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Retirement Plans Newsletter

June 16, 2010

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[Official Guidance]
Text of Governmental Accounting Standards Board's 'Preliminary Views' on Reporting and Accounting for Pension Obligations
51 pages. Excerpt: "The objective of this Preliminary Views is to present the Board's current views on what it believes are the most fundamental issues related to employer recognition and measurement of pensions in order to obtain comments from constituents before developing more detailed proposals for changes to existing standards. The views put forth in the chapters that follow generally are discussed as principles or concepts rather than as detailed potential requirements."
(Governmental Accounting Standards Board)

[Official Guidance]
Text of 'Plain Language Supplement' of GASB's Preliminary Views on Reporting and Accounting for Pension Obligations
19 pages. Excerpt: "This document is a plain-language supplement to the Preliminary Views, Pension Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers, issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. This supplement is prepared for citizens, taxpayers, elected representatives, municipal analysts, and other external users of governmental financial information and contains a minimum of technical terminology. The supplement references the Preliminary Views and should be read in conjunction with it."
(Governmental Accounting Standards Board)

[Guidance Overview]
EBSA Amendment to Class Exemption for Release of Claims and Extensions of Credit in Connection With Litigation
Excerpt: "The U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration has issued an amendment to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2003-39, a class exemption from certain prohibited transaction restrictions of [ERISA] and from certain taxes imposed by the Internal Revenue Code."
(International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS FBAR Filing Relief with Certain Filing Obligations
Excerpt: "Plan filers invested in a foreign account, such as a foreign mutual fund, should be preparing to file FBAR for 2009 by June 30, 2010."
(McDermott Will & Emery)

[Guidance Overview]
Final Treasury Regulations on Diversification Requirements for Defined Contribution Plans with Employer Securities (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This Alert provides a brief background on Code Section 401(a)(35) and summarizes key changes made by the Final Regulations."
(Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
PBGC's Guidance on PPA Multiemployer Plan Reporting Requirements for 'Orphaned' Participants (PDF)
Excerpt: "The PBGC has issued Technical Update 10-1 to help multiemployer pension plans report information on Form 5500 under disclosure rules expanded by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) with respect to participants for whom employers are no longer making contributions."
(Buck Consultants)

[Guidance Overview]
Reinstating Your 401(k) Match (PDF)
Excerpt: "Companies that once sponsored a safe harbor plan design might want to return to that design, and they can; but, not in the middle of a plan year. First, you cannot have a plan that is a safe harbor for part of a plan year and not for the other part. Second, sponsors of safe harbor plans must provide notice of the design and safe harbor status of a plan at least 30 days before the beginning of the plan year for which the plan will be a safe harbor."
(Aon Consulting)

[Guidance Overview]
Supreme Court Ruling May Influence ERISA Fee Cases
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court recently ruled in Jones v. Harris Associates L.P. that fees paid to a mutual fund's investment adviser will not violate the advisor's fiduciary duty under the Investment Company Act of 1940 . . . unless the fees are so disproportionately large that they could not have been the product of arm's-length bargaining."
(Employee Benefit News; free registration required)

Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity Into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection
Excerpt: "We show that for a broad range of levels of risk aversion, conditioning the default for the choice between pension plans on age can substantially improve outcomes relative to a uniform default policy. Our results suggest that considerable welfare gains are possible by varying defaults by observable characteristics."
(Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Fire and Police Groups Ready to Sue Springfield, Missouri, Over Pension Debt
Excerpt: "The police and fire associations [say] they're prepared to sue if City Council doesn't do 'the right thing' regarding payment of a pension debt originally left to employees to pay. Employee groups lobbied for the benefit enhancement, which lets them retire earlier with maximum benefits, in 1999. They agreed to pay for the enhancement with an Additional Funding Contribution, or AFC, taken from their paychecks. The unfunded debt related to the benefit has grown from about $3 million to more than $9 million since then, however, and the AFC -- recalculated every five years -- has grown with it."
(The Springfield News-Leader)

Form 5500 Schedule C: 2009 Eligible Indirect Compensation Disclosure Guide (PDF)
28 pages. Excerpt: "This guide includes all of the information needed to complete the Schedule C with respect to Vanguard investment funds and any other eligible indirect compensation received by Vanguard."
(The Vanguard Group, Inc.)

