IRS Audit Techniques Guide Provides Helpful Reminders for Sponsors of NQDC Arrangements

Last summer the Internal Revenue Service updated its Audit Techniques Guide (“ATG”) for nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements.  While the ATG provides little instruction on how the IRS will review nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements for compliance with Section 409A of the Code, it provides a helpful reminder of some of the other rules applicable to nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements. Among other things, the ATG reminds sponsors of nonqualified deferred compensation plans to be attentive to the following issues:

  • Deferred compensation arrangements must be in writing.
  • Immediate taxation to a participant could arise if the deferred compensation is not subject to substantial limitations or restrictions (e.g., immediate taxation will arise if the participant can draw on the deferred compensation at any time or if the participant can borrow against the deferred compensation).
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Employers May Be Able to Exempt Severance Payments from FICA Tax under Quality Stores

The Supreme Court recently ruled in U.S. v. Quality Stores that severance paid to employees is considered wages for FICA purposes.  Before the Court’s decision, there was little doubt that employer-provided severance was wages for income tax purposes, but lower court cases were a mixed bag about whether severance was wages for FICA tax purposes.  Indeed, the Sixth Circuit in Quality Stores, held that the severance payments made by Quality Stores were not wages for FICA tax purposes because the payments fell within the statutory exclusion for Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (“SUB”) payments for FICA tax purposes.  The Supreme Court upheld the IRS’ position and disagreed with the Sixth Circuit’s analysis.  Read More ›

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