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November 25, 2002 - 12,959 subscribers
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DOL Publishes Final Class Exemption Under Voluntary Fiduciary Compliance Program
Excerpt: "The final exemption provides [excise tax] relief ... for four transactions covered by the VFC Program.... The transactions include: Late transmittal of employee contributions and participant loan repayments to plans; Loans between plans and related parties at fair market interest rates; Purchases or sales of assets between plans and related parties at fair market value; The sale and leaseback of property between plans and employers for fair market value and fair market rental value." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

Link to Class Exemption for Certain Transactions Under Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
Excerpt: "The exemption provides relief from the sanctions imposed under section 4975(a) and (b) of the Code, by reason of section 4975(c)(1)(A) through (E) of the Code, for certain eligible transactions identified in the VFC Program. The exemption does not provide relief for any transactions identified in the VFC Program that are not specifically described as eligible transactions under ... the exemption." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

Official Announcement of 2003 Social Security Contribution and Benefit Base: $87,000
Excerpt: "The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration has announced (1) the OASDI contribution and benefit base for remuneration paid in 2003 and self-employment income earned in taxable years beginning in 2003, and (2) the domestic employee coverage threshold amount for 2003." (Social Security Administration)

PBGC Seeks to Terminate and Protect Plan for Global Crossing Workers
Excerpt: "A tug of war over the pension plan for 5,500 telephone employees and retirees who were caught up in the upheaval of Global Crossing appears to be coming to an end.... The [PBGC] said the filing on Monday was intended to protect the interests of workers while seeking completion of a deal made last year to transfer the pension plan to the company that bought Global Crossing's local telephone operations in Rochester, which ran under the names Rochester Telephone and Frontier." (New York Times; free registration required)

Both Sides See Gains in Settlement of Port Dispute; Pensions Increased Substantially
Excerpt: "Under the agreement, reached after more than a month of negotiations in San Francisco, longshoremen's pensions will rise by almost 60 percent, the officials said. A longshoreman with 30 years' experience will be able to retire with an annual pension of $54,000, compared with the current $34,200." (New York Times; free registration required)

A Brief History of 401(k) Plans
November 2002 edition of 'Facts From EBRI.' Excerpt: "This brief history tracks key events in the development of 401(k) plans." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Commentary: Will 401(k) Green Suffice for Boomers' Gray Years?
Excerpt: "[T]oday, now that many baby boomers are saving for themselves in 401(k)s or the similar 403(b) plans, experts find they are not doing a very good job of it. Fewer companies are chipping in money, and workers aren't putting enough money into the plans, they're not diversifying their investments, or they are holding too much company stock ..." (The [Pittsburgh] Post-Gazette)

Opinion: DB Plans Lack Legs, Compared to 401(k) Plans
Excerpt: "Books like 'The Great 401(k) Hoax' rant on about how American employees have been left to their own devices where these wonderful defined-benefit plans once offered a guaranteed retirement benefit. The facts are that portable 401(k) plans generate five times more money at retirement than the traditional succession of retirement plans offered by the collection of employers that most Americans work for over the years." (Contra Costa Times)

Another Question is Answered in the Stop, Look & Listen: Railroad Retirement Q&A Column
I recently married a railroad worker with 32 years of service. He had been married for over 30 years until his divorce last year. How is the survivor benefit split among the two of us in the event of his death? (BenefitsLink.com)

Official Sues, Wins in Dispute Over Definition of Compensation in Town's Pension Plan
Excerpt: "The magistrate reversed the Milton [Mass.] retirement board, which had ruled the Board of Selectmen illegally inflated Cronin's salary in his last years of employment to boost his pension. Selectmen had given him special bonuses-- $37,500 in 'longevity' and 'deferred compensation' payments-- after he told them in spring 2000 he was going to retire, the board found." (The Boston Globe)

Pensions and Retirement Plan Enactments in 2002 State Legislatures
Excerpt: "This report summarizes major state pensions and retirement legislation that state legislatures enacted in 2002. The criterion for selection has been usefulness to policy makers in other states who may face similar issues and want to know how other states have addressed the issue.... Cost-of-living adjustments, administrative issues and technical changes are excluded from this report. This report has reviewed legislation enacted in 43 states through October 31, 2002." (National Conference of State Legislatures)

Small Business Employers and Employees Disagree on Key Issues Affecting Retirement
Excerpt: "Whether it's compensation, benefit packages or investment education in the workplace, the latest survey commissioned by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies(sm) reveals a disconnect between small business executives and their employees." (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Commentary: Is Litigation an American Blight, or Built In?
Excerpt: "[A] growing number of political scientists are arguing that America's famous litigiousness isn't rooted in plain and simple greed but is rather the logical response to America's distinctive distribution of power and to a historical distrust of big government." (New York Times; free registration required)

Keeping Ghosts Off the Payroll
Excerpt: "Ghost employees: This term refers to someone on the payroll who doesn't actually work for the victim company. The ghost frequently is a recently departed employee, a made-up person or a friend or relative of the fraudster, who can cash the paycheck by forging the endorsement or by having an accomplice deposit the proceeds into his or her bank account." (Journal of Accountancy, published by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants)

Why Corporate Compensation Committees Need the Help of CPAs
Excerpt: "CPAs can add value to compensation committees in these four areas: helping to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations, setting performance goals and benchmarks for the incentive portion of executive pay packages, calculating the value of stock options where companies treat options as expenses on income statements and evaluating alternatives to traditional stock option payouts." (Journal of Accountancy, published by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants)


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