Employee Benefits Update February/March 2020

This issue’s topics include:

IRS clarifies meaning of plan “contribution” for tax deduction purposes

When is an employer contribution to a retirement plan truly a contribution eligible for a tax deduction under ERISA Section 404(a)? Although this might seem like a rhetorical question, it was deemed worthy enough to warrant a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The IRS also addressed the matter in a chief counsel memorandum (CCM). This article discusses how the issue can arise when a plan sponsor does something more complicated than simply transfer corporate funds from its own bank account to that of the retirement plan trust in a straightforward manner. A short sidebar covers several examples from the CCM.
Don E. Williams Co. v. Commissioner, 429 U.S. 569 (1977); IRS CCM 201935011

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Now is the time for MEPs

DOL regulations liberalize commonality requirement
What are multiple employer plans (MEPs) and “open” MEPs? For sponsors of small defined contribution plans, now is the time to ask these questions, thanks to a liberalization of the Department of Labor (DOL) regulations governing MEPs that took effect last October. This article examines what MEPs are (open or otherwise), and what’s in it for plan sponsors.
29 C.F.R. 2510.3-55(c)(2)

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Including financial wellness in your retirement plan strategy

Many employees are paying a high price for their inadvertent ignorance about personal finance matters, studies are concluding. The price isn’t measured solely in bad investment or spending decisions, but also emotional and physical health, as well as in diminished job productivity. Employees’ understanding of their employer’s retirement plan, or lack thereof, is a critical piece of the puzzle. This article discusses how designing a retirement plan educational strategy without considering employees’ financial wellness could yield disappointing results.
29 C.F.R. 2510.3-55(c)(2)

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2019 vs. 2020 retirement plan limits

This chart contains updated retirement plan limits for 2020.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for February through April.

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Employee Benefits Update

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our Employee Benefit Plan Services, please feel free to contact me directly.

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The Secure Act: What Plan Sponsors Need to Know

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) became law in December 2019 and makes a number of changes that will affect plan sponsors. Many of these changes are effective immediately or within the next year. Here are some changes that plan sponsors need to know. We have attempted to keep this summary as brief as possible, so if you would like any more detail, please contact our team of Employee Benefit Plan experts here.

 

Reporting Penalties Related to Form 5500 Will Increase Under the New Tax Code

Applies to: All Plans

The previous IRS penalty for failing to file a required Form 5500 was $25 per day. Under the new tax code, this penalty increases to $250 per day, capped at $150,000 per year. Failure to file Form SSA adds a civil penalty of $10 per day per failure, capped at $50,000 per year. Failure to notify the IRS regarding important plan changes such as plan name or name or address of plan administrator comes with a penalty of $10 per day, capped at $10,000 per failure. Plan sponsors should review their reporting procedures in light of these increased penalties. These penalties will apply to tax returns due after December 31, 2019.

 

Minimum Required Distribution Age Increases to 72

Applies to: Qualified Plans, including 401(k) and 403(b) Plans

The current age at which retirees must begin drawing on their plan savings is currently 70 ½ . Under the SECURE Act, the new required age will be 72 starting in 2020. For participants who reached age 70 ½ in 2019, plans will still begin distributions by April 1 of 2020, and continue distributions for any participants who reached the required age in a previous year.

 

New Rules for Part-Time Employees

Applies to: 401(k) Plans Only

For plan years beginning after December 31, 2020, employers will be required to allow employees who work at least 500 hours per year for the last three consecutive years to make elective deferrals. The previous limit was 1,000 hours during a minimum of one year of service. This change will not take in to account any 12-month periods beginning before January 1, 2021, so the earliest a plan sponsor would be required to allow these contributions will be 2024.

 

QACA Auto Deferral Limit Increases to 15%

Applies to: 401(k) Plans Only

For plan years beginning after December 31, 2019, the automatic enrollment maximum default rate will increase from 10% to 15%. We recommend that plan sponsors begin planning now how to accommodate this change.

 

Lifetime Income Estimate Disclosures

Applies to: Defined Contribution Plans, including 403(b) Plans

The SECURE Act will require defined contribution plans to provide annual estimates of monthly payments a participant would receive if a qualified joint and survivor annuity or a single life annuity were elected. The DOL is expected to publish a model disclosure, and the plan sponsor’s disclosure requirement will go in to effect 12 months after the DOL publication date.

