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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.

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Reimbursement of Sponsor Expenses

Abstract: Some plan sponsors bill their plans for the services the sponsor provides to them. That practice -- while permitted under certain circumstances -- does present certain issues under ERISA. This article briefly reviews the rules under which a sponsor/fiduciary may be reimbursed for expenses, some of the pitfalls those rules present, and some recent litigation on the issue.

Source: Octoberthree.com, May 2017

The Time is Right to Contact Recordkeepers About Hardship Substantiation

Abstract: The IRS recently issued an internal memorandum providing guidance to its employee plans examination group on the substantiation requirements for hardship distributions from a section 401k plan. If your 401k plan recordkeeper has not talked to your company lately about hardship distributions documentation, it may be time to reach out to the recordkeeper.

Source: Erisapracticecenter.com, May 2017

New IRS Guidance Allows Plan Sponsors to Use Forfeitures for Safe Harbor Contributions, QNECs and QMACs

Abstract: Earlier this year, the IRS released proposed regulations which permit employers to use forfeitures to fund safe harbor contributions, QNECs and QMACs.

Source: Mwe.com, May 2017

The Participant Disclosure Regulation: A Guide for Plan Sponsors

Abstract: The DOL's Participant Disclosure Regulation imposes an entirely new disclosure regime on plan administrators, which is intended to provide participants with information to assist them in making informed decisions regarding the management of their plan account. You should consider these requirements on a continual basis, as well as when changes to your plan are contemplated, to ensure you are complying with the Regulation.

Source: Fidelity.com, May 2017

The Problem With Using Forfeitures to Satisfy Employer Contributions

Abstract: When forfeitures occur within a 401k plan, they are then generally available to the sponsor for the purpose of funding additional employer contributions to the participants of such plan or paying certain plan related administrative expenses. This article discusses a newly proposed IRS rule that brings an expansion to the permissible uses of forfeitures to fund employer contributions.

Source: Legacyrsllc.com, May 2017

2017 Expanded Reporting and Disclosure Requirements Calendar

Abstract: The 2017 Expanded Reporting and Disclosure Requirements Calendar provides who, what, when and where reporting and disclosure information for single-employer defined benefit and defined contribution plans subject to ERISA.

Source: Willistowerswatson.com, April 2017

IRS Memorandum on Calculating Maximum Loan Amount

Abstract: The IRS issued an internal memorandum to its auditors on calculating the maximum loan amount where there is or has been a prior loan.

Source: Benefitsforward.com, April 2017

DOL Recovers More Than $41k for St. Paul-Based 401k Plan

Abstract: An investigation by the DOL found from at least Feb. 1. 2010, to May 27, 2015, the company withheld $35,363.86 from employee's pay for voluntary contributions to the 401k Plan. During that same period, the company retained approximately $29,058 of those contributions in the company's corporate bank account and used them for general operating expenses.

Source: Dol.gov, April 2017

Puerto Rico Modifies Retirement Plan Qualification and Trust Requirements

Abstract: Several of the modifications create new disparities between rules under the Puerto Rico and U.S. tax codes. Hacienda is expected to issue clarifying guidance and information on deadlines for plan amendments and determination letter requests. Dual-qualified plans should pay particular attention to the changes that create discrepancies between the U.S. and Puerto Rican tax codes.

Source: Towerswatson.com, April 2017

How to Avoid Costly Beneficiary Designation Litigation

Abstract: A recent federal district court opinion in Florida demonstrates the potential pitfalls that plan administrators may face with respect to disputes over beneficiary status and provides guidance as to how administrators may avoid costly disputes.

Source: Lexology.com, April 2017

Compensation of Self-Employed Participants for Purposes of Qualified Retirement Plans

Abstract: Often, there is confusion regarding what compensation is used to determine contributions to the company's qualified retirement plan on behalf of members of the LLC. This article is a discussion of the basic rules for determining the compensation for self-employed individuals (sole proprietors, partners in a partnership, and members of an LLC taxed as a partnership).

Source: Eisneramper.com, April 2017

EPCRS: Participant Loan Corrections

Abstract: Plan failures related to participant loans can be corrected using either Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) or Correction on Audit. Since plan loan failures are not operational failures, they cannot be corrected using the self-correction method.

Source: Belfint.com, April 2017

Avoid Overpaying User Fees for Your VCP Submission

Abstract: The Employee Plans Voluntary Compliance function has noticed an increase in submissions with incorrect user fees. Many of these submissions include user fees higher than what is required. This announcement reviews some ways to avoid the overpayment of user fees.

Source: Irs.gov, March 2017

IRS Releases Form 5500-EZ and Form 8955-SSA for 2016 Plan Year

Abstract: The IRS has released the 2016 Form 5500-EZ (Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan) and 2016 Form 8955-SSA (Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits), along with their separate Instructions.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, March 2017

Retirement Plan Examinations and Enforcement Programs on the Rise: Guidance for Plan Sponsors

Abstract: It's no surprise that DOL and IRS investigations and audits are on the rise. In 2016, the DOL alone closed 2,002 civil and 333 criminal investigations. This article reviews some steps a plan sponsor can take to avoid or mitigate compliance issues before an audit is initiated.

