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October 1, 2008

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.


Today's sponsor is ASPPA

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Looking to get ahead in the pension industry? Career advancement requires specialized knowledge, skills and credentialing. ASPPA is the industry’s premier provider of credentialing and education programs that will help put you in the driver’s seat of your career. Registration for webcourses and/or fall examinations is currently open. You’ve got the green light to start on your road to success. Visit www.asppa.org/education and begin your journey today.

[Guidance Overview] How to Exclude 'Independent Contractors' from Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "To the troublesome question of employee classification, the drafter of the plans at issue in Bendsen had a simple solution. Just say what is intended in the plan document. The workers in this case argued that, despite characterization as 'independent contractors' in certain contractual agreements, they were actually common law employees. As such, they advanced several claims against the defendant, including claims for benefits." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)


[Guidance Overview] IRS Easing of Certain Restrictions on Submission and Use of New Pre-Approved Plans
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: The IRS states that it is easing its initial restrictions on new pre-approved plans after considering comments of pre-approved plan sponsors and determining that these changes would not require additional IRS resources: The 'plans affected by the changes have, in effect, already been reviewed and approved.' We are encouraged to see that the IRS is considering and responding to practitioner comments concerning the new cyclical amendment and submission procedures. These modifications are effective retroactively to June 13, 2007, which was the effective date of Revenue Procedure 2007-44." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


Governor Corzine Signs Garden State Pension Reform Bill
Excerpt: "Pension reform legislation signed into law by New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine that calls for a higher retirement age and new income eligibility requirements for enrollment should save the Garden State $150 million through 2022." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


DOL's New Rule Governing Information About Union Trusts
Excerpt: "The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) today posted at www.olms.dol.gov a final rule that enhances financial reporting and provides union members with more complete information about finances held in union trusts. The final rule, issued under the authority of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), further implements the LMRDA goal of securing the right of labor union members to have meaningful information about union finances and expenditures." (Workplace Prof Blog)


Persuading Employees to Participate in Company Retirement Plans Isn't Getting Any Easier
Excerpt: "'Younger, hourly workers are living hand-to-mouth, and no level of education appears to convince them to save for a distant retirement date,' said a CFO in the consumer-goods industry. Still, companies persist. More than half (55 percent) of respondents say they expect their company to increase the amount of time and money it commits to employees' retirement readiness over the next five years; only 6 percent plan to reduce resources." (CFO.com)


DOL's New Online Tools Enhance Financial Transparency
Excerpt: "The Department of Labor just made it easier for workers and plan administrators to access actuarial data on pension plans. It created an online feature titled 'ERISA Public Disclosure System.' The program allows users to search for plan information by plan name, employer identification number or date. Individuals can review actuarial numbers to determine whether a plan is adequately funded to pay guaranteed benefits and is complying with the funding rules under federal pension laws." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)


Pensions Industry Struggling to Determine Consequences of U.S. Congress' Failure to Pass the $700B Bail-Out Plan
Excerpt: "Global Pensions contacted several other pension consultants and asset mangers to gauge reactions to the failure of the bail-out bill, but was told by many the situation was changing too rapidly to comment on and, moreover, the industry itself was struggling to keep up to date with the latest developments." (Global Pensions)


The Sun Life UnretirementSM Index
Excerpt: "The Sun Life Financial UnretirementSM Index is a new national study on American attitudes toward retirement that will be updated several times each year. Sun Life created this Index because American attitudes toward retirement today are dramatically different from those of previous generations. As traditional views on the 'golden years' continue to evolve, so will the financial needs and retirement lifestyles of future generations. The UnretirementSM Index will monitor these generational and demographic changes. [Results of the first study are at http://www.sunlife-usa.com/unretirementindex/results.cfm.]" (Sun Life Assurance Company of Can.ada (US))


Using Retirement Financing to Fund Your Start-Up Business
Excerpt: "The advisory firms that advocate retirement financing, including BeneTrends, SD Cooper and Guidant Financial, say they can shelter most of the profits from taxes by turning them back into retirement contributions, thus replenishing the initial retirement cash and deferring taxes. They also say that companies started in this way are more likely to survive the tough-going early years, because they are not weighed down by debt." (The New York Times; free registration required)


WaMu Employees Try to Tally Stock Losses; Pension Uncertain
Excerpt: "Thousands of Washington Mutual employees across the country whose stock options are worthless now face the possibility that their pension benefits may be at risk. JPMorgan Chase & Co., which took over Washington Mutual's banking assets last Thursday, is expected to make a decision about employees' pension plans by the end of this week. The company has not disclosed the alternatives it's considering." (Puget Sound Business Journal via bizjournals.com; free registration required)


[Opinion] Wall Street's Havoc Expected to Be Especially Hard on Retirement Plans of Women
Excerpt: "'If it has taken a woman 40 years of back-breaking labor to save $20,000, she is going to feel the sting of loss more than a man who has a larger and more comfortable cushion,' said Cindy Hounsell, president of WISER, a women's retirement advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. 'Smaller losses hit women harder because almost 2.5 million older women live in poverty in the U.S. compared with 1.1 million men.'" (Women's eNews)



