Employee Benefits Legal Resource Site


Carol V. Calhoun

Welcome to the employee benefits legal resource site! You can use the links to the left to navigate this site. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with new materials at this site.

Nonprofits and Governments Face Compensation and Benefits Issues under the New Tax Law
(Posted on January 11, 2018 by )


The recently passed tax bill imposes a 21% excise tax on excess compensation and excess severance benefits of certain executives of nonprofit and governmental employers. The provision has a substantial impact on the compensation and benefits that such organizations can provide for their executives. Moreover, the determination of which employers, and which executives, are covered includes several traps for the unwary.

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New chart: Pre-approved Plan Eligibility Checklist
(Posted on January 5, 2018 by )


Lexis Practice AdvisorThe IRS maintains pre-approved plan programs (1) for retirement plans described in I.R.C. § 401(a) (qualified plans), and (2) for annuity contracts or custodial accounts described in I.R.C. § 403(b) (403(b) plans). A new chart shows what types of plans are and are not eligible to use the pre-approved plan program.

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New article: Executive Compensation Arrangements for Tax-Exempt Organizations
(Posted on January 2, 2018 by )


Lexis Practice AdvisorTax-exempt organizations face special legal challenges in developing compensation packages for their executives. A new article published in the Lexis Practice Advisor provides practical guidance on developing benefits for executives of nonprofits.

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Navigating Pension and Annuity Payments: General Rule and Taxation Guidelines
(Posted on December 18, 2017 by )


Lorman Distinguished Faculty MemberA 76-page PowerPoint presentation from a live Lorman Telecom webinar, “Navigating Pension and Annuity Payments: General Rule and Taxation Guidelines,” is now available by clicking here.

The webinar covered distributions from qualified plans (pension, profit sharing, stock bonus, and 401(k), including Roth accounts), IRAs (regular and Roth), and commercial annuities. Topics covered:

  • Sources of distributions (employer contributions, employee deferrals, Roths, after-tax contributions, and rollovers);
  • Restrictions on how early and how late distributions can be taken;
  • Penalties on early withdrawals;
  • Taxation of lump sum distributions;
  • Taxation of withdrawals and partial distributions;
  • Taxation of annuities and other periodic payments;
  • Plan withholding and reporting; and
  • Participant reporting.

A download of the program and other information can be found at this link, which also contains a 50% discount code.

Social Security Wage Base for 2018 Updated
(Posted on November 27, 2017 by )


SSALogoThe Social Security Administration has now announced that the wage base (the maximum amount subject to Social Security taxes) for 2018 will be only $128,400, rather than the $128,700 it had announced in October.

A chart showing Social Security limits from 1996 through 2018 can be found at this link.

2018 IRS Benefits & Contributions Limits Announced
(Posted on October 19, 2017 by )


irsOn October 19, 2017, the IRS issued IRS Notice 2017-64, announcing the changes in pensions and benefits limits for 2018. The maximum limits on employee pretax contributions to 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans (without catch-ups) increased to $18,500, the maximum limit on annual additions (primarily to defined contribution plans) rose from $54,000 to $55,000, and the maximum limit on benefits (when expressed as an annual benefit) under a defined benefit plan rose from $215,000 to $220,000. Limits on annual compensation taken into account also rose, but the compensation used in the definition of a key employee was unchanged.

A chart showing details, and limits from 1996 to 2018, can be found at this link.

Fourth Edition of the Governmental Plans Answer Book Published
(Posted on October 2, 2017 by )


The Fourth Edition of the Governmental Plans Answer Book has now been published. It reflects substantial new developments in the area since the Third Edition.

New materials include the following:

  • Department of Labor regulations that define who is a fiduciary as a result of rendering investment advice to a plan or to its participants and beneficiaries
  • Elimination of the ability to obtain IRS determination letters on individually designed plans, except on their inception or termination.
  • Recent legislative developments affecting governmental plans.
  • New and updated information regarding public pension financial reporting and communications practices.
  • Expanded and updated descriptions of hybrid retirement plans provided for employees of state and local government.
  • A review of a Supreme Court case that held a Chapter 7 trustee could not contest the validity of a claimed exemption after the objection deadline expired.
  • Expanded discussion of pre-approved plans.
  • Issuance of IRS opinion and advisory letters on pre-approved 403(b) plans.

For more information on this book, written by Carol V. Calhoun, Cynthia L. Moore, and Keith Brainard, you can use the following links:

Description | Table of Contents | Purchase

Understanding Pre-Approval of 403(b) Plans
(Posted on September 19, 2017 by )


Internal Revenue ServiceIn March 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began issuing advisory and opinion letters to the first preapproved retirement programs described in Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) § 403(b) (403(b) plans). A new article discusses preapproved 403(b) plans, including their advantages, legal pitfalls, and other issues that an eligible employer may consider when determining whether to convert its existing 403(b) plan into a preapproved plan.

The major topics are:

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Seventh Edition of the 457 Answer Book Published
(Posted on September 4, 2017 by )


The Seventh Edition of the 457 Answer Book was published on September 4, 2017. Carol V. Calhoun is the author of Chapter 1, History of 457 Plans, and Chapter 14, Miscellaneous Issues.

The 457 Answer Book is an in-depth resource that provides answers to the questions that tax-exempt organizations, state and local governments, their accountants, tax and legal advisors, 457 administrators, product providers, and investment counselors need to know.

Guiding readers through all aspects of 457 plan administration — from installation through the audit process — the 457 Answer Book describes: the duties and responsibilities of those performing the functions; the required legal, accounting, and administrative tasks; checklists that facilitate control of each administrative process; and suggested forms.

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IRS Issues Self-Assessment Forms for Federal, State, and Local Government Employers
(Posted on July 10, 2017 by )


Internal Revenue ServiceThe IRS has now issued a series of forms to enable federal, state, and local governments to assess their compliance with federal tax statutes, and has set forth some common errors found in examining such employers. Several of the forms relate to employee benefits issues, and may be of assistance to governments trying to ensure that they comply with all legal requirements.

The forms are as follows:

For use by Federal, State and Local Government Entities

For use by State and Local Government Entities Only

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