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.
On Monday, November 27, 2017, the Social Security Administration announced (announcement here) that the it is lowering the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax for 2018 to $128,400. The Social Security Administration had previously announced the amount as $128,700. The revision is the result of updated wage data reported to Social Security. Our On The Subject article has been updated to reflect the lower amount.
Through a series of recent settlements, the US Department of Labor has outlined the process steps fiduciaries should follow in connection with a transaction involving a purchase from, or sale to, an employee stock ownership plan.
The US Department of the Treasury recently issued guidance that retirement plan sponsors should consider as part of their obligation to take reasonable steps to locate missing participants. Specifically, the Treasury issued a memorandum which sets forth guidelines that prohibit auditors from challenging qualified plans as failing to satisfy the required minimum distribution standards under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 401(a)(9) if the plan has fulfilled all of the following with respect to participants that cannot be located:
- Searched for alternative contact information in plan, plan sponsor and publicly available records for directories;
- Used a commercial locator service, credit reporting agency or a proprietary internet search tool for locating individuals; and
- Sent mail via United States Postal Service (USPS) certified mail to the last known mailing address and attempted contact “through appropriate means for any address or contact information,” which includes email addresses and telephone number.
The Treasury guidance is similar to, but also expands upon, prior guidance provided by the US Department of Labor, which addresses locating missing participants for terminated retirement plans.
Locating missing participants and beneficiaries can be challenging for plan sponsors. Many plan sponsors find that they are unable to locate participants who left employment many years prior and, as a result, are unable to make required minimum distributions. Both the IRS and Department of Labor have stepped up their enforcement of these requirements in recent years. In particular, the Department of Labor has made locating missing participants an enforcement priority for plan audits.
The new Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 provides additional relief and flexibility for retirement plan participants impacted by recent hurricanes, including relaxed rules for plan distributions, withdrawals and loans.
At the 36th Annual ISCEBS Symposium, Todd Solomon presented best practices for plan fiduciaries to avoid 401(k) plan and 403(b) plan class action lawsuits. Todd discussed fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA as well as potential consequences of breaching fiduciary responsibilities. He highlighted notable cases brought against plan fiduciaries, including those that allege excess plan fees. Todd discussed the need for rigorous monitoring and documentation of the review process.
Tax-exempt employers face a matrix of tax and disclosure issues in designing an appropriate supplement retirement program. This resource intends to examine the income tax, payroll tax and Form 990 reporting aspects of the major plans currently available to tax-exempt employers, and review those major plans from the reference point of several major design considerations.
With only two months left in the year, it’s time to make sure your-end tickler list is complete! Join us for a roundtable discussion with McDermott partners Judith Wethall, Finn Pressly, Andrew Liazos, Diane Morgenthaler and Jeff Holdvogt which will cover the employee benefit issues you’ll need to cross off your list before Year’s Eve.
Friday, November 3, 2017
10:00 – 10:45 am PDT
11:00 – 11:45 am MDT
12:00 – 12:45 pm CDT
1:00 – 1:45 pm EDT
Mark your calendars for the first Friday of the Month! McDermott’s Employee Benefits Group will be delivering timely topics in our “Fridays With Benefits” monthly webinar series.
The IRS recently issued new mortality tables for 2018, which will likely increase pension funding liabilities for many plan sponsors. Plan sponsors should consider options to delay the use of the new mortality tables for funding purposes, while large plan sponsors should consider the option to utilize plan-specific mortality tables instead.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for various employer-sponsored retirement and welfare plans for 2018. Although some of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2017 will remain the same, the majority of the limits will experience minor increases for 2018.