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April 6, 2010

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National Employee Benefits Day acknowledges employee benefits professionals for the quality benefits you provide and for the important role you have in your colleagues’ well being.
This year Benefits Day has a special focus on Workplace Wellness. We encourage you to evaluate your wellness offerings and to reach out to your employees with suggestions on living a healthier lifestyle.

Visit www.ifebp.org/benefitsday for free resources to help you celebrate!


[Official Guidance]
Small Business Health Care Tax Credit: Frequently Asked Questions
Excerpt: "The new health reform law gives a tax credit to certain small employers that provide health care coverage to their employees, effective with tax years beginning in 2010. The following questions and answers provide information on the credit as it applies for 2010-2013, including information on transition relief for 2010. An enhanced version of the credit will be effective beginning in 2014. The new law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was passed by Congress and was signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010."
(Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview]
2010 Tax Credit Available for Small Employers Subsidizing Employees' Health Insurance
Excerpt: "Among the extensive changes made by the recently enacted health care reform laws is a tax credit for certain employers that is available starting in 2010. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, small employers who pay a portion of their employees' health insurance premiums are eligible for a tax credit starting in 2010. In an IRS News Release, the IRS clarified that the tax credit is available, generally, to small employers that pay at least 50% of the cost of single coverage for their employees."
(Sherman & Howard L.L.C.)

[Guidance Overview]
Small Employer Health Insurance Credit
Excerpt: "An eligible small employer may claim a tax credit in tax years beginning after 2009 if it makes nonelective contributions that pay for at least one-half of the cost of health insurance premiums for the coverage of its participating employees. For the purposes of this section, a small employer is defined as having 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, the average annual wages of these employees is not greater than twice the applicable dollar amount for the tax year ($25,000 in tax years beginning in 2010 through 2013); and the employer has a qualified health care arrangement in effect."
(Wolters Kluwer)

[Guidance Overview]
Nursing Mother Amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act
Excerpt: "As part of the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide breaks for nursing mothers. Under section 4207 of the PPACA, which appears to be effective immediately, employers must provide a 'reasonable break time' for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child. The requirement applies for one year after the child's birth. The PPACA places no limit on the number of the breaks to be provided, and does not contain any guidance with respect to the duration of such breaks."
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
The Health Care Reform Legislation Impact on Employers
Excerpt: "The Act imposes several new requirements pertaining to employee benefits and employee policies and procedures. Companies should work with legal counsel to review and update their employee benefits and policies to take into account the following provisions under the Act . . . ."
(O'Melveny & Myers LLP)

Workplace Wellness Quiz
Excerpt: "This 10 question [online] multiple-choice quiz will test your knowledge of workplace wellness. When you complete the quiz, be sure to enter your name and contact information. The first 50 highest scores will win a free National Employee Benefits Day travel mug!"
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

Tips for Your Organization in Celebrating National Employee Benefits Day
Excerpt: "This year National Employee Benefits Day focuses on workplace wellness. Use the day to inform your plan participants about the benefits of healthy living by hosting activities that get them involved. Consider: * A lunch-and-learn program on a wellness topic; All-staff emails or paycheck stuffs with wellness tips (see free U.S. tip sheets or Canadian tip sheets); A guest speaker to talk on an wellness issue of specific interest to your plan participants . . . .[more]"
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

H.B. 470 Prohibits Discrimination Against Employees Who Smoke
Excerpt: "Employers may want to pay attention to recently introduced H.B. 470. . . . H.B. 470 would create a cause of action against employers that discriminate against individual job applicants or employees because they smoke tobacco."
(Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP)

Medical Sharing Ministries: Comparison Chart (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Note: Individuals in Medical Sharing ministries are exempt from individual mandate in ObamaCare"
(Citizens' Council on Health Care)

Online Resources for Information on Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "The ink was hardly dry on the health-care overhaul law when foundations, industry groups and consumer advocates began putting together guides to the new rules. Here are some Web sites worth keeping an eye on . . . ."
(The Washington Post; free registration required)

Flexible Spending Accounts Will Become Slightly Less Flexible
Excerpt: "Now, lawmakers have changed the way flexible spending accounts are treated in order -- they say -- to discourage wasteful health care spending at the end of the year. The government will now cap annual contributions to FSAs at $2,500 and consumers will no longer be able to use the accounts to purchase over-the-counter medications such as allergy medicine or aspirin without a doctor's prescription."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Changes Coming to Health Insurance Plans
Excerpt: "Employers face new rules, rebates, costs: All new policies offered by employers must include both an internal and external appeals process so workers can contest coverage and other benefit decisions. The definition of a 'new plan,' isn't clear. It's possible it could include an employer who switches insurance carriers. HHS is expected to define that in regulations. Employers that offer drug coverage to retirees will lose the ability to deduct a 28 percent federal subsidy in 2013, but must report the effects on financial statements this year. Some employers may drop or reduce such coverage for retirees as a result. Conversely, employers that cover early retirees' medical costs will be able to apply for reimbursement of 80 percent of some expensive medical claims."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Reform Takes a Bite Out of Flexible Spending Accounts
Excerpt: "In 2013, the new health-reform law will limit the amount you can sock away in a flexible spending account (FSA) for health expenses to $2,500 a year, with annual increases reflecting cost-of-living adjustments. Today, on average, only a third of people offered FSAs contribute to them at all, according to Mercer, a New York-based consulting firm."
(The Wall Street Journal)

