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Posts Tagged ‘DOL’

Will the proposed overtime pay changes affect your retirement plan compensation?

July 30th, 2015 No comments

Smith-SuzanneThe Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule on July 6, 2015, that would change who qualifies for overtime pay.

Today, only 8% of salaried workers qualify for overtime pay ─ those workers who earn less than $23,660. The proposed rule will extend overtime pay to salaried workers who earn less than about $50,440 next year. The proposed change is estimated to cover 4.6 million workers, more than the current regulations.

What does this mean for the retirement plans of employers who will be affected by this proposed rule?

While many employers use gross compensation or total pay for retirement plan purposes, some employers provide retirement benefits only on base pay, excluding additional pay such as overtime, bonuses, or premiums for shift differentials.

Generally, excluding overtime pay for retirement plan purposes is okay if the plan’s definition of compensation passes nondiscrimination testing.

Nondiscrimination testing on compensation is done by comparing the average includible compensation for highly compensated employees (HCEs) to the average includible compensation for non-highly compensated employees (NHCEs). If the HCE average percentage exceeds the NHCE average percentage by more than a de minimis amount, the plan will fail the test. A de minimis amount is generally thought to be no more than 3%, but there is no formal guidance so plan counsel should be involved.

2015 Example: Plan excludes overtime pay and bonuses from plan compensation.

HCE Average Includible Compensation 95%
NHCE Average Includible Compensation 93%
PASS

Because the HCE average inclusion percentage exceeds the NHCE average inclusion percentage by no more than 3%, the plan passes the test.

But what happens next year if many of the NHCE participants are suddenly eligible for overtime pay? The increase in excludable overtime pay will cause the NHCE inclusion ratio to drop, and the disparity between HCE and NHCE includible compensation will exceed 3%– and thus fail the test.

2016 Example: Plan excludes overtime pay and bonuses from plan compensation.

HCE Includible Compensation 95%
NHCE Includible Compensation 86%
FAIL

Because the HCE average inclusion percentage exceeds the NHCE average inclusion percentage by more than 3%, the plan fails the test.

Failed testing is never good. More complex testing would have to be done, and the plan may have to take corrective action if the complex testing doesn’t pass.

Employers with salaried workers who would qualify for overtime under the proposed changes will want to check their retirement plan compensation definition and keep an eye on what happens with the proposed overtime regulations.

Interested parties can submit comments on the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov (RIN: 1235-AA11) on or before September 4, 2015. The department is expected to make a final rule next year.

Regulatory roundup

July 28th, 2015 No comments

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

IRS announces changes to determination letter program for qualified retirement plans
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued Announcement 2015-19, describing important changes to the determination letter program for qualified retirement plans.

The changes outlined will eliminate the staggered 5-year determination letter remedial amendment cycles for individually designed plans and will limit the scope of the determination letter program for individually designed plans to initial plan qualification and qualification upon plan termination. The announcement also provides a transition rule with respect to the remedial amendment period for certain plans currently on the 5-year cycle.

The IRS is requesting comments on specific issues relating to the implementation of these changes to the determination letter program.

To read the entire announcement, click here.

PBGC issues proposed rule to amend annual financial-actuarial information reporting
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is proposing to amend its regulation on annual financial and actuarial information reporting to codify provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Highway Transportation and Funding Act of 2014 (HATFA-14) and related guidance that affect reporting under ERISA section 4010.

PBGC is proposing to limit the reporting waiver under the current regulation tied to aggregate plan underfunding of $15 million or less to smaller plans and to add reporting waivers for plans that must file solely on the basis of either a statutory lien resulting from missed contributions over $1 million or outstanding minimum funding waivers exceeding the same amount (provided the missed contributions or funding waivers were previously reported to PBGC). The proposed rule also makes some technical changes.

To read the entire proposed rule, click here.

