On October 11, 2022, the US Department of Treasury (Treasury) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations to modify how affordability under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is determined for an offer of coverage to a family member by an employer-sponsored group health plan, effective for the tax year beginning after December 31, 2022. By changing the affordability analysis to look at the total cost to cover family members—rather than the cost to only the employee—the new rule expands eligibility to receive premium tax credits (PTCs) in the ACA marketplace to an employee’s spouse and dependents.
IRS Announces 2023 Employee Benefit Plan Limits
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits on various employer-sponsored retirement and welfare plans and the Social Security wage base for 2023. The table below compares the applicable dollar limits for certain employee benefit programs and the Social Security wage base for 2022 and 2023.*RETIREMENT PLAN LIMITS (guidance link) 2022 Δ 2023 Annual compensation limit $305,000 ↑ $330,000 401(k), 403(b) & 457(b) before-tax contributions $20,500 ↑ $22,500 Catch-up contributions (if age 50 or older) $6,500 ↑ $7,500 Highly compensated employee threshold $135,000 ↑ $150,000 Key employee officer compensation threshold $200,000 ↑ $215,000 Defined benefit plan annual benefit and accrual limit $245,000 ↑ $265,000 Defined contribution plan annual contribution limit $61,000 ↑ $66,000 Employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) limit for determining the lengthening of the general five-year distribution period $245,000 ↑ $265,000 ESOP limit for determining the maximum account balance subject to the general five-year distribution period $1,230,000 ↑ $1,330,000 HEALTH AND WELFARE PLAN LIMITS (guidance links here and here) 2022 Δ 2023 Health Flexible Spending Accounts Maximum salary reduction limit $2,850 ↑ $3,050 Health FSA Carryover Limit $570 ↑ $610 Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts± If employee is married and filing a joint return or if the employee is a single parent $5,000 = $5,000 In employee is married but filing separately $2,500 = $2,500 Excepted Benefit Health Reimbursement Arrangements (EBHRAs) $1,800 ↑ $1,950± Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit and Qualified Parking (monthly limit) $280 ↑ $300 High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) HDHP – Maximum annual out-of-pocket limit (excluding premiums): Self-only coverage $7,050 ↑ $7,500 Family coverage $14,100 ↑ $15,000 HDHP – Minimum annual deductible: Self-only coverage $1,400 ↑ $1,500 Family coverage $2,800 ↑ $3,000 HSA – Annual contribution limit: Self-only coverage $3,650 ↑ $3,850 Family coverage $7,300 ↑ $7,750 Catch-up contributions (age 55 or older)± $1,000 ═ $1,000 SOCIAL SECURITY WAGE BASE (guidance link) 2022 Δ 2023 Social Security Maximum Taxable Earnings $147,000 ↑ $160,200
Plan sponsors should update payroll and plan administration systems for the 2023 cost-of-living adjustments and should incorporate the new limits in relevant participant communications, like open enrollment materials and summary plan descriptions.
For further information about applying the new employee benefit plan limits for 2023, contact your regular McDermott lawyer.
* The dollar limits are generally applied on a calendar year basis; however, certain dollar limits are applied on a plan-year, tax-year, or limitation-year basis.
± Not indexed for cost-of-living adjustments, with the exception of limited guidance issued for certain years.
IRS Announces Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Health and Welfare Plans
On October 18, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for certain account-based health and welfare plans (see Rev. Proc. 2022-38). The maximum salary reduction limit for a health flexible spending account (Health FSA) increased to $3,050 for 2023 (from $2,850 in 2022), and the Health FSA carryover limit for plans that have adopted that feature increased to $610 for 2023 (from $570 in 2022). In addition to these increases, the monthly limit for contributions to a qualified transportation fringe benefit and qualified parking program increased to $300 for 2023 (from $280 in 2022). The IRS previously announced (see our article here) cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for health savings accounts (HSAs), high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and excepted benefit health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) for 2023 for which we also saw substantial increases.
