401khelpcenter.com Logo

COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Compliance and Regulatory Related Issues

This page gathers relevant information for 401k plan managers, sponsors, administrators, recordkeepers and others with plan fiduciary and administrative responsibilities. It covers many aspects of compliance and regulatory related issues.

This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.

If you find a broken link or an items that you feel is outdate, irrelevant or no longer appropriate, please let us know.

To subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, enter your email address below then click the "Join" button.

Email Address:

NOTE: WE DO NOT SELL YOUR DATA OR EMAIL ADDRESS TO ANY ORGANIZATION.

    

Get Beneficiary Designation and Missing Participant Practices in Order

COVID-19 has led to employee layoffs, employee health issues, and changed rules for required minimum distributions, all of which make it increasingly important for plan sponsors to have good procedures in place for maintaining updated beneficiary designations and finding missing participants.

Source: Plansponsor.com, July 2020

The Five "Ws" of a 401k Plan Audit

If you've just been informed that your 401k plan needs an audit, you probably have many questions if you have never been through a 401k audit. Hopefully by answering the five "Ws" (Who? What? When? Where? Why?), this article will cover most of your questions.

Source: Belfint.com, July 2020

IRS Grants 401k Safe Harbor Suspension Relief

The IRS released Notice 2020-52 which grants certain COVID-19 related relief to retirement plan sponsors who employ a safe harbor 401k plan design feature. The majority of the guidance is temporary relief which expires on August 31, 2020. However, the IRS Notice also includes a clarification that shall remain effective after August 31, 2020.

Source: Legacyrsllc.com, June 2020

DOL Proposes New Standard to Replace Vacated Fiduciary Rule

The DOL is proposing a new regulation to govern investment advice in retirement accounts to replace a rule that was vacated more than two years ago by a federal appeals court. The proposed regulation would provide exemptions under federal retirement law that would allow fiduciaries to receive compensation for advice that would otherwise be prohibited, such as third party payments, as long as they act in a retirement savers' best interests.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), June 2020

The IRS Expands Who is a Qualified Individual for Retirement Provisions of the CARES Act

The CARES Act permitted plan sponsors to make several discretionary amendments, giving participants greater access to their retirement savings, including the special coronavirus-related distributions, increased plan loan limits, and delayed plan loan repayments. The relief provided by these three discretionary amendments was only available for "qualified individuals." The IRS has recently amended the definition of a qualified individual through Notice 2020-50, expanding the relief to cover more individuals.

Source: Graydon.law, June 2020

Document Restatements Required

Many retirement plans are written using the IRS preapproved documents. Preapproved plans must be restated every six years to add language for any new rules and regulations that have been enacted since the previous restatement. The upcoming cycle, known as Cycle 3, will run from August 1, 2020, to July 31, 2022. This is a 2-year window during which all preapproved plans must be restated.

Source: Consultrms.com, June 2020

Electronic Document Delivery: What Plan Sponsors Need to Know

After much anticipation, the DOL published their final rule on electronic disclosure. The rule allows for plans to transition to an electronic environment for the delivery of required disclosures and most other plan communications to participants, eliminating a significant waste of time, money, and paper. While the ruling may appear obvious, it will have a significant impact on retirement plan communication.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, June 2020

Avoiding Pitfalls in Retirement Plan Forfeitures

This 7-page paper will help defined contribution plan sponsors consider the administration of forfeitures within their plans. It also outlines the timing and approved uses of forfeitures and provides additional considerations for forfeiture-related events.

Source: Vanguard.com, June 2020

Guidance on Waiver of 2020 Required Minimum Distributions

This notice provides guidance relating to the waiver of 2020 required minimum distributions from certain retirement plans under section 2203 of the CARES Act. In particular, this notice: permits rollovers of waived required minimum distributions and certain related payments, including an extension of the 60-day rollover period for certain distributions to August 31, 2020; answers questions relating to the waiver of 2020 RMDs; and provides a sample plan amendment that, if adopted, would provide participants a choice whether to receive waived RMDs and certain related payments.

Source: Irs.gov, June 2020

IRS Determination Letter Program: Upcoming Deadlines and Recent Developments

The retirement plan community got a shock five years ago when the IRS dramatically cut back its 60-year-old program of providing employers with the comfort of a determination letter on the tax qualification of their plans. With the IRS's limited re-opening of its determination letter program, this summary highlights upcoming deadlines and recent developments.

Source: Groom.com, June 2020

What Triggers a Partial Plan Termination?

When your workforce undergoes significant changes -- due to layoffs, turnover, or furloughs -- your retirement plan could suffer a partial plan termination. Learn what measurements indicate your plan is at risk and what to do in the event a termination takes place.

Source: Francisinvco.com, June 2020

DOL Information Letter Outlines Fiduciary Considerations for Including Private Equity in DC Plan Investments

The Letter emphasizes that selection and monitoring of an investment option with private equity are subject to the same fiduciary considerations as other investments (including the duties to be prudent and loyal, and the duty to avoid prohibited transactions). At a high level, this includes evaluating whether the potential upside from the investment justifies the added risk, fees, complexity, and valuation and liquidity issues. The Letter lists specific considerations.

