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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. Access the article.

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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. Access the full article.

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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. City/County/State Citation Covered Employers Covered Employees Reimbursement Limit Berkeley, CA Berkeley Commuter Benefit Program Ordinance B.M.C. 9.88 (TRACCC) Berkeley employers with 10 or more employees, including those who work outside the geographic boundaries of Berkeley Any person who has performed an average of at least 10 hours of work per week...

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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. Access the full article.

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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. Access the full article.

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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. Access the full article.

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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. Access the full article.

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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. Access full article.

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Tax Reform Surprises and Strategies with the New 162(m) Rules

Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) previously limited the tax deduction to $1M annually for covered employee compensation paid by a company that is publicly traded, subject to some important exceptions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modified the reach of Code Section 162(m) in several significant ways. Expanding the number of companies to which Section 162(m) will apply, including non-public companies that register debt or equity securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission, like foreign companies publicly traded through American depositary receipts (ADRs); Expanding the number of covered employees to five and including the chief financial officer, with a provision that any covered employee after 2016 permanently remains a covered employee; Eliminating performance-based and commission-based exceptions to the $1M deduction limit; and Grandfathering certain compensation provided under a written and binding agreement in effect on November...

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