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Ret plans - policy


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[Opinion] Secure Choice 2.0: States Blazing a Path to Retirement Security for All (PDF)
36 pages. "Secure Choice is a direct outgrowth of persistent and converging trends that are reshaping the retirement landscape -- trends that include the diminution of traditional defined-benefit pension plans and the failed promise, for many Americans, of the much-vaunted 401(k) plan. This paper revisits these and other forces that have given rise to a wave of state initiatives to help Americans retire with dignity. It examines what has happened since the earlier white paper was issued, takes stock of developments at the state level, and looks at the challenges ahead." (National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems [NCPERS])
Father of the 401(k) Designs Cheaper Retirement Plan
"Employees covered by small-business retirement plans typically pay between 1.5 percent and 2.75 percent annually in fees -- many of which are hidden and hard to understand.... [Ted Benna] has drawn up three new retirement-savings models that he contends offer the same benefits as a traditional 401(k). One is best suited for married employees with less than $100,000 of adjusted gross income and single employees with less than $62,000 of adjusted gross income. Another avoids the payroll taxes applicable to employer contributions. The third model allows employees to sock away pretax contributions of up to $12,500 under age 50 and $15,500 over age 50, compared with only $5,500 and $6,500 for some other models." (The Gazette)
[Opinion] Public Pensions Are Under Attack in Iowa
"Each year IPERS pumps $1.8 billion into the Iowa economy through modest benefits that average $16,000 annually. This is economic activity that should not be underestimated in a small, mostly rural state like Iowa. As Iowa's population continues to shift from rural areas to larger cities, those small towns will find that they rely on the spending of pension benefits by retirees to stimulate local economies. Republican political leaders in Iowa appear to be laying the groundwork to attack and possibly eliminate IPERS." (National Public Pension Coalition)
[Official Guidance] Text of Treasury Department Letter Approving United Furniture Workers 'Pension Fund A' Application to Reduce Benefits (PDF)
On July 20, 2017, the Board of Trustees of the United Furniture Workers Pension Fund A (Fund) was notified that its second application to reduce pension benefits under MPRA was approved by Treasury. As a result, the proposed benefit reductions will now be subject to a vote of participants and beneficiaries of the Fund. Ballots will be mailed to participants and beneficiaries on or around August 1, 2017. (U.S. Department of the Treasury)
Workplace Retirement Savings and State Plan Mandates: Employer and Employee Perspectives (2017)
"In theory, many workers support the notion of government-mandated retirement savings, but their confidence in the ability of governmental entities to administer such programs is lower than in any other listed entity. Many employers say that they would be very likely to discontinue their Defined Contribution plan in favor of a government solution, but just as many say that they would not be very likely to do so.... Workers value many aspects of DC plans that will likely not be part of state-mandated solutions." (LIMRA)
Newborns Would Save $2.2 Million for Retirement with This Idea
"Any adult would be permitted to make tax-deductible contributions to any child's account, whether family, friend or stranger. Each minor would be able to receive a maximum $1,000 yearly, but contributors could spread a greater amount across multiple accounts. [The] idea also calls for the Child IRA converting to a traditional one at age 19, subject to current law. This means that additional contributions -- 2017's limit is $5,500 for people under age 50 -- would lead to even higher account balances in retirement." (CNBC)
Committee Approves Legislation to Repeal Fiduciary Rule, Strengthen Protections for Retirement Savers
"[T]he House Committee on Education and the Workforce ... approved the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act (H.R. 2823).... [T]he legislation protects access to affordable retirement advice by overturning the Obama administration's fiduciary rule while requiring retirement advisors to serve the best interests of their clients." Also available: [1] fact sheet, [2] bill summary, and [3] more information on the markup. (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)
[Opinion] American Benefits Council Letter to Senate Finance Committee: Successful Employer-Sponsored Benefits System Depends on Smart, Forward-Thinking Tax Policy
"[T]he tax incentives for health and retirement plans are typically scored as the largest income tax expenditures in the federal budget ... [T]he tax 'expenditure' for employer-provided health plans -- attributable to the exclusion of employer contributions from individuals' income and payroll tax -- is a relative bargain compared to the enormous federal expenditures on the Medicare and Medicaid programs, even though employer plans offer far superior coverage.... Second, the tax 'expenditure' for employer-provided retirement plans is not actually an expenditure at all -- it is a tax deferral." (American Benefits Council)
The Small Business Retirement Savings Challenge (PDF)
