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Webcasts, Conferences

Eligible Employees in Light of a Planís Excluded Classes
February 15, 2018 WEBCAST
ASPPA [American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries]

Multiemployer Pension Plan Withdrawal Liability
March 6, 2018 WEBCAST
ALI-ABA [American Law Institute-American Bar Association]

2018 San Francisco Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference
March 25, 2018 in CA
University Conference Services

Tax Reform: What's the Final Word?
January 17, 2018 WEBCAST
National Association of Stock Plan Professionals [NASPP]

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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Modification of User Fees for VCP Submissions Will Negatively Impact Small Plans
"[For] a small 401(k) plan with 25 participants and $1,000,000 in net plan assets [a] VCP submission filed on December 28, 2017 would have required a user fee of $750 ... while a submission filed on or after January 2, 2018 will require a user fee of $3,000 (a 400% increase).... The self-correction program (SCP) under EPCRS is still available, with no user fee, to correct certain operational errors."
FIS Relius


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[Guidance Overview]

Why the New IRS VCP Fees Are Bad for Small Business, TPAs, and Retirement Plans
"Why the change to an asset-based schedule? No idea. There is no explanation in the Rev. Proc. and the IRS Employee Plans newsletter was equally silent. The initial break point of $500,000 is seemingly arbitrary. In a review of all VCP submissions prepared by our firm in 2017, a whopping 86% of our clients would have been harmed by this change.... [T]he new fee schedule benefits large plans significantly, despite the harm it does to small employers."
Ferenczy Benefits Law Center

EPCU Compliance Project Summary: Data Analysis -- Validation of Missing Pension Feature Codes
"We identified a population where the pension feature code(s) were missing, inconsistent or incomplete on Line 8a of the Form 5500, line 9a of the Form 5500-SF, and Form 5500-EZ line 8 for plan years ending in 2010. We will correspond with the sponsors of the identified plans and request that the sponsors tell us which pension feature codes apply to their plans by annotating the appropriate codes on a list included with our correspondence. The letter will inform plan sponsors how to amend their returns to include pension feature codes. Our primary goal is to correct and verify the pension feature codes on the selected returns, so that we have useful information."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

DB Plan Compliance Calendar 2018 (PDF)
A qualified retirement plan must meet various requirements throughout the year in order to retain the qualified status. The dates on this calendar pertain to a plan with a calendar plan year (with off-calendar due dates in parentheses).
Watkins Ross

401(k) Plan Data: Can It Be Hacked?
"Every services agreement should deal with this issue and provide basic protections.... Does your vendor automatically encrypt data? Who has access to the data? Does your vendor have external review of its procedures? How quickly will your vendor notify you of a breach, and how will it assist in fixing it? Does your services agreement give you the right to audit the vendor's procedures? Does your services agreement provide that the vendor will indemnify you if there is a breach?"
Carol Buckmann, via 401kTV


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Vanderbilt Can't Shake Suit Over Retirement Plan Fees
"A federal judge on Jan. 5 largely refused to dismiss a proposed class action accusing the school of running a retirement plan with excessive administrative fees, too many service providers, and high-fee investment options. The school nevertheless succeeded in having portions of the lawsuit dismissed, including claims that the school acted disloyally and confused workers by giving them too many investment options." [Cassell v. Vanderbilt Univ., No. 16-2086 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 5, 2018)]
Bloomberg BNA

DOL Continues to Watch ESOP Valuations with Recent Trustee Settlements
"While these settlements are aimed primarily at trustees and their valuation advisors, employers who are considering sponsoring an ESOP as well as the lenders ... to ESOP sponsors should pay attention to these settlements as well. If a portion of the sale proceeds must be returned to the trust, that could affect the amount that the selling shareholders ultimately receive, particularly if the sellers financed part of the deal. In some situations, depending on the transaction documents, an ESOP sponsor may be required to indemnify an ESOP trustee. As a result, the company and its lenders could pay a price if the trustee violates its ERISA fiduciary duties with respect to the valuation process."
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP

How Tax Reform Changed IRA Recharacterizations
"Under the new rules, your list of recharacterization options has been trimmed from four to two. As of January 1, 2018, ... [you] may no longer recharacterize a Roth IRA conversion, from any source. It is now a one-way transaction without an 'undo' feature.... You can continue to recharacterize a regular current year IRA contribution by your tax return due date, plus extensions."

