Late last month, the IRS released the latest version of its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, the IRS’s program for correcting retirement plan errors. The newest version of the correction program—effective beginning in 2019—includes mostly minor changes and clarifications. Most importantly, however, it requires electronic filing of Voluntary Correction Program submissions beginning April 1, 2019.
Maggie McTigue focuses her practice on employee benefits matters relating to pension and 401(k) plans, executive compensation, and health and welfare benefit plans. She regularly assists clients with employee benefit plan filings and notices required by the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service. Maggie also has experience regarding plan investment issues under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Read Maggie McTigue's full bio.
The PBGC’s missing participants program, which previously applied only to single-employer defined benefit pension plans, has been expanded to defined contribution plans, multiemployer defined benefit plans and small professional service defined benefit plans that end on or after January 1, 2018. The revised program provides a helpful alternative for plan administrators of terminating defined contribution plans, and also includes welcome clarifications that enhance the program available to defined benefit pension plans.
Since the announcement by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that sponsors of individually designed retirement plans may no longer receive a periodic determination letter, plan sponsors have faced uncertainty about how to demonstrate compliance for their retirement plans. Our McDermott Retirement Plan Compliance Program, a new opinion letter and operational review program for individually designed 401(a) and 403(b) retirement plans, will allow plan sponsors to document their plans’ compliance with tax code requirements in response to the curtailment of the IRS’ determination letter program.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) conduct different types of benefit plan audits, such as retirement plans and health and welfare plans, and for various reasons. In a presentation, Jeffrey Holdvogt and Maggie McTigue discuss IRS and DOL audit triggers, the process for each and what to do if your plan is audited. They also discuss the top audit issues and actionable steps companies can take to avoid audits and compliance issues.
Puerto Rico enacted new legislation in February that will require changes to tax-qualified retirement plans covering Puerto Rico employees, including both Puerto Rico-only and dual-qualified (US and Puerto Rico) retirement plans. Act No. 9-2017 revises a number of Puerto Rico qualified retirement plan rules including contribution limits, rules related to nondiscrimination testing and employer deductions for retirement plan contributions. Questions remain about how and when to implement these changes, but the 2017 Act became effective immediate upon enactment, so plan sponsors should be prepared for the possibility of mid-year 2017 changes to their retirement plans.
Two recently published memoranda by the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) indicate that it is permissible for 401(k) and 403(b) plan sponsors and their third party administrators (TPAs) to rely on participants’ written summaries describing their financial hardships when processing hardship withdrawals from plans that apply the safe harbor event rules. Plan sponsors and TPAs may find relief from the former time-consuming, manual reviews of participants’ hardship withdrawal documentation.
As employers have moved away from traditional defined benefit plans toward defined contribution plans as the primary retirement savings vehicle for their employees, much has been written about the risks of shifting the retirement savings burden from the employer to the employee. One widely-recognized consequence of this shift in retirement savings methods is that many employees are not contributing enough of their income, or earning high enough returns on their investments, to provide sufficient funds to meet their retirement needs through defined contribution plans. Many plan sponsors have responded to this concern by adding features to their defined contribution plans, such as automatic enrollment, automatic annual increases of employee deferral percentages and increased matching contributions, in order to encourage employees to save more for retirement.
Another consequence of this shift to defined contribution plans that has received less attention is that employees who suffer long-term disability are left without the retirement safety net that often has been provided under defined benefit plans. Employees typically lose the ability to continue making contributions to a defined contribution plan upon becoming disabled and often rely on their retirement savings under a defined contribution plan to meet their current income needs. While the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) and the regulations thereunder provide a framework for incorporating long-term disability benefits into defined contribution plans, these benefits have yet to become widely adopted by plan sponsors, perhaps partially due to inconsistent guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) and uncertainly on the part of plan sponsors regarding how such benefits can be implemented in practice. However, as employers continue to limit, and in some cases terminate, defined benefit plans, it will become more pressing to turn these theoretical frameworks into workable solutions to provide an important benefit for disabled employees.
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The Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) recently issued Notice 2016-03 (the Notice) addressing three topics and expanding on its earlier announcement of major changes in the determination letter program for individually designed retirement plans. The Notice will likely be followed by additional guidance from the IRS, addressing features of the determination letter program.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued two significant notices for employers that sponsor defined benefit pension plans, particularly those considering lump-sum windows as a “de-risking” option for their plans. In Notice 2015-49, the IRS notified plan sponsors that they are no longer permitted to offer retirees in pay status the option to take a lump-sum payment in lieu of ongoing annuity payments. Plan sponsors may, however, continue to offer a lump-sum payment option to deferred vested participants not in pay status. In Notice 2015-53, the IRS released updated mortality tables for 2016 and delayed the issuance of new regulations, which could incorporate new mortality assumptions recommended by the Society of Actuaries that many believe would increase pension funding liabilities and minimum lump-sum payments.
New guidance by the U.S. Department of Labor provides defined contribution plan administrators with additional flexibility to extend the 12-month period to a 14-month period for distribution of the required annual fee disclosure to plan participants and beneficiaries.