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Benefits in the News > By Subject >

Ret plans - policy


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[Opinion] Should Failing Multiemployer Pension Funds Get a Federal Bailout?
"A core challenge is that the financially distressed multiemployer pension plans are in shriveling industries. For example, the United Mine Workers plan has 10 retirees for every active member.... Bailing out pension funds by offering them unpayable loans simply kicks the can down the road and increases future deficits in a non-transparent manner. Worse, this approach could easily spread to public sector retirement plans, allowing them to maintain unsustainable benefit formulas." (The Fiscal Times)
OregonSaves Serves as a Test for State-Sponsored Auto-IRAs
"Ascensus ran a series of pilot programs in 2017 ... [which] started with 11 employers for the first pilot in July and expanded in subsequent pilots.... Businesses with 100 or more employees were required to register by Nov. 15. Phased-in registration deadlines for smaller employers [follow] ... Employers that fall under the mandate will need to facilitate contributions, complete an enrollment process and provide data on participating employees ... There is also a notice requirement that employers need to meet." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
Tax Reform: Side-by-Side Comparison of Employee Benefit Provisions of House and Senate Bills
"The House initially took a heavy hand to many favorable executive compensation provisions and made some important changes in the retirement and welfare areas, but the House Ways and Means Committee relented a bit. The Senate Finance Committee proposal, as modified ... followed suit in its approach to executive compensation." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)
Tax Reform Legislation Moves Through the House and Senate (PDF)
"[Both bills] contain several provisions that would change the tax rules with respect to retirement plans, executive and nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC') arrangements, employee fringe benefits, and health and welfare plans. [Includes a link to a] side-by-side summary comparing the retirement, executive compensation, fringe benefit, and health and welfare provisions in the House and Senate bills[.]" (Groom Law Group)
Senate Finance Committee Releases Text of Committee-Approved Tax Bill
Documents pertaining to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as passed by the Senate Finance Committee: the text of the bill, a section-by-section description of the bill, and the Joint Committee on Taxation's score of the bill. (Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate)
Five Ideas for Fixing Unionized Workers' Pension Crisis
"[T]he Multiemployer Pension Reform Act was intended to fix the troubled pension system, but it hasn't quite done the job. Lawmakers, as well as major employers such as United Parcel Service, have thrown out proposals for fixing the pension system. Almost all of the proposals call for some sort of loan program for the plans." (Bloomberg BNA)
Multiemployer Plan Pension Rescue Bill Proposed
"The bill creates a new agency within the Department of the Treasury called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA) to make loans to plans and to receive loan payments. The PRA would receive funding from government bonds.... A plan would receive the loan and be required to either purchase an annuity contract for benefits in pay status, or establish a bond portfolio that would match the anticipated payment stream for benefits in pay status. The plan would make interest payments on the loan until maturity." (Cheiron)
[Opinion] Don't Dismantle Public Pensions Because They Aren't 100 Percent Funded (PDF)
"In the last decade or so, state and local policymakers ... have been slowly dismantling public pensions. Why? Because, they argue, pension plans are underfunded and cannot be sustained.... Ability to pay depends on whether an entity can meet its cash flow needs and whether the total assets of the entity -- the public employer -- are a reasonable fraction of its total liabilities." (National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems [NCPERS])
[Opinion] Senators Introduce Bills to Save Financially Troubled Multiemployer Plans and Protect Retirees
"These bills set up a new office in the Treasury Department called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA), which would receive proceeds from the issuance of Treasury bonds. This money would then be lent to financially-troubled plans as long as they meet certain criteria. The Pension Rights Center is particularly pleased that the loans would be used to fully pay the benefits of retirees and that the bill would require plans, which have already been approved to cut benefits under MPRA, to apply for these new loans and if approved, use that money to restore previously suspended benefits." (Pension Rights Center)
Senate Tax Bill Revisions Kill ACA Individual Mandate, Preserve Current Retirement and NQDC Contributions
"Unlike the House version, the Senate bill, as amended, would effectively repeal the [ACA's] individual mandate ... Like the House tax bill, the Senate version now keeps pretax retirement contributions to 401(k) and similar plans intact.... Senate Republicans added an employer credit for paid family and medical leave to the bill.... [By] Nov. 15 the NQDC provision was gone from the revised mark-up of the bill." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
