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Updated PBGC Guidance for Defined Benefit Plans

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.

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Coronavirus National Emergency Declaration Permits Employers to Offer Tax-Favored Financial Assistance to Employees

On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the “Declaration”) due to extraordinary circumstances resulting from Coronavirus. This Declaration opens up new methods for employers to provide tax-favored financial assistance to employees who are affected, directly or indirectly, by the virus.

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Summary of Commuter Benefit Laws (Current as of Feb. 3, 2020)

An increasing number of jurisdictions around the country, including parts of California, New Jersey and Washington, DC, are mandating that employers provide commuter benefit programs that allow employees to pay for commuting costs on a pre-tax basis. While the requirements are similar across most jurisdictions, there are specific rules for which employees are covered under the different laws and other key distinctions. When budgeting and developing these programs, employers should be mindful of the different conditions under state and local law to ensure that commuter benefits meet all applicable requirements.

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Up, Up and Away: 2020 Increased Penalties for Employee Benefit Plans

For 2020, legislation enacted in December of 2019 dramatically increases penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) for late filing of certain employee benefit plan notices and reports. In addition, a final rule published by the Department of Labor (DOL) makes inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties. Learn the penalty amounts that apply beginning in 2020.

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DOL Issues New Proposed Rule for Electronic Disclosures of Retirement Plan Notices

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule that, if finalized, would expand its existing guidance and liberalize rules for electronic disclosure of retirement plan notices under ERISA. The proposed rule, which sets forth a notice and access safe harbor, would permit electronic disclosure as the default method of delivery while permitting participants to opt out and continue to receive paper disclosures.

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IRS Opens the Door to Lump Sum Payment Windows for Retirees in Pay Status

Due to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) change in course published in Notice 2019-18, plan sponsors may now offer retirees lump-sum windows as another pension “de-risking” option. Plan sponsors considering pension de-risking opportunities and options should carefully evaluate the potential benefits and risks of a retiree lump-sum window.

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Top Takeaways for Tax-Exempts from IRS Guidance on Executive Compensation

One of the more controversial and complex provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been the 21 percent excise tax on certain nonprofit executive compensation. On December 31, 2018, the IRS issued interim guidance that addresses how this tax will apply in various situations that commonly arise for tax-exempt employers. Establishing internal systems to comply with this guidance will be challenging.

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IRS Releases FAQs on Paid Family and Medical Leave Credit

The IRS released guidance in April on the new credit for paid family and medical leave. In FAQ form, this guidance helps employers gauge whether their current policies are sufficient, or whether implementation of conforming paid leave policies may be necessary.

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DOL Less Likely to Appeal Fifth Circuit Ruling Vacating Expansion of Fiduciary Rule in Light of Recent SEC Guidance

In a recent 2-1 decision, the Fifth Court vacated the US Department of Labor’s controversial expansion of the ERISA fiduciary regulations (the New Fiduciary Rule). If the DOL does not seek a rehearing, the Fifth Circuit will enter a mandate revoking the New Fiduciary Rule nationwide. However, given recent fiduciary regulations proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the DOL may be less likely to appeal the ruling and no longer seek to enforce the New Fiduciary Rule.

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