Source: Bsllp.com, March 2017

IRS Views on Self-Certification of Financial Hardship

Abstract: Many plan sponsors rely upon a self-certification process to document and process 401k distributions made on account of financial hardship. The IRS has recently issued examination guidelines for its field agents for their use in determining whether a self-certification process has an adequate documentation procedure.

Source: Benefitsbryancave.com, March 2017

Using the New IRS Remedial Amendment Period Rules

Abstract: This 28-page paper looks at what the Tax Code and Treasury Regulations say about when a retirement plan that is intended to be qualified may be retroactively modified. If one is interested only in whether a plan document meets the qualification requirements, and not what plan terms may be enforced by participants or other parties, this retroactivity question is the whole ballgame.

Source: Utzlattan.com, March 2017

2017 Annual Plan Deadlines for Plan Years Ending December 31, 2017

Abstract: This 7-page chart, although not intended to be exhaustive, includes the key annual events which must occur within a specific deadline for a calendar year plan. The chart is intended to serve as a tool that can be used by employers to monitor compliance over the plan and calendar year.

Source: Voya.com, February 2017

2017 Retirement and Employee Benefits Compliance Calendar

Abstract: This 1-page chart is intended to provide plan sponsors with a list of notable retirement plan deadlines. The deadlines in this chart assume a calendar-year plan year.

Source: Strategicbenefitservices.com, February 2017

Is Your 401k Plan in Compliance?

Abstract: As a 401k plan sponsor are you confident that your plan complies with all current employee benefits laws and regulations? Does the plan operate within the its current provisions? If you're not certain, then it's time for an annual self-checkup.

Source: Dgccpa.com, February 2017

2017 Compliance Checklist for Retirement Plans Subject to ERISA

Abstract: As a retirement plan sponsor, you know how important it is to comply with ERISA and the ever-changing reporting and disclosure requirements mandated by the federal government. This checklist incorporates defined benefit, defined contribution, and ERISA 403(b) requirements and provides information on the materials that you will need to file, filing due dates and agencies to which the filings should be made.

Source: Prudential.com, February 2017

New Determination Letter Procedures for Puerto Rico Retirement Plans

Abstract: Circular Letter 2016-8 from the Puerto Rico Treasury Department (Hacienda) sets out revised procedures for obtaining a determination letter to confirm a retirement plan's qualified status under Puerto Rico law. The deadline for requesting a determination letter for a plan amendment is now based on the amendment's execution date (i.e., its adoption date) rather than its effective date.

Source: Towerswatson.com, February 2017*

Common 401k Plan Administration Data-Quality Errors

Abstract: A list that includes some of the most common tactical 401k data-quality errors found during plan conversions.

Source: Forusall.com, February 2017

Puerto Rico Retirement Plan Qualification Requirements and Trusts Modified

Abstract: The Puerto Rico Governor signed into law Act No. 9-2017. The Act is intended to amend certain provisions that govern the treatment of retirement benefit plans to halt the exodus from Puerto Rico of professionals, protect their economic future, and attract productive human talent to Puerto Rico.

Source: Mcvpr.com, February 2017

Correction of Elective Deferral Failures

Abstract: It is not uncommon for the sponsor of a 401k plan to discover that elective deferral contributions were not deducted from the pay of certain eligible employees as the result of an operational or procedural error. The IRS provides specific guidance for this error.

Source: Voya.com, February 2017

Maintaining Retirement Plan Records

Abstract: Employers who sponsor a retirement plan are required by law to keep books and records available for the IRS to review. Having these records available is also helpful when determining participant benefits. What records should you keep and how long must they be retained is address in this article.

Source: Consultrms.com, February 2017

Accounting Treatment of Refund of Excess Contributions

Abstract: This short article looks at whether retirement plan contributions that end up exceeding legislative limits for the plan year can still be considered contributions on the plan's financial statements.

Source: Belfint.com, February 2017

Puerto Rico 2017 Retirement Plan Limits

Abstract: The Puerto Rico Treasury Department (Hacienda) has announced 2017 benefit limits for retirement plans qualified under Puerto Rico's Internal Revenue Code.

Source: Towerswatson.com, February 2017

Correcting ADP Test Failures

Abstract: New resource from ICI working groups explore how fund intermediaries can fulfill disclosure requirements under the DOL fiduciary rule.

Source: Legacyrsllc.com, February 2017

Record Retention Requirements Applicable to Employee Benefit Plans

Abstract: Presentation details the general rules of ERISA and then discusses several specific recordkeeping requirements for employee benefit plans and a number of general requirements that imply a duty to retain records, for example general fiduciary duties, plan distribution requirements, COBRA requirements and qualified medical child support requirements.

Source: Employeebenefitsblog.com, February 2017

ADP Test Basics

Abstract: The tax code governing 401k plans was written to prevent qualified retirement plans from overly favoring Highly Compensated Employees. A series of non-discrimination tests were devised to measure whether a plan's design or operation lends to favoring the HCEs over the Non-Highly Compensated Employees. This a review of the tests.