"91% of small employers without a plan would be at least somewhat more likely to start a plan if the cap on the current tax credit for starting a plan were increased to $5,000 ... and adjusted to cover all initial costs.... 86% of small employers with a plan would be at least somewhat more likely to offer automatic enrollment if they were eligible for a $500 credit for doing so[.]" (LPL Financial)
[Opinion] ARA Comment Letter to DOL on Fiduciary Rule and Related Exemptions (PDF)
12 pages. "The ARA recommends a delay of the January 1, 2018, applicability date for certain provisions of the Best Interest Contract Exemption, the Principal Transaction Exemption, and amendments to PTE 84-24 ... [An] extension would reduce unnecessary burdens on financial service providers and pose minimal risk to the interests of retirement investors.... The ARA recommends an alternative streamlined exemption (the 'Levelized Fee Exemption') that would remain protective of the Interests of Retirement Investors while greatly reducing the regulatory burden imposed on Financial Institutions and Retirement Investors. The Levelized Fee Exemption would more broadly encompass the wide range of 'levelization' processes in use across the retirement marketplace and further continuing innovation is this area." (American Retirement Association [ARA])
[Opinion] The 'Pension Crisis' Is a Myth, Part Two
"[This article addresses] the question of unfunded liabilities in public pension plans and why pension critics typically misrepresent the truth about unfunded liabilities to promote their false pension crisis narrative. Pension critics also ignore the shocking unpreparedness of most Americans for retirement, which could be improved if more people were covered by pensions." (National Public Pension Coalition)
State-Run IRAs May Not Be the Best Solution for Low-Income Earners (PDF)
21 pages. "[The] designers of state-run auto-IRA plans fail to consider three questions: Do the poor need to save more for retirement? Will state-run auto-IRA plans increase net household savings? And, after accounting for interactions with means-tested government transfer programs, will state-run auto-IRA plans make the poor better off? The answer to all three questions may be 'no.' " (American Enterprise Institute)
House Committee to Mark Up Proposed Legislation to Overturn DOL Fiduciary Rule
"On Wednesday, July 19 at 2:30 p.m., the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), will mark up the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act (H.R. 2823). Introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), the legislation would protect access to affordable retirement advice by overturning the Obama administration's fiduciary rule while ensuring retirement advisors serve their clients' best interests." (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)
[Opinion] The 'Pension Crisis' Is a Myth, Part One
"The so-called pension crisis is a myth promoted by people who are either hostile to public employees, have a financial interest in moving from pensions to 401(k)s, or both. All of the evidence indicates that the claims of these doomsayers are untrue and most of their predictions have been proven wrong. The real pension crisis in the United States is the lack of pensions by most working people.... The move away from pensions to 401(k)s has made this worse, not better." (National Public Pension Coalition)
Mixed Reviews on Proposal to Scrap DOL Rule
"Under [Rep. Ann Wagner's (R-MO) proposal], an investment recommendation would satisfy the best interest standard if it reflected 'reasonable diligence' on the part of the agent/advisor. Her definition of 'reasonable diligence' would be modeled on FINRA's existing definition. Likewise, agents/advisors would need to exercise reasonable 'care, skill, and prudence,. based on a customer's individual investment needs ... The bill also includes language that would render state-level fiduciary rule efforts null." (InsuranceNewsNet.com)
Traditional Pensions Are Here to Stay
"Nearly one-third of private-sector workers participating in retirement plans are in pension plans. Although there's been a shift to 401(k)-type retirement savings plans, pension plans remain popular because of the security they provide to workers and retirees." (Pension Rights Center)
Another Hearing on -- and Attempted Repeal of -- the Fiduciary Regulation
"Aside from repealing the fiduciary regulation right up front, the draft text of the bill indicates that brokers would have to provide recommendations that 'reflect reasonable diligence, care, skill and prudence,' and they would also have to disclose at the point of sale their compensation and 'any material conflict of interest.'" (National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA])
How ETFs Might Help Retirees Better Manage Distributions
"Although many legal boundaries stand in the way, instead of receiving a cash lump sum, retirees could instead receive a balanced portfolio of ETFs allocated based on a specific risk profile. With the onset of digital advice from independent platforms as well as from traditional brokerage firms and wealth managers, the barriers to integrating an ETF portfolio into a beneficiary's new or existing account are falling." (Pensions & Investments)
House Republican Drafts Bill to Kill DOL Fiduciary Rule
"House lawmakers plan to convene a hearing [July 13] to discuss the impact of the [DOL] fiduciary rule on the capital markets. The hearing will focus on a draft bill put forth by Rep. Ann Wagner, R.-Mo., that seeks to kill the fiduciary rule and instead impose a best interest standard on broker-dealers' investment recommendations." (ThinkAdvisor)