 

In-Service Distributions for Childbirth and Adoption

Applies to: Defined Contribution Plans, including 403(b) Plans

Defined Contribution plan sponsors may now amend their plans to allow for distributions of up to $5,000 upon the birth or adoption of a child. Distributions may be made after December 31, 2019 and must be made within one year of the birth or finalization of adoption.

 

IRS to Issue Guidance on 403(b) Plans

Applies to: 403(b) Plans Only

The SECURE Act has directed the IRS to issue guidance on the termination of 403(b) plans, allowing for distribution of assets in custodial accounts upon plan termination. The act also clarifies that retirement income accounts can cover certain employees of churches or church-controlled organizations.

 

Additional changes related to the SECURE Act include:

  • Rule Changes for Post-Death Distributions
  • In-Service Pension Distributions Permitted as Early as 59½
  • Nonelective Contribution Safe Harbor Plans Will Have Increased Flexibility
  • Access to Plan Loans Through a Credit Card Is Now Prohibited
  • Portability of Lifetime Income Annuities That Are Removed as Investment Options
  • Consolidated Form 5500 for Unrelated Employer Plans
  • Simplified Reporting Permitted for Small Multiple-Employer Plans
  • “One Bad Apple” Rule Eliminated for Multiple-Employer Plans
  • New Type of Multiple-Employer Plan: Pooled Employer Plan
  • Frozen Defined Benefit Plans Receive Automatic Nondiscrimination Relief
  • “Cadillac Tax” Repealed (Health & Welfare Plans)
  • “Health Insurance Tax” or “HIT” Repealed (Health & Welfare Plans)

 

If you are interested in more detail or have any questions about these changes, please contact our Employee Benefit Plan team here.

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Employee Benefits Update February/March 2018

This issue’s topics include:

Identity theft threat puts plan participants and sponsors at risk

News of commercial database hackings involving millions of people’s personal information seems commonplace. While many of these stories focus on bank and credit card accounts, many plan sponsors and participants don’t realize that 401(k) plan assets may be at risk — which can be a problem not only for participants, but sponsors as well. While no sponsor wants to see participants sustain financial hits, this article covers when, depending on how a cybertheft unfolds, sponsors could be left holding the bag. A sidebar offers tips for avoiding being a victim of fraud.

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Fiduciary rule’s tortured path to implementation

What this means for plan sponsors
Controversy, complicated legal wrangling and legislative maneuvering have been swirling around the Department of Labor’s “fiduciary rule” governing financial advice given to retirement plan participants. Delays, modifications, phased effective dates, and the involvement of the Securities and Exchange Commission have left confusion and headaches in their wake. This article briefly reviews what plan sponsors need to know.

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Tax cut law a mixed bag for retirement plan sponsors

Despite early indications that Congress was prepared to do much more, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was passed in December largely left retirement plans unscathed, save for changes pertaining to plan loans and IRA conversions. This article reviews areas that are affected, as well as what could be ahead.

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2017 vs. 2018 retirement plan limits

This chart contains updated retirement plan limits for 2018.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for February through April.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Employee Benefits Update: Year End 2017

This issue’s topics include:

Deciding what to do with orphaned 401(k) plan accounts

Sponsors of qualified retirement plans with orphan accounts need to consider whether such accounts are a problem. This article examines the state of orphan accounts and why the way plans charge administrative fees can help determine whether it’s beneficial to keep them in the plan. A short sidebar discusses the plan sponsor’s fiduciary duty to all plan participants, whether they’re active employees, former employees who have moved on to other jobs, retirees or beneficiaries.

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How high can you go?

Participants willing to accept higher default deferral rates

It’s generally accepted that a 3% deferral rate won’t get many employees where they need to be financially as they approach retirement. Most employees will need a figure closer to 10%, yet 3% has traditionally been the most common default deferral rate used by plans that auto-enroll participants. This article highlights why this is changing.

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Reimbursement road map for sponsor services

When retirement plan sponsors perform administrative services on behalf of the plan, they can be reimbursed by the plan for those services. This brief article examines why meticulous expense documentation is essential and reviews a recent case on the subject.

