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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter

February 26, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Pension Administrator
for Retirement Strategies, Inc. in GA

Senior Legal Consultant
for Mercer in DC

Experienced Pension Consultant/Sales Associate
for TPA Firm in MA

Pension Plan Administrator
for TPA Firm in Northern New Jersey in NJ

Benefits & Compensation Attorney
for Dorsey & Whitney LLP in MN

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Webcasts and Conferences

Tracking Full-Time Employees Under Health Care Reform: Understanding and Applying the IRS Safe Harbors
Nationwide on March 21, 2013 presented by Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Get Ready to Talk Health Care Reform to Your Employees Webcast
Nationwide on February 28, 2013 presented by Mercer

Health Care Reform Webinar: Preserving and Expanding Immediate Access to Coverage
Nationwide on March 1, 2013 presented by Davidson Marketing Group -- FutureOffice Network

Preparing Client Portfolios for Rising Interest Rates Webcast
Nationwide on March 19, 2013 presented by InvestmentNews

View All Webcasts and Conferences


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[Guidance Overview]

Handout from IRS Phone Forum on EPCRS, February 21, 2013 (PDF)
"[Topics in this phone forum included:] Review new Forms required for each Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) Submission; Review Model Compliance Statements and new Appendices; Discuss updates made to EPCRS definitions and corrections principles impacting 403(b) plans; Review other important modifications to EPCRS" (Internal Revenue Service)


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Capping Top Earners' 401(k) Benefit Seen as Cost Cutter
"The shift from pension plans, which typically guarantee income for life, to tax-deferred 401(k)s has put more responsibility on savers to ensure they don't run out of money in retirement. As the accounts have grown -- Americans held $3.5 trillion in 401(k)s as of September -- they've become a target in deficit-reduction talks because contributions usually are invested and compound on a pretax basis. The benefits reward higher earners who would save anyway while not providing enough incentive for low and middle-income earners[.]" (Bloomberg)

Better Ways to Promote Saving Through the Tax System (PDF)
"A set of reforms to the existing system should make the saving incentives offered through the U.S. tax code more effective at a lower cost.... [1] Cap the rate at which deductions and exclusions related to retirement saving reduce a taxpayer's income tax liability at 28 percent.... [2] Take steps to ensure that more workers are covered by some type of retirement saving plan.... [3] Remove obstacles to firms establishing expanded savings platforms that would allow employees to save for both retirement and nonretirement purposes." (Brookings)

401(k) Plan Fees Decline Slightly in 2012
"The average total plan cost for a small retirement plan (50 participants/$2,500,000 assets) declined from 1.47% to 1.46% over the past year, while the average total plan cost for a large retirement plan (1,000 participants/$50,000,000 assets) declined from 1.08% to 1.03% over the past year ... [S]mall plan average investment expense went from 1.38% to 1.37%, while the large plan average investment expense declined from 1.05% to 1.00%." (MarketWatch.com)

Pensions and Retirement Security 2013: A Roadmap for Policy Makers
"Americans remain highly anxious about their retirement outlook despite stabilization of the financial markets, declining unemployment and increased consumer confidence.... Americans are highly supportive of pensions and see these plans as a way to improve retirement readiness ... Americans feel that leaders in Washington do not understand their struggles to save for retirement. Americans overwhelmingly would support Congressional action to provide all Americans with access to a new type of privately run pension plan. More than 90 percent would favor a new pension plan that is available to all Americans, is portable from job to job, and provides a monthly check throughout retirement for those who contribute." (National Institute on Retirement Security)


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Mercer U.S. Pension Buyout Index for December 2012
"[T]he cost of purchasing annuities for retirees only is approximately 108% of the accounting liability as of December 31, 2012. While this is 'cheaper' when compared to early 2012 when costs were approximately 113% of accounting liabilities, this has coincided with a decrease in funded status for many plans due to declining discount rates[.]" (Mercer)

The Dueling Fiduciary Shadows of 12b-1 Fees
"12b-1 fees and other revenue sharing arrangements ... have become such a fixture in marketplace that there seems to be a growing sense that these fees belong to the plans whose assets generate them, and that fiduciaries are somehow entitled to them. Except that this isn't quite so. There is actually another competing set of fiduciary rules which need to be considered when dealing with revenue sharing, and 12b-1 fees in particular." (Business of Benefits)

Many Aging Boomers Balk at Retirement
"In huge numbers, members of the baby boom generation -- born from 1946 through 1964 -- tell researchers that they don't plan to retire.... On the one hand, baby boomers like to work ... But it's also true that, with the death of traditional company pensions and more recently the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the baby boom generation in many ways has no choice but to redefine what retirement means." (Sacramento Bee)

A Matter of Trust: Standards of Conduct for Brokers, Dealers and RIAs Under ERISA, the Exchange Act, and the Advisers Act (PDF)
"The purpose of this article is to help a broker or dealer ... and an [RIA] better determine at what point he or she is acting as a fiduciary for purposes of ERISA and the applicable standards of conduct under ERISA by comparing and contrasting the corresponding requirements ... The importance of understanding the differences will grow in the near future as the [DOL] works to revise its regulations identifying fiduciaries that provide investment advice and the SEC looks to coordinate the conduct standards under the Exchange Act and Advisers Act." (Groom Law Group)

Roth 401(k) Plans (PDF)
"The Roth 401(k) combines elements of both a Roth IRA and a traditional 401(k) plan. The Roth 401(k): Does not limit participation by income, unlike the Roth IRA. Allows participants to contribute on an after-tax basis, like the Roth IRA, up to the amounts permitted under a traditional 401(k). Therefore, higher-income employees who are ineligible to open a Roth IRA can instead contribute to a Roth 401(k) at higher amounts than are permitted in a Roth IRA." (Groom Law Group)