The Current State of State Retirement Plan Initiatives
"Three states -- Oregon, California and Illinois -- have made considerable progress in designing mandatory auto-IRA programs. The CRA/voiding of DOL's regulation presents two substantive problems for these states: First, if the auto-IRA program is determined to be an ERISA plan, then it (and the employers covered by it and, even, conceivably the state itself) will be subject to, e.g., ERISA reporting and fiduciary rules. Second, the program may be subject to a preemption challenge ... These states also have a formal problem -- the laws authorizing these programs generally require that the mandatory auto-IRA not be subject to ERISA." (October Three Consulting)
[Opinion] Why We Need Guaranteed Retirement Income
"Thanks to unionized manufacturing jobs, 61 percent of near-retirees in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were covered by a retirement plan at work during Reagan's first term. The share of covered workers collapsed by 10 percentage points to 51 percent during Obama's second term ... In the rest of the U.S., the share declined by 7 percentage points, from 53 percent to 46 percent." (Teresa Ghilarducci,, via 401K Specialist)
[Discussion] Requesting Relief from ERISA Section 411 Debarment
"Does anyone have experience in seeking relief for an ERISA Section 411 debarment -- i.e., relief permitting a convicted felon to serve as a consultant to an employee benefit plan prior to the 13-year restriction period? We have a client who just discovered that it has a long-term employee with a felony conviction covered under Section 411. The employee is a clerical worker. The client is an insurance agency/TPA type group which provides services to group benefit plans." (BenefitsLink Message Boards)
Trial Lawyers Want to Defend Fiduciary Rule in Court
"The American Association of Justice [AAJ], a nonprofit group representing plaintiffs' lawyers, ... chastised the Labor Department for taking the 'extraordinary step' of asking the court to 'vacate the government's own rule.' According to the AAJ, 'the government's lawyers at the Department of Justice are asking this Court to vacate a rule that the [DOL] (a) promulgated after thorough notice-and-comment rulemaking, (b) successfully defended in court, and (c) is currently required to implement.' " (Bloomberg BNA)
Dive in Plaintiff Victories Not Seen in ERISA Cases
"The number of ERISA cases studied -- which included only those resolved by judicial action and not through settlement or voluntary dismissal -- jumped from 1,477 cases terminated in 1985 to 3,019 cases terminated in 2009.... [A] 2012 research paper found that just over half the ERISA cases filed between 2006 and 2010 involved claims for multiemployer benefit fund contributions." (Bloomberg BNA)
[Opinion] Raising the Cap on 401(k)s Won't Solve Retirement Crisis
"Certainly, some people would contribute more to their 401(k)s or IRAs if they were able, but the evidence suggests that the people who would do that are those with incomes above $100,000 per year. Very few people with incomes below that level are contributing the maximum amount at the current levels. It seems very unlikely that they would suddenly increase their contributions above the current levels just because they would be able to." (National Public Pension Coalition)
[Official Guidance] Comment Period Opens July 6 for EBSA's Request for Information on Fiduciary Rule and PTEs
EBSA's Request for Information is scheduled for official publication in the Federal Register on Thursday, July 6, 2017, which means the two comment periods described in that RFI will end: [1] 15 days after July 6, for comments on a possible extension of the Jan. 1, 2018 applicability date for certain provisions in the Best Interest Contract Exemption and other prohibited transaction exemptions, and [2] 30 days after July 6 for comments on all other aspects of the fiduciary rule and the exemptions. The comments could form the basis of new exemptions or revisions to the fiduciary rule and its associated PTEs. (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
The San Francisco Retirement System: Increasing Understanding and Adding Voter Oversight (PDF)
36 pages. "As of June 30, 2016, the City and County of San Francisco (City) owes its Retirement System $5.8 1 billion; this is more than half of the City's entire 2 016 budget ($ 8. 94 billion).... [T]he main underlying cause is the retroactive retirement benefit increases implemented by voter-approved propositions between 1996 and 2008. These retroactive increases were very expensive gifts to employees and retirees from taxpayers, paid for with money borrowed at a high interest rate from the Retirement System, and paid back over 20 years by taxpayers. The financial details of these retroactive increases were not disclosed to voters." (Civil Grand Jury, City and County of San Francisco)
[Official Guidance] Text of EBSA Request for Public Input on the Fiduciary Rule and Prohibited Transaction Exemptions
13 pages. "[EBSA] is publishing this Request for Information in connection with its examination of the final rule defining who is a 'fiduciary' of an employee benefit plan ... This Request for Information specifically seeks public input that could form the basis of new exemptions or changes/revisions to the rule and PTEs, and input regarding the advisability of extending the January 1, 2018 applicability date of certain provisions in the Best Interest Contract Exemption, the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries and Employee Benefit Plans and IRAs, and Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24." [Editor's note: The comment period is 15 days regarding an extension of the January 1, 2018 applicability date and 30 days regarding other issues. Comment periods begin on July 6, 2017, the day the notice is to be published in the Federal Register.] (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