JCT Correction to the Description of the Chairman's Modification to the Chairman's Mark of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
"As previously published [on Nov. 14], the description of the modification to the Chairman's mark contained a misprint of certain calculations in the rate tables. Printed [in this document] is the correct table. [JCT has] highlighted those numbers that have been corrected from the prior version." (Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT], U.S. Congress)
Description of the Chairman's Modification to the Chairman's Mark of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
103 pages. "Scheduled for markup before the Senate Committee on Finance on November 15, 2017 ... The Chairman's modification strikes the following proposals: [1] Item III.H.1, Nonqualified deferred compensation, [2] Item III.K, Determination of worker classification and information reporting requirements, [3] Item III.M.2, Application of 10-percent early withdrawal tax to governmental section 457(b) plans, and [4] Item III.M.3, Elimination of catch-up contributions for high-wage employees." [Also available: Estimated revenue effects of these modifications.] (Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT], U.S. Congress)
House and Senate Tax Bills Propose Changes to Qualified Plans
"[T]he House bill contains a number of smaller proposed changes that are intended to simplify plan administration, promote savings, and/or raise revenue, and the Senate bill proposes several targeted reductions to various tax-qualified retirement plan contribution limits." (Morgan Lewis)
[Opinion] 'Rothification' Would Be Likely to Reduce Retirement Saving
"As part of tax reform, Congress considered changes to 401(k)s that would require most new contributions to go to a Roth, rather than a traditional, account. This budget gimmick would help pay for tax cuts because Roths are taxed up-front, rather than in retirement. Such a change, however, could also affect how much people save. Some could save more by keeping their contribution steady. Some may save the same by reducing their contribution to maintain their take-home pay. But many, especially those who have lower incomes or are cash-strapped, may overreact and save much less. Rather than risk disrupting the retirement savings system, a better idea is to focus on actions to boost saving and expand access to workplace retirement plans." (Alicia H. Munnell and Gal Wettstein, Via Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
[Opinion] Collecting Taxes on 401(k) Deferrals: The Wrong Policy at the Wrong Time
"Congress is looking for ways to pay for a reduction in corporate tax rates, and the money has to come from somewhere. So why not collect the tax on 401k contributions now? This short-term gimmick eliminates individual choice and risks thwarting the long-term goal of increasing retirement savings. What can we do to convince our elected officials this is a bad idea?" (Carol Buckmann, J.D., via PenChecks)
Secretary Acosta to Testify at Hearing on DOL
"Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) today announced that the committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, November 15 at 10 a.m. on 'Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. [DOL].' The Honorable R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, will testify. The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building." (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)
Senate Sneaks 401(k) Contribution Limits Into Tax Cuts Bill
"High earners would be prohibited from making $6,000 catch-up contributions to 401(k) workplace retirement plans. That lets the Senate say it isn't targeting 401(k) deferrals, but it's a huge grab out of the $24,000 high earners can put away today ($18,000 elective deferral and $6,000 catch-up). In addition, the Senate proposal targets government workers who have both a 457 retirement plan and a 401(k) plan. No matter how much they earn, they wouldn't be able to save to the max in both plans anymore at one employer. And special catch-ups for 403(b) and 457 plans would be restricted too." (Forbes)
Senate Tax Reform Proposal Caps Catch-Ups
"The Chairman's Mark of the Senate tax reform proposal throws a few unexpected curves -- bringing back problems for deferred compensation plans, introducing some new problems for 403(b) and 457 plans and capping catch-up contributions. Under the proposal unveiled Nov. 9 by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as of plan years and taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, individuals could not make any catch-up contributions -- even on an after-tax basis -- for a year if they received wages of $500,000 or more in the preceding year." (National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA])
Description of the Chairman's Mark of the 'Tax Cuts and Jobs Act'
253 pages. "The Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a markup on November 13, 2017, of ... the 'Tax Cuts and Jobs Act' ... This document ... provides a description of the Chairman's Mark[.]' " [Includes descriptions of employer fringe benefit provisions at page 97; executive compensation provisions at page 125, and retirement savings provisions at page 177. JCT has also released a report of estimated revenue effects of the legislation.] (Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT], U.S. Congress)
[Opinion] The Mother of All U.S. Pension Bailouts?