Source: Legacyrsllc.com, February 2017

Updated Publication 575 -- Pension and Annuity Income

Summary: This is the newly updated 43-page IRS Publication 575 discusses the tax treatment of distributions from pension and annuity plans and also shows how to report the income on a federal income tax return.

Source: Irs.gov, January 2017

Updated Publication 560 -- Retirement Plans for Small Business

Summary: This is the newly updated 28-page IRS Publication 560 which covers retirement plans can set up and maintain for Small Businesses. Includes SEP, SIMPLE, and Qualified Plans.

Source: Irs.gov, January 2017

Puerto Rico Treasury Issues New Guidance on Rules and Procedures for Qualification of Retirement Plans

Abstract: The Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury issued Tax Policy Circular Letter No. 16-08. CL 16-08 establishes new rules regarding the validity of retirement plan qualification letters and the procedures that employers and service providers must follow to request such qualification letters. It also repeals PR Treasury's Circular Letter 11-10 and Letter 13-02.

Source: Littler.com, January 2017

401k Plans Make Big Fund Changes Following New Money Market Rules

Abstract: Employers have drastically mixed up the "safe" investment options offered in their defined contribution plans in response to new rules that came into effect last year regarding money market funds.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), January 2017

Puerto Rico Treasury Department Issues Updated Guidance on Retirement Plans

Abstract: The Puerto Rico Treasury Department recently issued Circular Letter of Tax Policy No. 16-08 (CLTP 16-08) to update and clarify the: (i) rules regarding the effective dates of favorable determination letters issued under Section 1081.01(a) of the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code of 2011 (PR Code), and (ii) due dates and procedures for requesting determination letters for retirement plans intended to be qualified under the PR Code.

Source: Groom.com, January 2017

2017 401k ERISA Compliance Calendar

Abstract: This compliance calendar highlights critical compliance deadlines for DC retirement plans. Some deadlines apply only to particular plan types and there may be additional deadlines associated with individual plans that are not covered here. Also, plans with non-calendar plan years may be subject to different deadlines.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, January 2017

2017 Key Administrative Dates and Deadlines for Calendar-Year DC Plans

Abstract: This is a 4-page retirement plan chart and 2017 calendar for defined contribution plans, published Milliman. The document provides key administrative dates and deadlines for calendar-year plans.

Source: Milliman.com, January 2017

Missing Participants: Gone but Not Forgotten

Abstract: In light of the more robust efforts being taken by the IRS and DOL in this area, it is best to craft or update procedures to help demonstrate compliance in locating lost participants and the timely payment of plan benefits. Having such procedures in place helps ensure that plan administrators are properly managing their fiduciary liability risk by taking reasonable and prudent steps to protect participants' and beneficiaries' rights to plan benefits.

Source: Truckerhuss.com, January 2017

DOL Revisits, Relaxes Retirement Plan Proxy Voting Guidance

Abstract: While the DOL's conflict-of-interest guidance is unquestionably the most high-profile fiduciary issue today, it is far from being the only fiduciary consideration to those who sponsor or administer retirement plans. The DOL issued Interpretive Bulletin 2016-1 addresses retirement plan fiduciaries' responsibilities for voting proxies related to retirement plan investments. Notable in this guidance is the DOL's affirmation that plan fiduciaries may consider environmental, social, and governance factors.

Source: Ascensus.com, January 2017

2017 Annual Plan Deadlines

Abstract: There are many important requirements for DC plans that occur either during the calendar year or during the plan year. These requirements include participant statements, compliance testing and remittance of plan contributions. This chart (although not intended to be exhaustive) includes the key annual events which must occur within a specific deadline.

Source: Voya.com, January 2017

DOL Provides Updated Guidance on Proxy Voting by Employee Benefit Plans

Abstract: The DOL released Interpretive Bulletin 2016-01 which provides updated guidance for ERISA plan fiduciaries with respect to the voting of proxies on individual securities held in employee benefit plan portfolios and the appropriateness of active engagement with corporate management by plan fiduciaries.

Source: Haynesboone.com, January 2017

Information Letter on Application of Fiduciary Provisions to Certain Default Investments

Abstract: The DOL has issued an Information Letter on the application of ERISA's fiduciary provisions to default investments with lifetime income features that contain certain liquidity and transferability restrictions.

Source: Benefitsforward.com, January 2017

SEC Gets in on 401k Fiduciary Rule Compliance

Abstract: The Guidance Update will make it easier for mutual funds to create and administer compensation arrangements tailored to comply with the fiduciary rules. It does not address, however, the extent to which brokers may independently set their compensation.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, January 2017

Employee Benefits Consideration in Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions

Abstract: Employers that sponsor a retirement plan face a host of potential issues to consider both before and after a corporate merger or acquisition. These topics can be complex and often require appropriate analysis and planning prior to an acquisition in order to meet the goals of all parties and the needs of the affected employees.

