• Posts by John F. Meisenhelder

    John Meisenhelder has extensive experience providing counsel to medium and large size companies (tax-exempt and for-profit) with respect to all employee benefits, executive compensation and privacy matters. John ...

Today, the DOL announced publication of a final rule that expands the ability of retirement plans to deliver participant disclosures online or via email by establishing a new, voluntary safe harbor that allows the use of electronic media as a default for participant disclosures. The final rule is in response to the previously reported October, 2019 proposed rule which allowed plan administrators to notify retirement plan participants that required disclosures, such as SPDs, will be posted on a website. Here are some key points of the final rule:

In Notice 2020-29 released on May 12, 2020, the IRS provides expanded options for participants with respect to 2020 mid-year election changes and also provides increased flexibility to apply unused amounts in health FSAs to medical care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020, and unused amounts in dependent care assistance programs to dependent care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.  Although the temporary relief under Notice 2020-29 was issued in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, the relief is not limited to individuals affected by the pandemic. Specifically:

On May 4, 2020, the IRS issued Q&As on the coronavirus-related distribution and loan provisions added by Section 2022 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). Section 2022 of the CARES Act (discussed in the March Monthly Minute) temporarily:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides broad-spectrum relief for participants and plan sponsors of qualified plans and expanded benefits for participants in group health plans including the following:

  • For defined contribution plans including 401(k) plans, the changes include expanded in-service distribution provisions up to $100,000, relief from early withdrawal penalty taxes, a temporary increase in 401(k) plan loan limits to $100,000, and relief from minimum required distributions for the remainder of 2020. The adoption of any optional provisions may require plan amendment. It appears amendments would not have to be adopted until at least December 31, 2022.
  • There are also special rules related to funding defined benefit plans.
  • There are several provisions that impact group health plan coverage requirements. 

The post below provides a summary of certain changes of particular interest to plan sponsors.

On May 23, 2019, the House approved the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (“SECURE Act”) by a vote of 417-3.  The SECURE Act generally provides for an increase in retirement savings and improves portability of lifetime income options between plans (Summary). More specifically, the SECURE Act includes provisions that:

  • Require 401(k) plans to offer participation to part-time employees who work at least 500 hours in three consecutive years;
  • Simplify the 401(k) safe harbor rules relating to the notice requirement and limits on plan amendments;
  • Increase ...

In another recent Revenue Procedure (Rev. Proc. 2019-19), the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (“EPCRS”) program was expanded to permit the correction of certain additional failures through the Self-Correction Program (“SCP”). Before this new ruling, the ability to use SCP was more limited The expanded EPCRS provides the following:

  • Plan sponsors can now self-correct certain loan defaults without having to report the failure as a deemed taxable distribution to the participant. A correction may be made by either reamortizing the outstanding loan balance or ...

In a recent Revenue Procedure (Rev. Proc. 2019-20), the IRS announced the limited expansion of the determination letter program for individually designed plans.  The program is limited to (1) certain cash balance plans and (2) retirement plans that merge as the result of a corporate transaction.  The window for determination letter submissions for eligible cash balance plans will run from September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020.  Submissions for merged plans will begin on September 1, 2019 and will be ongoing.

This opportunity is especially important for cash balance plans since the IRS ...

The U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) discovered that William H. Minor, a former board member of Rehabilitation Center for Children & Adults Inc. who also volunteered to manage its pension plan, embezzled approximately $2 million from the pension plan.  Minor operated Multi Financial Insurance Corp. an entity that provided investment advice and administrative services to pension plans. 

EBSA discovered that Minor moved the plan’s assets to a life insurance company with which Minor was a registered agent.  Minor then falsely ...

The Justice Department filed a letter in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 25, 2019 (Letter) supporting the decision of a Texas District Court ruling that the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) is unconstitutional.  In its ruling (Ruling), the District Court held the individual mandate under the ACA is unconstitutional given the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  The court further held that the remaining provisions of the ACA are also unconstitutional because those provisions cannot be severed from the individual mandate.  The Justice Department intends to file a ...

The IRS reversed its previous position that prohibited defined benefit plan sponsors from offering lump payments to terminated participants currently receiving annuity payments.  The IRS announced in Notice 2019-18 that until further guidance is issued it will not assert that a plan amendment providing for a retiree lump sum window program violates Section 401(a)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code.  The Notice also provides that the IRS will evaluate the plan amendment to ensure it satisfies the relevant provisions of the Code. 

Based on this latest development, it appears plan ...



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