The Internal Revenue Service today issued IRS Notice 2023-75, setting out the limits on benefits and contributions for 2024. As expected, the limits rose, but not as steeply as last year. Maximum deferrals under a 401(k) or 403(b) plan rose from $22,500 to $23,000, while maximum benefits under a defined benefit plan rose from $265,000 to $275,000.
On August 25, 2023, the IRS issued Notice 2023-62, dealing with the SECURE 2.0 requirement that any age 50 catch-up contributions by an employee with prior-year FICA wages over $145,000 (to be indexed with inflation) be made on a Roth basis, rather than a pre-tax basis. The guidance had two effects:
- The requirement that catch-up contributions for individuals over age 50 with prior-year FICA wages over $145,000 be made in the form of Roth contributions was delayed until 2026.
- The language of the statute had suggested that no catch-up contributions could be made at all beginning in 2024. The IRS has confirmed that it will continue to treat catch-up contributions as permissible.
While the guidance applies to 401(k) plans, most governmental entities are not permitted to have 401(k) plans. However, it also affects governmental 457(b) plans, along with 403(b) plans for those governmental entities that are permitted to have 403(b) plans (governmental instrumentalities that also have tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3), and public schools and universities). It is particularly significant for governmental entities which maintain both 403(b) and 457(b) plans, since an employee is able to double the usual amount of catch-ups by making a catch-up election with respect to both plans.
The IRS also announced its intention to issue further guidance in three areas:
- In determining whether an individual has $145,000 in FICA wages, wages exempt from FICA will not be counted. Among other things, this would mean that state and local government entities not subject to Social Security would not have to comply with the new rules at all.
- For a participant in a multiple employer plan with compensation from two or more participating employers, the determination of whether the Roth catch-up rule applies would be made on an employer-by-employer basis. So for example, in a statewide plan, compensation that an individual received from one governmental employer would not have to be combined with that from another in applying the $145,000 limit.
- When the new rules become effective in 2026, a plan may treat a pre-tax catch-up election for a participant subject to the Roth catch-up rule as though it were a Roth catch-up election, without the need to obtain an updated election from the participant. For example, suppose that a participant over age 50 with compensation of $145,000 elects to make a contribution of 25% of compensation. The maximum for 2023 (without catch-ups) would be $22,500. Assuming this limit were still in effect in 2026 (it rises with inflation), the employer would not need to get a separate election in order to have an additional $7,500 taken from the participant’s compensation and contributed on a Roth basis.
While these three points would be helpful to impacted plan sponsors, they are not yet the IRS’s formal position.
General information on the effect of the notice (for nongovernmental as well as governmental plans) can be found at this link. Information on the amount of regular and catch-up contributions can be found at this link.
The Fifth Edition of the Governmental Plans Answer Book has now been published. The Governmental Plans Answer Book is the only full-length treatise on the law governing the retirement plans that federal, state, and local governments maintain for their employees. The law has changed a lot since the Fourth Edition was published in 2017, and the new edition has been updated to reflect them.
The Fifth Edition of Governmental Plans Answer Book gives subscribers the most relevant, current, and practice-oriented answers to the issues faced daily by plan administrators, attorneys, actuaries, consultants, accountants, and other pension professionals as they navigate the requirements and procedures involved in administering their plans. It examines the following significant changes and case law in this area: Read more.
The Comparison of 457(b) Plans, 401(k) Plans, 403(b) Plans, and Deemed IRAs chart has now been updated to reflect recent developments, including:
- 2023 limits on contributions and benefits
- Changes in the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS)
- Changes in the IRS determination letter program for 401(k) plans
- Addition of an IRS determination letter program for individually designed 403(b) plans
- The IRS opinion letter program for pre-approved 403(b) plans
Carol V. Calhoun has written a Benefits Guide entitled “Government and Tax-Exempt Organizations” for Bloomberg Law. The Bloomberg Law Benefits Guide is intended to be a resource for non-benefits practitioners that is easy to understand and explains complex topics in a straightforward way. Ms. Calhoun’s guide covers the types of plans maintained by governmental and tax-exempt organizations, determination of whether a plan is governmental, legal requirements and restrictions, and correction methods in case of errors in administration. The Benefits Guide is available to Bloomberg subscribers, or a copy of Ms. Calhoun’s chapter is available at this link.
In 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, Pre-Approved 403(b) Plans, 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:
- What Is a 403(b) Plan?
- What Is a Preapproved 403(b) Plan?
- What Are the Advantages of a Preapproved 403(b) Plan?
- What Are the Legal Pitfalls of a Preapproved 403(b) Plan?
- What Operational Issues Can Arise for a Preapproved Plan?
- What Practical Issues Can Arise for a Preapproved Plan?
- When Should an Employer Adopt a Preapproved 403(b) Plan?
- Can the Employer Cure Past Plan Issues by Adopting a Preapproved 403(b) Plan?
- What Should an Employer Do If It Did Not Comply with the Written Plan Document Requirement in the Past?
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.
The 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
- Form 14581-A Fringe Benefits Compliance Self-Assessment
- Form 14581-B International Issues Compliance Self-Assessment
- Form 14581-D Other Tax Issues Compliance Self-Assessment
- Form 14581-G Worker Status Compliance Self-Assessment
For use by State and Local Government Entities Only
- Form 14581-C Medicare Coverage Compliance Self-Assessment
- Form 14581-E Retirement Plan Coverage Compliance Self-Assessment
- Form 14581-F Social Security Coverage Compliance Self-Assessment
On January 27, 2016, the IRS issued proposed regulations governing the extent to which governmental pension plans must comply with the rules governing normal retirement ages. In general, the rules are a positive step from the perspective of governmental plan sponsors, but they contain a few potential pitfalls.
The qualification rules of the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) provide for several rules that are based on a plan’s normal retirement age. For example, a pension plan cannot pay in-service benefits before the earlier of age 62 or normal retirement age. Benefits must be fully vested at normal retirement age. Benefits under the plan must be definitely determinable (i.e., subject to calculation, rather than at an employer’s discretion) as of normal retirement age. Read more.
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.