IRS updates guidance and FAQs for pre-approved retirement plan
The IRS has updated its guidance and frequently asked questions (FAQs) for employers adopting pre-approved retirement plans. The guidance and FAQs were updated after the Service issued:

• Rev. Proc. 2015–36, which sets forth the procedures for issuing opinion and advisory letters regarding the acceptability under §§ 401, 403(a), and 4975(e)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) of the form of pre-approved plans (that is, master and prototype and volume submitter plans)

• Announcement 2015-16, on the issuance of opinion and advisory letters for pre-approved defined contribution plans for the second six-year cycle, deadline for employer adoption, and opening of determination letter program for pre-approved plan adopters.

To read the FAQs, click here.

The guidance is available at the following links:

Types of pre-approved retirement plans

Deadline extended for pre-approved defined benefit plans

Preapproved plan submission procedures

DOL web page houses comment letters related to conflicts of interest rule
The Department of Labor (DOL) has a web page containing submitted comment letters on the fiduciary definition, conflicts of interest rule, which was re-proposed on April 14, 2015. The comment period closed on July 21, 2015.

To read the comment, click here.

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Regulatory roundup

July 20th, 2015 No comments

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

IRS releases Revenue Procedure concerning pre-approved plans
The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2015-36, providing procedures of the Internal Revenue Service for issuing opinion and advisory letters regarding the acceptability under §§ 401, 403(a), and 4975(e)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) of the form of pre-approved plans (that is, master and prototype (M&P) and volume submitter (VS) plans).

To read the IRS’ official statement, click here.

DOL releases Field Assistance Bulletin related to defined contribution plans
The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2015-02, Selection and Monitoring under the Annuity Selection Safe Harbor Regulation for Defined Contribution Plans. The FAB provides clarification of plan sponsors’ fiduciary obligations concerning annuity product selection for defined contribution plans.

The purpose of the FAB is to provide guidance regarding these issues, including the application of ERISA’s statute of limitations to claims relating to annuity selection, and assist the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s national and regional offices in responding to questions from employers and other interested parties.

To read the entire FAB, click here.

JCT issues present law and background information on federal excise taxes
The Joint Committee on Taxation released the report entitled “Present law and background information on federal excise taxes” (JCT Report JCX-99-15). The document provides a description of present-law federal excise taxes, and when applicable, background information on trust funds financed with excise tax revenues.

The document contains information on excise taxes relating to employee pension and benefit plans and excise taxes related to healthcare.

To entire report can be downloaded here.

DOL provides flexibility in timing of annual defined contribution plan disclosures

May 15th, 2015 No comments

Sponsors of 401(k) and other participant-directed defined contribution retirement plans will have more flexibility in the timing of providing annual plan and investment disclosures to participants, under a direct final rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Instead of disclosing the required information “at least annually,” which the agency had interpreted to mean no more than 365 days after the sponsor provided the prior annual disclosure, sponsors will have up to 14 months to do so. The modification will require disclosures to be made “at least once in any 14-month period, without regard to whether the plan operates on a calendar year or fiscal year basis.”

The change to the timing requirement will ease the administrative burdens faced by many plan sponsors and administrators.

The flexibility provided by the direct final rule is slated to be effective June 17, 2015, and will apply to disclosures made on or after that date, unless the DOL withdraws the rule before then, which would be due to adverse comments received.

The DOL’s direct final rule also announces an immediate, temporary enforcement policy (until June 17), so that plan sponsors and administrators may take advantage of the two-month grace period before the June 17 effective date, as long as they reasonably determine that doing so will benefit participants and beneficiaries. The relief granted by the enforcement policy is in addition to the one-time, 18-month “re-set” opportunity provided by the DOL’s Field Assistance Bulletin 2013-02.

For more information about the DOL’s direct final rule or a related proposed rule, please contact your Milliman consultant.

DOL proposes new “conflict of interest” fiduciary rule

May 11th, 2015 No comments

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a definition of “fiduciary” that covers individuals who provide investment advice or recommendations for a fee to ERISA-covered and non-ERISA plans and participants (and IRA owners). The proposed rule aims to reduce conflicts of interest that may arise when investment advisers make recommendations that favor their own financial well-being over a client’s best interest. The proposal is the DOL’s second attempt at addressing this concern, having withdrawn a 2010 proposed rule that came under heavy criticism.

