Reassigning Section 1557: Trump Administration Proposes Reversal of Transgender Benefits Rule

In 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office of Civil Rights issued final regulations implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“Section 1557”), which prohibit the categorical refusal of health coverage to transgender participants and require that individuals be treated consistent with their self-selected gender identity. These regulations drew sustained legal challenges and prompted HHS to withdraw, revise and reissue the Section 1557 regulations (the “Proposed Regulations”).

In short, the Proposed Regulations would repeal large portions of the original nondiscrimination rules and would redefine the scope of various protections under Section 1557. Specifically, the Proposed Regulations negate the provisions of Section 1557 covering nondiscrimination based on sex and gender identity. Read More ›

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Reopening the Floodgates: IRS Announces Expanded Determination Letter Program

As we previously reported, the Internal Revenue Service (the “Service”) scaled back its determination letter program for individually designed retirement plans effective as of January 1, 2017. In the intervening years, the Service received a multitude of comments requesting the reopening of the program.

Now, the Service has decided to offer a limited expansion of the determination letter program as outlined in Revenue Procedure 2019-20 (the “Revenue Procedure”). In particular, the Revenue Procedure provides that the Service will accept determination letter applications for both individually designed statutory hybrid plans and individually designed merged plans.

Hybrid Plans

The Revenue Procedure indicates that plan sponsors may submit determination letter applications for individually designed statutory hybrid plans during the twelve-month period beginning September 1, 2019 and ending August 31, 2020. Read More ›

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Seeing the Big Picture – How Proposed Health Reimbursement Arrangements Might Harmonize with Existing Law

On October 29, 2018, proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register that would permit employers to offer two new types of health reimbursement arrangements (“HRAs”) that align with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). The proposed HRAs are designed to expand the availability of account-based group health plans. A summary of the proposed regulations – and the HRAs that they would permit if finalized – can be found in our November 7, 2018, blog, “Zombie Benefits – Are Health Reimbursement Arrangements Back from the Dead?

As an addendum to the proposed regulations, the IRS published Notice 2018-88, which considers the interaction of the new HRAs with the employer shared responsibility mandate set out in Code Section 4980H and the non-discrimination rules contained in Code Section 105(h). Read More ›

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A Holiday Surprise – IRS Extends Certain ACA Reporting Deadlines and Transition Relief

The IRS delivered welcome news to employers preparing to meet the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) information reporting deadlines in early 2019 for the 2018 calendar year. In Notice 2018-94 (the “Notice”), the IRS extended the employer’s deadline to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to employees. The new deadlines are provided below.

Original Distribution Deadline Extended Distribution Deadline
Form 1095-B (to employees) January 31, 2019 March 4, 2019
Form 1095-C (to employees) January 31, 2019 March 4, 2019

It is important to note that the Notice does not extend the deadline for filing Forms with the IRS. The deadline to file with the IRS remains February 28, 2019 (for paper filings) and April 1, 2019 (for electronic filings). Read More ›

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Making Limits Greater Again – IRS Issues Guidance on Cost of Living Adjustments

The IRS recently announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2019 in Notice 2018-83 and related guidance.  The key dollar limits for qualified retirement plans and health and welfare plans are noted below.

Qualified Retirement Plan Dollar Limits

  2018 2019
Limit on Section 401(k) deferrals (Section 402(g)) $18,500 $19,000
Dollar limitation for catch-up contributions (Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i)) $6,000 $6,000
Limit on deferrals for government and tax-exempt organization deferred compensation plans (Section 457(e)(15)) $18,500 $19,000
Annual benefit limitation for a defined benefit plan (Section 415(b)(1)(A)) $220,000 $225,000
Limitation on annual contributions to a defined contribution plan (Section 415(c)(1)(A)) $55,000 $56,000
Limitation on compensation that may be considered by qualified retirement plans (Section 401(a)(17)) $275,000 $280,000
Dollar amount for the definition of highly compensated employee (Section 414(q)(1)(B)) $120,000 $125,000
Dollar amount for the definition of a key employee in a top-heavy plan (Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i)) $175,000 $180,000
Dollar amount for determining the maximum account balance in an ESOP subject to a five-year distribution period (Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii)) $1,105,000 $1,130,000
SIMPLE retirement account limitation (Section 408(p)(2)(E)) $12,500 $13,000
Social Security Taxable Wage Base $128,700 $132,900

