866-832-5927 or visit the agency's EAP Web page.

In addition to the EAP, TDCJ's Wellness Initiative Now (WIN) program promotes personal well-being, fitness and nutrition for all employees. For information, go to agency's WIN Web page.

Remember that stress can lead to serious negative health effects at any time of year. To help fight stress, maintain a balanced diet, get plenty of exercise and manage your time wisely. Above all, if you find that you just can't deal with the holidays, take advantage of the professional counselors available to all agency employees through the EAP.

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Information Security: Internet rules for the workplace

Info security keyboard photo

The Internet has become a common convenience for nearly everyone, and while many of us enjoy surfing the Web during our personal time, Internet use in the workplace is a different matter. Fortunately, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's (TDCJ) Information Resource Security Program (IRSP) clearly defines appropriate Internet use while at work.

Websites accessed while working at TDCJ must comply with Information Resource Acceptable Use guidelines stipulated in the IRSP, which can be found on the agency's Intranet. While the IRSP covers many aspects of Internet use at work, it does not anticipate every potential incidental use. For this reason, individual departments are responsible for creating guidelines concerning personal use of Internet/Intranet systems. These guidelines can add to the IRSP policies, but must be consistent with them.

IRSP rules govern appropriate incidental use of the Internet while at work, and your activity on the Internet is subject to monitoring. A partial list of these rules includes the following important points.

Incidental use cannot interfere with the normal performance of an employee's work duties. Internet access is restricted to TDCJ approved users; it does not extend to family members or other acquaintances, and incidental use cannot be used for personal gain or result in direct costs to TDCJ. Business-related purchases made over the Internet are subject to state purchasing rules.

Internet software is provided to authorized-users for business use only, and must be part of the TDCJ standard software suite or approved by the Information Security Officer (ISO). This software must incorporate all vendor-provided security patches and all downloaded files must be scanned for viruses.

Files sent or received over the Internet must not create a legal liability or cause embarrassment to the agency. All files and documents on agency equipment are owned by TDCJ and may be subject to public information requests.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding TDCJ Information Security, please contact the Information Security Office at: iso@tdcj.state.tx.us or 936-437-1800.

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Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources

Waste, fraud and abuse of state resources cost all taxpayers millions of dollars each year

The Office of the Inspector General is dedicated to detecting, investigating and prosecuting reports of waste, fraud and abuse of state resources within all divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

If you have any information regarding waste, fraud or abuse of state benefits, equipment, personnel or funds, please contact the Office of the Inspector General, Crime Stoppers or the State Auditor’s Office toll free.

Crime Stoppers 1-800-832-8477 Office of Inspector General 1-866-372-8329 State Auditor's Office 1-800-892-8348

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W-2 forms to be distributed in January, filing deadline April 15

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