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Numerous SMU faculty members are receiving patents for their inventions and discoveries. Among them is Engineering Professor Choon Sae Lee, who has developed a new form of antenna.


Payroll: Payroll-Related Acronyms and Terminology

403(b) Plan

An annuity or mutual fund that provides retirement income for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations; similar to a 401(k) plan.

457 Plan

A deferred compensation plan available for employees of certain state and local governments and certain non-governmental tax-exempt organizations.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Nine-digit number issued by IRS; required for entities reporting employment taxes or giving tax statements to employees or annuitants.

Exempt (from overtime)

Based on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employee who is exempt from overtime provisions and, therefore, paid a salary (flat rate of pay per pay period).

Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)

Federal program providing retirement and other benefits; funded by employer/employee contributions during working years.

Federal income tax (FIT)

Personal income tax with progressive rates; liability amount calculated on Form 1040.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Defines Federal rules for minimum wage, overtime and other aspects of compensation for covered employees; usually overrides conflicting state rules.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Permits employee to have pre-tax deductions allocated to a special account from which employee out-of-pocket medical, dependent care, and adoption expenses can be reimbursed. At the end of the year, any money that is not used in a participant’s account is forfeited. If an employee leaves a company he or she cannot take the HSA with him or her – but can claim reimbursement for any qualified expenses incurred prior to the termination date.

Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)

Employer-paid contribution (effectively 0.8 percent of the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages) paid to IRS to supplement state unemployment compensation systems.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

Allows individuals to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis. A HSA can only be used with a high deductible health insurance plan. At the end of the year, any money that is not used in a participant’s account can be rolled over for the next year. In addition, if an employee leaves a company he or she can take the HSA with him or her.

Individual retirement arrangement (IRA)

A personal retirement-savings account, which satisfies I.R. Code Section 408; contributions and account earnings are not subject to income tax until distribution.


The electronic system at SMU to record a non-exempt (hourly-paid) employee’s time worked.

Non-exempt (from overtime)

Based on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employee who is non-exempt from overtime provisions and, therefore, paid an hourly rate of pay times the number of hours worked. All hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek is paid “overtime” at one and one-half (1 ½) times his regular rate of pay.

Payroll Authorization Form (PAF)

A document that provides the essential information pertaining to an employee’s job, such as the rate of pay, hire/rehire date, termination date (if appropriate), etc. The PAF is required to initiate a payment to an employee.

Social Security Administration (SSA)

Federal agency that administers the social security and Medicare programs.

Social Security Number (SSN)

The unique 9-digit number assigned by SSA to workers and other taxpayers; used to record contributions toward employee’s retirement and other benefits.

State unemployment insurance (SUI)

All states provide emergency income benefits for qualified workers who have lost jobs but are able and available to work.

Taxpayer identification number (TIN)

For individuals, this is the Social Security Number (SSN); for business entities, this is the Employer Identification Number (EIN).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Federal agency regulating work privileges of foreign nationals in the U.S.; controls worker status by type of visa issued.

[Form] W-2

A statement of an employee’s annual wages and taxes provided by an employer that must be included with the employee's federal, state, and city income tax returns.

[Form] W-4 - Employee's Withholding Exemption Certificate

A government form used to indicate the number of personal exemptions an employee wishes to claim for the purpose of calculating federal income tax withholding.