Source: Erisapracticecenter.com, June 2020

DOL Finalizes New Electronic Disclosure Safe Harbor

The final rule sanctions a "notice and access" disclosure method, whereby the administrator notifies the participant by email or text message that an important document is available on a designated website. The final rule also permits administrators to send documents to participants directly via email. This safe harbor could significantly reduce the costs of furnishing required disclosures.

Source: Bsk.com, June 2020

Retirement Plan Notice Delivery Requirements

The DOL's new rule allowing for electronic delivery only applies to those notices and disclosures that the DOL requires. Most retirement plan notices and disclosures are described here and those covered by this new rule are marked with an asterisk. The IRS has also indicated they intend to provide more guidance in the future about the electronic disclosure of the notices they oversee.

Source: Benefit-Resources.com, June 2020

IRS Now Permits Remote Witnessing of Participant Elections

In response to immediate requests from participants for tax-favored coronavirus-related distributions and loans, the IRS has issued Notice 2020-42, which provides temporary relief from the physical presence requirement for any participant election that needs to be witnessed by a notary public or a plan representative. The Notice gives plans and participants greater flexibility for participant elections, including spousal consents, that must be signed in person and witnessed by a notary or plan representative to be valid.

Source: Beneficiallyyours.com, June 2020

A Checklist to Avoid Form 5500 Errors

While Third Party Administrators prepare the form and often submit it on behalf of employers, it is the sponsors who are plan fiduciaries and responsible for accurate and timely filing of the Form 5500. Here are some suggestions for carefully reviewing the Form 5500 before signing.

Source: Alliant401k.com, June 2020

Sixth Circuit: Chapter 13 Debtor May Exclude 401k Plan Contributions From Disposable Income

In a case of first impression, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that a Chapter 13 debtor may exclude from her bankruptcy petition disposable income the post-petition 401(k) plan contribution dollar amount if she contributed that amount to her plan before her bankruptcy.

Source: Westlaw.com, June 2020

IRS Allows Remote Notarization of Participant Elections for 2020

The IRS issued Notice 2020-42 to provide temporary relief for certain participant elections required to be witnessed in the "physical presence" of a plan representative or notary public, including spousal consents. The Notice is a welcomed response to the major challenges posed by the social distancing measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it provides plan administrators with additional flexibility to use remote notarization and similar services for all of 2020.

Source: Groom.com, June 2020

One Problem Solved: Notice 2020-42 Provides Temporary Relief for Witnessing Spousal Consents

The IRS has issued Notice 2020-42, ending the uncertainty surrounding spousal consents to retirement plan distributions and loans in the socially distanced COVID-19 world.

Source: Erisapracticecenter.com, June 2020

DOL Finalizes New Electronic Disclosure Option for Retirement Plans

On May 27, 2020, the DOL issued a new safe harbor for electronic retirement plan disclosures that supplement existing regulations to allow an additional method to electronically deliver certain disclosures to plan participants, beneficiaries, and other individuals.

Source: Buck.com, June 2020

Temporary Relief Regarding Spousal Consent under Qualified Retirement Plans

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has issued a notice providing temporary relief from the physical presence requirement for participant elections required to be witnessed by a Plan representative or a notary public. Notice 2020-42 provides relief for participant elections made from January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

Source: Bradley.com, June 2020

Expanding the Safe Harbor for (Certain) Electronic Disclosures

Plan administrators have long bemoaned the narrow parameters of the DOL's current safe harbor for electronic delivery. The new rule establishes another voluntary safe harbor for retirement plan administrators who wish to furnish "Covered Documents" to "Covered Individuals" electronically as the default means of delivery.

Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, June 2020

Just Push SEND: The DOL Issues its Final E-Delivery Regulations

Following up on proposed rules issued in October 2019, the DOL just issued final regulations addressing an employer's or plan administrator's ability to send certain retirement plan notices to participants electronically. These methods have generally included email or posting to an employer or plan intranet site, but now can include text messaging or other electronic delivery to smartphones.

Source: Beneficiallyyours.com, June 2020

Tips to Prepare for Your Upcoming 401k Plan Audit

Audit request lists are going out to plan sponsors for the annual audits of their 401k plans. While the receipt of these request lists can cause blood pressure to rise at the plan sponsor, there are some simple tasks the plan sponsor can perform to prepare for the annual audit of their 401k plan. Here are some tips for plan sponsors which will help to make the audit process go smoother.

Source: Linkedin.com, June 2020

DOL Finalizes an e-Option for Delivering Plan Disclosures for Covered Retirement Plans

According to the DOL, there are approximately 137 million participants in approximately 700,000 retirement plans covered by ERISA. Since 2002, plan administrators could rely on a regulatory safe harbor to deliver printed disclosures. The DOL finally agrees it is expensive, a burden, and involves a lot of paper, printing, and mailing costs to comply with the old safe harbor.