"[Sen. Sherrod Brown's] bill will ensure more mediocrity as there will be no incentive whatsoever to change what is fundamentally plaguing large U.S. pensions. Your discount rate is too high? No problem, keep it. Your plan is chronically underfunded? No problem, just borrow from the U.S. Treasury in perpetuity. You have no risk-sharing in your plan? Who cares, Uncle Sam will backstop it all so you don't need risk-sharing or better governance." (Pension Pulse)
Senate Introduces Tax Bill, Keeps Retirement Contributions Intact
"Like the House bill, the Senate version keeps pre-tax retirement contributions intact.... Unlike the House bill, the Senate version does not reduce the tax rate on partnerships' pass-through income, instead calling for a deduction that would benefit more income groups." (Pensions & Investments)
House Ways and Means Approves Tax Reform Package
"The bill, which will be voted on by the full House later in the month, leaves intact the tax treatment of 401(k) contributions.... The plan also eases some burdens on non-discrimination testing of benefit plans, but the current House committee version does not change highly compensated employees' ability to use non-qualified deferred compensation plans to boost retirement savings." (Pensions & Investments)
SEC Investor Advisory Committee to Meet December 7 (PDF)
"The agenda for the meeting includes ... a discussion of a recommendation of the Investor as Purchaser Subcommittee regarding electronic delivery of information to retail investors; ... a discussion regarding cybersecurity risk disclosures ... [and] a discussion regarding retail investor disclosure: what works, what doesn't, and best practices[.]" (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC])
Hearing Set for EBSA Nominee
"On Nov. 15 the [Senate Health, Education Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee] will question Preston Rutledge, President Trump's candidate to head the EBSA, who was nominated last month. Rutledge currently serves as senior tax and benefits counsel on the Majority Tax Staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, where his responsibilities include employee benefits, retirement issues, tax-exempt organizations, health tax issues and the tax provisions of the [ACA]." (National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA])
[Opinion] Fiduciary Rule Fallout: Increasing the Cost of Retirement
"Research conducted by the U.S. Chamber found that 6 million investment accounts already face increased costs directly related to the Fiduciary Rule. Another recent study by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) estimated $4.7 billion of compliance fees will be passed onto savers and investors following the fiduciary rule's implementation. The rising costs can primarily be explained by the change in the pricing of financial advice." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
[Opinion] Steps to Address America's Retirement Security Challenge: A Public Policy Point of View (PDF)
15 pages. "As the U.S. retirement system continues to evolve and individuals take on more responsibility for retirement planning, it's important to support those workers as much as possible in the transition.... [K]ey policy changes that will strengthen the current system.... [1] Encourage greater access to lifetime income products.... [2] Establish an alternative 401(k) safe harbor plan with higher deferral rates.... [3] Facilitate portability and consolidation of individuals' retirement assets.... [4] Permit some retirement savings to be used for short-term needs.... [5] End the Federal Budget practice of 'double counting' increases in the premiums that plan sponsors must pay to the PBGC.... [6] Revise nondiscrimination testing rules that currently encourage many plan sponsors to 'freeze' their DB pension plans." (Mercer)
Chamber Backs Mandatory Arbitration of Employee Benefit Issues
