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February 14, 2012 Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

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[Official Guidance]
IRS Retirement News for Employers, Winter 2012 Edition, February 13, 2012 (PDF)
The Winter edition includes: Plan Issues: 401(k) Questionnaire Interim Report — comments and highlights; Use an employee's entire calendar-year compensation for determining employer contributions to SIMPLE IRA plans; April 30 deadline for employers to adopt and submit determination letter applications for pre-approved defined benefit plans; Plan Loans: What's a reasonable interest rate for participant loans? Before you take a loan from your retirement plan, there are a few rules you need to know; and, Forms: Tips for Form 5558 requests for extension to file Form 5500-series returns; Using old forms may cause errors and could result in processing delays. (U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

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[Official Guidance]
IRS Notice 2012-16: Update for Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates (PDF)
IRS-updated figures for pension plan administration as prescribed by Code sections 412, 417, 430 and 431. (U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview]
DOL Extends Fee Disclosure Deadlines
"The final rule, however, doesn't require providers to deliver a summary statement of fees to sponsors. Instead, the DOL said in a statement it 'strongly encourages CSPs [covered service providers] to offer responsible plan fiduciaries a 'guide,' summary, or similar tool to assist fiduciaries in identifying all of the disclosures required under the final rule.' The DOL indicated it 'intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the near future under which CSPs may be required to furnish a guide or similar tool to assist responsible plan fiduciaries' review of initial disclosures.'" (Vanguard)

[Guidance Overview]
DOL Finalizes ERISA Disclosure Requirements for Retirement Plan Service Providers (PDF)
"The . . . chart summarizes the new disclosure requirements and highlights changes from the interim final regulations. [A graph shows an example of a Covered Service Provider.]" (Sutherland)

[Guidance Overview]
IRS Issues Package of Regulations and Rulings Intended to Expand Lifetime Income Options
"There are plenty of details in the IRS proposed regulations and rulings that plan sponsors and their advisors will want to delve into before offering lifetime income options. As noted in the fact sheet, removing the regulatory barriers is just the first step. Making lifetime income options available in 401(k) plans also will require educating plan sponsors and participants about the merits of lifetime income alternatives." (Thomson Reuters/EBIA)

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DOL Tells Employers When They Must Fire 401(k) Investment Advisors
"An important new change in the final 401(k) fee-disclosure rules from the Department of Labor released earlier this month puts advisors on the firing line. In some cases, perhaps, literally: The final regulation requires plan sponsors to fire their advisors if they fail to provide information regarding fees and information about their 401(k) plan within 90 days of a written request." (RIABiz)

Target Date Funds: Pot of Gold or Baited Trap?
"While the growth of [Target Date Funds] has been nothing short of phenomenal, the lack of plan sponsor due diligence, re-introduction of the Kohl legislation and new initiatives by the Tort Bar could have a major impact on the retirement plans industry and the TDFs market." (The Center for Due Diligence)

Read the Memo From Pepsi's HR Department Cutting 401(k) Benefits
"The 401(k) cut applies only to employees who also receive an old-fashioned 'defined benefit pension plan.' Those employees will keep their 401(k)s, they just won't also receive a matching contribution from PepsiCo." (Business Insider)

If You Plan to Live to 100, Plan Very Well
"As the expectations of human longevity morph and shift, so should people's retirement plans. After all, to prepare for just four additional years of life span over current projections, someone who's 50 years old now would need an additional $160,000 in retirement savings to maintain a modest lifestyle, experts say." (The Wall Street Journal)

Expenditure Patterns of Older Americans, 2001-2009 (PDF)
"Before retirement, people pay FICA taxes, incur work-related expenses, and set aside money for retirement. But after retirement, most people have different financial obligations, and, as a result, retirees may still be able to maintain their level of preretirement well-being with very different income levels. Studying income, expenditures, and wealth-holding patterns together provides a more complete idea of how people are doing in terms of being able to afford retirement than arbitrary estimates such as income replacement ratios." (

House Republicans Yield on Extending Payroll Tax Cut
"Congressional Republicans backed down on Monday from a demand that a payroll tax rollback be paid for with reductions in other programs, clearing the way for an extension of the tax cut for 160 mil.lion Americans through 2012." (The New York Times; free registration required)