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Why adding a Roth 401(k) option could boost employee savings

A decade after they first became available, Roth 401(k) plans are now offered by many employers. Employees are also getting on board — particularly the younger ones — even without fully understanding how they work. This article looks at the pluses and minuses of Roth 401(k)s compared to traditional 401(k)s and Roth IRAs and reviews some data that highlights how employees are reacting to the Roth 401(k) option.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key year-end tax reporting deadlines.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Employee Benefits Update: October/November 2017

This issue’s topics include:

Staging a comeback

Stable value funds are back in the spotlight

It’s been awhile since stable value funds reigned as a top investment choice for 401(k) plan participants. Very low prevailing interest rates and a booming stock market have diminished their status. Although no one is predicting they’ll unseat target date funds as the top investment election for retirement investors, stable value funds have staged a bit of a comeback recently. This article explores just what’s behind the renewed interest.

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Are you going to file Form 5500 on time?

Play it safe and avoid penalties

Missing filing deadlines for Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, for retirement and health and welfare plans can be extremely costly. The best way to avoid trouble is to ensure that meeting filing deadlines never falls between the cracks. This article summarizes the penalties for delinquent filing of Form 5500 and whether plan sponsors can use the DOL’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program.

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Target date fund labels can obscure their investment strategy

The proliferation of target date fund (TDF) varieties can bewilder many plan sponsors. One survey found that, while 65% of plan sponsors consider investment performance the most important selection criterion when choosing a TDF, 54% aren’t confident about how to benchmark the TDFs against others in the marketplace. This article examines how to compare competing TDFs by segmenting them into logical categories.

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GAO report: Some plan designs may reduce retirement savings

Retirement plan sponsors have ways to limit their outlays for very young employees, and those that move to other employers soon after coming on board. The General Accountability Office (GAO) recently analyzed those plan design opportunities, and is sounding alarm bells. This short article highlights the GAO’s concerns that these options can reduce employees’ ultimate retirement savings potential.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for October and November.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Employee Benefits Update: August/September 2017

This issue’s topics include:

Voluntary Correction Program

How to correct 401(k) plan loan “failures”

“To err is human; to forgive is divine,” as the familiar saying goes. But the IRS will forgive errors involving 401(k) plan loans only when retirement plans use the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP). One of the biggest areas that trip up plan sponsors is plan loans. This article summarizes the three primary “failures” involving plan loans that require an IRS remedy: loan defaults, loans exceeding prescribed loan limits, and loan terms that exceed repayment limits. A brief sidebar reviews the accounting implications of loan defaults.

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Making age a factor in choosing QDIA options

Target date funds (TDFs), the most popular 401(k) qualified default investment alternative, were designed to meet the investment needs of typical plan participants, no matter what their age. The theory is that employees can essentially “set it and forget it,” as TDF portfolios are automatically adjusted from aggressive to more conservative as employees approach and proceed through retirement. That theory, however, has been challenged by research pointing to participants’ failure to use TDFs as intended. This article examines why this is, and what employee benefit plans can do about it.

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Active vs. passive investment funds: Should you let participants decide?

According to a report from Casey Quirk by Deloitte and McLagan, 72% of money invested into funds went into passive funds in 2015. While some may see this as a strong case for passive investing, the issue for plan sponsors isn’t clear-cut. This article summarizes recent data on the trend and whether passive or active funds are right for participants.

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Consider your options with nonvested participant forfeitures

Employee benefit plans provide a combination of vested and nonvested assets. When employees leave a company before their matching 401(k) contributions have vested, they forfeit those amounts. This brief article reviews the options available to plan sponsors when dealing with these assets.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for September.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

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Employee Benefits Update: June/July 2017

This issue’s topics include:

Is a safe harbor plan the right move?

This alternate approach can save headaches, but at a price
Many qualified retirement plan sponsors worry each year about whether their highly compensated employees will have “excess” salary deferrals returned to them because the plan failed the actual deferral percentage / actual contribution percentage (ADP/ACP) discrimination tests. Most small plan sponsors take advantage of “safe harbor” rules that, nearly always, eliminate the need to worry about passing these tests. This article looks at the pros and cons of this approach.

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Avoid litigation with attention to common red flags

Any size retirement plan can run into serious trouble when sponsors aren’t careful. With some planning, though, a qualified retirement plan doesn’t have to be the target of ERISA litigation. This article reviews some of the most common red flags leading to litigation and reminds plan sponsors of the importance of regularly reviewing fees and expenses.

