In early 2017, the IRS updated its Golden Parachute Payments Audit Technique Guide for the first time since its 2005 issuance. While intended as an internal reference for IRS agents conducting golden parachute examinations, the Audit Technique Guide offers valuable insight for both public and private companies, and recipients of golden parachute payments, into how IRS agents are likely to approach golden parachutes when conducting an audit.
A United States District Court recently dismissed a claim that an insider’s election to satisfy an income tax obligation by having shares withheld from the delivery of an award constituted a non-exempt sale of shares back to the issuer for purposes of Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ( Exchange Act), unless the share withholding was required, rather than merely permitted. While an encouraging development, this decision is now on appeal to the Fifth Circuit and there are similar unresolved complaints in other jurisdictions. Until this matter is resolved, public companies should continue to consider what steps are appropriate to avoid Section 16 exposure and to review this situation with their executive officers.
Pay equity, the concept that gender differences should not affect compensation, is a concept easy to support, yet has been stubbornly hard to achieve. Federal law has become calcified in addressing the stubborn pay gap between men and women. State and local initiatives, along with private actors, have increasingly taken steps in the past year to address pay equity.
In a recent webinar, Jake Mattinson and Sarah Raaii discussed the practices that benefits professionals can adopt to add value to their organizations and avoid common mistakes. Jake and Sarah discussed recommended practices for ERISA benefit claims and inquiries, how to review plan compensation definitions and payroll codes, best practices for corrections using the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP), and the importance of document retention. The webinar is part of the larger Benefits Emerging Leaders Working Group, a group that meets to discuss key benefit issues and trends and provides networking opportunities aimed at connecting tomorrow’s benefit leaders with a broad network of professionals.
There are many different types of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions, making it very important to understand the overall deal structure and process. Andrew C. Liazos presented “Mergers and Acquisitions Webinar Series Part 2: The Due Diligence Process” for the CLE Program as part of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits and the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. He discussed the overall architecture of a deal, including the parties involved, what drives the deal structure, where to get data, price negotiations and more. The presentation focused on specific M&A areas including pension, other retirement and executive benefits.
Andrew Liazos and Allison Wilkerson wrote this bylined article on Tax Code Section 409A’s deferral and payment requirements for nonqualified deferred compensation plans. Recent IRS Section 409A guidance makes “several helpful changes that employers will want to consider and take advantage of,” the authors wrote, and they warned employers that they ignore final IRS “at their peril…in light of the more limited ability to correct errors.”
Originally published in The Practical Tax Lawyer, Spring 2017
A US District Court recently dismissed a claim that an insider’s election to satisfy an income tax obligation by having shares withheld from the delivery of an award constituted a non-exempt sale of shares back to the issuer for purposes of Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act, unless the share withholding was required, rather than merely permitted.
While an encouraging development, this decision is now on appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and there are similar unresolved complaints in other jurisdictions. Until this matter is resolved, public companies should continue to consider what steps are appropriate to avoid Section 16 exposure and to review this situation with their executive officers.
The 2016 proposed regulations significantly expanded 457(f) plan sponsors’ ability to permit elective deferrals, use noncompetition agreements and make larger severance payments than otherwise permitted under 409A without immediate taxation to participants. In a recent presentation, Ruth Wimer, Mary Samsa and Joseph Urwitz discuss the surprising opportunities with respect to tax-exempt and governmental entities’ “ineligible nonqualified deferred compensation” arrangements in 2016 regulations. They also address the rules and limitations of the short-term deferral exception, the interaction of the 2016 regulations with existing regulations, other types of arrangements potentially affected, as well as best practices for employers.
In Revenue Procedure 2017-37, 2017-21 IRB, the IRS issued the annual inflation-adjusted contribution, deductible and out-of-pocket expense limits for 2018 for HSAs. For clear comparison, we have outlined the changes from 2017 to 2018.
McDermott will be holding its annual Employee Benefits Innovators Roundtable Series this month. The roundtables offer experienced benefits professionals an opportunity to discuss cutting-edge, topical employer-driven benefit programs with their peers and members of McDermott’s employee benefits team. We are meeting in four locations this year. Join us in one of the following cities:
May 9 | Silicon Valley, California
May 11 | Los Angeles, California
May 22 | Chicago, Illinois
May 24 | New York, New York
The topics for our roundtable series sessions will include:
- The Future of Employee Benefits Under the Trump Administration
- Should Your Plan Cover All Drugs? (FDA-Approved/Unapproved, Off-Label, Marijuana, etc.)
- ERISA Retirement Plan Fee Litigation – Learning From Recent Class Actions
- Paying Off Student Loans as an Employee Benefit
- Equal Privacy and Cybersecurity – Now Part of Your Plan’s Independent Audit
- Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Equality Index – Opposite-Sex Domestic Partner Benefit
For more information about how to register for one of our roundtables, please contact Erin Nelson.