Subscribe Now!
Free Daily News, Jobs, Webcasts, Discussions
Post and Distribute
Your Jobs
ARPA News
ARPA Webcasts

Featured Jobs

Director of 401(k) Implementation, Core

Human Interest
(Telecommute / Mill Valley CA)

Human Interest logo

Plan Document Specialist

Jocelyn Pension Consulting
(Telecommute / Boulder CO / San Rafael CA)

Jocelyn Pension Consulting logo

DB Retirement Plan Administrator

The Nolan Company
(Telecommute / Overland Park KS)

The Nolan Company logo

Employee Benefits/Health and Welfare Attorney

Miller Johnson
(Telecommute / Grand Rapids MI / Kalamazoo MI / Detroit MI)

Miller Johnson logo

Product Support Consultant

ftwilliam.com part of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory
(Telecommute)

ftwilliam.com part of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory logo

Retirement Plan Administrator

My Benefits, LLC
(Telecommute / Daphne AL / Atlantic Beach FL)

My Benefits, LLC logo

DB/DC Administrator

Primark Benefits
(Telecommute / Burlingame CA)

Primark Benefits logo

401(k) Implementation Manager

Human Interest
(Telecommute / San Francisco CA)

Human Interest logo

Director of Finance

NYCDC of Carpenters Benefit Funds
(New York NY)

DC or DB Administrator

Farmer & Betts, Inc.
(Telecommute / Tacoma WA / Tualatin OR / Littleton CO)

Farmer & Betts, Inc. logo

DC Retirement Plan Administrator

The Nolan Company
(Telecommute / Overland Park KS)

The Nolan Company logo

Retirement Plan Consultant / Relationship Manager

Associated Pension Consultants
(Chico CA / Sacramento CA)

Associated Pension Consultants logo

Retirement Plan Administrator

RSW & Associates
(CT / NJ / NY)

RSW & Associates logo

Retirement Plan Administrator (Account Manager)

Kushner & Company
(Telecommute / Portage MI)

Kushner & Company logo

Retirement Plan Administrator

Bates & Company
(Telecommute / Winter Park FL)

Bates & Company logo

401(k) Consultant

TPS Group
(Telecommute / North Haven CT)

TPS Group logo

Free Newsletters

“BenefitsLink continues to be the most valuable resource we have at the firm.”

-- An attorney subscriber

Mobile App image LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon

BenefitsLink > Q&A Columns >

Who's the Employer?

Answers are provided by S. Derrin Watson, JD, APM

No Mandatory Coverage for Housekeeper

(Posted September 14, 2001)

Question 129: An attorney sole proprietor has 2 non-highly compensated employees at his law practice. He also has a full-time housekeeper. The housekeeper only performs housekeeping duties at his private residence. Does the housekeeper have to be covered by a qualified plan sponsored by the attorney(intended to cover only the law firm employees)? Note: I have spoken to ERISA attorneys and practioners and have gotten 2 responses: 1) Yes, coverage is required, controlled group issues are the rule, 2) No, the housekeeper is not part of a trade or business. If the attorney was organized as a corporation, would that make a difference?

Answer: Understanding the Internal Revenue Code is a matter of understanding words. Words have meanings. We ignore, or slide over, the words of the Code at our peril. That is why I will be very specific in my choice of words in analyzing this.

The controlled group rules are not in issue. Why? Because the controlled group rules of IRC 414(b) only apply to two or more corporations or entities taxed as corporations. If any entity under consideration is unincorporated, the controlled group rules do not apply. I suppose if the attorney incorporated both his household and his law practice in two separate corporations, that the controlled group rules would apply (although there would be huge deductibility and dividend issues associated with the household corporation). But, so long as either is unincorporated, the controlled group rules do not apply.

What applies instead is IRC 414(c), the common control rules. The key phrase in 414(c) is "all employees of trades or businesses (whether or not incorporated) which are under common control shall be treated as employed by a single employer." Notice the words "trades or businesses." If an employer is not a "trade or business," then inherenetly it is exempt from 414(c).

In other words, the controlled group issues are totally inapplicable. The common control rules are also inapplicable because the housekeeper is not employed by a trade or business.

Now, let me return to an issue I recently addressed in Q&A 126 of this column. Suppose that the housekeeper was under common control with the employees of the law firm. Would that mean that "the housekeeper ha[s] to be covered"? No. It would only mean that the housekeeper must be counted in determining if the coverage requirements of the Code are met. How difficult do you suppose it would be, based on the facts given, to design a plan which would satisfy the average benefit percentage test of 410(b)(2), even if the housekeeper would be excluded? In fact, it would be a slam dunk.

The common control rules are discussed in more detail in Chapter 12 of my book, Who's the Employer?.


Important notice:

Answers are provided as general guidance on the subjects covered in the question and are not provided as legal advice to the questioner or to readers. Any legal issues should be reviewed by your legal counsel to apply the law to the particular facts of this and similar situations.

The law in this area changes frequently. Answers are believed to be correct as of the posting dates shown. The completeness or accuracy of a particular answer may be affected by changes in the law (statutes, regulations, rulings, court decisions, etc.) that occur after the date on which a particular Q&A is posted.


Copyright 1999-2017 S. Derrin Watson
Related links:

(restricted access)

(restricted access)

© 2021 BenefitsLink.com, Inc.