Source: Vanguard.com, December 2016

2017 Checklist: Required Notices for DC Plan Participants

Abstract: Running a DC plan is complicated with lots of required notices when employees become eligible with some required every year. Though most companies rely on their recordkeeper, TPA, or advisor to help, it does not relieve them of the responsibility or liability if notices are not sent out. With 2017 plan year looming, here are the required notices to participants.

Source: 401ktv.com, December 2016

ADP and ACP Tests

Abstract: As a mechanism to prevent discrimination in DC plan deferral and match contributions, Congress developed the Actual Deferral Percentage (ADP) and the Actual Contribution Percentage (ACP) tests.

Source: Belfint.com, December 2016

Puerto Rico Treasury Announces Key Benefit Plan Limits for 2017

Abstract: Puerto Rico's secretary of Treasury has announced the qualified retirement plan limits for 2017. Plan sponsors should ensure that documents and employee communications are updated to reflect the adjusted 2017 limits, and take steps to apply these limits properly in the administration of Puerto Rico qualified or dual qualified retirement plans.

Source: Xerox.com, December 2016

2017 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans

Abstract: Sibson Consulting's 2017 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans summarizes compliance requirements for qualified, single-employer benefit plans.

Source: Sibson.com, December 2016

Additional Instructions for VCP Submissions

Abstract: You must follow the instructions in Revenue Procedure 2016-51 when making Voluntary Correction Program submissions to the IRS beginning January 1, 2017.

Source: Irs.gov, December 2016

2016 Required Amendments List for Qualified Retirement Plans

Abstract: The IRS has released its initial Required Amendments List for individually designed qualified plans.

Source: Irs.gov, December 2016

401k and 403(b) Plan Administrators Guide

Abstract: New regulatory initiatives by the DOL, as well as a sharp spike in litigation against plan sponsors and third party recordkeepers, have underlined the importance of addressing plan administration in a proactive and comprehensive way. This 8-page guide is designed to help employers administer their 401k or 403(b) plans.

Source: Jdsupra.com, December 2016

Explanations of Vesting, Eligibility Rules Leave Some Plan Participants in the Dark

Abstract: Employers are not giving their 401k plan participants clear enough explanations on the impact of the plan's eligibility and vesting policies, a report by the Government Accountability Office said. Part of the problem may lie with the summary plan description.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), December 2016

2017 Defined Contribution Compliance Calendar

Abstract: This is a 17-page calendar of key deadlines for calendar-year plans.

Source: Amazonaws.com, December 2016

Forfeitures Can Be a Compliance Headache

Abstract: Defined contribution plans have a forfeiture provision if there are contributions in the plan that are not immediately vested. The problem with the forfeiture provision is that they are usually neglected and can be a big headache for compliance.

Source: Jdsupra.com, November 2016

The IRS Tightens Plan Examination Process With New Rules for Plan Sponsors and IRS Examiners

Abstract: With the IRS's focus on "black belt" business practices, it announced on November 21, 2016 a new process for its retirement plan audits. These rules center on the timing of the "Information Document Requests," which are central to an audit.

Source: Businessofbenefits.com, November 2016

Qualified Retirement Plan Amendments and IRS Filings - Upcoming Deadlines

Abstract: This advisory reminds plan sponsors of deadlines for amending qualified retirement plans and for submitting certain plans to the IRS for a determination letter, as well as other significant changes to the determination letter process.

Source: Alston.com, November 2016

2016 Year-End Compliance Checklist

Abstract: A 3-page reminder to plan sponsors of key compliance actions as 2016 comes to a close.

Source: Fulcrumpartnersllc.com, November 2016

Handling a DOL Audit With Ease

Abstract: At any given time, your organization may be selected for a DOL civil investigation (audit) to ensure that your employee benefits are in compliance. This document outlines the steps that traditionally occur during the audit process.

Source: Cowdenassociates.com, November 2016

Form 5500: 10 Need-to-Know Points

Abstract: There are few fans of the Form 5500. But that does not absolve most employee benefit plans with more than 100 participants from the obligation to file one. Data analytics firm miEdge and Wrangle has prepared a list of points to keep in mind about the form.

Source: Asppa.org, November 2016

2016 End of Year Plan Sponsor 'To Do' List: Qualified Retirement Plans

Abstract: This is a qualified plan "to do" list of items on which you may want to act on before the end of 2016 or in early 2017.

Source: Swlaw.com, November 2016

The To-Do List For 401k Plans Now: 2016-2017 Edition

Abstract: Being a retirement plan sponsor is a tremendous responsibility and the problem is that most plan sponsors don't understand that. Fiduciary responsibility doesn't allow plan sponsors the luxury to be passive when the buck stops with them. With the new fiduciary rule and constant concerns with rampant 401k litigation, here is a 'to-do' list for you to do now.

