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Structuring Employee Severance Arrangements: Revisiting Section 409A and its Impact on Deferred Compensation


Dec. 9, 2020
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST

A live 90-minute premium CLE webinar with interactive Q&A

This CLE webinar will provide counsel with guidance on structuring employee severance or separation agreements to comply with Section 409A's restrictions on deferred compensation. The panel will discuss key provisions of severance and separation agreements, application of Section 409A and available exemptions, accelerating the vesting of equity awards, and other key considerations.

The IRS has been pursuing a targeted Section 409A audit initiative project on compliance with 409A restrictions on deferral of compensation.

Most severance arrangements are subject to Section 409A and must be appropriately structured to avoid adverse tax consequences. Failure to comply with 409A's strict rules can result in severe penalties, including a 20 percent excise tax and immediate taxation of vested deferred amounts.

Listen as our experienced panel of employee benefits attorneys explains the critical requirements of 409A and discusses the steps counsel should take to ensure compliance given the IRS focus. The panel will outline best practices for reviewing nonqualified deferred compensation plans, employment agreements, and other severance arrangements.


  • 409A issues to be considered in severance plans and agreements
  • Severance benefits subject to 409A
  • Severance benefits exempt from 409A
  • Impact of accelerating the vesting of equity awards upon a termination of employment on 409A
  • Discussion of change in control severance arrangements and "regular" severance for purposes of 409A
  • Importance of definition of "good reason" for 409A purposes
  • Can severance benefits that are subject to 409A be conditioned on a release?

The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Does 409A affect all severance plans and agreements?
  • How does 409A impact the drafting of severance plans and agreements?
  • What are some best practices for complying with 409A regulations as they relate to severance plans and agreements?


  • Carrie E. Byrnes, Partner, Michael Best & Friedrich
  • Shilpa Gokhale, Counsel, McDonald Hopkins

More Information, How to Register

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