Making a List, Checking it Twice – 2017

It’s that time of year when boys and girls start making their lists for the holidays, but we in the employee benefits world make a very different kind of list.  In the rapidly changing world of employee benefits and executive compensation law, checklists can be particularly helpful to make sure important issues do not fall through the cracks.  Each year we publish health and welfare, cost-of-living, executive compensation, and qualified retirement plan checklists to help individuals stay apprised of changes in the law, changes that they might need to make to their employee benefits plans, and various notice requirements.  We just published the last of our annual checklists.  Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform, Qualified Retirement Plans | Tagged , , , , ,

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IRS Announces 2018 Cost of Living Adjustments

The IRS recently announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2018 in Notice 2017-64 and related guidance.  The key dollar limits for qualified retirement plans and health and welfare plans are noted below.

Qualified Retirement Plan Dollar Limits

  2017 2018
Limit on Section 401(k) deferrals (Section 402(g)) $18,000 $18,500
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)) $18,000 $18,500
Annual benefit limitation for a defined benefit plan (Section 415(b)(1)(A)) $215,000 $220,000
Limitation on annual contributions to a defined contribution plan (Section 415(c)(1)(A)) $54,000 $55,000
Limitation on compensation that may be considered by qualified retirement plans (Section 401(a)(17)) $270,000 $275,000
Dollar amount for the definition of highly compensated employee (Section 414(q)(1)(B)) $120,000 $120,000
Dollar amount for the definition of a key employee in a top-heavy plan (Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i)) $175,000 $175,000
Dollar amount for determining the maximum account balance in an ESOP subject to a five-year distribution period (Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii)) $1,080,000 $1,105,000
SIMPLE retirement account limitation (Section 408(p)(2)(E)) $12,500 $12,500
Social Security Taxable Wage Base $127,200 $128,700

Health and Welfare Plan Dollar Limits

  2017 2018
Annual Cost Sharing Limit (self-only coverage) $7,150 $7,350
Annual Cost Sharing Limit (other than self-only coverage) $14,300 $14,700
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum (self-only coverage) $6,550 $6,650
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum (family coverage) $13,100 $13,300
Annual HDHP Deductible (self-only coverage) Not less than $1,300 Not less than $1,350
Annual HDHP Deductible (family coverage) Not less than $2,600 Not less than $2,700
Maximum Annual HSA Contributions (self-only coverage) $3,400 $3,450
Maximum Annual HSA Contributions (family coverage) $6,750 $6,900
Maximum HSA Catch-Up Contribution $1,000 $1,000
Health Flexible Spending Account Maximum $2,600 $2,650

  Read More ›

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The New Disability Claims Regulations: They Don’t Only Apply to Disability Plans

Introduction

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued regulations that revise the ERISA claims procedure regulations for employee benefit plans that provide disability benefits (the “New Disability Claims Regulations” or “New Regulations”).  They are based on the Affordable Care Act’s (the “ACA”) enhanced claims and appeals regulations for group health plans (the “ACA Enhanced Regulations”).  The scope of the New Regulations are broader than you may  realize and apply to any plan, regardless of how it is characterized, that provides benefits or rights that are contingent on whether the plan determines an individual to be disabled.  This can include ERISA governed short-term disability plans, long-term disability plans, qualified retirement plans (e.g., a 401(k) plan), nonqualified retirement plans, and health and welfare plans.  Read More ›

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Missing Participants – Out of Sight Out of Mind?

Imagine it’s March 31 and you are a retirement plan administrator.  You have a participant who terminated employment 15 years ago.  He turned 70½ last year and now you owe him his first required minimum distribution from the Plan on April 1.  You have not thought about this participant or attempted to locate him in the past 15 years.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize if the participant does not receive his required minimum distribution, he will owe a 50% excise tax on the required minimum distribution.