[Opinion] OregonSaves will Force Large Employers to Redirect Costs
"[ERIC] is disappointed that Oregon lawmakers ignored the Joint Resolution of Disapproval rescinding federal rulemaking that allowed states to create mandatory retirement plans and next week will launch a pilot of OregonSaves, a program that will eventually reach beyond what the federal law allows by imposing a compliance burden on employers who voluntarily provide a retirement plan to their employees." (The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC])
Supreme Court's Church Plan Decision Restores Order (PDF)
"In a concise and clearly written opinion, Justice Elena Kagan restored order in the church plan universe -- and validated nearly 40 years of administrative decisions by the [IRS], the [DOL] and the [PBGC] -- by explicitly affirming that church-affiliated hospitals and other organizations can establish benefit plans that should be accorded the same treatment as plans actually established by a church. [The] decision completely shut down the primary line of argument pursued by plaintiffs in a series of class action lawsuits." [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)] (Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.)
Can Sidecar Accounts Meet Consumers' Short- and Long-Term Financial Needs? (PDF)
13 pages. "This brief will explore the possibility of linking a short-term savings, or 'sidecar,' account to a traditional retirement account to better meet consumers' short- and long-term financial needs. Such an innovation could help address families' current inability to cope with financial shocks and volatility, as well as their over-reliance on withdrawals from retirement accounts to fund current consumption....[T]he brief will explore the advantages and disadvantages of various design approaches to implementing a sidecar account." (Aspen Institute)
[Opinion] Will Public Pensions Sink Illinois?
"[W]hat Illinois and other states that suffer from similar pension woes need is to amalgamate all these public pensions at the state level, introduce better governance, adopt a shared-risk model, and get real on investment returns even if this means higher contributions from employees and the state government (these plans need be jointly sponsored). But none of these reforms are being discussed. Instead, lawmakers want quick fixes which will make things worse for everyone, including Illinois taxpayers." (Pension Pulse)
JBEA Advisory Committee to Meet in July
"The Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries gives notice of a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Actuarial Examinations (portions of which will be open to the public) ... on July 13-14, 2017.... The purpose of the meeting is to discuss topics and questions that may be recommended for inclusion on future Joint Board examinations in actuarial mathematics and methodology ... and to review the May 2017 Pension (EA-2L) and Basic (EA-1) Examinations in order to make recommendations ... Topics for inclusion on the syllabus for the Joint Board's examination program for the November 2017 Pension (EA-2F) Examination will be discussed." (Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries [JBEA])
[Opinion] Public Pensions: Why It's Important to Keep Watching
"It takes a long time for these problems to come to fruition. Much longer than it takes a company to run into trouble ... Part of the reason is the 'taxpayer put' ... there's a limit to how much governments can soak taxpayers, but they can increase the taxes over time until more and more people leave ... Another part of the reason is the 'bondholder put', which is exercised less frequently, and does a lot more damage when it's exercised by politicians. The biggest part of the reason is no oversight." (STUMP)
[Opinion] The Retirement Wellness Media: Separating Fact from Fiction
"We cannot have record numbers of people deferring to 401(k) plans at record rates and yet still have almost universally low-five figure account balances, on average. At least we cannot unless we also have record amounts of leakage via plan loans, withdrawals, and both deferral and work stoppages.... 74% of respondents to a question said that lifetime income is important, but only 25% thought they had a way to generate it.... But, having reached the holy grail of retirement, these same people now want to do all the things they dreamed of while working.... There is a problem with all of that. Those expenses are pretty front-loaded." (Benefits and Compensation with John Lowell)
Getting Back On Track: Financial Wellness in the Public Sector
"Between 2009 and 2013, to improve their pension positions, virtually every state applied some combination of lower benefit accruals and higher employer contributions made possible with the federal government's help. Higher employee contributions became commonplace, too.... Now public employers are searching for opportunities to provide workers with services that may compensate for benefit changes and better prepare them for financial security in retirement." (Prudential)
[Opinion] GE Botches Its Pension Math?
