Tag Archives: IRS

Regulatory roundup

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

Guidance for remedial amendment period for 403(b) plan
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2017-18 providing the last day of the remedial amendment period for § 403(b) plans, for purposes of section 21 of Rev. Proc. 2013-22, 2013-18 I.R.B. 985.

According to the guidance, the last day of the remedial amendment period described in section 2 of this revenue procedure and in section 21 of Rev. Proc. 2013-22 is March 31, 2020. A plan that does not satisfy the requirements of § 403(b) in form on any day during the remedial amendment period (that is, the period beginning on the later of January 1, 2010, or the plan’s effective date, and ending on March 31, 2020) will be considered to have satisfied those requirements if, on or before March 31, 2020, all provisions of the plan that are necessary to satisfy § 403(b) have been adopted and made effective in form and operation from the beginning of the remedial amendment period.

To read the revenue procedure, click here.

Final Rule to adjust for inflation civil monetary penalties
The Department of Labor (DoL) published a final rule to adjust for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced in its regulations, pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Inflation Adjustment Act).

The Inflation Adjustment Act requires the DoL to annually adjust its civil money penalty levels for inflation no later than January 15 of each year. The Inflation Adjustment Act provides that agencies shall adjust civil monetary penalties notwithstanding Section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Additionally, the Inflation Adjustment Act provides a cost-of-living formula for adjustment of the civil penalties. Accordingly, this final rule sets forth the DoL’s 2017 annual adjustments for inflation to its civil monetary penalties, effective January 13, 2017.

To read the final rule, click here.

Summary and audit indicators: 403(b) Universal Availability Requirement
The IRS has updated its webpage 403(b) Universal Availability Requirement. A common error occurs when employees, working less than full-time, are automatically excluded from making elective deferrals under the 403(b) plan. A plan that wants to apply the statutory exclusion for part-time employment must determine eligibility for the 403(b) elective deferrals based on whether the employee is reasonably expected to normally work less than 20 hours per week and has actually never worked more than 1,000 hours in the applicable 12-month period.

To visit the webpage, click here.

New mortality assumptions proposed for defined benefit retirement plans

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a proposed rule on December 29, 2016, to update the mortality assumptions that tax-qualified defined benefit (DB) pension plans use to calculate the contributions required under the minimum funding standards of Internal Revenue Code section 430. The proposed effective date is for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018; no immediate action by plan sponsors is necessary with regard to the proposed tables, which are expected to increase the plan’s actuarial liabilities and annual benefit accrual costs (i.e., “target liability” and “target normal cost,” respectively).

Once finalized, the mortality tables will also be used to develop pension obligations for reporting to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and Treasury and the IRS will publish a blended version of the tables to be used to calculate “non-level” optional forms of pension payments (e.g., lump-sum distributions) under tax code section 417(e).

The proposed rule adopts base mortality tables derived from the most recent study of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Retirement Plans Experience Committee, with 2006 being the central year of the mortality experience, and mortality improvement rates from the SOA’s most recent mortality improvement study (MP-2016). The proposed rule offers three choices for selecting mortality tables: “static” tables, “generational” tables, and “plan-specific substitute” tables.

The table below illustrates the increases in actuarial liabilities for sample lives (comparing 2017 vs. 2018 “static” tables at an interest rate of 4%):

Age Male Female
45 (deferred to 65*) 2.8% 6.2%
55 (deferred to 65*) 2.8% 5.9%
65 (in pay status) 3.5% 4.6%
75 (in pay status) 7.2% 4.8%
*The pension benefit commences at age 65.

Plan sponsors should not draw any conclusions of the financial impact on actuarial liabilities or possible increases in cash contributions for a specific pension plan. The benefit formulas, plan demographics, status (“frozen,” “partially frozen,” “open”), and other complex variables are unique to a given plan and must be carefully evaluated.

The IRS seeks public comments on the proposed rule by March 29 and will hold a public hearing in April for plan participants, plan sponsors, pension actuaries, and other interested parties to express their views before issuing a final rule.

For additional information about the proposed revised mortality tables, please contact your Milliman consultant.

Regulatory roundup

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

IRS updates 2017 revenue procedures
In an Internal Revenue Bulletin, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published various revenue procedures, revised for 2017, for issuing letters, rulings, determination letters, and technical advice on specific issues related to employee benefits.

To read the bulletin, click here.

PBGC posts 2017 premium filing instructions
The Comprehensive Premium Filing Instructions for 2017 Plan Years has been approved by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and is now available on the website of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

To read the filing instructions, click here.

PBGC issues RFI for approving certain alternative methods for computing withdrawal liability
The PBGC is requesting information from the public on issues arising from arrangements between employers and multiemployer plans involving an alternative “two-pool” withdrawal liability method.

PBGC seeks information from the general public and all interested stakeholders, including multiemployer plan participants and beneficiaries, organizations serving or representing retirees and other such individuals, multiemployer plan sponsors and professional advisors, and contributing employers, unions, and other interested parties, about these arrangements, including the various forms they may take, the terms and conditions that apply to new and existing contributing employers who enter into such arrangements, and the benefits and risks these arrangements may present to multiemployer plans and their participants, employers, the multiemployer pension insurance program, and other stakeholders in the multiemployer system.

For more information, click here.