Source: Jdsupra.com, November 2016

Plan Administrator Pays for Failure to Furnish Documents

Abstract: After ruling that a 401k plan administrator violated ERISA when it failed to furnish a custodial agreement and other documents requested by a plan participant, a trial court has imposed penalties totaling $15,959.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, November 2016

2016 Year-End Compliance Issues for Single-Employer Retirement Plans

Abstract: By year-end 2016, sponsors of calendar-year single-employer retirement plans must adopt necessary and discretionary plan amendments to ensure compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements of ERISA and the tax code. This 2-page bulletin looks at key areas -- including administrative compliance issues -- that sponsors of such DB or DC plans should address by Dec. 31, 2016.

Source: Milliman.com, November 2016

Do You Need to Send an Annual Notice to Plan Participants?

Abstract: Plan sponsors of DC plans may need to issue one or more annual notices to participants before the end of each plan year. This article discusses the list and deadlines for the most common notices that plan sponsors may need to distribute.

Source: Alston.com, November 2016

Hurricane Matthew Affects Retirement Plan Administration

Abstract: The arrival of Hurricane Matthew in early October significantly affected individuals and businesses in several states. Recognizing this impact, the IRS and the PBGC have granted extensions of certain deadlines for both plan sponsors and participants directly affected by this disaster.

Source: Prudential.com, November 2016

Noting Increased Penalties, DOL Issues 2016 Form 5500, Schedules, and Instructions

Abstract: On November 1, 2016, the DOL, IRS, and PBGC released advance informational copies of the 2016 Form 5500 and related instructions. The 2016 Form 5500 will be filed for plan years that begin in 2016. The Form 5500 instructions reflect increased civil money penalties.

Source: Practicallaw.com, November 2016

Trends in SEC Comment Letters on Retirement Benefits

Abstract: The SEC is among the federal agencies that an employer must provide information to concerning pension and retirement benefits other than pensions. A new report takes a look at the comments SEC staff have made to registrants on the SEC website concerning these benefits.

Source: Asppa.org, November 2016

Is Your Plan Auditor Making the Grade? Five Ways to Get a Better Audit

Abstract: The bulk of 5500 filings and related audits are over. Now, when the experience is fresh in your mind, is the best time to evaluate whether your audit was up to snuff, because the consequences of having a bad auditor are about to go up.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, November 2016

Full Scope vs Limited-Scope Audits

Abstract: Company sponsored 401k plans with more than 100 employees required to attach audited financial statements to the Plan's annual 5500. The audit of the financial statements must be completed by an independent CPA firm and will take the form of one of two varieties: (1) a full scope audit or (2) a limited scope audit. Where the full scope and limited scope audit differ is what the auditor is required to test relating to investment transactions.

Source: 5500audit.com, November 2016

Money Market Reform Kicks In

Abstract: You may have missed it, but the Securities and Exchange Commission's new regulations on money market funds went into effect last week.

Source: Napa-net.org, October 2016

IRS Solicits Comments on Facilitating Compliance With Qualified Plan Document Requirements

Abstract: In Announcement 2016-32, in connection with the changes recently made to its determination letter program for qualified retirement plans, the IRS solicits comments on facilitating compliance with the requirements which apply to such plans.

Source: Erisalawyerblog.com, October 2016

IRS Overhauls the Retirement Plan Correction Program

Abstract: With the looming end of the determination letter program as we know it, the IRS has issued an updated Revenue Procedure for the Employee Plans Compliance Resolutions System. Released on September 29, 2016,Rev. Proc. 2016-51 updates the EPCRS procedures, replaces Rev. Proc. 2013-12 and integrates the changes provided in Rev. Proc. 2015-27 and Rev. Proc. 2015-28. Highlights from the new revenue procedure are outlined here.

Source: Benefitsbryancave.com, October 2016

Plan Forfeitures

Abstract: When a participant terminates employment prior to becoming fully vested in there employers contributions, the unvested portion is forfeited on a date specified by the plan. A plan that does not annually allocate forfeiture amounts may jeopardize its qualified plan status.

Source: Fidelity.com, October 2016

Mapping a Master Plan to DOL Compliance

Abstract: The DOL Conflict of Interest Rule is expected to have the biggest impact on financial services since ERISA was enacted in 1974. This 3-page paper provides a view of what tasks need to be tackled now, by April 10, 2017 when the new standard goes into effect, during the transition period up to the final ruling (April 10th through year-end), and finally what ongoing processes and checkpoints need to be implemented post-DOL after January 1, 2018.

Source: Broadridge.com, October 2016

Maintaining Retirement Plan Documents After Revenue Procedure 2016-37

Abstract: The presentation highlights key changes under Revenue Procedure 2016-37 and the consequential impacts on annual audits, plan drafting, choice of plan, existing plan administration, EPCRS and other various transactions.

Source: Employeebenefitsblog.com, October 2016

Without Fanfare, IRS Issues New Revenue Procedure on EPCRS

Abstract: The current EPCRS, which was issued in 2013, was a bit "long in the tooth" because it contained outdated references and had been modified several times through subsequent guidance. The IRS has updated the EPCRS and wrapped up all of these changes in a new package.