Source: Lindquistcpa.com, June 2020

DOL Finalizes New Safe Harbor for Electronic Delivery of Retirement Plan Disclosures

The final regulation will likely provide welcome relief for plan sponsors and administrators frustrated by the limitations of the current DOL safe harbor for employees with work-related computer access or who have consented to electronic delivery. However, there are detailed content, notice, and timing requirements in the new electronic delivery safe harbor that require careful review before implementation.

Source: Erisapracticecenter.com, May 2020

What the DOL Giveth, the IRS (May) Taketh Away: Benefits Guidance in the Time of COVID-19

In EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, the DOL provided sponsors of DC plans subject to ERISA relief from DOL enforcement action for failure to timely forward participant contributions and loan repayments to the plan during the period from March 1, 2020, and to the 60th day following the announced end of the National Emergency. This DOL relief, however, appears to be limited to ERISA violations and does not appear to protect from the excise taxes under the Internal Revenue Code. This article summarizes the relief provided by the Notice and highlights legal risks that remain for plan sponsors.

Source: Workforcebulletin.com, May 2020

Cash Flow Considerations Related to DC Retirement Plans Under COVID-19

In the last three months, many employers have had significant decreases in their top-line revenue and have attempted to cut costs to offset that revenue decrease. The IRS has provided relief to retirement plans through the CARES's act to assist plan participants to manage through these difficult times. This article shares some strategies for managing cash flows as it relates to defined contribution retirement plans from an employer perspective.

Source: Meadenmoore.com, May 2020

Email Option Added to Final Electronic Disclosure Rule for Retirement Plans

The DOL finalized a new rule that allows ERISA retirement plan sponsors to provide certain required disclosures to participants and beneficiaries electronically. The final rule adds an option to email covered disclosures directly to recipients, but otherwise is substantially the same as the proposed rule. Employers should start collecting valid email addresses from plan participants, including terminating employees still covered by the plan.

Source: Hansonbridgett.com, May 2020

Secure Act Deep-Dive: Inclusion of Part-Time Employees

Many of the SECURE Act provisions seek to expand retirement plan coverage for Americans. This includes the new requirement for 401k plans to permit long-term part-time employees the right to make elective deferrals. While this is a positive step for employees, for retirement plan sponsors, it is likely to be the SECURE Act provision with the most significant administrative burden.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, May 2020

How Plans May Reduce Costs Using the New DOL Electronic Disclosure Safe Harbor

The DOL has now finalized the electronic disclosure regulations on the new safe harbor -- including a new safe harbor option for email delivery -- that plan administrators may begin using immediately. Plans that satisfy an electronic delivery safe harbor will be deemed to have satisfied the requirement under ERISA to use delivery methods that are reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt of information by participants, beneficiaries, and other individuals.

Source: Bradley.com, May 2020

DOL Finalizes Electronic Disclosure Safe Harbor for Retirement Plans

The final regulation establishes a new, voluntary safe harbor for retirement plan administrators who want to use electronic media, as a default, to furnish covered documents to participants and beneficiaries, rather than providing paper documents through mail or hand delivery. The new safe harbor should be welcome news to virtually all employers who sponsor ERISA-covered retirement plans.

Source: Spencerfane.com, May 2020

DOL Finalizes Electronic Participant Communications Safe Harbor

The new rule dramatically liberalizes DOL's electronic communication rules, which (with certain exceptions) previously required that the individual receiving the electronic communication either had access to the employer/sponsor electronic information system as an integral part of her duties or had affirmatively consented to electronic receipt. This article reviews the final regulation.

Source: Octoberthree.com, May 2020

DOL Finalizes Electronic Disclosure Rule for Retirement Plans

The DOL announced the publication of a final rule that permits default electronic delivery of retirement plan disclosures. The rule allows employers to deliver disclosures to plan participants primarily electronically, which will reduce printing, mailing, and related plan costs by an estimated $3.2 billion over the next decade, the DOL said in a statement announcing the final rule. The rule will also make disclosures more readily accessible and useful for participants while preserving the rights of those who prefer paper disclosures.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, May 2020

IRS Posts Initial Guidance on Coronavirus-Related Loans and Distributions

The IRS posted 14 Questions and Answers on its website regarding the special retirement plan distribution options and loan provisions made available to certain qualified participants under the CARES Act. These Q&As answer many of the questions that plan sponsors and third-party administrators have been grappling with since the CARES Act was enacted.

Source: Spencerfane.com, May 2020

Is That COVID-19 Distribution Subject to State Taxes?

For many households, COVID-19 distributions from qualified plans and IRAs may be a welcome backstop against the financial challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. But those receiving those distributions (and those who process them) need to be aware of the potential sting of state tax liability due to differences between federal and state tax rules.

Source: Napa-net.org, May 2020

New Relief for Employee Benefit Plans and Participants

Providing sweeping relief to employee benefit plan sponsors, participants, and beneficiaries impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, the Employee Benefits Security Administration joined with the IRS to extend deadlines to effectively pause the compliance clock for the duration of the outbreak. The guidance was released in three documents.