"The Chamber is backing the University of Southern California in its attempt to move a proposed class action over the fees associated with its retirement plan into arbitration. In a brief filed Nov. 6, the Chamber asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to rule that employment agreements with arbitration clauses -- like the ones USC required its workers to sign -- apply to disputes involving retirement plans governed by [ERISA]." [Munro v. Univ. of Southern Calif., No. 17-55550 (9th Cir., amicus brief filed Nov. 6, 2017)] (Bloomberg BNA)
Sen. Sherrod Brown to Unveil Multiemployer Loan Program Legislation
"The bill ... would create a new office within the Treasury Department called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration. The funds would come from the sale of Treasury-issued bonds to financial institutions. The pension funds could borrow for 30 years at low interest rates.... The bill would also fund a program at the [PBGC] to finance any remaining needs of pension plans borrowing from the new program." (Pensions & Investments)
Tax Reform Surprise: Congress Slips in 401(k) MEP Broadside
"H.R.1 introduces a brand-new subsection to Section 401 -- subsection (o). Within this new subsection resides language that just may change the nature of the retirement plan industry. The proposed new 401(o) subsection is titled 'Special Rule for Applying Non-Discrimination Rules to Older, Longer Service and Grandfathered Participants.' Further down, specifically on Page 157, line 10 of H.R.1, sits paragraph 401(o)(1)(H). It reads as follow: '(H) TREATMENT AS SINGLE PLAN.--For purposes of subparagraphs (E) and (G), a plan described in section 413(c) shall be treated as a single plan rather than as separate plans maintained by each participating employer.' " (Fiduciary News)
Proposed Tax Bill Includes Language to Expand MEPs -- Dramatically
"The proposed language in the Tax Bill, if signed into law, will effectively negate the authority behind the [DOL's] Advisory Opinion 2012-04A by acknowledging that the adopters within a 413(c) multiple employer plan are not to be separated out with individual filing responsibilities and treated as separate plans. This means that the current requirement for Open MEP's that include filing individual Form 5500's, requiring individual plan audits for those adopters whose size makes such an audit a requirement, and the need for an individual ERISA Bond will disappear under the new law if it is enacted." (The Platinum 401k, Inc., via LinkedIn)
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Good News for 401(k) Plans, Bad News for Nonqualified Deferred Compensation
"While there were no adjustments to contributions to 401(k) plans under the Act, that does not mean that the final version of the bill will not include some form of Rothification.... The Act liberalizes certain rules relating to hardship distributions.... This proposal would eliminate many standard forms of deferred compensation, such as 401(k) mirror plans. It also removes from the Code, with respect to services performed after December 31, 2017, Sections 409A, 457(b) (for tax exempt employers), 457(f), and 457A ... The exclusions for adoption assistance, dependent care, qualified moving expenses, and employee achievement awards are repealed." (The Wagner Law Group)
Potential Impact of Tax Reform on Qualified Retirement Plans
"The retirement plan proposals that made it into the first draft of the legislation include: [1] Permanent 'closed plan' nondiscrimination testing.... [2] In-service withdrawals from defined benefit plans.... [3] Hardship withdrawals from individual account plans.... [4] Extended rollover period for plan loans." (Kilpatrick Townsend)
[Opinion] 401(k) Contributions: Limiting Pre-Tax 401(k) Contributions Is OK
"With a tax cut imminent, and deficits expected to rise as a result, does anyone believe that tax rates will be lower 10, 20 or 30 years from now? ... That would seem to argue for making Roth 401k contributions now versus pre-tax contributions. That is just what most savers would end up doing if the 401k pre-tax limit was lowered." (Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants)
[Opinion] Beware of the U.S. Public Pension Ponzi?