This Client Action Bulletin provides an overview of the DOL’s proposed rule and related proposed prohibited transaction exemptions (PTEs) as they apply to plan sponsors and participants (and does not cover the requirements relating to advice given to IRA owners). Although the proposed rule focuses on the defined contribution retirement plan arena, it also has implications for defined benefit plan sponsors and their advisers. In addition, the proposed rule affects a broad range of individual account plans (e.g., 403[b] arrangements), including, potentially, non-retirement programs such as health savings accounts.

Regulatory roundup

May 4th, 2015 No comments

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

IRS provides guidance on changes to the EP determination process
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has made changes to the determination letter program for retirement plans. The revised procedures generally apply to Form 5300 series determination letter applications received after February 1, 2015. These changes will improve the program’s efficiency and consistency.

For more information, click here.

ERISA to address pension risk transfers and plan sponsor education and lifetime plan participation
The ERISA Advisory Council has issued two statements:

• Statement on model notices and pension risk transfers
The 2015 council will supplement the work of the 2013 council by focusing specifically on the information that participants need to make informed decisions when faced with lump-sum risk transfers and insurance annuity risk transfers, and best practices for plan sponsors in communicating that information. The goal of the 2015 council is to offer the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) draft model notices and disclosures that can be used by plan sponsors, participants, and the public.

For more information, click here.

• Statement on model notices and plan sponsor education and lifetime plan participation
The council would like to hear recommendations related to the drafting of model notices concerning lifetime participation in ERISA plans. The council would welcome witnesses and others to submit examples of model notices or other communications, including documents that are currently being delivered to participants. The council would like to hear recommendations related to outreach materials the DOL can provide to plan sponsors on the topic of innovative plan features that may encourage lifetime participation. The council requests testimony as it relates to data security issues.

For more information, click here.

IRS issues correction concerning the failure to comply with Section 409A
The IRS’s chief counsel has issued Memorandum 201518013 regarding the correction of a failure to comply with Section 409A. To read the entire memo, click here.

Categories: Benefit News Tags: , , ,

Regulatory roundup

April 20th, 2015 No comments

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

DOL issues proposed fiduciary rule
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a proposed rule that will protect 401(k) and IRA investors by mitigating the effect of conflicts of interest in the retirement investment marketplace. Under the proposals, retirement advisers will be required to put their clients’ best interests before their own profits. Those who wish to receive payments from companies selling products they recommend and forms of compensation that create conflicts of interest will need to rely on one of several proposed prohibited transaction exemptions.

To read the entire proposed rule, click here.

Bureau of Labor Statistics: A look at today’s pension equity plans
Among the changes in pension plans tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) since the late 1970s are different formulas for calculating benefits. One of those formula types is the pension equity plan (PEP). These plans were first identified by BLS private industry surveys conducted in the late 1990s; today, they make up a small share of all pension plans. The latest issue of BLS’s Beyond the Numbers examines the concept behind pension equity plans and looks at some unique features of these plans.

To read the latest issue, click here.

FASB issues accounting standards update on employer’s defined benefit obligation and assets
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued a new accounting standards update, “Practical expedient for the measurement date of an employer’s defined benefit obligation and plan assets.” The update gives companies “practical expedient” to decide fair value measurement dates for plan benefits when there is a mismatch in timing.

The amendments are effective for public business entities for financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2015, and interim periods within those fiscal years. For all other entities, the amendments in this update are effective for financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2016, and interim periods within fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017. Earlier application is permitted. The amendments in this update should be applied prospectively.

To read the entire update, click here.

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Regulatory roundup

March 23rd, 2015 No comments

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

DOL rules on timing of annual disclosures for participant-directed account plans
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a direct final rule and a companion proposed rule on the timing of annual disclosures that affect fiduciary requirements for disclosure in participant-directed account plans. The direct final rule amends the DOL’s participant-level fee disclosure regulation by making a technical adjustment to a timing requirement of the current regulation. It amends the definition of the term “at least annual thereafter” and substitutes the term “14-month period” for the term “12-month period.” The amendment provides plan administrators with flexibility as to when they must furnish annual disclosures.