Source: Morganlewis.com, October 2016

IRS Updates Plan Correction Program and Modifies Criteria for Monetary Penalties in Plan Audits

Abstract: This updated EPCRS revenue procedure does not introduce new concepts, but incorporates "correction" guidance previously issued by the IRS in 2015, and modifies EPCRS to take into account the major changes to the determination letter program for individually designed plans, reflected in Rev. Proc. 2016-37, as well as the criteria in the "Audit CAP" program.

Source: Groom.com, October 2016

IRS Issues Explanations Related to Contributions and Required Distributions

Abstract: The IRS has issued publications that provide information and forms relevant to employee and matching contributions and required distributions.

Source: Asppa.org, October 2016

Updated Retirement Plan Correction Procedures

Abstract: Revenue Procedure 2016-51, released September 29, 2016, modifies the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, replaces Revenue Procedure 2013-12, and incorporates changes described in Revenue Procedure 2015-27 and Revenue Procedure 2015-28.

Source: Irs.gov, October 2016

Designated Roth Contributions -- Dispelling the Confusion

Abstract: Designated Roth Contributions (DRCs) have been a permissible retirement plan feature since 2006; however, there is still confusion in the retirement plan community regarding DRCs. The author tests your knowledge and dispels the mist.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, October 2016

Chart: A Short Plan Year as of 2016

Abstract: This is a compensation and limitation chart for a short plan year as of 2016.

Source: Mhco.com, October 2016

Does Brokerage Window Require Company Stock Offering Registration?

Abstract: The SEC recently weighed in on whether offering a brokerage window in a 401k through which investments in employer securities can be made involves an offer of employer securities requiring Securities Act registration.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2016

Understand the Rules for Hardship Distributions

Abstract: Although not required, a retirement plan may allow participants to receive hardship distributions. This is an overview of the rules provided by the IRS.

Source: Irs.gov, September 2016

Common Hardship Distribution Errors

Abstract: Sometimes, plan sponsors don't follow the terms of their plan document when it comes to hardship distributions. This article reviews some of the common errors and how to correct them.

Source: Irs.gov, September 2016

Keep Participants From Becoming Lost

Abstract: As a Plan Administrator, you probably know the struggle of locating a terminated participant who still has a balance in your company's retirement plan. You also know what a time-consuming and sometimes expensive process this can be. Here are a few tips on how to increase your odds of keeping terminated participants from ever becoming lost.

Source: Consultrms.com, September 2016

Rules for Posting an SPD on Company's Intranet Website

Abstract: The DOL provides a safe harbor for electronic disclosure of plan documents including the use of an intranet. The safe harbor sets forth general requirements for all electronic disclosures and additional requirements for recipients that do not have computer access at work.

Source: Kushnerco.com, September 2016

Is Your 401k Plan Income "Floating" Away? New Lawsuit Challenges Fidelity's Practices

Abstract: A recent class action suit filed against Fidelity and two plan sponsors, United Airlines and Hewlett-Packard, claims that the income on "float" accounts should have been credited for the benefit of the plans and that Fidelity committed fiduciary breaches by keeping the float. The suit also names the plan fiduciaries for allowing Fidelity to engage in these practices, which plaintiffs contend are prohibited transactions.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, September 2016

IRS Final Rules Include Same-Sex Spouses in Terms Related to Marital Status

Abstract: The IRS has finalized regulations that amend existing regulations to provide that, for federal tax purposes, certain terms involving marital status (for example, "husband" or "wife") are interpreted in a neutral way to include same-sex and opposite-sex spouses. The changes do not extend to individuals in domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar relationships.

Source: Practicallaw.com, September 2016

The Shape of Things to Come - New IRS Guidance on Downsized DL Program

Abstract: Last summer, the Internal Revenue Service announced dramatic changes in its longstanding determination letter program for tax-qualified plans (Announcement 2015-19). This article describes key changes made by the Revenue Procedure, including changes applicable to all individually designed plans generally. The article also highlights special rules applicable to IDPs maintained by governmental and tax-exempt entities and covers expected changes for preapproved plans.

Source: Groom.com, September 2016

IRS Provides Determination Letter Guidance Revenue Procedure 2016-37

Abstract: Earlier this year, the IRS announced that determination letters for individually designed plans would no longer contain an expiration date. These IRS announcements left plan sponsors and practitioners with many questions and concerns regarding the ongoing qualification status of individually designed plans. Several key takeaways are discussed in this article.

Source: Erisadiagnostics.com, September 2016

IRS Issues Self-Certification Guidance for Missed 60-Day Rollover Deadline

Abstract: In Revenue Procedure 2016-47, the Internal Revenue Service provided a self-certification procedure that provides a mechanism for recipients of retirement plan and individual retirement account (IRA) distributions who inadvertently miss the 60-day deadline for rolling these amounts into another retirement plan or IRA to avoid early distribution taxes.

Source: Practicallaw.com, August 2016

Retirement Plans FAQs relating to Waivers of the 60-Day Rollover Requirement

Abstract: The IRS has released Frequently Asked Questions regarding its new self-certification program for those who qualify after missing the 60-day indirect rollover period.

