Blog Posts: Benefits Law Update

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Named a Top 10 Blog in Compensation and Benefits, Verrill's attorneys use the Benefits Law Update blog to provide timely updates and commentary on developments in law affecting employee benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements.

The How and When of Separations from Service Under Section 409A

Readers who regularly work with deferred compensation plans will know that Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code (“Section 409A”) prescribes six events or times at which deferred compensation may be distributed to participants in a deferred compensation arrangement. The first, and perhaps most frequently used, of these permissible...
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How many participants is too many for a top hat plan?

A client recently reviewed a census of participants in its deferred compensation plan and found that the covered group amounted to nearly 15% of its total workforce. Mindful of the need to limit the number of participants in a top hat plan, this compliance-oriented organization asked whether it should...
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Using a Non-Compete to Create a Substantial Risk of Forfeiture Under a Section 457(f) Plan: Limited (But Meaningful) Opportunities

The Treasury Department’s proposed regulations regarding the income tax treatment of “ineligible plans” of tax-exempt employers under Code Section 457(f), published in June 2016, were greeted with much fanfare. (You can review our initial commentary on the proposed regulations here . Final regulations have not yet been published, but...
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Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2021 Summer Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF. This Client Advisory summarizes developments in the law governing employee benefit plans prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We explain what these developments mean for plan sponsors and highlight the need to adopt plan amendments within limited time periods in order to fully...
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Do You Understand Your Investment Policy Statement?

The Acme Rocket Sled Company Retirement Plan Administration Committee recently selected a new investment advisor for the company’s 401(k) plan. During the RFP process, the new advisor observed that the Investment Policy Statement (IPS) that the committee adopted many years ago was a bit thin and out of date...
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Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2020 Year-End Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF . This Client Advisory highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for employers and plan sponsors and previews developments we expect to see in 2021. The following...
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New IRS Guidance Will Help Facilitate 403(b) Plan Terminations

With the publication of Revenue Ruling 2020-23 , the IRS completed a cycle of helpful guidance regarding the termination of 403(b) plans that began with the publication of regulations under Code Section 403(b) in 2007. Revenue Ruling 2020-23, issued pursuant to a direction given to the Secretary of the...
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Proposed Regulations Clarify Application of Excise Tax under Code Section 4960

Proposed Regulations published by the Treasury Department last month provide helpful clarifications regarding the application of the excise tax under Section 4960 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). The content of the Proposed Regulations is generally consistent with the guidance provided early last year...
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Paying Health Insurance Premiums for Furloughed or Laid Off Employees

Employers of all sizes in nearly every industry have had to lay off or furlough employees in an attempt to deal with the massive business disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19. Facing this reality, many employers have asked whether they can pay monthly health insurance premiums on behalf...
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What You Need to Know About the SECURE Act

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the “SECURE Act”) is the most far reaching new law affecting retirement benefits in more than a decade. Due to its importance, we have developed a client advisory highlighting key aspects of the SECURE Act that affect the...
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December 2019 Client Advisory

This Client Advisory, originally distributed in December 2019, highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans and executive compensation over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for employers and plan sponsors and previews developments we expect to see in 2020. The following...
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403(b) Plans Must Comply with the “Once In, Always In” Rule This Year

Tax-exempt employers whose 403(b) plans have failed to comply with the "once in, always in" eligibility rule in the past should be well on their way to compliance by now. IRS Notice 2018-95 granted limited relief from this common administrative failure. The grace period for non-compliance has ended for...
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IRS Guidance Regarding the Section 4960 Excise Tax Is (Somewhat) Helpful

IRS Notice 2019-09 provides guidance intended to help "applicable tax-exempt employers" determine whether compensation paid to their most highly compensated employees will be subject to the 21 percent excise tax imposed under Code Section 4960. Notice 2019-09 is indeed helpful to those of us who have to interpret the...
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December 2018 Client Advisory

This Client Advisory, originally distributed in December 2018, highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans and executive compensation over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for employers and plan sponsors and previews developments we expect to see in 2019. The following...
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IRS issues updated 402(f) rollover distribution notices

The IRS has issued new model notices for recipients of rollover distributions from qualified retirement plans. The updated notices reflect changes from the 2017 tax reform act, as well as regulatory changes enacted since previous versions of the notices were published. The model notices provide a safe harbor for...
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New Disability Claims Procedures Affect Retirement Plans and Deferred Compensation Plans Too

Much has been written about the Department of Labor's final rule regarding disability benefit claims procedures (the "Final Rule"), which took effect on April 2, 2018. And by now, most employers – and all disability insurance carriers – have taken steps to implement changes in disability plan administrative procedures...
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Voluntary Compliance with ERISA Does Not Preclude Church Plan Status

The IRS has once again confirmed that an employee benefit plan maintained by a church or church-affiliated organization is not subject to ERISA unless the plan sponsor makes an affirmative written election to have ERISA apply to the plan. That is the case even if the plan historically has...
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Controlled Group Rules for Tax Exempt Organizations: A Brief Review

Corporate entities under common control are generally treated as a single employer for purposes of applying the core rules that govern employee benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements. For that reason, a complete and accurate controlled group analysis can be critical in determining and monitoring the legal compliance status...
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Budget Agreement Contains Changes to 401(k) Plan Hardship Distribution Rules

The budget agreement approved by Congress and signed into law on February 9, 2018 includes several changes to the rules governing hardship distributions from 401(k) plans. These changes — which were included in the House version of the tax reform bill, but removed during the reconciliation process — may...
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How can a tax-exempt employer manage the new excise tax on executive compensation?

