Domestic Partnership Converted Retroactively to Marriage After Death Provides Basis for Spousal Benefits
(Posted on November 6, 2015 by )

2016 IRS Benefits & Contributions Limits Announced
(Posted on October 30, 2015 by )

On October 30, 2015, the IRS issued IRS Notice 2015-75, announcing the changes in pensions and benefits limits for 2016. Most limits were unchanged. An updated chart, showing these limits for 1996 to 2016, is available by clicking here.

Social Security Wage Base for 2016 Issued
(Posted on October 15, 2015 by )

2016 Supplement to the Governmental Plans Answer Book Published
(Posted on October 6, 2015 by )

The 2016 Supplement to the Third Edition of the Governmental Plans Answer Book has now been published. It reflects substantial new developments in the area over the past year.

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2016 Supplement to the 457 Answer Book Published
(Posted on August 10, 2015 by )

The 2016 Supplement to the Sixth Edition of the 457 Answer Book was published on August 8, 2014. Carol V. Calhoun is the author of Chapter 1, History of 457 Plans, and Chapter 14, Miscellaneous Issues.

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IRS determination letters after 2016; what are the options?
(Posted on July 28, 2015 by )

As previously discussed, faced with substantial budget cuts, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has announced that it is eliminating most determination letters (letters concerning the qualified status of retirement plans, which gives rise to numerous tax benefits), effective December 31, 2016. (Announcement 2015-19.) In the past, individually designed retirement plans were able to obtain a determination letter once every five years, during a cycle provided by the IRS. The most likely new regime will involve making determination letters on individually designed plans available only when a plan is first adopted, or when it is terminated. Between those dates, the only way to ensure qualification other than filing a declaratory judgment action with the Tax Court is likely to be to adopt annual updates put out by the IRS that will include model wording for amendments.

For entities that maintain a retirement plan, the new regime may mean that they discover qualification issues only on audit, when it is too late to fix the issue. And the potential penalties on audit (for the employer, the trust under the plan, and the employees) are, as set forth in a prior article, huge. What steps should a plan administrator take to ensure the qualification of a plan after that point? Read more.

Governmental Plan Determination Letters: Last Chance?
(Posted on July 21, 2015 by )

On July 21, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued Announcement 2015-19, in which it announced that it would be making substantial changes to the determination letter program intended to allow retirement plan sponsors to ensure that their plans are qualified (eligible for tax benefits). This announcement will affect all retirement plans intended to be qualified, but will create particular issues for plans maintained by governmental employers (“governmental plans”). Read more.

Wal-Mart sued for retroactive availability of spousal benefits for same-sex spouses
(Posted on July 15, 2015 by )

When the Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans in Obergefell v. Hodges, one of the questions raised was the extent to which couples married before the date of the decision could sue their employers for failing to recognize their marriages for employee benefits purposes. A class action lawsuit filed by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (“GLAD”) and the nonprofit Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs today, Jacqueline Cote, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., tests that question, arguing that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-Mart”) should be liable for failing to recognize an employee’s marriage for periods before the date of the Obergefell decision. Read more.

Employee benefits effects of Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision
(Posted on July 14, 2015 by )

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. For employers, this decision raises the issue of what changes must be made in employee benefits to reflect the decision.

For this purpose, we will look at three categories of employers: those that have already been offering benefits to same-sex spouses, those that have not previously offered benefits to same-sex spouses, and those that have been offering benefits to domestic partners. Read more.

State Taxes for Married Same-Sex Couples
(Posted on June 26, 2015 by )

In light of the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, employers that maintain plans covering employees in same-sex marriages who live in any of the states that previously did not recognize same-sex marriage will have to adjust state tax withholding and reporting for such employees. State Taxes and Married Same-Sex Couples Before Obergefell provides a handy chart for determining which states are affected.

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