IRS Issues First Required Amendments List for Qualified Plans

In a previous blog, we discussed the IRS’ elimination of its five year staggered determination letter cycle for individually designed plans.  The IRS recently provided guidance to help sponsors of individually designed plans keep their plans in compliance with applicable law.  Notice 2016-80 contains the first Required Amendments List (the “RA List”) for individually designed qualified retirement plans.  In general, the RA List is a list of changes in the plan qualification requirements for changes that became effective in 2016.  The list is divided into two parts—(A) changes in qualification requirements that would generally require an amendment to most plans  or to most plans of the type affected by the change and (B) changes that the IRS and Treasury anticipate will not require an amendment in most plans, but might require an amendment due to an unusual provision in a particular plan.  Read More ›

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Certain Information Statements for ISOs and ESPPs Due by January 31, 2017

As reported in Part 1 of our 2016 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List, Section 6039 of the Code requires employers to provide a written information statement to each employee or former employee and file information returns with the IRS regarding: (1) the transfer of stock pursuant to the exercise of an Incentive Stock Option (“ISO”); and (2) the first transfer by the employee or former employee of stock purchased at a discount under an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (“ESPP”).  For ISO exercises and ESPP transfers occurring in 2016, the Section 6039 employee information statement requirement is satisfied by providing Form 3921 (for ISOs) and Form 3922 (for ESPPs) to employees no later than January 31, 2017Read More ›

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Will the ACA Stay or Will it Go?

After surviving two Supreme Court cases and numerous repeal efforts, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) is in jeopardy again. Despite the law’s uncertainty, employers may want to continue their compliance efforts because: (1) the ACA is currently the law and there are significant penalties for noncompliance; and (2) for the reasons stated below complete repeal is anything but certain.

First, we do not know whether the law will be repealed outright.  Although Republicans control Congress, they do not have a supermajority in the Senate.  This means that, unless current filibuster law changes, Democratic Senators could block a bill to repeal the ACA entirely. Read More ›

Posted in Employee Benefits, Health & Welfare Plans, Health Care Reform | Tagged , , , , ,

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Making a List, Checking it Twice

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, a checklist can be particularly helpful to make sure important issues do not fall through the cracks.  Each year we publish an executive compensation checklist, a health and welfare plan checklist, and a qualified retirement plan checklist 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.  Read More ›

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A Little Breathing Room: IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline and Good Faith Penalty Relief

The IRS delivered welcome news to employers gearing up to meet the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) information reporting deadlines for the 2016 calendar year. In Notice 2016-70, the IRS extended the deadline to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to employees.  The new deadlines are provided below.

  Old Distribution Deadline New Distribution Deadline
Form 1095-B (to employees) January 31, 2017 March 2, 2017
Form 1095-C (to employees) January 31, 2017 March 2, 2017

Importantly, the Notice does not extend the deadline for filing Forms with the IRS.  The deadline to file with the IRS remains February 28, 2016 (for paper filings) and March 31, 2017 (for electronic filings). Read More ›

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IRS Announces 2017 Retirement Plan Dollar Limits

The IRS recently announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2017 in Notice 2016-62. The key dollar limits, along with last year’s limits, are noted below.

Maximum Qualified Retirement Plan Dollar Limits

  2016 2017
Limit on Section 401(k) deferrals (Section 402(g)) $18,000 $18,000
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)) $18,000 $18,000
Annual benefit limitation for a defined benefit plan (Section 415(b)(1)(A)) $210,000 $215,000
Limitation on annual contributions to a defined contribution plan (Section 415(c)(1)(A)) $53,000 $54,000
Limitation on compensation that may be considered by qualified retirement plans (Section 401(a)(17)) $265,000 $270,000
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)) $170,000 $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)) $1,070,000 $1,080,000
SIMPLE retirement account limitation (Section 408(p)(2)(E)) $12,500 $12,500
Social Security Taxable Wage Base $118,500 $127,500

  Read More ›

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Settlement of Calma v. Templeton Provides Guidance on Setting Director Pay

In response to recent lawsuits by the plaintiffs’ bar, I have previously posted about why public company employers may wish to consider adding a separate annual limit on non-employee director equity awards. Just last month the Delaware Chancery Court approved a settlement of Calma v. Templeton, a case in which Calma challenged the size of director equity awards granted under Citrix’s shareholder-approved equity compensation plan.  Among other things, the settlement provides what some practitioners believe to be a reasonable framework for structuring director compensation programs on a go-forward basis.  Key provisions of the settlement are as follows:

  • Citrix agreed to amend its equity compensation plan to incorporate a $795,000 cap on the value of equity awards that may be granted to any one non-employee director in any one year. 
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Now You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: New Pension Distribution Rules Allow More Flexibility

If you are one of the lucky few employees who participate in an employer’s defined benefit retirement plan, you previously had to choose between receiving your benefits in a lump sum or in annuity payments. However, in the final rule adopted by the Treasury Department, defined benefit plans are allowed to offer participants the choice of taking a portion of their benefit in a lump sum and the remainder in annuity payments.

These new rules are designed to increase a participant’s flexibility in designing his or her retirement income. As Treasury explained, on the one hand, for plans that permitted a distribution of either lump sum or annuity payments, many participants were reluctant to take the annuity payments and instead chose a lump sum to maximize their flexibility.  Read More ›

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Dealing with Long-Winded Out-of-Network Provider Nuisance Letters

Over the past couple years, more and more of my clients with self-funded plans have received letters from out-of-network providers appealing denied claims.  The letters are usually 20 to 30 pages long, not very specific, and make various accusations against the plan and its fiduciaries. 

Most of the letters follow a standard approach.  They start by alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, they request all sorts of plan documents, and they request additional appeals to which the participant may or may not be entitled.  The biggest problem is that these letters are never very specific in exactly what they want.  Instead, they make vague accusations, and hope some or all will stick. Read More ›

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A Deeper Dive: Employers Receiving Federal Funding May Be Subject to ACA’s Nondiscrimination Rule and Need to Cover Transgender Benefits

In recent months, we have written a fair amount about providing transgender benefits in light of the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Our blogs of March 30, 2016 and June 22, 2016 highlight the key contours of the nondiscrimination rule.  In our June 22 post, we mention in passing that the final nondiscrimination rule applies to any health program or activity, any part of which receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”).  This blog provides additional clarity on what it means for a group health plan or an employer to receive federal financial assistance (“FFA”) and, by consequence, become subject to the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Read More ›

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