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The Checklist of Federal Tax Law Rules Applicable to Public Retirement Systems has now been extensively updated. The chart, which identifies each of the Internal Revenue Code sections that does and does not apply to governmental plans, now includes links to each of the Internal Revenue Code sections referenced, as well as various updates to reflect recent legislative and administrative developments.
ERISA section 3(32), 29 U.S.C. § 1002(32), defines a governmental plan (exempt from Title I of ERISA) as:
a plan established or maintained for its employees by the Government of the United States, by the government of any State or political subdivision thereof, or by any agency or instrumentality of any of the foregoing.
Internal Revenue Code section 414(d) defines a governmental plan as:
a plan established and maintained for its employees by the Government of the United States, by the government of any State or political subdivision thereof, or by any agency or instrumentality of any of the foregoing.
So what happens if a plan is established by a private entity, but later maintained by a government or one of its agencies or instrumentalities? The Eastern District of Louisiana considered this issue in Smith v. Regional Transit Authority (May 10, 2013).
Carol V. Calhoun‘s article, “Maryland to End Benefits for Employees’ Domestic Partners,” has now been published in Baltimore OUTloud. The article discusses the trend toward eliminating domestic partner benefits as more states enact same-sex marriage, and the pros and cons of doing so.
As of May 10, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service has updated its page on determination letters for governmental plans. The page contains information for any governmental plan considering obtaining an IRS determination letter, including the following: Read more
An article in Forbes magazine alleges that the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island paid kickbacks to placement agents. As most are aware, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) does not apply to governmental plans. So, what kinds of protections are available in the case of kickbacks from public retirement systems? Read more
The IRS will start accepting applications for opinion and advisory letters for prototype and volume submitter 403(b) plans (tax-sheltered annuities and custodial accounts for certain tax-exempt and governmental employers) on June 28, 2013. Read more
The IRS has issued a reminder that governmental plan sponsors who apply for IRS determination letters covering the qualified status of their plans can’t rely on a favorable letter for whether:
- contributions made to the plan are the employer’s “pick-up contributions” (i.e., pretax employee contributions under section 414(h)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code), or
- the plan has a qualified governmental excess benefit arrangement (i.e., a separate trust that provides only a participant’s annual benefit in excess of the limits under Internal Revenue Code section 415).
One of the least noticed provisions of the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), sometimes referred to as Obamacare, is a transitional reinsurance fee applicable to 2014 through 2016. The Department of Human Services issued regulations implementing this provision on March 11, 2013. These regulations clarify that although governmental entities are exempt from tax and from most of ERISA, health plans that governmental employers maintain for their employees will be subject to the new fee.
Rev. Proc. 2013-12 for the first time allows 403(b) plans (tax-sheltered annuities or custodial accounts for employees of public schools, churches, and certain other tax-exempt organizations) the same ability to correct plan errors under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (“EPCRS”) as is provided in the case of qualified plans. The IRS has now issued a plain language “Fix-It Guide” for 403(b) plans that discusses common mistakes, how to avoid them, and how to fix them if they occur.