Sponsored by: SPARK and The SPARK Institute

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Banner ad for SPARK and The SPARK Institute

Register Now for the 2008 SPARK Forum, Nov. 2-4 at The Breakers

The 2008 SPARK Forum is the retirement plan industry’s premier event for executives, managers, and professionals to increase their knowledge, network with peers and enjoy golf, fishing and other events at the beautiful Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. In more than a dozen sessions, you’ll gain insights into the latest business, marketing and sales strategies, market trends, and legal issues. Special sessions have been planned for TPAs and financial advisors. You’ll also hear from TV finance commentator and author Terry Savage, and learn valuable selling techniques from author Paul Karasik.

(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2008-59: Ordinary and Necessary Business Expenses of Employees Traveling Away from Home (PDF)
31 pages. Updates and restates the rules for determining the amount of an employee's ordinary and necessary business expenses for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses incurred while traveling away from home that are deemed substantiated under § 1.274-5 of the Income Tax Regulations. Rev. Proc. 2007-63 is superseded. (Internal Revenue Service)


[Guidance Overview] Guidance Modifying Section 409A No-Ruling Policy
Excerpt: "On September 26, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2008-61, modifying and amplifying Revenue Procedure 2008-3, 2008-1 I.R.B. 110, with respect to areas in which rulings and determination letters will not be issued as to the tax consequences of arrangements described in Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code." (Hewitt Associates)


Failed Bailout Demonstrates Support for Executive Compensation Reform
Excerpt: "In an effort to build political support for its passage, several executive compensation provisions were included in the failed bill. Any future legislation likely will contain executive compensation reform because of its bipartisan popularity." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


By Rejecting Severance, AIG's Ex-CEO Shines a Light on Executive Pay Debate
Excerpt: "The government's role in saving AIG from bankrup.tcy last week may have put pressure on Willumstad to forgo the severance, some observers say, especially since he served as CEO for only three months. But his action has brought more attention to the heated debate over the appropriate level of compensation for CEOs of failing companies." (Workforce Management; free registration required)


Multinational Employers May Have Obligations Under IRC Section 409A
Excerpt: "Section 409A requires companies that receive personal services from a U.S. tax-paying employee to: Document, in advance of the services, any arrangement used to defer receipt of any of the compensation earned by the worker and follow specific rules when making any elections to further defer that compensation. Document, in advance, when such deferred compensation can be paid and follow strict rules that limit the circumstances under which the worker can be paid such deferred compensation. Limit the types of funding arrangements that can be used to make payment." (Faegre & Benson LLP)


Helping Employees Make the Most of the Benefits their Companies Offer
Excerpt: "If you want to offer employees an inexpensive benefit that will foster loyalty and boost productivity, consider a navigation system. No, not a GPS, but a tool that will guide them in making a host of decisions about everything from tuition-reimbursement programs to 401(k) strategies to consumer-directed health plans. By offering more and better education around benefits, companies not only help employees make the most of their perquisites, but also gain from increased retention, higher productivity, and related forms of goodwill." (CFO.com)


Connecticut PEO Legislation Requires Licensing
Excerpt: "Legislation signed into law by Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell includes a licensing program that provides employer status to the professional employer organizations (PEOs) delivering human resource management, employee benefits, payroll and workers' compensation to thousands of small business owners in Connecticut." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


FASB Fine-Tunes New Disclosures About Pension and Retiree Medical Plan Assets
Excerpt: "A refined FAS 132(R), Employers' Disclosures about Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits, should describe the objectives of employers' disclosures about their pension, retiree medical and other postretirement benefit plan assets and investment risks, FASB decided at its Sept. 24 meeting." (Mercer LLC)


Employee Ownership Update for September 30, 2008
NCEO Executive Director Corey Rosen discusses John McCain's endorsement of ESOPs, a new survey of technology and life science companies finding that both private and public companies are relying less on stock options than they did in prior years, a class-action lawsuit against Sam Zell over how he structured the ESOP at the Tribune Company, and nominations for the NCEO's board. (National Center for Employee Ownership)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Fuel Relief and Flex: What Employers Are Doing Webcast
Nationwide on October 9, 2008
presented by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Ninth Circuit ERISA Decision Threatens Health Care Coverage For Millions Of American Workers
American Benefits Council

The Annual Enrollment Season Takes on New Significance, Given the Economy, Says Aon Consulting
Aon Consulting

Travis Software Releases Summer 2008 Upgrade for WebCOBRA.com
Travis Software Corp.

MassMutual Retirement Services Expands Sales Coverage in Midwest
MassMutual

Fiduciary360 to Provide On-going Fiduciary Training to Council on Foundations Members
Fiduciary360 (fi360)

Online 401k Partners With Five New Payroll Companies
The Online 401(k)

Synapses Solutions Help Clinch PSCA Gold Awards
Synapses Inc.

Class Certification Decision in 401(k) Case
Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C.



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Plan Administrator
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