The executive compensation provisions of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act have been widely reported, and public companies and tax-exempt employers are now thinking about how to adjust to the new statutory changes. Tax-exempt employers face the startling new reality of a 21% excise tax on "remuneration" exceeding $1,000,000...
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Tax Reform: A Brief Overview of the Final Legislation

Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on December 20, 2017, and President Trump signed the bill into law on December 22nd. As everyone knows by now, the new law makes sweeping changes affecting most areas of income taxation. And while the final legislation contained fewer provisions affecting...
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Noteworthy Federal Cases Relating to Employee Benefit Plans in 2017

Here is a round up of cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and the First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeals in 2017 involving ERISA employee benefit plans. While courts decided a number of cases pertinent to benefit plans, we found these to be noteworthy: United States Supreme...
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Supreme Court’s Church Plan Decision Restores Order (But It May Not End the Litigation)

Earlier this week, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned decisions by three federal Circuit Courts of Appeals and held that an employee benefit plan maintained by a church-controlled or church-affiliated organization can qualify as a "church plan" exempt from ERISA regardless of who establishes the plan...
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PODCAST: Ins & Outs of Socially Responsible Investing for Retirement Plans

Verrill Dana employee benefits attorneys Eric Altholz and Chris Lockman discuss the inclusion of socially conscious/socially responsible investment options in 401(k) and 403(b) plans in their latest podcast for Verrill Voices. The podcast explores Department of Labor guidance regarding this category of investments, identified by the DOL as Economically...
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PODCAST: 403(b) Plan Fee Litigation Update

Verrill Dana Employee Benefits attorneys Eric Altholz and Chris Lockman provide a brief update on class action lawsuits alleging various breaches of fiduciary duties under ERISA pending against a dozen major universities. All of these lawsuits are related to the administration of the 403(b) plans maintained by the universities...
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Eric Altholz Named Employee Benefits Lawyer of the Year

Eric Altholz , Vice Chair of Verrill Dana's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group , has been named 2017 Portland, Maine Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers®. Eric is the latest member of the group to be recognized as Lawyer of the Year in...
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Firm Highlights

Publication/Podcast

Amending Your Retirement Plans this Year for SECURE Act and CARES Act Changes

This post was updated on September 29, 2022. On August 3, 2022, the IRS extended the deadline for retirement plan sponsors to adopt amendments necessary to comply with the Setting Every Community Up for...

Blog

When Cash is not King: Holiday Gifts as “De Minimis” Fringe Benefits

To celebrate the holiday season, this post highlights the tax consequences of employer-sponsored holiday perks such as gift cards, turkeys, hams and gift baskets. Under the current tax rules, employers may give infrequent low...

News

77 Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2023, Including Six Named Lawyers of the Year

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401(k) Plan Matching Contributions: To True Up or Not True Up?

As a matter of plan design, for purposes of matching contributions some 401(k) plans provide that a participant’s compensation for the entire plan year is taken into account (regardless of whether the participant makes...

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Next Steps for Making Collective Investment Trusts Available to More Retirement Plans

Collective investment trusts (“CITs”) have become an increasingly popular choice for 401(k) plan investment menus over the past decade, consistent with a trend toward lower-cost investment options that has been driven, in part, by...

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A Last-Minute Gift – Prescription Drug Reporting Grace Period and Good Faith Relief

In a move akin to last-minute gift-giving, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (the “Departments”) released FAQ 56 on December 23, 2022, which provides relief regarding the Prescription Drug...

Matter

Comprehensive Benefit Plans Representation of Seller in Strategic Acquisition

We represented the largest physician network in Massachusetts in the employee benefits and executive compensation aspects of its acquisition by one of the largest health care companies in the United States. After several rounds...

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Pension-Linked Emergency Savings Accounts: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Forthcoming

Following the initial flurry of publications summarizing the retirement plan enhancements under the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 (“SECURE 2.0”), this post takes a deeper dive into one of those enhancements: the optional “pension-linked...

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IRS Guidance Expands Access to ACA Premium Tax Credit, Allows Cafeteria Plan Sponsors to Permit Employees to Revoke Family Coverage Mid-year

Final Regulations under Section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code On October 11, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Final Regulations under Code Section 36B relating to eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s...

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New IRS Determination Letter Program for 403(b) and 401(a) Plans

On November 7, 2022, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2022-40 , which allows certain tax-exempt employers (such as schools, charities, and churches) to apply for IRS determination letters on their individually designed section 403(b...

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