The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made significant changes to the tax code and will have a significant impact on businesses and individual taxpayers. However, although initial proposals included potentially significant changes to employer-sponsored retirement plans, the impact of the final bill on employer sponsored retirement plans will be relatively minor.
Sarah Engle focuses her practice on employee benefits matters. She counsels clients regarding a variety of issues, including the design, drafting and operation of tax-qualified pension and profit sharing plans, health and welfare arrangements, and deferred compensation plans. Sarah has experience advising clients on employee benefits design, implementation and transition matters arising in connection with corporate mergers and acquisitions. Read Sarah Engle's full bio.
On Saturday, the Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The process of reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill has already begun in earnest. Currently, the retirement-plan-related changes included in each version of the bill still differ in many respects, and it is unclear which (if any) changes will be included in the final bill. As a result, with only a few weeks left until the holiday recess, a clear picture of the potential impact of tax reform on retirement plan sponsors has yet to emerge.
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.
Earlier this year, the IRS released proposed regulations which permit employers to use forfeitures to fund safe harbor contributions, QNECs and QMACs.
On July 11, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced a proposal to implement sweeping changes to the forms and regulations that govern annual employee benefit plan reporting on Form 5500. The proposed changes, which were published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2016, would significantly increase the annual reporting obligations for nearly all retirement plans. The changes also would have a considerable impact on employer-sponsored group health plans. For more information about the effect of the proposed changes on health and welfare plan sponsors, see Proposed Changes to Form 5500 Would Significantly Increase Reporting Obligations for Health and Welfare Plan Sponsors.
The DOL is seeking written comments on the proposed changes, which must be provided by October 4, 2016. The revised reporting requirements, if adopted, generally would apply for plan years beginning on and after January 1, 2019. Certain compliance questions will, however, be effective for Form 5500 series returns filed for the 2016 plan year.
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On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). In addition to authorizing $305 billion in funding for federal highway projects, the FAST Act also repeals the recently enacted extension to the Form 5500 filing deadline included in the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Surface Transportation Act).
The recently enacted Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 includes provisions that will extend the deadlines for filing future Form 5500 and Form 990 series information returns. In addition, the legislation modifies rules relating to the ability of veterans to participate in health savings accounts (HSAs), allows employers to disregard employees receiving certain veterans benefits when determining whether they are subject to the shared responsibility requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and further extends the ability of employers to use excess pension assets to pay for retiree health and group-term life insurance.