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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.




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.

Access the article.




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.

Access the slides.




New IRS Guidance for Tax-Qualified Pension Plans with Rehired Retirees Due to COVID-19

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently updated its guidance for retiree distributions under a defined benefit plan. Specifically, the new IRS guidance addresses rehires following a bona fide retirement due to COVID-19.

As a background, a defined benefit plan may make distributions to a retiree only in the case of a “bona fide retirement,” which is a facts and circumstances analysis. In prior rulings, the IRS indicated that retiree distributions without a bona fide retirement can cause a defined benefit plan to lose its tax-qualified status, where both all contributions and earnings become immediately taxable.

According to the IRS, a rehire due to COVID-19-related “unforeseen circumstances” generally would not disqualify an individual’s prior retirement from being considered a bona fide retirement under a defined benefit plan. However, the IRS cautioned that such a rehire cannot include any prearrangement to rehire the individual prior to the individual’s retirement. Such a prearrangement still yields a retirement that is not “bona fide.”

Finally, although the IRS issued this guidance in question and answer format primarily for defined benefit plans, plan sponsors should be able to apply the same rationale to distributions from defined contribution plans. In short, the new IRS guidance provides welcome relief to plan sponsors and employers who are looking to rehire retirees in a tight job market.




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