Health and Welfare Plan Dollar Limits

  2018 2019
Annual Cost Sharing Limit (self-only coverage) $7,350 $7,900
Annual Cost Sharing Limit (other than self-only coverage) $14,700 $15,800
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum (self-only coverage) $6,650 $6,750
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum (family coverage) $13,300 $13,500
Annual HDHP Deductible (self-only coverage) Not less than $1,350 Not less than $1,350
Annual HDHP Deductible (family coverage) Not less than $2,700 Not less than $2,700
Maximum Annual HSA Contributions (self-only coverage) $3,450 $3,500
Maximum Annual HSA Contributions (family coverage) $6,900 $7,000
Maximum HSA Catch-Up Contribution $1,000 $1,000
Health Flexible Spending Account Maximum $2,650 $2,700
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A New Perspective on Student Loan Repayment Benefits

On August 17, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (the “Service”) published a Private Letter Ruling (the “PLR”) describing a unique student loan repayment program in the context of a qualified retirement plan.

Proposed Student Loan Repayment Program

As described in the PLR, an Employer sponsors a Section 401(k) defined contribution plan that permits elective deferrals. The plan requires the Employer to make a matching contribution equal to 5% of an eligible employee’s compensation for a given pay period if such employee makes an elective contribution of at least 2% of his or her compensation during the same period.

The Employer proposed to amend the plan to incorporate a student loan repayment program (the “Program”). Read More ›

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The 95 Percent Test: Gearing up for Another Round of Employer Shared Responsibility Penalties

Late last year, the Internal Revenue Service (the “Service”) began enforcing penalties with respect to failures to comply with the employer shared responsibility provisions of Section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code.  In the coming months, the Service is expected to begin assessing penalties with respect to such failures occurring in calendar year 2016.  These penalties are of two varieties:

  1. Section 4980H(a) penalties are assessed for any month in which an applicable large employer (“ALE”) does not offer minimum essential coverage to substantially all (95% for 2016 and future years) of its full-time employees and their dependents and at least one full-time employee receives a premium tax credit. 
Read More ›
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Congress Eases Restrictions on Hardship Distributions

We previously reported on certain changes made to the hardship distribution rules for qualified retirement plans by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Since then, Congress has made additional and significant changes to those same hardship distribution rules by the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act (the “BBA”).  The BBA loosens various restrictions on a participant’s ability to request and receive a hardship distribution.  In particular, the BBA provides:

  1. Effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2018, participants may receive hardship distributions comprised of employee elective deferrals, employer contributions and earnings on both.  Traditionally, hardship distributions were limited to employee elective deferrals and did not include qualified nonelective contributions, qualified matching contributions, safe harbor contributions or earnings on the same.
Read More ›
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IRS Announces Reduction in Family HSA Contribution Limit for 2018

In Revenue Procedure 2018-18, the Internal Revenue Service announced a reduction in the HSA contribution limit for family coverage in 2018 to $6,850 from $6,900.  The self-only HSA contribution limit for 2018 remains unchanged at $3,450.

This change is a technical result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which adjusted the method for calculating inflation. Although the reduction may appear somewhat small, it may cause certain employees to inadvertently contribute over the limit.  For instance, an employee who front-loads his or her annual contribution may have already exceeded the new limit.

The IRS has not issued any transition relief for excess contributions made in 2018 by employees relying on the original contribution limit announced in Revenue Procedure 2017-37Read More ›

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Approaching Deadlines for Affordable Care Act Reporting

As we recently reported in our “2017 End of the Year Plan Sponsor To Do List,” applicable large employers must continue to submit to the IRS and to employees information regarding offers of health coverage made to full-time employees in 2017.

The IRS recently published Notice 2018-06 (the “Notice”), which contains some relief with respect to the required reporting.  In particular, the Notice extends the deadline to distribute Forms 1095-C to employees and continues the application of good faith transition relief.  The Notice does not extend the deadline for filing Forms 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS.

Extension of Deadline to Furnish Forms 1095-C to Employees

The Notice extends the deadline for furnishing Forms 1095-C to employees from January 31, 2018 to March 2, 2018 Read More ›

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