Source: Irs.gov, August 2016

Retirement Plans Can Make Loans, Hardship Distributions to Louisiana Flood Victims

Abstract: The Internal Revenue Service announced that 401ks and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to Louisiana flood victims and members of their families.

Source: Irs.gov, August 2016

Accepting Late Rollover Contributions

Abstract: Retirement plan administrators, and IRA trustees, custodians and issuers can now accept late rollover contributions from individuals who self-certify they qualify for a waiver of the 60-day rollover requirement.

Source: Irs.gov, August 2016

New Procedure Helps People Making IRA and Retirement Plan Rollovers

Abstract: The Internal Revenue Service has provided a self-certification procedure designed to help recipients of retirement plan distributions who inadvertently miss the 60-day time limit for properly rolling these amounts into another retirement plan or individual retirement arrangement.

Source: Irs.gov, August 2016

Failure to Obtain Spousal Consent

Abstract: If a Qualified Joint and Sponsor Annuity is required by your Plan, a married participant cannot elect a different form of benefit distribution without the consent of their spouse. A failure to obtain spousal consent is considered operational in nature and can lead to plan disqualification.

Source: Ekonbenefits.com, August 2016

Update on the Apparent Demise of the Determination Letter Program

Abstract: The IRS said last year that determination letter program for retirement plans would largely be going away. Rev. Proc. 2016-37 includes information with respect to the future of the determination letter program. As highlighted in a recent IRS webcast, a noteworthy development is that "subject to IRS resources" that post-initial determination letters may be available after 2017 in specified circumstances.

Source: Benefitsbryancave.com, August 2016

Correcting Missed Deferral Opportunities

Abstract: As more plans adopt automatic enrollment, automatic escalation, or simply streamline the process for making a deferral election, it is common that mistakes are made, resulting in the missed opportunity for an employee to defer income into the plan. In Revenue Procedure 2015-28, the IRS amended the process by which a plan may correct such failures.

Source: Amazonaws.com, August 2016

Vanished Into Thin Air? Lost Participants Create Plan Audit Risk

Abstract: Is your plan keeping track of vested former participants who are owed money? The DOL is looking at this matter because the failure to keep track of participants raises broader fiduciary responsibility issues.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, August 2016

A Blueprint for Maintaining a Plan after the IRS's Determination Letter Program Cutback

Abstract: The IRS will continue to conduct random audits to assess plan compliance with plan document operational requirements. Beginning in 2017, the IRS expects plan sponsors to amend written plan documents in accordance with Revenue Procedure 2016-37 and without reliance on a determination letter. Sponsors of individually designed plans must develop new means for assuring they comply with the qualification requirements in the wake of Revenue Procedure 2016-37.

Source: Mwe.com, August 2016

IRS Provides Note on Correcting Required Minimum Distribution Failures

Abstract: In a note provided by the IRS, the IRS provides guidance on correcting required minimum distribution failures. This article reviewa what the IRS said.

Source: Erisalawyerblog.com, August 2016

IRS Clarifies 5500 Instructions Regarding Unpaid RMDs

Abstract: The IRS has clarified the instructions for two schedules to Form 5500 and to a line of Form 5500-SF. The instructions did not include examples of what constituted a reportable failure to provide any benefit when due under the plan.

Source: Asppa.org, August 2016

Plan Amendments Are Required When You Terminate Your Plan

Abstract: One of the steps to take before terminating your retirement plan is to make sure your plan document includes all law changes your plan was required to follow as of the plan's termination date.

Source: Irs.gov, July 2016

Complete Discontinuance of Contributions to Profit Sharing/401k Plan

Abstract: While plan sponsors aren't required to make contributions to their profit sharing/401k plan every year, contributions must be "recurring and substantial" for a plan to be considered ongoing. When a complete discontinuance of contributions occurs, the plan sponsor must treat the plan as a terminated plan and fully vest all participant accounts for the plan to remain qualified.

Source: Irs.gov, July 2016

Terminated Participants: Out of Sight, Out of Mind -- That is the Problem

Abstract: The DOL has recently launched an initiative to audit retirement plans to confirm whether or not they have terminated, vested participants that might be owed plan benefits. If such owed distributions "slip through the cracks," it has the potential to run afoul of both DOL and IRS rules, exposing the plan to potential penalties and loss of tax qualification status.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, July 2016

DOL Commences Retirement Plan Audits for Compliance With Code Section 401(a)(9)

Abstract: This client article provides an overview of the Code's qualification requirements as they relate to required minimum distributions, the DOL's interest in required minimum distributions, and the DOL's guidance on missing plan participants.

Source: Dickinson-Wright.com, July 2016

Complete Restructuring of Form 5500 Proposed for 2019

Abstract: The DOL, IRS, and PBGC issued the Form 5500 Improvement and Modernization Proposal, a voluminous package of guidance and related materials (almost 1000 pages), in which they have proposed a complete restructuring of the Form 5500 annual return/report, including all Schedules. The agencies view the changes as necessary to modernize and improve the Form, noting that the last comprehensive update focused on revising the forms in anticipation of mandatory electronic filing beginning with the 2009 plan year.