The Social Security Administration also recently announced that the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase to $160,200 for 2023 (from $147,000), resulting in a larger chunk of income being subject to the Social Security tax.
The IRS has yet to announce the 2023 cost-of-living adjustments for retirement plans.
These announcements are timely, if not late, given that many employers are already in the middle of open enrollment for 2023. Plan sponsors should act quickly to update payroll and plan administration, along with open enrollment communications, to account for the changes. For further information about applying the new employee benefit plan limits for 2023, contact one of the authors or your regular McDermott lawyer.
Homework and Deadlines Matter: New IRS Pre-Audit Compliance Program for Retirement Plans
Retirement plan sponsors should be aware of a new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) pilot program, which permits plan sponsors to conduct a pre-examination “check-up” of retirement plan administration before the IRS begins a plan examination. As part of the program, the IRS will send a letter notifying a plan sponsor that its retirement plan has been selected for an upcoming examination and give the plan sponsor 90 days to identify and voluntarily correct any compliance issues that may be self-corrected. Failure to respond by the 90-day deadline will result in an examination. Retirement plan sponsors who receive a pre-examination notice should immediately begin working with their lawyers and other advisors to determine the best way to respond to the IRS notice.
PRE-EXAMINATION PILOT PROGRAM
The IRS pre-examination compliance pilot program gives plan sponsors a chance to correct certain errors before an examination begins. If a plan sponsor identifies errors, then the plan sponsor may be able to self-correct using the procedures set forth in the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) program, and the plan sponsor may notify the IRS of its corrective actions. If mistakes are not eligible for self-correction, the plan sponsor may request a closing agreement. With a closing agreement under the pilot program, the IRS will apply the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) fee structure to determine the sanctions amount rather than the Audit CAP Program fees, which are unpredictable and typically higher. The IRS will review the plan sponsor’s corrective actions and determine whether it agrees that the plan sponsor appropriately corrected the mistakes. The IRS will then determine whether to issue a closing letter or to conduct a limited or full scope audit. The pilot program begins in June 2022.
It’s not clear what factors the IRS will consider when determining whether to conduct a limited or full scope audit following a plan sponsor’s response. However, it stands to reason that a plan sponsor’s efforts at good faith compliance with the correction requirements may serve to limit the scope because typically the IRS wishes to promote self-correction efforts. It’s also not clear whether the 90-day pre-examination period will apply to all retirement plan audits or only to those randomly selected to be part of the pilot program.
NEXT STEPS FOR PLAN SPONSORS
Plan sponsors who receive a pre-examination notice should immediately begin working with their lawyers and other advisors to determine the best ways to respond to the IRS notice. If you receive an initial letter or have questions about the IRS compliance and correction programs, please contact your McDermott lawyer or the authors listed below.
When Are Cryptocurrencies Appropriate Investments for Retirement Plans and IRAs?
The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance for the first time on the investment of retirement plan assets in cryptocurrencies. Compliance Assistance Release No. 2022-01 cautions 401(k) plan fiduciaries to “exercise extreme care” before allowing participants to invest plan assets in cryptocurrencies because cryptocurrencies “present significant risks and challenges to participants’ retirement accounts, including significant risks of fraud, theft, and loss.” In this Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal article, McDermott Partners Andrea S. Kramer and Brian J. Tiemann outline what retirement plan fiduciaries need to know about cryptocurrency investments in the current market.
The Fiduciary Duties of 457(b) Plans and How to Mitigate Potential Risks
Fiduciaries of 403(b), 401(a) and 457(b) retirement plans have come under increased scrutiny in recent years, in part due to participant lawsuits filed against plan sponsors and the resulting media attention. In this presentation with the 457 Consulting Group, McDermott Partner Todd Solomon discusses the fiduciary duties of plan sponsors and how to mitigate potential risks. The content in these slides applies to governmental 457(b) plans.
IRS Announces 2023 Limits for Health Savings Accounts, High-Deductible Health Plans and Excepted Benefit HRAs
Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced (See Revenue Procedure 2022-24) cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for health savings accounts (HSAs), high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and excepted benefit health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) for 2023. All of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2022 will change for 2023, with the exception of one limit. The HSA catch-up contribution for individuals ages 55 and older will not change as it is not subject to cost-of-living adjustments.