Source: Foxrothschild.com, May 2020

IRS Answers Some FAQs on Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Loans

On May 4, 2020, the IRS provided guidance on coronavirus-related distributions and coronavirus-related loans and loan payment delays in the form of FAQs. In those FAQs, the IRS answered a few of the questions that many practitioners, administrators, and employers have been asking.

Source: Benefitsnotes.com, May 2020

The IRS Speaks: Retirement Plan Coronavirus Loan Relief

The IRS has issued some initial guidance on the coronavirus-related relief for retirement plans under the CARES Act in the form of Q&As on its website. Most of the Q&As address coronavirus-related distributions, while one Q&A provides some IRS insight relating to the loan relief, referencing an old IRS Notice that answered questions about the loan relief issued after Hurricane Katrina.

Source: Beneficiallyyours.com, May 2020

DOL Filing Deadlines and Fiduciary Relief for Retirement Plans

Fiduciaries and administrators of private-sector retirement plans will be relieved to learn that the Department of Labor has issued guidance in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This disaster relief guidance was published on April 28, 2020, in Notice 2020-01 and is reviewed here.

Source: Segalco.com, May 2020

Form 5500 Preparation and Filing

As a plan sponsor or financial advisor, it is paramount that you maintain an open line of communication with your TPA or recordkeeper responsible for preparing the 5500 filings to avoid potential penalties and fines from both the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor. To avoid delays in the preparation and filing of the form, here are some things you can do as the plan sponsor to assist your service provider.

Source: Legacyrsllc.com, May 2020

Limited Extension of Participant Contributions and Loan Repayments Deadlines

The DOL and IRS have recently issued coordinated guidance that provides relief for benefit plans by extending certain deadlines. This article examines the limited relief granted to retirement plans by extending the amount of time a plan has to distribute participant contributions and loan repayments into participant accounts to still be considered timely.

Source: Graydon.law, May 2020

What Retirement Plan Filings and Records Must We Keep?

Are there any issues with getting rid of older filings and distribution records? While Marie Kondo may tell you to throw out something if it doesn't bring you joy, the answer is quite different when it comes to records and reports for your 401k plan. One of the key reasons is that the IRS and Department of Labor have specific document retention rules for retirement plans.

Source: Dwc401k.com, May 2020

DOL, IRS Issue Guidance Further Expanding COVID-19 Relief for 401k Plans

On April 29, 2020, key governmental agencies issued two separate pieces of official guidance further expanding COVID-19-related relief for 401k retirement plans and other employee benefit plans and arrangements. This guidance supplement and expand upon earlier official pronouncements that extended various deadlines concerning 401k plans in response to the global crisis.

Source: Compliancedashboard.net, May 2020

Determining Whether Your Plan Has a Partial Termination

Layoffs and furloughs as a result of COVID-19 can trigger vesting obligations that may surprise plan sponsors unfamiliar with the IRS rules on partial plan terminations. Failure to treat participants correctly can jeopardize the plan's qualified status and, if the employer has been using forfeitures to reduce its contributions, may also have a financial impact. Here is an overview of the issue.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, May 2020

Reducing or Eliminating Matching Contributions Mid-Year

Employers wishing to reduce or eliminate a matching contribution during the middle of the plan year must be careful in assessing whether this is possible. Even where possible, there may be special requirements that must be met.

Source: Boutwellfay.com, May 2020

The IRS Extends Retirement Plan Payment and Filing Deadlines

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, on April 10, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2020-23, extending the deadlines for the time-sensitive actions set forth in Revenue Procedure 2018-58 to July 15, 2020. These extensions apply to certain retirement plan payment and filing obligations that have deadlines on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 15, 2020.

Source: Truckerhuss.com, May 2020

SECURE Act: Tenfold Penalty Increase for Retirement Plan Filing and Notice Failures

To help pay for the changes that the SECURE Act will bring to the retirement system, as well as to increase compliance with filing reports and providing notices, the legislature also included a significant increase in penalties for late filing of plan returns and plan notices. These new penalties apply to all returns, plan statements, and require plan notices that must be provided after the end of 2019.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, May 2020

DOL Provides COVID-19 Relief for Retirement Plans

On April 28th, the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the Department of Labor, together with the Department of the Treasury, issued helpful guidance for retirement plans that extends certain deadlines and provides other relief in light of the national coronavirus outbreak. The guidance will significantly affect ERISA-covered retirement plans, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, plan participants and beneficiaries, and plan service providers.

Source: Groom.com, May 2020

EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01

The Department of Labor recognizes that the COVID-19 outbreak may temporarily impede efforts to comply with various requirements and deadlines under ERISA. This notice provides guidance and relief for employee benefit plans due to the covid-19 outbreak and applies to employee benefit plans, employers, labor organizations, and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, participants and beneficiaries, and service providers subject to ERISA from March 1, 2020, until 60 days after the announcement of the end of the COVID-19 national emergency.

