EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS

Expect Changes on Your 2021 Plan Year Employee Benefit Plan Audit

Due to newly released accounting standards, expect significant changes in both the audit process and the financial statement and management communication deliverables. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has issued a new standard that will apply to all audits of ERISA plan financial statements covering periods ending after December 15, 2020. (In other [...]

2019-12-11T11:56:06-05:00December 10th, 2019|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

New Accounting Rules for Employee Benefit Plan Audits Increase the Scrutiny on both Auditors and Plan Management

In early May, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Auditing Standards Board (ASB) released a new Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS). The new SAS, which is entitled Auditor Reporting and Amendments, Including Amendments Addressing Disclosures in the Audit of Financial Statements, aims to raise the quality of audits in a number of areas, including risk [...]

2019-07-22T13:06:53-05:00July 22nd, 2019|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

What Does a Cash Balance Plan Mean for You?

Back to the Basics Often described as a “hybrid arrangement,” cash balance plans are a specific type of defined benefit plan. When a cash balance plan is in place, employees will be eligible for an account that is credited yearly with a contribution that is “employer-funded.” That account is also guaranteed an interest amount that [...]

2019-02-15T11:21:47-05:00February 7th, 2019|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

A Picture of the Changes to the IRS Determination Letter Program

The IRS’ determination letter program allowed sponsors of individually designed retirement plans to receive a routine determination letter, which is a periodic official regulatory compliance seal of approval that the IRS grants to benefit plans. While the recent decision to end this program has left many plan sponsors and their advocates uneasy, the IRS may [...]

2018-11-12T15:45:16-05:00March 16th, 2017|BENEFIT PLAN NEWS FLASH, EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

U.S. Appeals Court Ruling Deals the Cards in the Fiduciary Blame Game

When a fiduciary breach occurs, some fiduciaries may be more culpable than others. In such cases, a court can order those parties to indemnify other fiduciaries who were, despite their technical status as fiduciaries, without blame. That ruling was the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in a recent case. [...]

2018-11-12T15:45:20-05:00March 9th, 2017|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Solving the Hardship Withdrawal Program Administration Puzzle

Riddle Me This: Why Offer a Hardship Withdrawal Option? Plans that do not offer a hardship withdrawal option are still subject to “plan leakage.” In other words, employees’ retirement dollars prematurely leave the plan due to hardship withdrawals, plan loans going into default upon employment termination or other reasons. Whatever the cause of the leakage, [...]

2018-11-12T15:45:48-05:00February 21st, 2017|BENEFIT PLAN NEWS FLASH, EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Remodeling Your Fiduciary House Under the DOL’s New Rules

The majority of the DOL’s complex regulations mandating fiduciary status for individuals dealing with retirement investment decision-making involve investment advisors. However, the regulations, effective April 10, 2017, also require plan sponsors (who are always the fiduciary) to take certain steps. The rules also expand the definition of fiduciary status. A Fresh Coat of Primer on [...]

2018-11-12T15:45:53-05:00February 20th, 2017|BENEFIT PLAN NEWS FLASH, EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Devouring a Rich Opportunity for Roth IRA Rollovers

On any given evening, many people think about having dessert even before they have finished their dinner. Similarly, as highly compensated employee (HCE) 401(k) plan participants approach retirement, they may want to consider a potentially useful, tax-efficient IRA rollover technique. The IRS has specific rules about how participants can allocate accumulated 401(k) plan assets based [...]

2018-11-12T15:46:21-05:00January 19th, 2017|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

How to Be Flexible with Eligibility Rules to Control Plan Enrollment

Like yoga practitioners, plan sponsors have more flexibility than they may realize when it comes to setting eligibility rules for 401(k) plan participants. Even though the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets many plan eligibility rules, plan sponsors have leeway to meet the demands of the employment market. Here are some thoughts for plan [...]

2018-11-12T15:46:28-05:00January 4th, 2017|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Why a Tornado of Benefit Plan Options May Increase Litigation Risk

Giving plan participants a wide range of benefit plan options is positive — to a point. That idea underlies one of the multiple allegations in recent class action lawsuits filed against several prominent universities. The litigation offers a cautionary note for plan sponsors who offer a high number of investment options. While 401(k) plan sponsors [...]