The table below compares the applicable dollar limits for HSAs, HDHPs and excepted benefit HRAs for 2022 and 2023.
Plan sponsors should update payroll and plan administration systems for the 2023 cost-of-living adjustments and incorporate the new limits in relevant participant communications, such as open enrollment and communication materials, plan documents and summary plan descriptions.
For further information about applying the new HSA, HDHP and excepted benefit HRA plan limits for 2023, please contact your regular McDermott lawyer or one of the authors below.
Cryptocurrency for Employee Benefits Lawyers: What You Need to Know
As the popularity of cryptocurrency continues to grow, what do employee benefits lawyers need to know about this emerging investment option? McDermott Partners Andrew Liazos, Andrea Kramer and Brian Tiemann recently offered their perspectives about cryptocurrencies and how they relate to Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and incentive awards in an American Bar Association virtual event.
Proposed IRS RMD Regulations Present Challenges, Risks for 403(b) Plans
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is strategically working to execute the statutory changes that were outlined by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) of 2019. However, the IRS’s efforts to streamline the required minimum distribution (RMD) requirements for Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 403(b) plans with Section 401(a) qualified plans, such as 401(k) plans, may have unforeseen challenges and risks.
A proposed rule was published on February 24, 2022, in the Federal Register. The preamble of the rule indicates that the IRS and US Department of the Treasury are considering changes to conform the treatment of Section 403(b) plans more closely with that of Section 401(a) qualified plans for RMDs. Section 403(b) plans are currently treated the same as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for purposes of applying the RMD rules. As a result, RMDs are not required to be automatically made from Section 403(b) plans like they are from Section 401(a) retirement plans. The IRS’s proposed rule would require any nonprofit organized under IRC Section 501(c)(3) (i.e., hospitals, public schools and churches) with retirement plans to make RMDs going forward.
Though the proposed rule presents the opportunity to simplify and align the treatment of Section 403(b) plans and Section 401(a) qualified plans, it poses administrative difficulties and potential conflicts with state law. Section 403(b) plans can be invested in a variety of funds, including annuity contracts—group and individual contracts—with insurance companies, custodial accounts or retirement income accounts for certain church workers. For individual annuity contracts, this could create a contractual issue. Employers are not a party to individual contracts between plan participants and investment firms, which would limit the ability of employers to compel RMDs. (Note that distributions could still be forced from group annuity contracts between employers and investment firms.) Regardless of the type of annuity contract, every contract will have to be reviewed to ensure it can comply with the proposed rule. To the extent any changes need to be made to these contracts, state-level approval may be required as insurance companies are governed by state law requirements.
In addition, the proposed rule does not take into consideration the effect of the prospective changes on Section 403(b) plans that are exempt from ERISA because of the safe harbor offered by the US Department of Labor (DOL) in 1979 (29 C.F.R. § 2510.3-2(f)). One of the conditions for meeting the safe harbor is that the employer involvement be limited to certain specific activities. If an employer is required to actively negotiate with insurance providers or choose a provider to administer the RMD requirement for participants, it might be violating this restriction and inadvertently subject its program to ERISA. The IRS and DOL will need to coordinate on the impact of this rule in such cases.
The IRS is taking this proposed rule under review and has asked for feedback specifically related to administrative concerns, notable differences in the structure or administration of Section 403(b) plans compared to qualified plans that might affect RMDs, and [...]
Cryptocurrency for Employee Benefits Lawyers: What You Need to Know
As cryptocurrencies gain popularity, employers are considering how they can be used as part of compensation arrangements and benefit plans to attract and retain talent. McDermott Partners Andrew Liazos, Andrea Kramer and Brian Tiemann recently offered their perspectives about cryptocurrency, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxation guidance of convertible virtual currencies and other cryptocurrency-related compensation issues in an American Bar Association virtual event.