Source: Dol.gov, May 2020

DOL Announces Significant Deadline Extensions and Other Disaster Relief for Employee Benefit Plans

The DOL, joined and coordinated in part by the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Health and Human Services, has released several documents providing deadline extensions for employee benefit plans during the COVID-19 disaster period and enforcement relief concerning certain compliance requirements. The changes were described generally in a DOL news release, and more formal guidance was outlined in new final regulations, and EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01.

Source: Bradley.com, May 2020

Approving QDROs During Court and Government Office Closures

Due to widespread court closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it may be difficult for participants or their attorneys to obtain a certified copy of a domestic relations order that many retirement plans require as part of the procedures for processing qualified domestic relations orders. To address this issue, plans might consider adopting temporary procedures that allow for the continued qualification and processing of QDROs during these extraordinary circumstances without creating permanent exceptions to their normal QDRO procedures.

Source: Morganlewis.com, April 2020

The Impact of the CARES Act on 401k and Other DC Plans

In enacting rules governing distributions from tax-qualified retirement plans, Congress has historically sought to strike a balance between encouraging retirement savings while at the same time recognizing that there are instances in which participants may have legitimate reasons to access funds before they retire. The CARES Act contains several provisions that enable plan sponsors to provide plan participants with access to funds in defined contribution retirement plans and individual retirement accounts to pay for unanticipated costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Mintz.com, April 2020

SECURE Act: Prohibition on Exclusion of Part-Time Workers

The SECURE Act, signed into law at the end of 2019, brought several significant changes to retirement planning. A major goal of the legislation was to enable and encourage the American worker to save for retirement. One significant change is that businesses are now required to allow long-term, part-time employees to participate in employer-sponsored 401k plans.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, April 2020

Expanding E-delivery, Deadlines, EBSA Announces Filing Relief

The DOL's Employee Benefits Security Administration has issued "deadline relief and other guidance" related to the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, including expanded "good faith" application of electronic delivery.

Source: Asppa.org, April 2020

The SECURE Act: Key Items for Plan Sponsors

With its broad impact across qualified retirement plans, it is important for plan sponsors to become familiar with the SECURE Act's changes, and to take appropriate action. The Act's administrative changes will likely require plan amendments, and participant notification practices will also need to change. This article reviews a few key components of the Act.

Source: Tra401k.com, April 2020

How to Correct Late Salary Deferral Deposits

Late deposits of employee 401k and 403b deferrals continue to be a common error and consistent with the top ten list of mistakes the IRS and DOL identify during their audits and investigations. When employee deferrals are not deposited timely, there are two available correction avenues: self-correction or completing a filing through the DOL's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program. This article discusses the rules regarding the timely deposit of salary deferral withholdings, when a timely deposit doesn't occur, and the steps the plan sponsor must take for each of the available correction options.

Source: Belfint.com, April 2020

COVID-19 World: Reducing or Suspending Company Contributions to a 401k or 403b Plan

In response to the current economic crisis caused by COVID-19, many companies are considering cost-savings measures to improve their companies' financial stability. One such cost-saving option is the reduction or suspension of company contributions to a company's 401k or 403b plan. The procedure for and the implications of such suspension will depend on the plan terms, including whether the contribution is intended to be a "safe harbor" contribution.

Source: Spotlightonbenefits.com, April 2020

IRS Extends Various 401k Deadlines in Response to COVID-19 Crisis

The Internal Revenue Service released Notice 2020-23 which, among other things, extends several recent deadlines applicable to retirement plans (including 401k plans), as well as to other employee benefit plans and arrangements. Generally stated, Notice 2020-23 automatically extends deadlines for certain "time-sensitive acts" that would otherwise fall on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020.

Source: Compliancedashboard.net, April 2020

DOL E-Disclosure Rule Submitted to OMB

On April 16th, the Office of Management and Budget received the Department of Labor's long-anticipated final regulation updating and modernizing the rules for using electronic media to furnish ERISA-required disclosures and notices. DOL's existing electronic disclosure rule has been in place for nearly two decades and was developed long before the widespread adoption of many current electronic communications methods. The rule should not only modernize DOL's electronic disclosure standards but also address communication concerns specifically raised by the current health crisis.

Source: Groom.com, April 2020

CARES Act Loan Provision: The "Fly in the Ointment"

It turns out that there is a quirk in the CARES Act provisions regarding COVID-19 loans that are giving plan sponsors a reason to pause. This issue is that while the CARES Act allows an increase in the loan limits for borrowers who qualify for a COVID-19 loan ($100,000 or 100% of a participant's vested account balance, if less), it did not extend the repayment terms. Thus, the loan must be repaid over five years, unless used to acquire a primary residence.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, April 2020

Coronavirus-Related Distributions Are NOT "Eligible Rollover Distributions" but They Can Be Rolled Over

To address the novel Coronavirus, the CARES Act has created a novel type of distribution from retirement plans: the Coronavirus-Related Distribution. It is a "rolloverable" distribution that is NOT considered an Eligible Rollover Distribution for certain purposes, such as withholding. Although a CRD can be rolled over to another qualified plan or IRA directly or within three years of its distribution, it is only subject to the optional 10% withholding applicable to distributions that are not eligible to be rolled over.

