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[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Operational Compliance List, Calendar Years 2016 and 2017
"The Operational Compliance List is provided per Rev. Proc. 2016-37, Section 10, to help plan sponsors and practitioners achieve operational compliance by identifying changes in qualification requirements effective during a calendar year.... Effective in 2017: [1] Proposed Regulations regarding QNECs and QMACs in defined contribution plans ... [2] Extension of temporary nondiscrimination relief for closed defined benefit pension plans ... [3] Final regulations regarding partial annuity distribution options for defined benefit pension plans ... [4] Final regulations regarding cash balance/hybrid plans ... [5] Application of benefit restrictions for certain defined benefit plans."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]


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[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Publication 721: Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits, for Use in Preparing 2016 Returns (PDF)
33 pages. "What's New: ... The phased retirement program was signed into law by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. This program allows eligible employees to begin receiving annuity payments while working part time."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

OMB Concludes Review of Measure Delaying DOL Fiduciary Rule
"The [OMB] concluded its review of a rule that would delay the implementation of the [DOL's] fiduciary rule.... OMB also noted that it has changed the designation of the delay to 'economically significant,' a more rigorous category than the previous 'not econonomically significant' label that it carried when the delay was submitted to OMB by the DOL.... The higher designation could mean that the delay rule would require a longer comment period. The DOL has not yet determined when it will release the delay rule. It is expected to carry at least a two-week comment period."

Seventy Seven Energy Sued Over Chesapeake Stock in 401(k)
"The lawsuit is quite different from other stock drop challenges insofar as it aims not at Seventy Seven Energy stock, but at the stock of its previous parent company -- Chesapeake.... The plan included an employee stock ownership plan component, which only allowed 'employer securities.' The fiduciaries allowed Chesapeake stock in the ESOP component, an action that was prohibited under ERISA, according to the lawsuit.... Between July 2014 and December 2014, the plan's interest in Chesapeake stock dropped in value by $23.7 million, and yet it remained by far the plan's largest investment, the complaint said."
Bloomberg BNA

Target Date Fund Adoption in 2016
"In 2016, 53% of Vanguard participants were invested in a 'professionally managed allocation' -- in other words, their entire account balances were invested in a single TDF, a single target-risk or traditional balanced fund, or a managed account advisory service.... Forty-six percent of participants were invested in a single TDF in 2016 -- a percentage that has nearly doubled over the past five years.... [Vanguard anticipates] that three-quarters of participants will be invested in a professionally managed option by 2021."


2017 SPARK National Conference -- June 1-2, National Harbor, MD

Sponsored by SPARK

The retirement services industry's leading event for top marketing, sales, administration and record keeping professionals. Comprehensive agenda is designed to meet the needs of 401(k) Plan Providers, Financial Advisors and Third Party Administrators.

Does Your 401(k) Need Robo-Advice?
"[It's] hard to imagine a robo-advisor, who has spent millions of venture capital dollars creating proprietary investment products, recommending a massive change to an investment lineup based on market performance. But a level-fee, independent advisor can be completely focused on driving an appropriate fund selection without any conflicts of interest. And on the administration side, independent 401(k) advisors can help regularly negotiate with a variety of recordkeepers, making sure that the plan sponsor is working with a safe, reliable and low-cost recordkeeping partner."

2017 Public Policy Priorities to Advance Retirement Security
"[This] Blueprint identifies policy proposals that expand access to workplace retirement plans, increase lifetime income options to help Americans ensure their savings will not be outlived, protect access to professional financial advice, improve access to the education American savers need to make better-informed decisions regarding their finances, and preserve the current tax treatment and structures for Americans' retirement plans[.]"
Insured Retirement Institute [IRI]


Text of Comment Letters to DOL on Best Interest Contract Exemption for Insurance Intermediaries
These letters were submitted in response to DOL's request for comments on a proposed class exemption to allow certain insurance intermediaries, and the insurance agents and insurance companies they contract with, to receive compensation in connection with fixed annuity transactions that may otherwise give rise to prohibited transactions as a result of the provision of investment advice to plan participants and beneficiaries, IRA owners and certain plan fiduciaries (including small plan sponsors). Comments were due by Feb. 19, 2017.
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Benefits in General

[Official Guidance]

Text of FASB Accounting Standards Update 2017-06: Employee Benefit Plan Master Trust Reporting
"This Update relates primarily to the reporting by an employee benefit plan for its interest in a master trust.... The amendments in this Update clarify presentation requirements for a plan's interest in a master trust and require more detailed disclosures of the plan's interest in the master trust. The amendments also eliminate a redundancy relating to 401(h) account disclosures." [This update addresses Defined Benefit Pension Plans (Topic 960), Defined Contribution Pension Plans (Topic 962), and Health and Welfare Benefit Plans (Topic 965).]
Financial Accounting Standards Board [FASB]

[Guidance Overview]

FASB Updates Employee Benefit Plan Master Trust Presentation, Disclosure Requirements
"The new standard is designed to make disclosures more useful to users of financial statements. All plans will be required to disclose the dollar amount of their interest in each general type of investment. This will supplement the existing requirement to disclose the master trust's balances in each general type of investment."
Journal of Accountancy

Disability Plans Must Follow Claims Procedures Final Rule
"[T]he DOL is attempting to create a more comprehensive review of disability claims, clearly hoping to reduce the need for participants to resort to litigation and reduce difficulties participants experience with delayed claims processing ... A defined benefit pension plan may be affected by these regulations ... [T]he regulations will impact only those pension plans under which a plan fiduciary -- rather than the employer's long-term disability insurer -- makes an independent determination of a participant's disability."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]

2016 in Review: ERISA Criminal Enforcement Rises, Civil Enforcement Falls
"In FY 2016, DOL, working in conjunction with the Department of Justice, closed 333 total criminal investigations, marking a 20% increase over FY 2015 and the second highest performance in the last decade. This trend continued the drastic increase in criminal investigations since the DOL's 2009 announcement that it would increase its efforts to enforce the criminal provisions applicable to ERISA plans."
Eversheds Sutherland

ERISA Advisory Council Report Addresses Benefit Plan Cybersecurity
"While a majority of the Report discusses the challenges of cybersecurity, current legal framework, and other background information, the Report also includes an appendix intended to serve as a resource for plan sponsors and service providers, so that they can establish and customize appropriate strategies on cybersecurity for benefit plans."
Morgan Lewis

Press Releases

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2017, 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 those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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