"Is the solution to GE's pension woes more hedge funds and more private equity funds? ... [M]ore alternative investments won't cure America's growing pension crisis.... [T]he time has come to enhance Social Security to adopt a similar model to what we have in Canada with CPP assets being managed by the CPPIB. In order to to do this properly, they need to get the governance right." (Pension Pulse)
Potential Impact of Tax Reform on Employees' Retirement Savings
"Three-fourths of [the 443 defined contribution plans represented in this recent survey of plan sponsors] currently offer a Roth feature to employees with thirty percent reporting 10-20 percent of eligible employees making Roth contributions ... Sixty percent of employers who don't currently offer a Roth feature have evaluated offering it and chose not to. Of those not offering Roth, 80 percent are concerned with the cost and administrative complexity of adding Roth.... Eighty-five percent of plans are likely to, or would definitely continue offering a plan if Congress decreases pre-tax savings limits. This drops to 70 percent of plans if Congress changes the laws to Roth only." (Plan Sponsor Council of America [PSCA])
Witness Statements to ERISA Advisory Council: 'Mandated Disclosures for Retirement Plans -- Enhancing Effectiveness for Participants and Sponsors'
Testimony submitted for June 7, 2017 meeting: (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
[Opinion] ARA Recommendations for the 2017-2018 IRS Priority Guidance Plan (PDF)
"ARA recommends that the IRS: [1] [A]ddress issues related to mid-year changes to safe harbor plans.... [2] Provide guidance on the determination of affiliated service groups and management groups.... [3] Provide a method to obtain a ruling on affiliated service group status by reopening the determination letter process for this purpose.... [4] [A]ddress issues related to the changes to the determination letter program for individually designed plans.... [5] [F]inalize the expansion of the pre-approved plan document program as indicated in IRS Announcement 2014-41 to permit pre-approved cash balance plan and ESOP documents." (American Retirement Association [ARA])
[Opinion] Texas Board Aims to Kneecap 403(b) Participant Choice, Providers
"[The Texas Teachers Retirement System (TRS) Board of Trustees] is required by law to review and consider for re-adoption each of its rules every four years. This cycle, the Board has devoted its review to its fee-capping authority, registration fees and parameters for companies to enter the system and sell products. Of the thousands of products currently registered to be marketed in the Lone Star State, it appears that almost none would make the cut, potentially sending providers packing and leaving teachers with dramatically fewer choices." (National Tax-Deferred Savings Association [NTSA])
[Official Guidance] Text of EBSA Request for Nominations to the 2018 ERISA Advisory Council
"The terms of five members of the [Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (the ERISA Advisory Council)] expire at the end of this year. The groups or fields they represent are as follows: [1] employee organizations; [2] employers; [3] corporate trust; [4] investment management; and [5] the general public.... [N]otice is hereby given that any person or organization desiring to nominate one or more individuals for appointment to the [ERISA Advisory Council] to represent any of [these] groups or fields ... may submit nominations [which] must be received on or before August 1, 2017." (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
California on Track to Start Auto-IRA Program Despite Loss of ERISA Safe Harbor
"California remains on track to implement the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, a state-sponsored program requiring employers that do not offer workplace savings arrangements to establish an automatic payroll-deduction program to facilitate [IRA] contributions by participating employees.... This article addresses the background on auto-IRAs, the history of Secure Choice, the impact of the auto-IRA safe harbor and its reversal, and the effect on California employers." (Trucker Huss)
[Opinion] Interesting Angles on the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, Part 52
"[It] will be virtually impossible for the DOL and SEC to collaborate on the development of a common, or at least compatible, definition of fiduciary advice and standard of care before December 31.... [A] proposed regulation would probably need to be published in early to mid-September.... That seems almost impossible -- partially because of the need for coordination and partially because the SEC hasn't previously proposed guidance on these issues.... As a result, [this author's] view is that the DOL will extend the transition period, perhaps for as much as a year. That would allow time for the two agencies to work together in a thoughtful manner and at a reasonable pace." (FredReish.com)