Source: Sibson.com, July 2016

Fact Sheet: Proposal to Modernize and Improve the Form 5500

Abstract: On July 21, 2016, the DOL, the IRS, and the PBGC will publish in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions to the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report Series. This 4-page fact sheet has been developed by the DOL to background and an overview of the proposal.

Source: Dol.gov, July 2016

DOL Releases Proposal to Improve, Modernize Form 5500

Abstract: The DOL published a notice of proposed changes to its annual reporting regulations and seeks public comments on proposed revisions to modernize and improve the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report filed by private-sector employee benefit plans.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2016

Does My Retirement Plan Need an Audit?

Abstract: The end of July is creeping closer for calendar year plans and usually arrives sooner than expected for 401k plan sponsors. As an employer, it's important to be familiar with the plan audit requirements before it's time to file your Form 5500. You need to be prepared well in advance of the filing deadline if an audit is required.

Source: Kushnerco.com, July 2016

Administrative 401k Mistakes Now Cost More

Abstract: The Labor Department has increased the civil monetary penalties assessed to retirement plans, due to an inflation adjustment the government is mandating for federal agencies.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), July 2016

A Whole New World for Qualified Plans: Revenue Procedure 2016-37

Abstract: This wide-ranging article addresses the modifications to the determination letter program and ongoing compliance for individually designed qualified plans.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com, July 2016

The Disappearing Determination Letter: How Plan Sponsors Can Cope

Abstract: IRS will indeed end the cyclical (5 year) cycle for individually-designed plans, providing determination letters only on plan adoption, plan termination, and on request in special situations. Moving to pre-approved plans might seem like an appealing alternative to these plan sponsors, but it really isn't.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, July 2016

IRS Provides Determination Letter Guidance in Revenue Procedure 2016-37

Abstract: The IRS released Revenue Procedure 2016-37, which provides new determination letter processes and remedial amendment periods for individually designed qualified retirement plans. The Revenue Procedure also makes certain modifications to the six-year remedial amendment cycle system for pre-approved qualified retirement plans.

Source: Practicallaw.com, July 2016

DOL Increases Civil Money Penalties

Abstract: The DOL issued an interim final rule to adjust the amounts of civil penalties assessed in its regulations, as required under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. Contains charts of fees.

Source: Practicallaw.com, July 2016

Number of Plan Audits Should Be a Wake Up Call for Clients

Abstract: Nearly one-third of respondents to a Willis Towers Watson survey have had their retirement plans audited by the IRS or DOL, and the rate is even higher among large plans.

Source: Planadviser.com, July 2016

DOL Increases Certain ERISA Civil Penalties

Abstract: The DOL has issued an interim final rule identifying increases in certain ERISA civil penalties as a result of enactment of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015. This 2015 legislation required federal agencies to adjust certain civil penalties under their jurisdictions to reflect cost-of-living-adjustment increases.

Source: Ascensus.com, July 2016

IRS Issues Guidance on Payments Received During Phased Retirement

Abstract: The IRS has issued guidance on whether distributions received during a phased retirement are amounts received as an annuity. The IRS issued the guidance in Notice 2016-39 and Revenue Procedure (Rev. Proc.) 2016-36 on June 10 in response to inquiries on the matter.

Source: Asppa.org, June 2016

Form 5500 Preparation -- 10 Quick Considerations

Abstract: It is critical to follow the Form 5500 instructions and carefully review the entries in order to avoid triggering an investigation. Article is a short list of considerations and questions aimed at helping avoid government inquiry otherwise prompted by a wrong answer on the Form 5500.

Source: Erisalawgroup.com, June 2016

Exceptional Plan Governance: Beat Back the Coming Litigation Onslaught

Abstract: Exceptional plan governance means that, at a minimum, plan sponsors (and designated fiduciaries) should consider the items outlined here to help demonstrate that they are primarily operating their plans to the benefit of participants and their beneficiaries and then to reduce liability exposure for themselves.

Source: Benefitsbryancave.com, June 2016

Correction Program Options for Retirement Plan Errors

Abstract: In a highly regulated industry with complicated rules that always have exceptions, it is inevitable that sooner or later a failure to follow the plan document will take place. Such operational errors can be corrected through the IRS Employee Plan Compliance Resolution System in one of three ways.

Source: Belfint.com, June 2016

IRS Proposes New Nondiscrimination Rules

Abstract: The IRS published proposed rules to provide additional nondiscrimination testing relief to both closed plans and ongoing plans that provide grandfathered benefits to closed groups of employees. The intent of these rules is to enable plan designs to continue to meet nondiscrimination requirements, even though the covered populations may become more discriminatory over time.

Source: Prudential.com, June 2016

How Long Should Retirement Plan Records Be Retained?

Abstract: Maintaining an employer-sponsored retirement plan can be an onerous task. A lot of paper a can accumulate in short order. Before you go off and shred some of those old documents in an effort to clean up your fiduciary file, you should know that ERISA has specific requirements for the retention of records relating to employee benefit plans.

Source: Axiaadvisory.com, June 2016


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