Cash Balance Plans
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COVID-19 — Tax Planning Opportunity for Defined Benefit Participants?

Much has been written about the new CARES Act distribution that allows impacted COVID-19 participants to access up to $100,000 in their tax-qualified defined contribution plan penalty-free and with income taxes spread over three years. However, the CARES Act legislation applies to all “eligible retirement plans” as defined in Code Section 402. So technically the CARES Act also applies to defined benefit plans.

Consider, the following examples.

  • A cash balance plan permits lump sum distributions to terminated participants. If this cash balance plan decides to add CARES Act distributions, and if its record keeper will administer the provisions, terminated participants who meet the CARES Act conditions can access their funds penalty-free and spread the income tax consequences over three years.
  • In addition, if a plan will offer a lump sum window during 2020, then participants who qualify under the CARES Act distribution rules could elect a lump sum and use the favorable tax treatment for the applicable portion of the distribution, up to $100,000.

Note that the $100,000 limit applies across all plans, so a participant in both a defined contribution plan and a defined benefit plan will need to ensure that the limit is applied to all plans in which he or she participates.

Given all the difficulties that both employees and retirees are experiencing with COVID-19, a plan sponsor may want to explore all available COVID-19 distributions under the CARES Act, including options for its defined benefit plan with its actuaries, record keepers, and attorneys.




Understanding Which Deadlines Are Extended by the Recent IRS Guidance for Hybrid Plans

by Joseph S. Adams, Anne S. Becker and Stephen Pavlick

In October 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2011-85 (Notice), announcing their intent to extend certain requirements applicable to hybrid pension plans such as cash balance plans.  Given the highly technical nature of cash balance plans and the related government guidance, it is important to carefully understand the scope of the relief.  In a separate matter affecting cash balance plans, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation also recently published a proposed rule on terminating cash balance and hybrid plans.  The proposed rule is intended to implement changes made by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Comments on the proposed rule are due December 30, 2011. 

Please click here for more information on this recent guidance.




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