"[P]ublic pension funds essentially hide their true funding status by simply choosing artificially high discount rates for future liabilities thus making their present values appear lower than they actually are. It's a clever scam but one that can only persist until the Ponzi runs out of cash.... [T]he median expected return of the 100 largest public pension funds in the U.S. is somewhere around 5.9% based on the asset allocations of those funds.... [But] 83 of the top 100 funds used discount rates in excess of 7%." (Pension Pulse)
GOP Tax Bill Outlines Significant Changes for Benefits and Compensation
"There is nothing in the bill that would limit pretax retirement savings or require them to be converted to Roth after-tax savings ... Some of the most significant changes relate to limits on executive compensation ... Beginning in 2018, individuals would no longer be permitted to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, or vice versa.... There are a few modest changes for tax-qualified retirement plans ... Beginning in 2018, the pretax treatment of expenses under a dependent care flexible spending account would be repealed.... Qualified tuition reimbursement plans through which employers can provide pretax tuition assistance to employees would be repealed effective in 2018.... Several other pretax fringe benefit arrangements would no longer be eligible for tax benefits beginning in 2018, including transportation fringe benefit plans, adoption assistance plans, qualified moving-expense reimbursement arrangements, employee achievement awards, and Archer medical savings accounts." (Ballard Spahr LLP)
Chairman Brady Introduces the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
"For individuals and families, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: ... Retains popular retirement savings options such as 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts so Americans can continue to save for their future.... Lowers the corporate tax rate to 20% ... Reduces the tax rate on the hard-earned business income of Main Street job creators to no more than 25%[.]" Also released: [1] Full legislative text of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; [2] Section-by-section summary; [3] Policy highlights; and [4] Examples of how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help Americans of all walks of life. (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)
OregonSaves: New Path or Dead End?
"Employers that already offer a qualified retirement plan to their employees are not off the hook entirely. Under Oregon law, an employer must certify (prior to the applicable date [which depends on the size of the employer, being Nov. 15, 2017 for employers of 100 or more employees]) that it offers an employer-sponsored retirement plan to obtain an exemption from participating in OregonSaves. Under Oregon law, employers must renew the exemption every three years. Employers that fail to file for and obtain a valid exemption are subject to the rules established under Oregon law." (Graydon)
House Tax Chief Says No Plans to Reduce 401(k) Pretax Limits
"House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says he doesn't plan to reduce the pretax contributions American workers can make to 401(k) retirement plans -- 'unless there's broad agreement' among investment advisers that a different system would lead workers to save more. 'It will either be strengthened or enlarged or left pretty much as is,' Brady told reporters[.]" (Bloomberg)
[Opinion] PSCA Encourages Plan Sponsors to Raise Their Voices About Tax Reform
"PSCA's recent survey of plan sponsors on the impact of tax reform ... found 90% are strongly or somewhat opposed the reduction of tax incentives for retirement savings." (Plan Sponsor Council of America [PSCA])
[Opinion] American Academy of Actuaries' Position Statement on Retirement Income Options in Employer-Sponsored Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
"By offering retirement income and longevity risk management options in DC plans, employers can give working Americans additional tools to enhance their retirement security and financial well- being. The American Academy of Actuaries supports this goal through the development of related solutions, tools, policies, and education and stands ready to assist policymakers in their development." (American Academy of Actuaries)
If Retirement Pros Set Tax Policy Instead of Politicians, This Is What We'd Get
"These are the experts who live on the front lines of the retirement industry. They see, first hand, what works and what doesn't work. They have no political favors to pay back, but they do have to worry about getting 're-elected' (i.e., retaining their clients). As a result, they may be more accountable when it comes to acting in the best interests of retirement savers. That's because they have a direct fiduciary liability for their advice and actions that no elected official can ever have. Nearly every financial adviser we spoke with agreed only one policy change would get people to save more for retirement: Increasing the cap on retirement contributions." (Fiduciary News)
[Official Guidance] Text of House Committee Report on Proposed Bill to Repeal the DOL Fiduciary Rule (PDF)