The accompanying proposed rule would make the technical amendment necessary to implement the direct final rule’s annual timing requirement. If the DOL receives no significant adverse comments during the 90-day comment period, the direct final rule will go into effect without the agency taking further action. But if it receives significant adverse public comment, the direct final rule will be withdrawn.

To read the entire direct final rule, click here.
To read the entire proposed rule, click here.
Also, for a fact sheet, click here.

IRS extends temporary nondiscrimination relief for closed defined benefit plans
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently published Notice 2015-28, extending the temporary nondiscrimination relief provided in Notice 2014-5 for an additional year. The new guidance applies relief to defined benefit plan years beginning before 2017 if the conditions of Notice 2014-5 are satisfied. During the period for which this extension applies, the remaining provisions of the nondiscrimination regulations under § 401(a)(4), including the rules relating to the timing of plan amendments under § 1.401(a)(4)-(5), continue to apply.

To read Notice 2015-28, click here.

Joint Committee on Taxation issues explanation of tax legislation enacted in the 113th Congress
Twelve tax bills passed the 113th Congress and were signed by the president—including several that have an impact on retirement savings—according to a Joint Committee on Taxation report detailing each piece of legislation.

Read the entire report here.

Regulatory roundup

March 16th, 2015 No comments

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

OMB approves PBGC 2015 premium filing instructions
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved 2015 premium filing instructions. The My Plan Administration Account (My PAA) website of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has been updated and is now ready to accept electronic premium fillings for plan years beginning in 2015.

For more information, click here.

IRS updates 403(b) listing of required modifications package
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has updated its Section 403(b) plan listing of required modifications (LRM). Also updated was a marked-up version showing changes to the 403(b) plan LRM from 2013. The package contains sample plan provisions that satisfy certain specific Internal Revenue Code requirements applicable to Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) plans.

For the 403(b) plan LRM and information package (3-2015), click here. For the marked-up version showing changes to the 403(b) plan LRM (3-2013, revised 3-2015), click here.

Senate finance letter addresses affordable retirement advice
Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) led a group of eight Republicans on the U.S. Senate Labor Committee in a letter recently cautioning OMB Director Shaun Donovan on the potential negative impact of approving the proposed rule of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to redefine and expand the term “fiduciary” if the current proposal has not changed significantly from the proposal the DOL offered in 2010.

To read the entire letter, click here.

PBGC study: Multiemployer guarantee
The PBGC has published a new study entitled “Multiemployer guarantee.” The study found that more than half of the people in terminated multiemployer plans running out of money in the near future face a reduction in benefits under current PBGC guarantees. This compares to 20% of workers and retirees who saw reduced benefits under plans that have already run out of money and are relying on PBGC financial assistance.

To download the entire study, click here.

Regulatory roundup

February 2nd, 2015 No comments

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

DOL issues final rule on DB plan annual funding notice requirements
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released its final rule on the annual funding notice requirement for defined benefit plans. The rule will become effective 30 days after February 2 with an applicability date of plan years beginning on or after January 1.

To read the entire rule, click here.

PBGC announces OMB approval of standard and distress terminations and missing participants forms and instructions
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved revisions to the standard and distress termination forms and instructions. The new forms and instructions can be found on the plan terminations page of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) website. Under the revisions, a plan administrator of a plan terminating in a standard termination (or a distress termination that closes out in the private sector) must submit with the post-distribution certification the most recent plan document and proof of benefit distributions for lump sums paid and annuities purchased.

Plan administrators must provide this information with any post-distribution certification filed on or after March 1, 2015. Filers may contact standard@pbgc.gov or distress@pbgc.gov for more information.

IRS updates its rollover-eligible retirement plans and IRA combinations chart for 2015
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has published a one-page summary listing the eight plans and IRAs that can make rollover-eligible distributions as well as the corresponding eight plans and IRAs into which those distributions can or cannot be rolled over.

For more information, click here.

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