In a presentation at McDermott’s Employment and Employee Benefits Forum, Jeffrey Holdvogt discussed qualified plans, including student loan repayment benefits and the rise of DOL/IRS/PBGC plan activity. He also commented on the scrutiny on plan governance and fiduciary process materials. He addressed the legal challenges and mandates, such as state laws protecting against balance billing by out-of-network providers.
As part of its comprehensive 2017 tax reform bill, Congress repealed deductions for Qualified Transportation Fringes including for employer-provided parking, while also requiring that tax-exempt organizations increase their unrelated business taxable income by the nondeductible parking expenses. Recently released IRS Notice 2018-99 addresses some of the year-end tax filing and tax planning concerns for affected employers with rules of special interest to tax-exempt employers.
The IRS recently released Notice 2018-95 to provide transition relief to 403(b) plan sponsors that improperly excluded part-time employees from making elective deferrals under their plans. Employers must begin to operate the part-time employee exclusion under their 403(b) plans correctly for the plan year immediately following the transition relief period, which will mean as soon as January 1, 2019 for many 403(b) plan sponsors. In addition, going forward, many employers will need to amend their 403(b) plans to properly reflect the conditions that must be satisfied to exclude part-time employees from 403(b) plan participation.
The IRS recently issued proposed amendments to regulations concerning 401(k) plan hardship distributions. The proposed regulations address changes to hardship distribution rules from the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and other legislation.
Though the regulations are only proposed, 401(k) plan sponsors should promptly consider these changes because decisions should be made on applying certain optional changes, which generally can be effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2018.
Yesterday, November 15, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) increased the annual maximum salary reduction limit for contributions to a health flexible spending account to $2,700. The 2019 contribution limit was published in Rev. Proc. 2018-57. The 2018 contribution limit was $2,650, resulting in an increase of $50 for 2019. An employer may use the increased limit for both health flexible spending accounts and limited purposed health flexible spending accounts that it maintains for its employees.
One of the busiest times of year for an employee benefits professional is open enrollment. It is a crucial and yet stressful time of year that typically results in numerous employee questions and complaints and is a time of year with high potential for both employer and employee mistakes. Despite the stress and potential for problems, open enrollment provides an opportunity for a company to set itself up for success for the following year.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) does not require an annual opportunity for employees to change benefit plan elections. However, because of compliance issues that can spring from not offering a regular enrollment period, most companies choose to offer an “open enrollment” period, usually taking place in mid- to late fall for calendar-year health and welfare benefit plans.
Employee attention to employer communications during this period is often high, and attention to detail in participant communications behooves an employer during this period. Well-written and timely notices may be relied upon to satisfy many compliance obligations. Inaccurate or incomplete open enrollment materials, however, can create employee confusion and result in legal liability under the complex network of federal laws governing employer-sponsored benefit programs.
Read the full article here for a sampling of key issues to consider to help you avoid compliance missteps during this year’s open enrollment period.
Originally published in BenefitsPRO.com, October 2018.
Recently 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 2019. The table below compares the applicable dollar limits for certain employee benefit programs and the Social Security wage base for 2018 and 2019.*
UPDATE: On Thursday, November 11, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service announced that, for calendar year 2019, the annual maximum salary reduction limit for contributions to a health flexible spending account was increased by $50 to $2,700.
|RETIREMENT PLAN LIMITS||2018||2019|
|Annual compensation limit||$275,000||$280,000|
|401(k), 403(b) & 457(b) before-tax contributions||$18,500||$19,000|
|Catch-up contributions (if age 50 or older)||$6,000||$6,000|
|Highly compensated employee threshold||$120,000||$125,000|
|Key employee officer compensation threshold||$175,000||$180,000|
|Defined benefit plan annual benefit and accrual limit||$220,000||$225,000|
|Defined contribution plan annual contribution limit||$55,000||$56,000|
|Employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) limit for determining the lengthening of the general five-year distribution period||$220,000||$225,000|
|ESOP limit for determining the maximum account balance subject to the general five-year distribution period||$1,105,000||$1,130,000|
|HEALTH AND WELFARE PLAN LIMITS|
|Health Flexible Spending Accounts|
|Maximum salary reduction limit||$2,650||$2,700|
|High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA)|
|HDHP – Maximum annual out-of-pocket limit (excluding premiums):|
|HDHP – Minimum annual deductible:|
|HSA – Annual contribution limit:|
|Catch-up contributions (age 55 or older)||$1,000||$1,000|
|SOCIAL SECURITY WAGE BASE|
|Social Security Maximum Taxable Earnings (dollars)||$128,400||$132,900|
Plan sponsors should update payroll and plan administration systems for the 2019 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 2019, 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.
Join us Friday, November 2 for our monthly Fridays with Benefits webinar. With 2019 right around the corner, now is the time to dust off your year-end checklist and take stock of changes we have seen in 2018, and how they project to impact planning for the new year. Join us for an interactive discussion designed to draw attention to the key employee benefits issues you should tackle before New Year’s Eve. Our lively 45-minute discussion will include a tax reform update, an overview of retirement plan disaster relief, responding to new disability regulations from the DOL, and how to implement final regulations on QNECs and QMACs.
Friday, November 2, 2018
10:00 – 10:45 am PDT
11:00 – 11:45 am MDT
12:00 – 12:45 pm CDT
1:00 – 1:45 pm EDT
During the Tax in the City event held in Dallas, Erin Turley and Allison Wilkerson gave an overview of benefit plan audits and the IRS examination process. They discussed various areas of focus, including, required minimum distributions, investment issues, benefit calculations and appropriate tax reporting. They provided attendees with best practices before an audit, as well as helpful resources from the IRS and DOL.
Late last month, the IRS released the latest version of its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, the IRS’s program for correcting retirement plan errors. The newest version of the correction program—effective beginning in 2019—includes mostly minor changes and clarifications. Most importantly, however, it requires electronic filing of Voluntary Correction Program submissions beginning April 1, 2019.