98 pages. "The Committee on Education and the Workforce, to whom was referred the bill [H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act] to amend [ERISA] and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure that retirement investors receive advice in their best interests, and for other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass." (114th Congress)
Current Pension Outlook, October 2017
"Republicans considering Rothification after first $2,400 of 401(k) contributions ... Healthcare Executive Order -- implications for Open MEPs? ... House Committee approves bill repealing fiduciary rule ... ERIC files ERISA preemption suit against Oregon retirement program ... Trump names new EBSA head." (October Three Consulting)
Oregon Retirement Program Faces Court Challenge
"The lawsuit challenges a narrow issue: whether employers who already sponsor ERISA plans are required to report plan activities to the State of Oregon. The resolution of this issue will determine the action(s), if any, such employers will need to take in the future. Unless the OregonSaves law and regulations are stayed, they remain enforceable come November 15, 2017.... [T]he lawsuit does not challenge the enforceability of OregonSaves law and regulations against employers who do not sponsor a retirement plan. Thus, these employers should continue to prepare to participate in the OregonSaves Retirement Program." (Benesch)
[Opinion] Limit on 401(k) Savings? It's About Paying for Tax Cuts
"Nearly 40 years later, 401(k) accounts are the most common employer-sponsored retirement plans and a raft on which millions of Americans hope to float through retirement.... A proposal to slash the amount of money workers can put in tax-deferred retirement accounts set off alarms among savers and members of the financial services industry, who contend that limiting the tax break would discourage contributions to 401(k) plans." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
Employee Perspectives on Barriers to Retirement Saving (PDF)
32 pages. "Overall, two-thirds of those working for small to midsize employers said they have access to a plan at their jobs, and 68 percent of that group participates.... When businesses contribute to retirement plans, full-time employees are more than twice as likely as those whose employers do not contribute to participate. Only 28 percent of full-time workers without access to employer-sponsored plans report having any other retirement savings through alternative approaches, such as an IRA or a 401(k) from a previous employer." (The Pew Charitable Trusts)
Taxing Employer-Provided Benefits: Congressional Discussions Continue
"[1] Some limit on 401(k) plans is still on the table, possibly coupled with other saving incentives, such as increasing investments in Roth retirement plans where tax exclusions are shifted to post-retirement years; [2] Some cap on the tax exclusion for short-term disability benefits is possible, which could impact generous leave benefits; ... [3] [At] least for now, there are no plans to change the tax exclusion for employment-based health benefits; and [4] While the Cadillac tax is not currently in the mix, amendments to repeal or delay it are expected." (HR Policy Association)
[Opinion] Treasury Department Recommends IRI Retirement Security Policies
"This summer, IRI met with staff at Treasury to explain how the policies included in our Blueprint would improve retirement readiness across the country, and we are extremely encouraged to see so many of those policies being recommended in this report." (Insured Retirement Institute [IRI])
The 401(k) Millionaire Next Door
"The proof of the success of the 401(k) or TSP has been the ability of an increasing number of participants to reach a high milestone. The TSP had 16,475 millionaires as of August of this year. There were 2,675 millionaires in the same month in 2014. TSP millionaires are a small group relative to the 5.1 million participants, but it's clearly growing. As of year-end 2014, Fidelity Investments said that 72,000 of its 401(k) accounts held more than $1 million. This is up from 59,000 in 2013 and 21,000 in 2009." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)
Watchdog Group Sues DOL to See Records for Fiduciary Rule Rewrite
"The independent watchdog group American Oversight filed a lawsuit ... to force the [DOL] to release records about revisions to the fiduciary rule now being considered.... The group submitted Freedom of Information Act requests on July 21, seeking communications and documents regarding proposed changes to these two rules, but said that the DOL 'failed to adequately respond' within the required time frame." (Pensions & Investments)
[Opinion] Congress Might Take Away the 401(k) for the Wrong Reason
"The 401(k) is hardly a perfect retirement savings vehicle. It was originally designed in the 1980s to be a supplement to pensions plans, not the main way Americans save for retirement.... About everyone agrees that Congress -- and corporations -- need to find ways to spur people to save more. But the current proposal being tossed around by the GOP would do the opposite[.]" (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)