National Retirement Risk Index Shows Modest Improvement in 2016
"Between 2013 and 2016, the National Retirement Risk Index improved modestly, dropping from 52 percent to 50 percent of working-age households. The improvement was driven mainly by rising home prices, with stock market gains also contributing. At the same time, Social Security's rising 'Full Retirement Age' and declining interest rates served as a headwind against greater progress.... [R]etirement security remains a major challenge that requires today's workers to save more and/or work longer."
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College


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High Hurdle for Pension Cuts in New California Court Ruling
"[A California appeals court] ruled that the pensions of current employees can be cut without providing an offsetting new benefit, but only if there is 'compelling evidence' that a reduction is needed for the successful operation of the retirement system. The new ruling in three consolidated county cases is a much higher hurdle than an appellate ruling in a well-publicized Marin County case two years ago that said pensions can be cut if the employee is not deprived of a 'reasonable' pension." [Alameda County Deputy Sherriff's Ass'n v. Alameda County Employees' Retirement Ass'n, No. A141913 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 8, 2018)]

New Jersey Governor Signs Bill Requiring Stress Tests, Fee Transparency at State Pension Funds
"The legislation will affect five of the seven pension systems in the $77.5 billion New Jersey Pension Fund ... The stress-test goal is to 'assess how well the investments of each of the state-administered retirement systems are likely to perform in periods when market returns are significantly above or below baseline assumed returns'[.]"
Pensions & Investments

What Does Sen. Hatch's Departure Mean to the Retirement Industry?
"Hatch's announcement ... increases the level of uncertainty that there will be action on retirement issues in 2018. In addition, Hatch's Finance Committee staff just lost the service of its highly regarded Benefits Tax Counsel, Preston Rutledge, who was confirmed Dec. 21 as Assistant Secretary of Labor for [EBSA]. In the meantime, several bills were introduced in the House in late 2017 that seek to encourage small businesses to offer retirement plans and make a variety of other changes to existing retirement law."
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]

Benefits in General

Fourth Circuit: District Court Misapplied ERISA Preemption Principles in Taft-Hartley Fund Dispute
"[T]he Fourth Circuit concluded that ... The state-law claims were not preempted, and the case should have proceeded as a breach of contract suit.... [T]he Fourth Circuit determined that the district court treated conflict preemption and complete preemption as opposing choices. The Fourth Circuit noted, however, that the jurisdictional issue implicating complete preemption was not present in this case." [Greenbrier Hotel Corp. v. UNITE HERE HEALTH, No. 16-2116 (4th Cir. Jan. 3, 2018)]
Thomson Reuters Westlaw

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

New Excise Tax on 'Excess' Executive Compensation Paid by Tax-Exempt Employers
"Tax-exempt employers must [1] identify their 'covered employees' for 2018 and 2017 (because ... the 'covered employee' status persists into subsequent years), and [2] review their existing executive compensation and severance arrangements (including any deferred compensation plans) to determine whether payments to any covered employee in 2018 or future years could result in the imposition of the 21% excise tax."
Jackson Lewis P.C.

Tax Reporting for Stock Comp: Understanding Form W-2, Form 3922, and Form 3921
"For employees with stock compensation, tax-return paperwork and the information it contains can be confusing and hard to decipher. This [article] provides an overview of the reporting you need to understand."

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Intentional Disqualification of Overfunded DB Plan
Client started a DB plan in 2016. They bought a stock that increased 4,000% so now the plan is way overfunded. Benefits will never catch up. I'm thinking of suggesting they take out the money and intentionally disqualify the plan. Agree?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Applying the 415 Limit in a Floor Offset Plan: Use Gross Benefit, or Use Net Benefit?
We administer a traditional defined benefit plan that is offset by each particular participant's vested balance in a profit sharing plan. Our understanding is that the 415 limit applies to the gross benefit and not the net benefit under the floor offset plan. This doesn't seem right, but apparently an IRS examination guide indicates that the 'current approach is that the limit applies to the gross benefit (i.e. prior to offset).' I remember there was a discussion between an actuary and Jim Holland a few years back on this issue, in which Rev. Rul. 76-259 was cited. cited in the discussion. The actuary made some good points as to why the 415 limit should apply to the net benefit. In my client's case, the pre-approved document makes no reference to the 415 dollar limit applying to the benefit prior to offset. Comments?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Terminating a Phantom Stock Plan
A client wants to terminate a phantom stock plan. No shares have vested. The value of shares is minimal. There would be no distributions on termination, therefore no acceleration on distributions. Are we subject to the rules on terminations under 409A? In other words, can we only terminate if one of the three tests in 409A is met? Does it matter if there is no acceleration on distributions here because no distributions would be made?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

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Press Releases

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2018, 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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