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Employees who are approaching retirement age may be unaware of their required minimum distribution (RMD) obligations, which begin at age 70½ for both individual

Helping soon-to-be retirees understand RMD rules

IRAs and 401(k)s. This article summarizes what they need to know for financial and tax-planning purposes.

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IRS simplifies process for avoiding rollover penalties

The IRS has made it a lot easier for retirement plan participants (and IRA owners) to avoid penalties when they botch a rollover. This brief article discusses new IRS Revenue Procedure 2016-47, which allows participants to “self-certify” valid reasons to the receiving financial institution.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for April and May.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Employee Benefits Update: April/May 2017

This issue’s topics include:

Understanding IRS determination letter program changes
How changes affect individually designed retirement plans

Since the beginning of the year, sponsors of individually designed retirement plans generally have no longer been able to receive a periodic official regulatory compliance seal of approval from the IRS in the form of a routine determination letter. While this has been a source of concern to many plan sponsors and their advocates, options remain. This article summarizes the reasons for the change, the option of a mass-submitter plan and possible problems brought on by the change. A sidebar reviews some of the industry concerns about the change.

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The uncertain future of Form 5500
Will compliance burden increase?

January 1, 2019, might seem like a long way off, but to critics of the Department of Labor’s proposed overhaul of Form 5500, it’s right around the corner. That’s because proposals will require setting up systems to collect and report detailed data. This article reviews the proposal’s rationale, as well as industry concerns.

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Be prepared for your next — or first — QDRO

Domestic relations orders entitle an “alternate payee” to a portion of a participant’s retirement benefits. However, it’s up to the plan sponsor or administrator to determine whether the order is qualified, making it a qualified domestic relations order. The article discusses common errors that plan sponsors encounter when qualifying a domestic relations order and how to handle the rejection of an order.

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When is it best to claim Social Security?
Online “claiming strategy” tools to help your employees

Employees’ retirement timing decisions will depend on a variety of factors, including their accumulated vested assets in an employee benefit plan. Another key variable is Social Security. But the Social Security benefit “claiming strategy” that’s best for them isn’t always easy to determine. This brief article highlights online Social Security benefit calculators that can help.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for April and May.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Tax Update: February 2017

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit; and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest federal, state, and international tax news. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Border Adjusted Tax proposals may impact exporters and importers
A new destination-based tax regime may be part of comprehensive tax overhaul, but details remain unclear.
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New revenue recognition guidance is looming
Even though the tax rules have not changed, a change in book recognition could create a change in the tax method of accounting.
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Employee stock ownership from three perspectives (video)
Employee stock ownership plans can be attractive to business owners, employees and companies overall. Anne Bushman discusses the benefits.
Watch now

Final rules require 5472s from foreign-owned disregarded entities
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Capitol Hill

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
http://rsmus.com/our-insights/newsletters/tax-digest.html

Disclaimer

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please contact us directly.

Employee Benefits Update: February/March 2017

This issue’s topics include:

Get your fiduciary house in order
DOL’s newest regulations require plan sponsor action

The majority of the U.S. Department of Labor’s complex regulations mandating fiduciary status for individuals dealing with retirement investment decision-making involve investment advisors. But the regulations, which are scheduled to take effect on April 10, 2017, also require plan sponsors to take certain steps. Remember, plan sponsors are always the fiduciary, and the regulations expand the definition of fiduciary status. A sidebar discusses the distinction between investment education and investment recommendations or advice.

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Who’s to blame?
Court equitably apportions fiduciary misdeeds

When a fiduciary breach occurs, some fiduciaries may be more culpable than others. And when that’s the case, the court can order those parties to indemnify other fiduciaries who were, despite their technical status as fiduciaries, without blame. This article summarizes a recent case of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit where the court equitably apportioned relief in a fiduciary duty setting.

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Hardship withdrawal programs require strict administration

While not required, most 401(k) plans offer a hardship withdrawal option. The IRS recently updated its guidance on how plan sponsors can remedy errors in the administration of hardship withdrawals. This article highlights the basics of hardship withdrawals and how to correct mistakes when administering a hardship withdrawal program.

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2016 vs. 2017 retirement plan limits

This chart contains updated retirement plan limits for 2017.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for February through April.

Read More

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

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