Statement by Secretary Mnuchin on Assistant Secretary David Kautter's Designation as Acting IRS Commissioner
"Current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's term expires on November 12, and Kautter's designation as Acting Commissioner will take effect at that time. Kautter joined Treasury as Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy in August 2017. He will continue to carry out his Assistant Secretary duties, including working on tax reform, while serving as Acting Commissioner." (U.S. Department of the Treasury)
Trump Says 401(k)s Off Limits for Tax Reform, But Top Tax Lawmakers Say They're Under Consideration
"Republicans seeking to reach an agreement on tax reform are considering changes to the popular 401(k) retirement plan, despite President Donald Trump's vow that they would not be touched. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said on Wednesday that certain state and local tax deductions were still under discussion, including a proposal to cap contributions to retirement plans, ahead of the planned rollout of new tax reform legislation next week." (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. Receives 'C' Grade in Global Retirement Study
"In a new global study of retirement systems around the world, the U.S. received an overall grade of 'C,' meaning the country's system has some good features, but also has major risks and/or shortcomings that should be addressed, according to the classification.... Based on the historical data in the report, it appears the U.S. has hovered in the 'C' range since the report's inception in 2009." (National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA])
Oregon Rolls Out OregonSaves for Workers without Retirement Plan Coverage
"The state of Oregon is rolling out its new retirement savings program, with registration slated to begin on November 15 for employers with 100 or more employees. Under OregonSaves, Oregon employers that do not offer a retirement savings program must facilitate employee payroll deductions, which are then contributed to personal Roth IRAs. Four other states -- California, Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland -- have adopted similar programs." (Willis Towers Watson)
[Opinion] Even If Trump Spares 401(k)s, Saving for Retirement Is Still Broken
"[T]he current strategy of encouraging retirement savings through tax incentives such as 401(k) plans is not one that 'works.' According to a recent estimate from researchers at the Census Bureau, fewer than one-third of American workers participate in 401(k) plans and other workplace retirement accounts, and the failure of 401(k) plans to cover broad swaths of the population is a major cause of the country's retirement-savings shortfall." (The Atlantic)
Retirement Pros Reveal Worst Fears Regarding Tax Reform
"[L]owering or removing tax-deductibility of a majority of contributions hurts the very people who can least afford it -- those who don't make enough to overcome the loss of the incentive yet who make too much to avail themselves of government assistance programs.... Any public policy change that discourages retirement savers will alter the current trend among some to attain the financial self-sufficiency needed to offset expected reductions in Social Security.... The most cynical fear Congress might make changes retroactive, effectively removing tax advantages from decisions made years ago." (Fiduciary News)
401(k) Employee Contributions Above $2,400, a Possible Rothification Threshold (PDF)
"[Pending release of a major study of the projected impact of certain tax reform changes on retirement income adequacy, EBRI is] providing our most-current information on the percentage of 401(k) contributors who would likely be impacted by the $2,400 threshold and the percent age of 401(k) employee contributions that would be above $2,400 and thus subject to mandatory Rothification.... [T]his information [is provided] with breakouts by salary and age." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])
[Opinion] Why Congress's Plan to Slash 401(k) Limits Was Never a Good Idea
"If removing the tax-preferred status of much of the country's retirement savings contributions leads to widespread conversion to Roth 401(k)s, where after-tax dollars are contributed but withdrawals are tax-free, the government could face a sharp drop-off in tax receipts when these workers hit retirement." (NBC News)
Loans by Federal Government to Multiemployer Plans Could Cost $7 Billion
"Advocates for multiemployer plans are putting the finishing touches on various federal proposals that would offer low-interest financing for struggling plans.... 55 pension funds designated as critical and declining with a combined $28 billion in net assets at the end of 2015 would be eligible for credit assistance. Under one proposal, the gross loan disbursement would be $23.3 billion payable over five years, with the favorable loan terms costing taxpayers $7.2 billion, without factoring in default risk, the researchers said; a one-third default rate on those loans would cost $10.9 billion." (Pensions & Investments)

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