The SPARK Institute Reviews the IRS 401(k) Compliance Check Project (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The SPARK Institute, working with its members, has reviewed the questionnaire and is concerned that many of the questions and the available responses could have significant implications for plan sponsors and result in an audit or enforcement action. Accordingly, therefore, it is critical that plan sponsors fully understand the implications of the questionnaire and the potential consequences of their responses. Plan sponsors should be sure that their responses are complete and accurate to avoid triggering a costly enforcement action."
(The SPARK Institute)

Recessions, Reeling Markets, and Retiree Well-Being
Excerpt: "This paper examines the impact of late-career investment returns and job loss on subsequent retiree well-being. Specifically, we explore whether there is a link between the income of retirees aged 70 to 79 and the stock market and labor market conditions that existed around the time of their retirement."
(National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve fulltext)

Chairman Miller to Urge Senate to Put 401(k) Fee Disclosure Back into H.R. 4213
Excerpt: "U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and lead sponsor of 401(k) fee disclosure legislation, will have pies delivered to each Finance Committee Senators on [June 16, 2010,] with a slice missing representing the fees Wall Street takes from accountholders."
(U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education & Labor)

Extenders Legislation Passed by House Includes DB Funding Relief (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Following the general approach taken in the Senate DB funding bill, the Extenders bill provides for extended amortization of unfunded pension obligations, with a 'cash flow' rule limiting relief where compensation over $1 million is paid, certain dividends are paid, or stock is redeemed."
(Aon Consulting)

Grand Jury Wants San Diego to Mull Retirement System Options
Excerpt: "As part of a comprehensive review of how the city developed a $7 billion deficit, the grand jury made a series of recommendations to improve the city's solvency. Among them: Consider dissolving the retirement system in favor of another pension system; move to an outsourced operation; or retain the current system."
(Pensions & Investments)

Pension Rights Center Letter on Proposed 401(k) Fee Disclosures (PDF)
2 pages. The Pension Rights Center and seven other organizations sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate, urging them to restore provisions to H.R. 4213 that would make 401(k) fees more transparent and straightforward.
(Pension Rights Center)

TGPC is the new credential offered by ASPPA to educate professionals who specialize in the 403(b) and/or 457 marketplace as well as other plans maintained by tax-exempt and governmental entities. ASPPA also offers a certificate program, the Tax-Exempt & Governmental Plan Administration Certificate, which is earned after successful completion of the Tax-Exempt & Governmental Plan Administration (TGPC-1) examination. For more information on both, visit
Sponsored by ASPPA

Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

The Accounting and Economics of Executive Stock Options: How Risky Are They? (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "We use two common approaches to analyze the risk and rewards of ESOs to show that ESOs can be perceived as riskier for executives than restricted stock units (RSUs)."
(Buck Consultants)

Federal Benefits Payments Going Paperless by 2013
Excerpt: "The Treasury Department [is to announce that most government benefits payments will be made by direct deposit by 2013, the latest in a series of cost-cutting moves by the Obama administration. . . . eliminating about 136 million paper checks sent by the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board and Office of Personnel Management . . . ."
(The Washington Post; free registration required)

Employee Ownership Update for June 15, 2010
Corey Rosen discusses the following: A review of ESOP and 401(k) plan litigation over the last 20 years found only 141 ESOP cases involving private companies, plus 35 involving public companies. The second-largest employee-owned company in the world is China's Huawei, a provider of telecommunications networks. Four of the 20 winners of the 2010 Top Small Company Workplaces awards are employee-owned. The cost of an NCEO membership would buy you only 12 minutes with an employee ownership lawyer.
(National Center for Employee Ownership)

Webcasts and Conferences

Employee Benefits Conference
in Illinois on August 5, 2010
presented by Illinois CPA Society

Press Releases

U.S. Labor Department Proposes Amendment to Class Exemption on Transactions Determined by In-House Asset Managers
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

U.S. Labor Department Publishes Amendment to Class Exemption on Settlement of Litigation
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Prescription Drug Data Key to Lowering Health Costs
Healthcare Performance Management Institute

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