International Pension Plan Use Growing
"Multinational employers in a Towers Watson survey established 33 international pension plans in 2012, bringing the total number to 403 among respondents. An international pension plan is typically a retirement plan established for mobile expatriate employees.... All but one of the plans formed last year is a defined contribution plan. Overall, only 10.5% of the IPPs sponsored by survey respondents are defined benefit plans compared with 87% DC plans. The remaining IPPs are hybrid plans." (Pensions & Investments)

DrinkerBiddle ERISA Newsletter for Retirement Plan Service Providers, February 25, 2013
Articles include: [1] Common 408(b)(2) Violations; [2] Is Recommending Investment Managers 'Investment Advice?'; [3] The DOL's Regulatory Agenda; [4] How the ERISA 408(b)(2) Disclosure Requirements Affect Plan Auditors: Problems and Practical Solutions; [5] 408(b)(2) Round Two -- Summary Disclosure; [6] Shining a Light on DIM Status -- Qualifying as a Designated Investment Manager." (Drinker Biddle)

Retirement Plan Design for Prevailing Wage Contractors
"In the prevailing wage hourly rate is a benefits component. These benefits dollars are first used to pay for medical, dental, disability or life insurance premiums. Benefits dollars remaining after premiums are paid can be deposited to the company's retirement plan on the employee's behalf.... By designing the retirement plan to treat the prevailing wage contributions in this fashion, the company owners and office staff who are not subject to the prevailing wage reap the benefits too." (Benefit Resources, Inc.)

Treasury Refills Federal Pension Coffers
"The government has reinvested $28 billion back into the government securities fund ... Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner [had] suspended investments into federal employees' pensions on Dec. 31, 2012, as the government hit its debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion." (GovExec.com)

Two-Thirds of Pension Funds Increasing Hedge Fund Allocations
"Almost 60% of institutional investors surveyed increased hedge fund allocations in 2012, including two-thirds of pension fund [survey] respondents. Sixty-two percent of all respondents expect to increase hedge fund assets this year. The 11% anticipated increase this year is attributed to $123 billion in net inflows and $169 billion in performance." (Pensions & Investments)

ESOP Tax Benefits Increase in Value
"The substantial increase in tax rates for sales of businesses is causing many business owners to take a new look at an old benefit -- the tax-deferred ESOP sale. Section 1042 of the [Code] allows business owners to sell stock in their companies to an ESOP and defer federal, and often state, tax on the transaction. Due to recent changes in capital gains rates, the ... 1042 election is now more valuable than ever." (ESOP Law Group in Engineering Inc. Magazine)

[Opinion]

Brookings Proposes Double Tax on 401(k) Contributions
"Because the tax incentive for retirement savings is a deferral, not a permanent exclusion, the proposal would more accurately be described as double taxation of contributions to retirement savings plans for anyone with a marginal tax rate of over 28%. You won't expand coverage by penalizing small business owners for offering a 401(k) plan." (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

[Opinion]

Yet Another Independent Study Highlights High Conflict-of-Interest Cost to Retirement Investors
"[It] might help regulators if researchers ... try to identify why investors make poor choices. Is it really because they can't afford to receive advice from advisers with no conflict-of-interest? And, if they must solicit 'advice' from agents with a conflict-of-interest, is it correct to apply the term 'advice' to their service? Some have suggested these agents aren't advising, they're selling." (Fiduciary News)

[Opinion]

Pension Math in Maryland: It Really Does Add Up
"[The Maryland] state pension system earned nearly 8 percent over the past 25 years, earning 20 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2010. Why is it important to look at long term performance vs. year-to-year? Because that is how benefits are paid out -- over the long term. Saying the pension system is broke because we could not pay 100 percent of expected benefits right now is like saying every homeowner is broke because they can't pay the entire amount of their 30 year mortgage right now." (The Baltimore Sun)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]

Impact of New State Same-Gender Marriage Laws on State Taxation of Health Benefits
"[Same-gender] married couples must file their Maine income tax as either 'Married filing Jointly' or 'Married filing Separate,' even if they file a federal income tax return using the status of 'Single.' For benefit plans, that means that the cost of health care coverage will not result in imputed income for state tax because the coverage is available tax-free for a spouse.... [Same-gender] married couples are treated the same for Maryland tax as for federal tax ... [They] will have imputed income for purposes of state income tax (unless the spouse is a tax dependent)." (Faegre Baker Daniels)

IRS Appeals Decision Striking Down Tax Return Preparer Registration Program
"The IRS on Wednesday filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit of the Jan. 18 district court decision that struck down the IRS's registered tax return preparer program and enjoined it from enforcing the regulations ... On Monday, the IRS made a motion asking the district court to stay the injunction, pending the outcome of the appeal. Earlier, the IRS had attempted unsuccessfully to have the injunction lifted[.]" (Journal of Accountancy)

Comparison of Hours of Service for Purposes of Qualified Plans and Employer Shared Responsibility Under ACA (PDF)
"[This detailed chart compares units] used for determining an employee's credit toward participation, vesting and benefit accrual entitlements under employee pension benefit plans [with units] used for determining the full time status of an employee for purposes of offering an opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage under employer-sponsored plan." (Alston & Bird, via American Benefits Council)

Press Releases

CalPERS Board Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs Chosen
CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System)

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