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.
A new article, Section 403(b) Plan Design and Compliance, discusses the rules that apply when eligible tax-exempt organizations establish tax-sheltered annuities, custodial accounts, or retirement income accounts, as described in Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (403(b) plans).
This article addresses the following topics:
- 403(b) Plan Overview
- Eligible Employers and Employees
- ERISA Coverage of 403(b) Plans
- Qualification Requirements
- 403(b) Plan Contributions
- 403(b) Plan Distributions
- Implementation and Operation
- Correcting 403(b) Plan Errors
- Terminating 403(b) Plans
- EP Subcommittee Report: 403(b) Plan Issues and Recommendations
- Advantages and Disadvantages of 403(b) Plans
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?
An article recently published in the Lexis Practice Advisor, Substantial Risk of Forfeiture, discusses the concept of substantial risk of forfeiture (SRF) under sections 83, 409A, 457(f), 457A, and
Topics covered are:
- Significance of SRF under the Various I.R.C. Sections
- Definition of SRF
- Conditions that Generally Support the Existence of a SRF and Related Requirements
- Conditions that Generally Do Not Support the Existence of a SRF
- Other rules relating to SRF
It is accompanied by a Substantial Risk of Forfeiture Comparison Chart, which summarizes the rules.
In recent years, several states have adopted laws requiring private (nongovernmental) employers to set up payroll deduction individual retirement accounts, individual retirement annuities, or Roth IRAs (collectively, IRAs) for their employees. Certain localities have also indicated an interest in setting up such programs. ERISA by its terms generally preempts any and all state laws relating to any employee benefit plan regulated by ERISA, other than state laws that regulate insurance, banking, or securities. ERISA
- Are the state or local laws setting up such programs preempted by ERISA?
- Aare the plans themselves subject to ERISA?
The Department of Labor issued final regulations on August 30, 2016 providing a safe harbor for statewide plans covering private employers. On December 20, 2016, it expanded on those regulations with further regulations providing a safe harbor for plans for private employers operated by local governments. This bulletin discusses how those programs work, and what employers can expect from them.
Based on both campaign promises and Donald Trump’s plans for his first 100 days, a Trump presidency is likely to make major changes in employee benefits law. The most significant ones are likely to be:
- Major changes in the Affordable Care Act (although the timing and extent of such changes are unclear), combined with expansion of health savings accounts.
- Postponement or elimination of the recently issued Department of Labor fiduciary regulations.
- Loosening of executive compensation rules.
- Further cutbacks in IRS guidance and audit activity.
- Increased hostility to consideration of noneconomic factors in selecting retirement plan investments.
- Diminished enforcement of protections for LGBT employees.
- Increased activity at the state level, including establishment of state-sponsored retirement plans for private employers.
These issues, and others of less general concern, are discussed below. Read more.
On April 8, 2016, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued final guidance dealing with investment advice to ERISA plans and their participants. While this guidance does not by its terms apply to governmental and church plans (which are not subject to ERISA), such plans often use DOL guidance as an indication of best practices which they will follow. Moreover, the DOL suggests that a breach of contract claim may be available to enforce the standards with respect to individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”), which are not subject to ERISA. While the DOL has no authority to regulate governmental and church plans, it has laid out a road map which state courts may use to impose liability on governmental and church plans under a breach of contract theory.
In a case that has obvious implications for employee benefit plans, the Veterans’ Administration (“VA”) has just provided survivor benefits to the partner of a service member, even though the partners were not married before the service member’s death.
What should a retirement plan sponsor do if it discovers that it has overpaid benefits to a retiree or other former employee? The question has recently arisen in the case of the pension plan of Pontiac, Michigan, which accidentally overpaid many of its retirees an average of $1,000 over a 16-month period. Read more.
This post was updated on June 26, 2015 to reflect the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage.
The Treasury Department and the IRS announced on August 29, 2013 that all legal same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes. On September 18, 2013, the Department of Labor took the same position for purposes of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA“). The announcements and corresponding revenue ruling
Because employee benefit plans are extensively regulated by federal law, this announcement means that all employers will be required to recognize such marriages for many employee benefits purposes. Conversely, employers in states that treat civil unions or domestic partnerships as if they were marriages will nevertheless be forbidden from treating such arrangements as marriages for certain employee benefits purposes. However, the precise impact will depend on whether the plan is subject to ERISA or whether it is a governmental or church plan exempt from ERISA. The chart below sets forth areas in which the announcement will affect the operation of different types of plans.