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January 10, 2018 logo logo
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Retirement Plan Consultant
Intac Actuarial Services
in NJ, NY

Senior Pension Administrator
Scholz & Friends Enlightened Retirement Group, Inc.
in TX

Fund Accountant
LT Trust
in CO

Enrolled Actuary
TPS Group / The Pension Service
in CT, Telecommute

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[Guidance Overview]

Why the IRS May Be Unable to Assess ACA Employer Shared Responsibility Penalties for 2015 (PDF)
"[T]he ACA statute and implementing regulations clearly state that an ACA Exchange must send a certification and notification to an employer as a pre-condition to the IRS assessing employer mandate penalties. Unfortunately, the Federally-facilitated Exchange and a majority of State-based Exchanges failed to send the required certification and notification for the 2015 calendar year, which -- [the authors] argue -- precludes the IRS from assessing penalties for 2015 unless and until the certification and notification process is exhausted."
Christopher E. Condeluci and Alden J. Bianchi, via Bloomberg Daily Tax Report

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[Guidance Overview]

Massachusetts Employers Should Prepare for Penalties and Other Changes to Law Regarding Health Care Contributions
"[T]he new law imposes a penalty on employers of up to $750 for each employee who is either enrolled in MassHealth or who receives subsidized coverage through the MassHealth Connector, so long as the employee is not disabled. Additionally, the new law also increases an employer's EMAC contributions (i.e., the equivalent of unemployment health insurance contributions) from 0.34% to 0.51% of the employee's wages."

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Proposes Sweeping Changes to Allow for Expanded Availability of Association Health Plans (PDF)
"The AHP Proposed Rule, if finalized, would essentially result in two classes of association-based plans: [1] association-based plans that do not meet all of the conditions of the proposal ... and [2] AHPs that meet all of the conditions of the proposal (which could then receive treatment as large group coverage for purposes of federal law, such as under the [ACA]). Notably, entities that are considered to be 'acting...indirectly in the interest' of an employer under section 3(5) of ERISA in any context other than as applied to an employer group or association sponsoring an AHP are not covered under the AHP Proposed Rule."
Groom Law Group

New Rules Would Expand Access to Association Health Plans for Small Businesses
"Under the proposed rules, the employer association would need to have a formal organizational structure, with a governing body and by-laws. The association's activities, including adopting and maintaining the AHP, would need to be controlled by the members of the association, either directly or through elected representatives. The proposed rules would prohibit an association from setting different premium rates under the AHP for an employer based on the health status or claims history of its employees. Premium rates and eligibility criteria could vary, however, based on nondiscriminatory job classifications, such as part-time or full-time, or by industry."
Hanson Bridgett LLP

New Tax Law Affects Employer-Sponsored Commuter Benefits (PDF)
"Starting in 2018, the federal business tax deduction for qualified mass transit and parking benefits is eliminated. Work-related transit and parking expense benefits continue to be non-taxable to employees. Tax-free reimbursement for bicycle commuting expenses is suspended. The changes are unlikely to affect or significantly complicate employer compliance with state or local commuter ordinances."


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Maine CO-OP Sues Federal Government Seeking Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments
"[Maine Community Health Options (MCHO), a nonprofit insurer in Maine,] seeks an estimated $5.6 million in CSR payments for the 2017 plan year. The lawsuit ... reflects some of the same claims made by insurers (with mixed success) in ongoing litigation over risk corridor payments."
Health Affairs

Proposed Guidelines for Association Health Plans
"This does open a new potential market for health care coverage -- which means that it may damage individual insurance markets and the current public exchanges by attracting good risk out of those programs. While the proposed regulations are a catalyst for this market, creation of an AHP is not simple; there are regulatory requirements, funding issues, state regulations (including Multiple Employer Welfare Association guidance and qualifying group parameters) and insurance carrier partnerships to navigate."

Overview of CBO Estimates of Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance for People Under Age 65, 2017-2027
"The federal government subsidizes health insurance for most Americans through a variety of programs and tax provisions. In 2017, net subsidies for people under age 65 will total $705 billion, CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate. This presentation provides an overview of CBO and JCT's current baseline projections of health insurance coverage and how those projections have changed since March 2016, highlighting changes in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and nongroup coverage."
Congressional Budget Office [CBO]

Estimating the Costs of Proposals Affecting Health Insurance Coverage
"This [slide presentation] explains the process followed by CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) when estimating the costs of legislative proposals affecting health insurance coverage. An example is the agencies' estimate of how repealing the individual mandate to have health insurance would affect federal deficits."
Congressional Budget Office [CBO]


'Preventive Health Savings Act' Would Make Telehealth Legislation More Appealing
"This bill, if passed into law, would require CBO to more accurately measure the benefits of preventive care.... Telehealth services are well suited to be used as tools that connect patients to their health care providers in order to prevent diseases from occurring or to help maintain health conditions in order to prevent existing conditions from worsening."
Epstein Becker Green

Benefits in General

IRS Asking for Taxpayer Representatives' Personal Information
"Taxpayer representatives are now being asked for their Social Security number and date of birth, in addition to their Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number, so that IRS agents can verify their identity when they call the IRS. The new questions result from an updated version of Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) Section, which took effect Jan. 3.... Although the new IRM section is not yet available on the IRS's website, its existence has been verified by IRS personnel. The IRS says it plans to communicate the changes to practitioners in the near future."
Journal of Accountancy

Employees Want Financial Education About More Than Retirement Savings
"[E]mployees across the board say education on a variety of financial matters is needed, rather than just the limited amount of topics typically offered from employers. Some of these issues included how to obtain life insurance, with 81% of employees voting for more education compared to 68% of employers; and how to obtain disability insurance (84% of workers along with 71% of plan sponsors)."

National Taxpayer Advocate Releases Annual Report to Congress, Discusses Tax Reform Implementation, Unveils 'Purple Book'
"In Volume 1 of this year's report, we have identified 21 Most Serious Problems, made 11 Legislative Recommendations, and discussed the 10 Most Litigated Issues, along with significant stand-alone decisions. Volume 2 includes seven research studies and two Literature Reviews.... The Purple Book is a compendium of 50 legislative recommendations for strengthening taxpayer rights and improving tax administration that we and others have made over the years."
Taxpayer Advocate Service, Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

New 'Excess' Compensation Excise Tax for Tax Exempt Organizations
"[T]he excise tax only applies if the covered employee's total severance payments equal or exceed three times the employee's 'base amount.' ... For this purpose, the 'base amount' is the employee's average annual taxable compensation for the five years preceding his or her termination date ... [T]he excess severance payment excise tax can apply even if the individual's compensation for the year is less than $1 million."
Hunton & Williams LLP

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Using Form 2848; IRS Representative Wants Practitioner's Social Security Number
On a call with an IRS representative today, after I faxed over Form 2848, the representative asked me for my personal SSN in addition to my CAF number and my client's EIN. When I expressed surprise, she indicated that it was a very new IRS procedure. Has this happened to anybody else?
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Press Releases

NAPA Unveils the Top Retirement Plan Advisors Under 40
National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA]

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. 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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