Oregon Retirement Program for Private-Sector Employees Moves Forward Without ERISA Exemption
"The program will rollout July 1 for large employers that have volunteered to participate, and the rollout will continue in phases. This is similar to the implementation of the California Secure Choice program." (planadviser)
New Questions for Church-Affiliated Organizations After Supreme Court Addresses ERISA Church Plan Exemption
"Although Stapleton provides church-affiliated organizations with more freedom from ERISA's requirements, the decision raises new questions: What organizations are sufficiently church-affiliated to qualify as principal-purpose organizations for the exemption? ... Will plaintiffs pursue alternative state-law claims against church plan? ... Will Congress take action to narrow the church-plan exemption?" [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)] (Lane Powell PC)
[Opinion] Statement of the Pension Rights Center to the ERISA Advisory Council on Mandated Disclosures for Retirement Plans (PDF)
"The importance of clear language disclosures cannot be overemphasized. If the Pension Rights Center is receiving many calls about confusing notices, it is probably true that employers are receiving more calls ab out the same disclosures. Well written disclosures benefit plan sponsors and employers, as well as the participants and beneficiaries who receive them." (Pension Rights Center)
Fact Sheet for H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act (PDF)
"The bill defines 'investment advice' more broadly than DOL's 1975 regulation, expanding the universe of activities that are subject to fiduciary liability. Under the bill, a fiduciary relationship occurs any time an advisor provides one of a broad array of recommendations relating to retirement accounts.... [H.R. 2823] [1] Ensures personalized advice about investments, distributions, or hiring other advisors triggers fiduciary obligations. [2] Requires financial professionals who advise IRAs to act in the best interests of their clients.... [3] Preserves the ability of retirement savers to receive financial education, such as examples of investment alternatives that fit within asset classes." (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)
[Opinion] People in States Represented by the Cosponsors of the Choice Act Lose $12.1 Billion Each Year Due to Conflicted Retirement Advice
"Representatives who voted for the CHOICE Act have chosen to side with unscrupulous actors in the financial industry, who have profited handsomely from loopholes that allowed them to fleece retirement savers. [A map and table] show how much retirement savers lose annually in each state as a result of receiving conflicted advice." (Economic Policy Institute)
[Opinion] Legislation Enhances Consumer Protection for Retirement Savers
"H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act, [and] S. 1321, the Affordable Retirement Advice Protection Act ... address the overly burdensome and complex [DOL] fiduciary rule, and replace it with a law that strengthens protections for retirement savers by requiring financial advisors to serve their clients' best interests. IRI strongly supports both bills[.]" (Insured Retirement Institute [IRI])
House Committee Leaders Move to Overturn Flawed Fiduciary Rule, Strengthen Protections for Retirement Savers
"Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy, today introduced the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act (H.R. 2823). The legislation would protect access to affordable retirement advice by overturning the Obama administration's flawed fiduciary rule while ensuring retirement advisors serve the best interests of their clients." (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)
[Opinion] ERIC Testimony to ERISA Advisory Council on Mandated Disclosures for Retirement Plans (PDF)
"Prior to this position in human resources, as a lawyer and policymaker in Washington, DC, I was na´ve to the impact laws and regulations can have on plan sponsors and participants.... I now firmly believe that the decades of laws, regulations, and court decisions since the enactment of ERISA in 1974, coupled with a decrease in financial education programs in schools and communities, have caused the retirement industry to be overly complex and intimidating for a large segment of plan participants.... [E]mployers can only do so much when in place are laws, regulations, and legal precedence that impede their ability to educate their employees." (Will Hansen, for The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC])
TE/GE Advisory Committee Recommendations for FICA Replacement Plan Requirements (PDF)
68 pages. "Currently the revenue procedure used for evaluating defined benefit plans ... includes only limited safe harbor alternatives referencing more traditional benefit formulas. The standard for defined contribution plans is based on a 7.5 percent employee and employer combined contribution rate of 'compensation.' ... [T]he guidance has not been updated to reflect the emerging trend to use hybrid plans, including cash balance plans, and combinations of defined benefit and defined contribution plans." (Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities [ACT], Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