Timeline of Health Care Reform Changes
Excerpt: "Many of PPACA's changes became effective upon passage or will become effective in the next nine months. To that end, this alert provides a timeline of the provisions to highlight the changes upon which employers should focus. This timeline is intended to be read in conjunction with the table of changes released on March 31, 2010 [at http://www.michaelbest.com/pubs/pubDetailMB.aspx?xpST=PubDetail&pub=2499.] The page numbers in the timeline [on the target page] are a reference to the page numbers within that table of changes."
(Michael Best & Friedrich LLP)

Resources on the New Health Reform Law: New Summary and Implementation Timeline
Excerpt: "Summary of Final Health Reform Law: This summary reflects provisions of the final comprehensive health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordability Act, as modified by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. Health Reform Implementation Timeline: This timeline highlights the implementation dates for key provisions of the final health reform law."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Immediate Impact of Health Care Reform Legislation on Employer-sponsored Group Health Plans (PDF)
8 pages. Excerpt: "On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, followed by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 on March 30, 2010 (collectively, the Acts). Together, these two Acts constitute sweeping health care reform legislation with far reaching implications for individuals, insurance companies, health care providers and employers. This Alert focuses on those provisions of the Acts with the most immediate impact on employer-sponsored group health plans. The . . . charts summarize these key provisions."
(K&L Gates LLP)

Health Reform Provisions that Could Impact Consumer-Driven Health Plans (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The health care reform legislation approved by the 111th Congress (H.R.3590, now Public Law 111-148, as amended by the budget reconciliation bill, H.R.4872) will likely have a modest impact on consumer-driven health plans and their associated health care accounts (i.e., FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs). Earlier proposals that would have eliminated some of these options (particularly FSAs and HRAs) did not survive the legislative process. [The target page] is a description of the provisions that were included in the final legislation."
(The Council for Affordable Health Insurance)

2010 State Legislators Guide, and Glossary, to Health Insurance Solutions (PDF)
60 pages. Excerpt: "[This Guide] will be an essential tool in helping you decide which state solutions work, as well as which state reforms do more harm than good. Specifically, this Guide will help you: Examine the demographics of the uninsured population and what to do about it; Explore vital consumer protections that also preserve the private insurance market; Analyze 'hot topics' in health policy and discover related patient centered reforms; Learn common health insurance industry terms and definitions; and Access model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council to help you in your statehouse."
(The Council for Affordable Health Insurance / The American Legislative Exchange Council)

Hearing Set on Health Care Reform Charges to Earnings: Ending Tax-Free Status of Federal Retiree Drug Subsidy Key Issue
Excerpt: "[Recent corporate] announcements cite just the section of the bill related to the new tax on the subsidy for retiree drug coverage. And James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, predicts that there will be more companies announcing such charges. 'Companies that sponsor retiree drug coverage are compelled now either to take an immediate hit on their financial status or determine they will not longer provide retiree drug coverage to avoid the accounting charge,' Klein says. Joan Vines, a senior director in the compensation and benefits practice at accounting firm BDO, says the charges companies are reporting reflect Financial Accounting Standard 109, which governs income tax accruals."
(Treasury & Risk)

Understanding Health Care Reform: An Initial Guide for Employers
Excerpt: "Despite the delayed effective dates that apply to many of the more significant changes, employers that sponsor group health plans should make an effort now to understand the new health plan world in which they will be operating; a world of mandated benefits, 'pay or play' concepts, Exchange-based competition and a potentially different health insurer marketplace."
(Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.)




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Our subscribers care about employee benefit plan compliance, administration, costs and design. Roles include in-house benefits directors and administrators, TPAs, consultants, attorneys, trust officers, auditors and investment managers.

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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
The HIRE Act: What it Means to Employers
Excerpt: "HIRE provides a limited payroll tax 'holiday' for employers hiring new workers, business tax credits for retaining such workers and other provisions designed to further stimulate the economy and offset the cost of the stimulus. On March 29th, the IRS issued a series of Q&A regarding the HIRE Act./1/ This update incorporates the IRS comments."
(Littler Mendelson P.C.)

