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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.

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.

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On February 9, 2018, President Trump signed a bipartisan budget deal into law, effectively extending federal funding through March 23, 2018. The act includes multiple provisions affecting employee benefit plans, including relaxed hardship withdrawal rules and relief for individuals affected by the California wildfires.

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The Bipartisan Budget Act helped avoid another government shutdown, but did it cause problems for your benefit plans? Sarah L. Engle and D. Finn Pressly will discuss everything you need to know about the new legislation, including changes to hardship distributions and new wildfire relief. The panel will also bring you up to speed on other key developments in the employee benefits sphere over the last month.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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