Disaster relief for employee benefit plans

The IRS, the Department of Labor (DoL), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) have released guidance to ease some of the rules applicable to benefit plan sponsors and participants affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The new pieces of guidance provide relief separate from the IRS’s normal tax-related disaster relief (e.g., IRS Revenue Ruling 2003-12, which permits employers to provide tax-free cash or benefits to help employees in a presidentially declared disaster; or IRS announcements postponing tax return filing or payment deadlines for individuals and businesses). In general, the new relief is similar to that provided in 2012 under Hurricane Sandy (see Client Action Bulletin 12-10).

This Client Action Bulletin provides an overview of the federal agencies’ employee benefit plan-related guidance to date, along with a summary chart. Although the guidance offers relief to those directly in the covered disaster areas, it also applies some relief to retirement plans with participants in other parts of the country with relatives in the disaster areas.

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