This scenario is common to plan administrators.  In trying to keep up with the day to day requirements of administering retirement plans, it is easy to lose touch with former employees or beneficiaries.  Read More ›

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Contemplating a Severance Plan? Consider ERISA

A severance plan may be subject to the requirements of ERISA as an employee welfare benefit plan. The determination of whether a severance plan is subject to ERISA depends in large part on whether the plan is part of an “ongoing administrative scheme.”

Severance plans subject to ERISA have certain requirements, such as the obligation to file annual Forms 5500, to follow ERISA’s formal claims procedure, and to provide a summary plan description (“SPD”), a summary annual report (“SAR”), and any required summaries of material modification (“SMM”) to participants.

For a severance plan subject to ERISA, failure to comply with these requirements can carry a hefty fee – up to $110 per day for failure to provide required documents to participants on request and up to $1,100 per day for failure to file a Form 5500. Read More ›

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Fiduciary Rule to Go Into Effect but DOL Provides Temporary Non-Enforcement Policy

As reported in our April 18th blog, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) officially delayed the applicability of the Fiduciary Rule for 60 days, until June 9, 2017.  Given the multiple delays leading up to the proposed June 9th date and President Trump’s February 3rd executive memorandum calling for a full examination of the impact of the Fiduciary Rule, some questioned whether the Rule would be further delayed.  However, on Monday, DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta wrote the DOL has “found no principled legal basis to change the June 9 date while we seek public input” and “[r]espect for the rule of law leads us to the conclusion that this date cannot be postponed.”  

Although the new definition of the term “fiduciary” will become applicable on June 9th, certain provisions of the Rule will be phased in over time, with a full compliance date scheduled for January 1, 2018.  Read More ›

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The Official Delay of the Fiduciary Rule: A Compromise

On April 7, 2017, the DOL published a final rule, officially delaying the applicability of the Fiduciary Rule for 60 days, until June 9, 2017.

The DOL noted that a full review of the Fiduciary Rule and its impact is likely to take longer than 60 days. However, the DOL expressed reservations about providing a more extended delay of the application of the Rule, given the Department’s prior findings of harm to retirement investors.  Consequently, the final rule on the delay results in somewhat of a compromise.

Specifically, the DOL extended the applicability date for the Fiduciary Rule, the BIC Exemption, and the Principal Transactions Exemption for 60 days. Read More ›

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IRS Warns Employers of Dangerous Email Scam

The IRS has recently warned employers of another scam targeting employee information. The IRS has learned that scammers are posing as internal executives and are requesting Forms W-2 and Social Security Numbers from payroll or human resources departments.  The scammers may even initiate contact with a “Hi, are you in today” message before requesting the Forms W-2 and Social Security numbers.  It appears that scammers are using this information to file fraudulent tax returns and claim tax refunds in the names of the victims.

The target for the most recent scam is employers, including tax exempt entities, universities and schools, government and private sector businesses. Read More ›

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Update – A Rule Deferred: Department of Labor Delays Implementation of Fiduciary Rule

As we previously reported in our February 16, 2017 blog post, “A Rule Deferred: Department of Labor Delays Implementation of Fiduciary Rule,” the DOL anticipated delaying the effective date of the fiduciary rule by 180 days.  However, on March 1, 2017, the DOL proposed to delay the fiduciary rule by 60 days, citing the potentially high costs of further delay.

The fiduciary rule was originally scheduled to become effective April 10, 2017. The new proposal would delay the rule’s applicability until June 9, 2017.

The DOL will accept public comments on the proposal to extend the applicability date for a period of 15 days, through March 17, 2017. Read More ›

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Did Hardship Distributions Just Get Easier?

In a previous blog, we addressed an issue of Employee Plans News in which the IRS took the position that 401(k) plan administrators must maintain hardship distribution records and should not rely on electronic participant self-certification for hardship distributions.

On February 23, 2017, the IRS issued a memorandum to its Employee Plans Examiners that sets forth substantiation guidelines for the examination of 401(k) hardship distributions.  The memorandum provides that a plan administrator may maintain either of the following to establish a participant’s need for a hardship distribution: (1) source documents that support the need for the hardship distribution or (2) a summary of the information contained in the source documents. Read More ›

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