2018-11-12T15:46:35-05:00December 21st, 2016|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Playing Hide-and-Seek with Missing Benefit Plan Participants

It is not uncommon for previously active employed plan participants to go into “hiding.” They include retirees and former employees that move away without informing the company. Before the plan sponsor or the administrator realizes it, the individuals become missing participants. The following is what employers should know about these participants. DOL Considerations for “Hidden” [...]

2018-11-12T15:46:51-05:00December 7th, 2016|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

How the IRS Planted the Seeds for Easier Retirement Plan Rollovers

The IRS has released taxpayer-friendly final regulations regarding certain retirement plan rollovers. Specifically, the new rules should make it easier — and less costly — to transfer after-tax funds from designated Roth accounts to Roth IRAs or other designated Roth accounts. The Fruitful Advantages of Roth IRAs and Designated Roth Accounts Roth IRAs can grow [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:04-05:00October 24th, 2016|BENEFIT PLAN NEWS FLASH, EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

The IRS’ Focus on Retirement Plan Internal Controls

When IRS examiners check retirement plans, they often find a lack of sufficient internal controls. Even if an IRS audit finds no other problems, the consequences for inadequate retirement plan internal controls can be severe. At worst, hackers could steal the organization’s plan assets. Such a scenario could bring not only financial damage to a [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:25-05:00September 6th, 2016|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Why Fiduciary Duty is Important for Employers of All Sizes

A recent lawsuit alleging fiduciary duty violations caught the attention of many in the employee benefits business. The filing received considerable attention not because of the nature of the charges, but because it involved a small business. Many large employers have ultimately compensated participants to address similar charges. Let’s take a closer look at why [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:28-05:00August 29th, 2016|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

The Flurries of FLSA Changes Coming This Winter

December 1, 2016, may or may not bring snow to many parts of the country. However, it will bring the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) final overtime rule. The dramatic changes included in the FLSA final overtime rule could have significant implications for retirement plans. Specifically, the changes affect what forms of compensation employers use to [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:32-05:00August 15th, 2016|BENEFIT PLAN NEWS FLASH, EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Why Satisfying Numeric Benefit Plan Tests Doesn’t Equal Antidiscrimination Regulatory Compliance

The IRS issued a warning to plan sponsors whose plan designs satisfy numeric antidiscrimination tests, yet still have the effect of steering a disproportionate amount of benefits to highly compensated employees (HCEs). The message: Simply satisfying numeric tests doesn’t guarantee that you’re complying with antidiscrimination regulations. The IRS’ Calculations In a recent announcement, the IRS [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:45-05:00July 8th, 2016|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Providing a Clear View of Lump Sum Window Opportunities

There are sound reasons why defined benefit plan sponsors may offer participants lump sum payout windows. Principal among them: lowering the plan’s financial exposure, thereby providing greater long-term financial security to participants who elect to stay in the plan. However, the consequences of accepting a lump sum payout can be good or bad for participants. [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:46-05:00June 29th, 2016|EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Understanding the New DOL Fiduciary Standards Rule

For almost a decade, the DOL was concerned that retirement investors – those who invest in employee benefit plans – were traveling on “unstable ground” with their investment advisors. In other words, the advisors’ recommendations may have been more lucrative for them than for their clients. This concern led to the DOL’s new fiduciary standards [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:54-05:00June 20th, 2016|BENEFIT PLAN NEWS FLASH, EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|

Why Perception Isn’t Reality for Retirement Preparedness

The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s (EBRI’s) 2016 “Retirement Confidence Survey” provides helpful insights on employee behavior and benchmarking data for plan sponsors striving to help their employees attain retirement preparedness. When it comes to retirement preparation, the study indicates that confidence often doesn’t correlate to the underlying facts. Closing the perception/reality gap remains a significant [...]

2018-11-12T15:47:57-05:00June 19th, 2016|BENEFIT PLAN NEWS FLASH, EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS|