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 2021. Nearly all of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2020 will remain the same, with only a few amounts experiencing minor increases for 2021.
With mass layoffs commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers asked the Internal Revenue Service for advice on how to deal with the partial termination rule relating to employer contributions to their employees’ 401(k) workplace retirement accounts.
It’s an obscure issue, but it’s a big deal for the employees that it affects: It could mean thousands of dollars more credited to an employee’s 401(k) account. It’s also important that employers get it right. In a recent article by Forbes, McDermott Will & Emery partner Jeff Holdvogt advises that IRS auditors can catch this issue looking back at prior years.
“This is a complicated rule, and it’s not top of mind, so we could absolutely see employers realizing, ‘Hey, it turns out we incurred a partial termination. We have to go back and provide additional vesting,’” Holdvogt says.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by US Congress in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, permits a “qualified individual” to increase the amount they can borrow from a 401(k). Such individuals may borrow 100% of their account balance up to $100,000 (less any outstanding loans).
The deadline for taking enhanced loans is September 22. In a recent article by Forbes, McDermott Will & Emery partner Jeff Holdvogt highlights some of the tax implications individuals should consider.
What do unused paid-time-off (PTO) days, student loan debt and the coronavirus have in common? An opportunity for employers to provide financial relief to employees who are increasingly putting off vacations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent article by the Society of Human Resource Management, Jeff Holdvogt, a partner in McDermott’s Chicago office, explained that more employees, particularly Millennials, are telling employers that benefits to help pay off student loan debt would go a long way to attracting and retaining them.
Prior to the pandemic, ultra-low unemployment at roughly 3.3% put a spotlight on ‘lifestyle benefits’ for employees such as gym memberships and pet sitting. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, the focus immediately shifted for many plan sponsors.
Some employers are now offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) paired with health savings accounts (HSAs). Scaling back on company matches to 401(k) plans and contributions to profit sharing accounts are two other areas where employers are trying to save money, said Lisa Loesel, an employee benefits partner at McDermott.
“Depending on what kind of plan they have and the terms set forth for them, we have seen plan sponsors delay the timing of their contributions, change the amount, move from a fixed to a discretionary amount or even cut their contributions indefinitely,” Loesel said in a recent article for PLANSPONSOR Magazine.
Among sponsors offering a pension plan, more are de-risking their plans. “The market happens to be favorable for doing this right now,” she says.
Imagine if you were playing on a baseball team and the opposing players argue that you are violating the rules of soccer. That’s what it’s like when private parties and the Department of Labor (DOL) challenge Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) valuations. Plaintiffs play a very different valuation ballgame, which confounds experts who go up against them in a dispute involving allegations that an ESOP paid more than “fair market value” for stock of the sponsor company. In a recent webinar, McDermott attorney Richard Pearl discussed valuation concepts and some fundamental issues under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
Earlier this year, the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) issued a final rule, modifying PBGC regulations that apply to defined benefit pension plans. Among those changes were revisions to: (i) the reportable event notification requirements; (ii) annual financial and actuarial information (Form 4010) reporting; (iii) single-employer plan termination rules; and (iv) the premium rate calculation rules. The rule was generally effective on March 5, 2020, but some provisions have different applicability dates.
A significant issue facing many business owners is the impact of underfunded multiemployer pension plans. This is most common, but not exclusive to, unionized businesses. McDermott Partner and Global Head of the Firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group Todd Solomon joins Domenic Rinaldi, owner and managing partner of Sun Acquisitions, for a recent episode of the M&A Unplugged Podcast to talk about multiemployer pension plans and discuss proactive steps owners can take to get ahead of future issues regarding pension participants.
The most obvious potential conflict of interest for advisers setting up or serving pooled employer plans is if their practice is affiliated with the investments being selected—but there are other potential pitfalls to acknowledge.
In a recent article, Erin Turley, a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, said a potential conflict of interest for advisers to PEPs would be if they were acting as either a 3(21) or 3(38) fiduciary to help select investments and were paid from plan assets.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires plan fiduciaries to act prudently and loyally when making decisions about the plan. In Martin v. CareerBuilder, LLC, a federal district court held that the complaint’s allegations about expensive recordkeeping costs and imprudent investment options failed to give rise to an inference that the defendants violated their ERISA obligations.