[Guidance Overview]
Employers Should Consider Filing Protective FICA Refund Claims Related to Certain 2006 Severance Payments
Excerpt: "Consider whether to file protective refund claims by April 15, 2010. As an initial step, employers should determine if any FICA taxes have been paid on SUB pay during open tax years (generally 2006 or later) and whether to file a protective refund claim. Refund claims for FICA payments made on SUB pay during the 2006 calendar year are generally due by April 15, 2010."
(Perkins Coie LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
Accounting for Stock Compensation Under FASB ASC Topic 718 (PDF)
13 pages. Excerpt: "FASB ASC Topic 718 (Topic 718) is in substantial convergence with the International Accounting Standard Board's (IASB) final standard on Share-based Payment, except for transactions with nonemployees and nonpublic companies, and minor technical differences in regard to employee stock purchase plans, modifications, liabilities, and income tax effects. Topic 718 creates a more 'level playing field' for equity incentive design that is expected to result in the increased prevalence of full-value and performance-vesting awards, and a corresponding decline in plain-vanilla, tax qualified, and reload stock options, and employee stock purchase plans. This paper summarizes the most pertinent provisions of accounting for stock compensation under Topic 718 and other related FASB and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Topics."
(Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

Happy National Employee Benefits Day!
Excerpt: "The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) says that National Employee Benefits Day 'acknowledges trustees, administrators, corporate benefits practitioners and professional advisors for your dedication to providing quality benefits and the important role you play in their colleagues' well-being.'"
(PLANSPONSOR.com)

Firms Adopt Say on Pay As Congress Considers Mandate
Excerpt: "To date, more than 50 companies have adopted say-on-pay policies. Some recent adopters, including CVS Caremark, Hewlett-Packard, Hill-Rom Holdings, PepsiCo and Wells Fargo, provide an annual shareholder vote on executive compensation. Others, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Colgate-Palmolive and General Mills, provide a biennial vote. These announcements come as the Senate considers a bill that would require all public companies to adopt say-on-pay policies. The House has already passed legislation mandating say on pay."
(Mercer LLC)

New Trends in the Regulation of Executive Remuneration
Excerpt: "This paper, which was first presented as a conference paper at the Annual 2009 Supreme Court of New South Wales Conference in June 2009, considers the impact of the global financial crisis on the regulation of executive pay in a range of common law jurisdictions, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia."
(Social Science Research Network)

IRS to Issue Hire Act Final Form W-11 Week of April 5
Excerpt: "The IRS will issue the final version of Form W-11, 'Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act Affidavit,' and a revised second quarter Form 941, 'Employers Quarterly Federal Tax Return,' during the week of April 5, according to an IRS official. The IRS issued a draft Form W-11 on March 31."
(McGuireWoods LLP)

Updated Issue Brief on the State of Employee Ownership
The NCEO has posted excerpts from its updated issue brief on the state of employee ownership in the U.S. This report details the extent and growth of employee ownership through ESOPs, 401(k) plans, stock options, ESPPs, and other vehicles; summarizes the leading research on employee ownership and corporate performance; and discusses current challenges and prospects.
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

Updated Issue Brief on the State of Broad-Based Equity Plans
The NCEO has posted excerpts from its newly updated issue brief on the state of broad-based equity plans. It provides an overview of the prevalence of various kinds of broad-based equity plans (stock options, ESPPs, etc.), who is eligible for them, and what impact they have on corporate performance.
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

[Opinion]
Are Adjustments Necessary to Current Three Year Performance Periods?
Excerpt: "In comparing notes recently with Fred Whittlesey of Hay Group, we both have experienced a flood of inquiries from clients regarding executive compensation arrangements through the year 2012. This has apparently been triggered by concern that 3-year performance share cycles commencing January 1, 2010 may need to accommodate a truncated calendar year in the final year of the performance period. These discussions have led to a revelation of the complexities of executive compensation planning resulting from the end of the world scheduled for December 21, 2010, a full ten days short of the completion of the three-year cycle."
(Michael Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)


Webcasts and Conferences

An Overview of Your Fiduciary Duties and A How-To on Dependent Audits, Including Employer Case Studies
in Maryland on May 6, 2010
presented by Worldwide Employee Benefits Network -- Baltimore chapter

Helping Employees to Understand and Appreciate Their Benefits (No-Cost Webinar)
Nationwide on April 21, 2010
presented by Benefit Software Inc.

Improving Employee Morale and Retaining Key Employees During A Recession (No-Cost Webinar)
Nationwide on April 8, 2010
presented by Benefit Software Inc.

Moving up to Online Benefits Enrollment (No-cost Webinar)
Nationwide on April 8, 2010
presented by Benefit Software Inc.


Press Releases

The Pension Tour for CPAs Begins May 2
Executive Benefits Design Group


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