Source: Belfint.com, April 2020

401k Plan Sponsors, Make Sure Your Plan Document Doesn't Cost You

As a plan sponsor, there are many things you don't know about your plan document and you really should. Why? Because the plan documents could be a major culprit in what ails your 401k plan. Here are five items you should be considering.

Source: Jdsupra.com, April 2020

A Checklist for Sponsors to Consider Before Adopting Retirement Plan Provisions of the CARES Act

Although some retirement plan recordkeepers and TPAs have reached out to plan sponsors on decisions regarding the optional provisions of the CARES Act, e.g., coronavirus-related withdrawal and loan relief options, others are waiting for additional guidance. Here is a checklist of issues to consider to help you navigate decision-making concerning optional CARES Act changes and determine whether your TPA has procedures in place to ensure compliance with the CARES Act provisions.

Source: Huschblackwell.com, April 2020

New Lawsuit Alleges Fiduciary Breaches for Quarter Million Dollar Cybertheft

A recently-filed lawsuit describes in specific detail the efforts cybercriminals often take to pilfer assets from retirement accounts. As a complaint, the filing provides only the plaintiff's version of what happened, and we have not yet heard from the defendants. But the complaint is particularly interesting in its description of how the theft occurred and may point to some useful approaches to try to reduce future fraud.

Source: Groom.com, April 2020

CARES Act Brings Immediate Changes for 401k Plans

Effective March 27, 2020, the CARES Act brings immediate changes and relief to 401k plans, similar to natural disaster relief issued in the past. This relief follows the relief available for natural disasters in the past (and the 2009 WRERA relief following the 2008 economic downturn), and as such is generally viewed as available at the option of the plan sponsor. Plan amendments are not required until the end of the 2022 plan year, provided that the plan is operated following the terms. A summary of the relief is set forth here.

Source: Groom.com, April 2020

The CARES Act: Special Distributions to Qualified Participants

This article discusses a second provision of the Act that can help participants who are affected by the coronavirus (called "qualified individuals"). This is a special coronavirus-related distribution. Though discussed this in the context of 401k plans, the CRD provision applies to all qualified plans, 403b plans, and IRAs as well.

Source: Fredreish.com, April 2020

Coronavirus Crisis Workforce Reduction Can Adversely Affect Retirement Programs

While payroll-reducing strategies may be necessary during this time of substandard revenue, they may also present other costs or hurdles in the company’s pension, retiree medical, and retiree life insurance programs. Significantly changing employee demographics can trigger unexpected accounting, cash flow, and compliance issues that could be an unwelcome surprise given current market conditions.

Source: Findley.com, April 2020

IRS Extends the Form 5500 Due Dates for Some Employee Benefit Plans

The Internal Revenue Service has broadened the filing and payment relief provided under prior guidance. IRS Notice 2020-23 postpones, among other relief, the due date for employee benefit plans required to make the Form 5500 series filings due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. Plans with original due dates or extended due dates falling within this period now have until July 15, 2020, to file their information reports.

Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, April 2020

How Do I Stop Employer Contributions to My Retirement Plan?

In pandemic times, employer contributions to retirement plans are not immune to cost-cutting initiatives, as corporate cash flows and liquidity dwindle. However, discontinuing discretionary contributions does not always eliminate all employer contribution requirements, and employers need to anticipate and budget for any contributions that cannot be eliminated.

Source: Belfint.com, April 2020

SECURE, CARES Acts Change Rules on Required Minimum Distributions

The SECURE Act increases the age at which required minimum distributions must begin. The law also largely eliminates "stretch" distributions to beneficiaries of defined contribution plans. Just over three months later, the enactment of the CARES Act waived most RMDs from DC plans for 2020. Although these changes also affect individual retirement account holders, this article focuses on the impact on employer-sponsored plans.

Source: Mercer.com, April 2020

Retirement Contributions and the Paycheck Protection Program

The CARES Act creates a Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis by covering their near-term operating expenses and providing incentives to retain employees. Questions have arisen as to how "payments of retirement benefits" are considered when employers are making various payments to retirement plans.

Source: Asppa.org, April 2020

CARES Act -- Optional or Required? Part 1 -- Distributions

A common question regarding the CARES Act distribution, loan, and required minimum distribution waiver provisions is whether these provisions are optional or mandatory. In most cases, they are optional. But in the retirement world, there are very few questions where a short answer will suffice.

Source: Asppa.org, April 2020

COVID-19: Suspending Safe Harbor Contributions and Other Cost-Saving Measures

Employers that sponsor retirement plans and their fiduciaries must continue to manage and make retirement plan decisions during these unprecedented and uncertain times. As a response, small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 may be considering terminating their 401k plans to end their contribution obligations and cut costs. Here are some procedural notes to bear in mind when considering whether to suspend safe harbor contributions and implement other cost-saving measures.

