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.
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.
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 [...]
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.
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.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for various employer-sponsored retirement and welfare plans for 2022. Most of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2021 will increase.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for retirement plans for 2022. Most of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2021 will increase, with only the catch-up contribution limit remaining the same for 2022.
Missing participants and cybersecurity are among the top challenges for retirement plan advisors, according to participants at the National Association of Plan Advisors’ 2021 NAPA 401(k) Summit in Las Vegas. During the Summit’s opening day workshop session, McDermott Partner Erin Turley said advisors should make an effort to discuss cybersecurity with clients in advance of a US Department of Labor audit.
“The plan document says X, the recordkeeping agreement says Y, and maybe the (summary plan description) says something different—if it’s even addressed in the SPD,” Turley noted. “So make sure all those documents sync and your process actually matches your documents as equally.”
In Notice 2021-58, the Internal Revenue Service clarified that the one-year tolling relief periods for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) elections and initial premium payments run concurrently, not consecutively. This means that a qualified beneficiary generally will have only one year of total disregarded time for the election and initial payment periods.
What can employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) managers due to prepare an effective record in advance of a potential US Department of Labor or Internal Revenue Service investigation? McDermott Partner Allison Wilkerson presented on this topic during The ESOP Association‘s TEA National 2021 Conference.