IRS Semiannual Regulatory Agenda Includes Additional Guidance on Funding Rules, Hybrid Plans
"The items in the IRS's final rule stage include the following: Definition of 'highly compensated employees.' Regulations providing guidance on the application of the accrual rules for defined benefit plans in cases where plan benefits are determined on the basis of the greater of two or more separate formulas. Additional guidance regarding the rules for hybrid plans that were added by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Regulations providing relief from the 3% mandatory nonelective contribution requirement in safe harbor 401(k) plans." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business / CCH)

Why 401(k) Plan Sponsors and Investors Lack Cupidity for the Annuity
"[One person in the industry] says, 'few middle income employees will find annuities a good fit because the size of the investment needed to generate a meaningful annuity income will require too much from their retirement nest egg. Annuities should not be the cornerstone of a person's retirement strategy. Annuities are a complementary position in a larger investment portfolio.'" (Fiduciary News)

Social Security Claiming: Trends and Business Cycle Effects
"The recent trend toward delayed claiming is evident among all educational groups, not just college graduates. Hazard models show that high unemployment boosts Social Security claiming among men with limited education. A 1 percentage point increase in the state unemployment rate is associated with a 0.4 percentage point increase in the likelihood each month that men who never attended college will claim benefits, a relative increase of 6 percent." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

National Save for Retirement Week, October 21-27, 2012
"Goals for National Save for Retirement Week: Make employees more aware of how critical it is to save now for their financial future; Promote the benefits of getting started saving for retirement today; Encourage employees to take full advantage of their employer-sponsored plans by increasing their contributions." (NAGDCA)

DOL Webcast: Helping Small Business Owners Save for Retirement, Thursday, February 23, 2012, 2:00 — 4:00 PM EST
"Choosing a retirement savings plan and helping employees save can be easier than many small business owners think. As part of America Saves Week, [DOL's EBSA] in coordination with the Consumer Federation of America will hold a free webcast for small businesses and their accountants and service providers on choosing a retirement savings plan, the use of direct deposit for a retirement plan, and more. [DOL] will be joined by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to discuss retirement savings options available for small businesses." (U.S. Department of Labor)

IRS Phone Forum: Governmental Plan Proposed Guidance, May 15, 2012
"Proposed drafts of the general guidance on possible standards for determining if a retirement plan is a governmental plan under section 414(d) of the Internal Revenue Code will be discussed." (U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

Highway Bill Would Be Funded at Least in Part by Changing the Tax Treatment on Retirement Accounts
"Specifically, the modified [Senate Finance Committee] chairman's mark of the proposed Highway Investment, Job Creation and Economic Growth bill would require that age 70-1/2 account distributions be treated, for tax purposes, as distributed within five years of the death of the account holder (unless the beneficiary is the account holder's age, a child with special needs, or older than 70)." (

Presidential Budget Attacks Small Business 401(k) Plans
"Under current law, there is already a $250,000 cap on compensation that can be used to calculate contributions to 401(k) plans. The President's proposal effectively doubles down on this limit for 401(k) plans, and takes an axe to the tax incentives that encourage small business owners to offer these types of plans at work." (ASPPA)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]
IRS Notice 2012-19: Determination of Foreign Housing Cost Amounts Eligible for Exclusion or Deduction for 2012 (PDF)
"This notice provides adjustments to the limitation on housing expenses for purposes of section 911 of the Internal Revenue Code ... for specific locations for 2012. These adjustments are made on the basis of geographic differences in housing costs relative to housing costs in the United States." (U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

Senate to Consider Reinstatement of Pre-Tax Transit Benefit Parity in Highway Bill
"A proposal to extend parity in qualified transportation fringe benefits is headed for a Senate vote as part of major highway legislation. The proposal . . . would continue to permit tax-free mass transit benefits at the same level as parking benefits ($240 per month) for all of 2012." (Mercer)

From Unlimited Burritos to On-Site Yoga, Boulder Firms Pile on Perks
"Natural Habitat Adventures in Boulder was voted the No. 1 place to work by Outside magazine two years in a row. The benefits -- which are some that 'Boulderites love,' . . . -- include four weeks of vacation plus two weeks of company-funded site inspections, which means a trip anywhere in the world." (Daily Camera)

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