The Multiemployer Plan Financial Crisis: Effect on Single Employer Plans
"[It] seems likely that any ultimate solution (if there is one) will involve some sort of federal bailout. That bailout could possibly involve single employer plans in some way. For instance, Senator Sanders's KOPPA proposal would fund multiemployer plan benefits by: [1] transferring assets from the PBGC single employer program; and [2] capping contributions to defined contribution plans, to generate tax revenues to pay for direct federal Treasury funding." (October Three Consulting)
Supreme Court Interprets 'Church Plan' Exemption in Favor of Religious Charities
"The next chapter may turn upon challenges to whether a hospital is 'religious' enough to qualify for the exemption. Such arguments will invite inquiries into the steps that churches have taken to maintain the religious mission of their affiliated hospitals, buttressed by the protections of the First Amendment that prevent civil government from intruding upon religious rights of autonomy and self-governance or favoring one form of religious structure over another." [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)] (Stradley Ronon)
Supreme Court Finds 'Church Plans' Need Not Be Established by Churches (PDF)
"The Supreme Court's decision unquestionably is a significant victory for religiously-affiliated non-profits and their pension plans. The Court resolved the threshold statutory interpretation question in their favor, holding that their plans can qualify as church plans exempt from ERISA's requirements. The Court's opinion, however, leaves several issues concerning the church plan definition unresolved." [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)] (Groom Law Group)
Supreme Court: 'Church Plans' Include Those Established by Church-Affiliated Organizations
"The Supreme Court decision averts what would have potentially been a cataclysmic result to many faith-based hospitals, nursing homes and schools that were counting on being exempt from having their retirement plans subject to the requirements of ERISA. However, some questions remain, because the court did not address the question of the scope of the definition of a 'church-affiliated organization' (or the technical term used in the statute), which could also have an impact on which organizations may operate an ERISA-exempt church plan.... Congress may still ultimately have the last word." [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)] (McDonald Hopkins)
Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds ERISA Exemption for Church-Affiliated Pension Plans
"[T]he employees needed to persuade the justices that waiving the establishment requirement for affiliate-maintained plans was not simply odd ... but so bizarre that the justices should walk away from a straightforward reading of the language.... Although Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined Kagan's opinion ... she pointedly notes that 'organizations such as petitioners operate for-profit subsidiaries, employ thousands of employees, earn billions of dollars in revenue, and compete in the secular market with companies that must bear the cost of complying with ERISA.... This current reality might prompt Congress to take a different path.' " [Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, No. 16-74 (U.S. June 3, 2017)] (SCOTUSblog)
Vermont Bill Creates Voluntary Retirement Plan for Small Businesses
"The Vermont General Assembly has passed a bill to create a voluntary public retirement option for small businesses known as the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan.... The plan will be based on a multiple employer plan model, and open to businesses with 50 employees or fewer that do not offer a retirement plan, as well as to self-employed workers. If an employer adopts the program, auto-enrollment of employees will occur, but employees will have the choice to opt out.... The program will initially be supported by fees that would be paid by the program's participants, but allows for the possibility for employer contributions in the future." (Chief Investment Officer [CIO])
[Opinion] Presidential Pensions as Broken Windows
"Why should federal taxpayers pay a post-presidential pension to a former President who is willing and able to enrich himself after he leaves the White House? ... [T]he presidential pension presents the classic case of a 'broken window,' the relatively small incident which suggests deeper disarray. The same 'broken windows' effect occurs when former state legislators manipulate state pension laws, taking short-term but highly paid state executive positions to boost their retirement pensions." (Prof. Edward A. Zelinsky, OUPblog)

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