Source: Aspireonline.com, April 2020

Retirement and Pension Provisions in the CARES Act

Congress provides a variety of tax incentives for employers to offer retirement plans and for individuals to save for their retirement. Also, several restrictions exist to ensure that retirement funds are used for retirement purposes. The CARES Act contains several provisions that affect pensions, retirement plans, and Individual Retirement Accounts. This 3-page document from the Congressional Research Service reviews them.

Source: Congress.gov, April 2020

Guidance on Substantial Workforce Cuts and Partial DC Plan Terminations

Employers that reduce their workforce or discontinue defined contribution plan eligibility for certain employee groups may experience an inadvertent "partial plan termination." If not properly managed, this event could result in a disqualification of the entire plan.

Source: Callan.com, April 2020

CARES Act FAQ

The CARES Act includes several key provisions that will positively impact retirement plan participants and plan sponsors. The ARA has prepared this FAQs to highlight some of the most salient relief measures.

Source: Asppa-net.org, April 2020

Retirement Plan Provisions of CARES Act

The third COVID-19 stimulus package has provisions regarding retirement plans, including expanded and penalty-free withdrawal rights, expanded loan rights, extended rights to repay loans and withdrawals, and a deferral of mandatory distributions.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, March 2020

CARES Act Requires Immediate Decisions by Retirement Plan Sponsors

The CARES Act offers new avenues for defined contribution retirement plan participants to withdraw funds from their accounts to pay COVID-19-related expenses if their employer elects to open those avenues. Some of the largest 401k and 403b plan recordkeepers are forcing employers to make that choice on just a few days' notice.

Source: Spencerfane.com, March 2020

CARES Act: Retirement Plan Provisions for Employers and Plan Administrators

This legislation contains several important provisions for employers and plan administrators regarding their retirement plans. The article discusses special withdrawal, loan, and required minimum distribution provisions in the CARES Act.

Source: Pbwt.com, March 2020

The CARES Act and Its Impact on Retirement Plans

The CARES Act is a very extensive piece of legislation that is meant to provide emergency assistance to large and small distressed businesses, to stabilize the U.S. economy that has been hammered by this pandemic. This bill covers a lot more of the highly publicized economy provisions. This article specifically focuses on the provisions that directly impact tax-qualified retirement plans.

Source: Findley.com, March 2020

CARES Act: Employee Benefits Implications

Congress has passed the CARES Act to help combat the impacts of COVID-19. This article is intended as a high-level overview of the employee benefit provisions of the Act. There are ambiguities and clarification on some of the details is still needed.

Source: Clarkhill.com, March 2020

Suspending or Reducing Safe Harbor Contributions in DC Retirement Plans

Many companies have to reduce their expenses and improve cash flow in reaction to the current volatility in the economy due to Covid-19. A number plan sponsors are asking if it is permissible to suspend or reduce required safe-harbor contributions during the plan year. An employer can reduce or suspend its safe harbor contributions during a plan year, but only if certain conditions are met.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, March 2020

401k and 403b Hardship Distributions and COVID-19 Declared Disaster Areas

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared several disaster areas around the United States as a result of the spread of the coronavirus. Under final regulations issued in 2019, a federal disaster declaration has become one of the safe harbor reasons that qualifies a 401k or 403b plan participant for a hardship distribution, so it appears that plan participants may now be able to take a hardship withdrawal if they are laid off, put on an unpaid leave of absence or incur other expenses and losses on account of COVID-19.

Source: Beneficiallyyours.com, March 2020

Penalty-Free Distributions From Retirement Plans for Childbirth or Adoption Expenses

The new provision is optional, so plan sponsors will need to amend their plans to permit QBOADs and, as a separate option, to permit the repayment of QBOADs. Although discretionary plan amendments are due by the end of the plan year in which they take effect, the SECURE Act provides that plan amendments for its changes will not be due before December 31, 2022, for calendar year plans, or the last day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2022, for fiscal year plans.

Source: Belfint.com, March 2020

SECURE Act Video Series: Qualified Birth or Adoption Distributions

This multi-video series will provide a snapshot of retirement-related SECURE Act provisions, included in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020. This video covers qualified birth or adoption distributions.

Source: Ascensus.com, March 2020

Suggested Administrative Practices in Light of Intel Decision - Ensuring "Actual Knowledge"

What practices may be employed by fiduciaries to ensure that participants are reading communications and disclosures and have the requisite "awareness" of their contents? As of this writing, the best understanding of this requirement is that a plan fiduciary should do what it can to promote effective communication that encourages participants to read plan notices and disclosures. But, there will be an evolution of industry best practices in response to Intel, subject as always to the facts and circumstances of each unique situation.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, March 2020

Layoffs, Reductions in Force, and the 401k Plan

Many business owners, employment law counsel, and benefit advisors are grappling with reductions in force/layoffs due to the unprecedented business and economic impact of COVID-19. This article briefly reviews a retirement plan compliance issue that these staff reductions can trigger. The rule applies to all qualified retirement plans, not just 401k plans.

Source: Eforerisa.wordpress.com, March 2020

Are You Looking for Missing Participants?

