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[Guidance Overview]

2015 Q&As: PBGC Meeting with ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, May 4, 2016 (PDF)
18 pages; 29 questions and answers. Topics include: premiums; standard terminations; distress and involuntary terminations; Section 430(k) liens; PBGC reporting; ERISA sections 4062(e), 4063, and 4064; multiemployer plan issues; litigation and general matters; and informal guidance from 2016 Blue Book.
Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB], American Bar Association


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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Simplifies User Fee Relief for Small Employer Plan Determination Letter Requests
"This alternative method for determining whether a small employer must pay a user fee when submitting a determination letter request effectively extends the fee waiver in some cases ... It does not, however, alter the remedial amendment deadlines or other determination letter submission rules applicable to those plans. Those deadlines and the entire determination letter process will dramatically change effective January 1, 2017[.]"
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

[Guidance Overview]

Text of 2016 IRS Instructions for Form 8606: Nondeductible IRAs (PDF)
13 pages; dated Nov. 17, 2016, published online Dec. 22, 2016. "What's New: Modified AGI limit for Roth IRA contributions increased.... Due date for contributions. Because April 15, 2017, falls on a Saturday, and Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, is observed on Monday, April 17, 2017, the due date for making contributions for 2016 to your IRA is April 18, 2017, even if you don't live in the District of Columbia."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

State Auto-IRA Programs: What Employers Need to Know
"Some lead time exists.... Employer involvement is strictly limited.... Employers always have the option of maintaining their own plan.... Penalties may apply.... Voluntary participation in Auto-IRA Program may create an ERISA plan.... The Trump administration will likely support Auto-IRA Programs."
E is for ERISA

States Make Efforts to Expand Retirement Coverage
"California is on the vanguard of states stepping in to help workers save for retirement, but it will soon by joined by other states ... Illinois is the furthest along and will be rolling out its plan in 2017.... 29 states are planning to expand retirement coverage to private-sector workers ... These proposals vary quite a bit from each other, but they all use the structure of existing federal retirement-savings programs, and none is a perfect fit for the states' goals."
Morningstar Advisor


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Pension Accounting: 2017 Update for 2016 Disclosures
12 pages. "Plan sponsors with a calendar-year fiscal year may want to look at how rates have changed from December 31, 2015 through November 30, 2016 to get a feel for how year-end liability measurement might be affected. Assumptions for the range of yield change that might be experienced in December 2016 will be needed to prepare a better picture of calendar yea-end liability measure.... Based on this analysis -- and assuming there isn't a change during December 2016 -- plans with a December 31 measurement date may experience only a small decrease in rates and small increase in liability determination due to changes in market yield curves."

Supreme Court to Hear Church Plan Litigation
"If the Court agrees with the faith-based health systems that qualifying church-affiliated organizations can legitimately maintain and sponsor 'church plans' that are exempt from ERISA, then, depending on how the decision is worded, this could bring an end to the pending cases challenging church plan status.... [If] the Supreme Court disagrees with the faith-based health systems and determines that the underlying church plans must have ultimately been established by a 'church,' a much more time-consuming process will be required for these previously exempt tax-qualified retirement plans to come into ERISA compliance."
McDermott Will & Emery, via Lexology

Employee Benefit Plans Are Not a Target for Tax Revenue -- at Least Not Yet
"The tax advantages that employee benefit plans and their participants enjoy don't appear to be in the crosshairs of the next Congress, despite fears to the contrary.... A House Ways and Means Committee staff member recently told Bloomberg BNA that the 'committee is working on tax reform that will make it easier for Americans to save for their retirement.' Speaking on background, the staff member said, 'We are not working to cut employee benefit plan tax benefits.' "
Bloomberg BNA

Pre-Retirement Checkup: What You Should Do in the Five Years Before You Retire
"Looking at savings, Social Security claiming strategies and other financial issues is a key part of your checkup. But you also want to consider lifestyle issues such as when you'll want to stop working full time and how you plan to spend your time instead."
U.S. News & World Report

Avoid Disaster When Designating Beneficiaries on Your Retirement Plan
"What happens if there is no beneficiary designation or the named beneficiary or beneficiaries predeceased the account owner? ... What else can go wrong ... Beneficiary designations are incomplete ... Beneficiary designations name an obsolete beneficiary ... Beneficiary designations aren't thought through.... While any beneficiary has the option of taking the entire account balance immediately, doing so means lumping the income in one year which can result in paying tax at higher marginal rates, and foregoing the benefits of stretch-out. [Certain options] provide the opportunity to avoid or minimize unfortunate results[.]"
Moss Adams


A Financial Services Regulation Wish List for the Trump Administration
"[1] Keep the [DOL] 'Conflicts of Interest' Rule.... [2] Sunset B.I.C.E. after three years.... [3] Have the SEC alter how it enforces the Advisers Act.... [4] Clean up mutual fund regulation.... [5] Work to reduce regulatory overkill."
Ron Rhoades

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Text of IRS Publication 15-B: Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, for Use in 2017 (PDF)
32 pages; dated Dec. 16, 2016. "What's New: Cents-per-mile rule.... Qualified parking exclusion and commuter transportation benefit.... Contribution limit on a health flexible spending arrangement (FSA)."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

Final DOL Regs Extend Enhanced Claims Procedure Rules to Disability Benefits
"The final regulations, which apply to claims for disability benefits filed on or after January 1, 2018, follow the proposed rules fairly closely. In general, they require more detail in denial notices (for both initial claims and appeals), impose additional criteria to ensure independence and impartiality in decisionmaking, treat most rescissions as adverse benefit determinations, allow claimants to go directly to court if a plan's procedures do not strictly comply with the requirements, and make disability claims subject to the same 'culturally and linguistically appropriate' rules as group health plan claims."
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Releases Final Regulations for Disability Benefit Claims Procedures
"[P]articipants may now appeal rescissions of coverage. However, a rescission based on the participant's non-payment of premiums is not an adverse benefit determination.... Plan administrators must explain the protocols that were used to determine the participant's benefit claim.... Plan administrators must inform participants, in benefit denial notices, that they are entitled to access, free of charge, all documents relevant to the adverse claim determinations."
The Wagner Law Group

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2016, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

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