Legislative & Regulatory Updates

IRS Increases Health FSA Limit for 2018

October 24, 2017

Plan sponsors will need to review their cafeteria plans to see if an amendment is necessary to implement the new maximum limit on contributions to health flexible spending accounts.

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Retirement and Health & Welfare Plan Sponsors: Reminders of What's New in 2018

October 13, 2017

Plan sponsors of retirement, health and welfare plans have a relatively short list of changes in the employee benefits arena that begin on or around January 1, 2018. However, some changes were announced so long ago, they would be easy to forget. Here’s a compilation.

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2018 Funding Interest Rates Released for Pension Plans

October 16, 2017

The segment rates required to be used for 2018 funding valuations were released on September 14, 2017.

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More Retirement Plan Help for Hurricane Victims

October 11, 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and Department of Labor (DOL) announced relief for victims of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria that mirrors the relief provided for victims of Hurricane Harvey only weeks earlier. The relief includes easier access to loans and hardship withdrawals, and the extension of certain deadlines.

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PCORI Fee Adjusted for Current Plan Year

October 11, 2017

As part of the Affordable Care Act fee to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the IRS recently released Notice 2017-61, stating that for plan years ending on or after October 1, 2017 and before October 1, 2018, the fee applicable dollar amount will be increased from $2.26 to $2.39 per covered member. This dollar amount will be used to calculate the PCORI fee amount payable in July 2018 using the IRS Form 720.

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IRS Issues Final Regulations on Updated Mortality Tables

October 6, 2017

The IRS issued final regulations on October 3, 2017 describing the updated mortality tables used to measure single-employer defined benefit retirement plan liabilities under ERISA, starting in 2018.

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Hurricane Harvey Victims Get a Helping Hand or Three

September 5, 2017

The IRS announced on August 30, 2017, that participants in 401(k) plans, 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, and 457(b) deferred compensation plans may be able to use newly announced streamlined rules to alleviate the financial hardships caused by Hurricane Harvey with loans and hardship distributions. In Announcement 2017-11, the IRS provides that affected plan sponsors will be relieved from normally required verification procedures for loans and hardship distributions in order for participants in areas adversely affected by the massive storm to speed and ease their recovery.  Hardship distributions made pursuant to this Announcement must be made on or after August 23, 2017 and no later than January 31, 2018.

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FASB Update to Accounting Pension Expense Creates Opportunities

August 4, 2017

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released Update 2017-07, which changes the accounting procedures for sponsors of corporate pension plans (not Taft-Hartley plans).

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The IRS Paves the Way for More Preapproved Plans

July 18, 2017

On June 30, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2017-41, which makes significant changes to the IRS’ opinion letter program for preapproved retirement plans. On the same day, the IRS issued the 2017 Cumulative List, which lists changes to the qualification requirements that are required to be taken into account in preapproved defined contribution plans that are submitted for opinion letters during the third six-year remedial amendment cycle.

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Round One in “Church Plan” Battles Goes to Healthcare Systems

June 15, 2017

On June 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued their 8-0 decision in Advocate Health Care Network et al. v. Stapleton et al., holding that ERISA’s exemption for a “church plan” includes a plan maintained by a church-associated organization the principal purpose of which is the maintenance of the plan. The petitioners described themselves as church-associated nonprofit healthcare systems that run hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

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The Rubber Meets the Road for the Fiduciary Rule - Well, Almost

June 6, 2017

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) delayed fiduciary rule, which includes extensive changes to the definition of a "fiduciary" applicable to both individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and ERISA-governed plans, will generally become effective June 9, 2017.

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