FAQ update on preapproved plan adopting employers
The IRS has updated a series of frequently asked questions (FAQ) providing guidance to employers adopting preapproved retirement plans.

To learn more, click here.

 

Regulatory roundup

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

Proposed rule on mortality tables for determining present value under DB plans
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued proposed regulations prescribing mortality tables to be used by most defined benefit (DB) pension plans. The tables specify the probability of survival year-by-year for an individual based on age, gender, and other factors. This information is used (together with other actuarial assumptions) to calculate the present value of a stream of expected future benefit payments for purposes of determining the minimum funding requirements for the plan.

These mortality tables are also relevant to determining the minimum required amount of a lump-sum distribution from such a plan.

To read the entire proposed rule, click here.

Updates to determination letter instructions for DB plans with risk transfer language
The IRS updated its posting regarding determination letter instructions for DB plans with risk transfer language.

To read the updated information, click here.

An executive survival guide for tax-exempt employers sentenced to Section 457

Pizzano-DominickThis blog is part of a 12-part series entitled “The nonqualified deferred compensation plan (NDCP) dirty dozen: An administrative guide to avoiding 12 traps.” To read the introduction to the series, click here.

By the time executives of the corporate world-at-large experienced the first full-fledged legislative lockdown of their nonqualified deferred compensations, when the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 instituted Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 409A, most of their counterparts in the tax-exempt sector had already been long used to having such benefits confined. Many years earlier, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA 86) sentenced these benefits to the custody of IRC Section 457, generally effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 1986. The problem is that even as we approach the 30th anniversary of this sentence, Section 457 applicability and compliance still remain sources of confusion and frustration for many not-for-profit employers as they seek to provide significant executive compensation programs.

Tax-exempt employers, not employees
When not-for-profit organizations hire key decision-makers from the “for-profit” world, these organizations frequently find individuals desiring deferred compensation benefits similar to those offered by their former employers. Unfortunately, too often the tax-exempt organization complies and implements a plan that, while perfectly in compliance with the tax laws governing similar plans sponsored by corporations in the for-profit sector, does not comply with the more restrictive limitations applicable to most not-for-profit entities. If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) discovers such a plan during an audit of the individual or the organization, the employer’s good intentions could result in extremely adverse tax consequences for the executive.

The deliberations that led to the 457 sentence
Why are tax-exempt employers subject to stricter limits than their for-profit counterparts? Because the IRS gives these organizations a pass come tax time, they cannot afford to offer the same charity to their employees. The IRS does not mind if executives of taxable entities defer as much as 100% of their compensation because, while the opportunity to tax this pay is generally deferred until the funds are distributed, the plan sponsor’s ability to take a tax deduction on such amounts is similarly delayed, thereby creating a vital trade-off that enables the U.S. Department of the Treasury to view these arrangements as tax-neutral. In contrast, tax-exempt employers have no tax deductions that can be deferred and thus no trade-off to offset the Treasury’s loss of current tax revenue incurred by their employees’ deferrals of compensation. Because tax-exempt entities as non-taxpayers are not concerned with deductibility of compensation, unless it involves unrelated trade or business income, there would be no incentive for them to limit their employees’ deferrals on their own if Section 457 did not exist.

Applicability of Section 457: Not all tax-exempts are treated equally

Free from Section 457: No separation of Church and the Feds: Originally sentenced to Section 457 by TRA 86 with the other tax-exempts, NDCPs maintained by churches and qualified church-controlled organizations (QCCOs) were paroled in 1988, when the Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act exempted this congregation of plans from the application of Section 457 (however, a nursing home or hospital that is associated with a church, but which is not itself a church or a QCCO, would be covered by Section 457 if it is a tax-exempt entity). The only other NDCPs granted Section 457 immunity are those established by the federal government or any agency or instrumentality thereof; although this should not be too surprising given that the creation of these rules as well as determining who must comply with them is, after all, a federal function.

Those sentenced to Section 457: The states, cities, towns, and the rest of the tax-exempts: If an employer is an entity that is a state or local government or a tax-exempt entity other than those described in the preceding paragraph, any NDCP it establishes must comply with Section 457. Plans of states and local governments have been subject to Section 457 from its creation in 1978; however, because the rules governing these arrangements are more similar to those covering qualified plans (e.g., all employees—not just executives—participate, and plan assets must be held in a separate trust for the exclusive benefit of participants), the remainder of this blog will focus on the rules applicable to the nongovernmental tax-exempts sentenced to 457.

What are the terms of a Section 457 sentence?
While a 457 sentence is mandatory, in the sense that it is levied based on the employer’s status, tax-exempt employers do have considerable discretion over the manner in which they choose to serve this sentence: a 457(b) plan (aka an eligible 457 plan), a 457(f) plan (aka an ineligible plan), or concurrently using both. The following chart reveals their major differences:

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Regulatory roundup

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

IRS issues 2016 required amendments list for qualified retirement plans
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2016-80, providing the 2016 required amendments (RA) list for qualified retirement plans. The notice provides that December 31, 2018, is the last day of the remedial amendment period “with respect to a disqualifying provision arising as a result of a change in qualification requirements that appears on this 2016 RA List.” It also is the plan amendment deadline for a disqualifying provision arising as a result of a change in qualification requirements that appears on the 2016 RA List.

To read Notice 2016-80, click here.