It's important to be diligent in monitoring the plan for uncashed checks or nonresponsive participants. The DOL has made it clear that this is a fiduciary duty of the plan sponsor. Service providers often can help identify accounts that may need special attention, so sponsors should coordinate efforts to establish proper procedures and designate an individual or team to ensure necessary follow-up efforts are taken.

Source: Findley.com, March 2020

Employer Actions for 401k Plans Sickened by Coronavirus

The realities of the Coronavirus pandemic have quickly and dramatically changed the way we work, shop, seek health care, and interact with each other. The employer sponsors of 401k plans and any employer-based fiduciary investment committees should consider taking steps now in response to these developments.

Source: Dickinson-wright.com, March 2020

Emerging Coronavirus Issues for Employer Benefit Plans

As employers prepare their workforces for issues related to COVID-19, they should also take steps to ensure that their benefit plans are prepared. The impact of the virus will put a financial and logistical strain on many employees, and they will likely look to employers for guidance on several issues related to benefit plans. This article discusses the following important topics for employers to consider during this time.

Source: Eversheds-sutherland.com, March 2020

Suspending Employer 401k Contributions in Response to COVID-19

Businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 may be considering terminating their 401k plans to end their contribution obligations. However, a more measured response would be to temporarily suspend or reduce employer contributions. A temporary suspension does not require full vesting of all employees as a complete termination or discontinuance of contributions would require. How a suspension or reduction of employer contributions works depends on the type of 401k plan currently in effect.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, March 2020

Plan Loan Cure Period

A plan administrator may, but is not required to, allow a cure period during which a delinquent participant loan may be brought back into compliance without triggering a deemed distribution. If allowed, the cure period must be specifically provided for in the written plan document. This recently updated article discusses common scenarios involving the cure period.

Source: Irs.gov, March 2020

Coronavirus Adds to Employer To-Do List, Check Employee Benefits

An employer may wish to consult employee benefits counsel to determine whether an employee who has contracted Covid-19 or who is subject to quarantine could qualify for a hardship distribution under its 401k plan.

Source: Bloomberglaw.com, March 2020

Best Practices: How to Prep for an Employee Benefit Plan Audit

As with every spring, you are tasked to prepare for your year-end employee benefit plan audit. It seems that our to-do lists at work are longer and longer, so the author has compiled this employee benefit plan audit guide to help you prepare for the audit and make it seamless.

Source: Meadenmoore.com, March 2020

SECURE Act: New Part-Time Eligibility Rules for 401k Plans

The new SECURE Act broadens eligibility requirements for 401k plans. Previously, part-time employees who worked fewer than 1,000 hours per year were excluded from such plans. Under the new rules, long-term, part-time employees who work at least 500 hours in three consecutive years (and have attained age 21) must be allowed to participate in 401k plans. The addition of part-time eligibility does not nullify the 1,000 hours per year rule.

Source: Huschblackwell.com, March 2020

Supreme Court's Actual Knowledge Decision Underscores Importance of Plan Administrator Best Practices

To ensure plan participants are aware of investment changes and other revisions to the plan, plan administrators should ensure they have prudent procedures in place to relay plan disclosures and, if electronic disclosures are offered, that those disclosures satisfy the DOL's proposed rule that could become law this year. Such prudent procedures could not only protect against a potential breach of fiduciary claim, but they could also save plan administrators excessive costs in making mandatory plan disclosures by mail.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, March 2020

What Plan Sponsors May Need to Change for SECURE Act

Many SECURE Act provisions are effective on January 1, 2020. Other deadlines apply depending on the change. Plans have until 2022 to make the necessary plan document amendments so long as they comply with the Act's provisions. This 7-page article summarizes highlights of the most significant changes.

Source: Segalco.com, March 2020

Revisiting the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program After the SECURE Act

A major change that comes with the passage of the SECURE Act is a substantial increase in the penalty amounts imposed by the Internal Revenue Service for a retirement plan's failure to file a return. The increased penalty is part of a provision designed to bring in revenue to the government to offset the revenue loss of some of the other tax-friendly provisions of the Act.

Source: Belfint.com, March 2020

Puerto Rico Issues Post-Earthquake Rules for Qualified Retirement Plan Distributions and Loans

The Puerto Rico Treasury Department issued Internal Revenue Circular Letter Number 20-09 to provide special rules and procedures applicable to distributions from qualified retirement plans and individual retirement accounts following the recent earthquakes. This is a summary of the most significant provisions.

Source: Littler.com, February 2020


401khelpcenter.com, LLC is not the author of the material referenced in this digest unless specifically noted. The material referenced was created, published, maintained, or otherwise posted by institutions or organizations independent of 401khelpcenter.com, LLC. 401khelpcenter.com, LLC does not endorse, approve, certify, or control this material and does not guarantee or assume responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, efficacy, or timeliness of the material. Use of any information obtained from this material is voluntary, and reliance on it should only be undertaken after an independent review of its accuracy, completeness, efficacy, and timeliness. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by 401khelpcenter.com, LLC.


About | Glossary | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact Us

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.