Industry & Regulatory NewsAdditional 403(b) Plan Document Guidance Released
The IRS has released a revised Section 403(b) Pre-Approved Plans Listing of Required Modifications and Information Package (April 2022), which includes sample plan provisions to assist drafters of 403(b) pre-approved plan documents in satisfying the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) and associated regulations. This revised information package consists of five sections with sample provisions related to 1) all 403(b) plans and elective deferral only arrangements, 2) contributions other than elective deferrals, 3) standardized plan provisions, 4) nonstandardized plan provisions, and 5) retirement income accounts. This guidance has been updated to accommodate the 2022 Cumulative List of Changes in Section 403(b) Requirements for Section 403(b) Pre-approved Plans in Notice 2022-8, which was previously announced.
Industry & Regulatory NewsIRS Issues Deadline Relief for Puerto Rico for Severe Storms
The IRS has issued a news release announcing the postponement of certain tax-related deadlines for victims of severe storms, flooding, and landslides in Puerto Rico. The tax relief postpones various tax filing deadlines that began February 4, 2022. Affected individuals and households who reside or have a business in municipalities of Cataño, Dorado, Toa Baja, Vega Alta, and Vega Baja as well as taxpayers with records located in the covered area that are needed to meet covered deadlines, qualify for relief.
In addition to extending certain tax filing and tax payment deadlines, the relief includes completion of many time-sensitive, tax-related acts described in IRS Revenue Procedure 2018-58 and Treasury Regulation 301.7508A-1(c)(1). Affected taxpayers with a covered deadline on or after February 4, 2022, and before June 15, 2022, will have until June 15, 2022, to complete the acts. This includes filing Form 5500 series returns that are required to be filed on or after February 4, 2022, and before June 15, 2022.
"Affected taxpayer" automatically includes any individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Those who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area, but have been affected by the disaster, may contact the IRS to request relief.
Industry & Regulatory NewsIRS Issues Temporary Suspension of Prototype IRA Opinion Letter Program
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued Announcement 2022-6, providing that effective March 14, 2022, and until further notice, the IRS will not accept applications for opinion letters on prototype IRAs (Traditional, Roth, and SIMPLE IRAs), SEP plans (including salary reduction SEPs (SAR-SEPs)), and SIMPLE IRA plans. Adopters of these arrangements may rely on a previously received favorable opinion letter, and can use existing model forms to maintain or establish plans and accounts.
The temporary suspension will allow the IRS to update the prototype IRA opinion letter program, issue revised model forms and Listings of Required Modifications (LRMs), and issue published guidance to reflect recent legislation. This is essentially the first step in a larger process requiring document updates for these arrangements pursuant to the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, details of which will be provided in future guidance.
Industry & Regulatory NewsIRS Updates Yield Curves and Segment Rates for DB Plan Calculations
The IRS has issued Notice 2022-14, which contains updated guidance on factors used in certain defined benefit (DB) pension plan minimum funding and present value calculations. Updates include the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under Internal Revenue Code Section (IRC Sec.) 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average segment rates under IRC Sec. 430(h)(2). IRC Sec. 417 contains definitions and special rules for minimum survivor annuity requirements in DB plans. IRC Sec. 430 addresses minimum funding standards for single-employer DB plans.
Industry & Regulatory NewsIRS Issues Proposed MEP Rule
The IRS has released a new proposed rule providing for an exception, if certain requirements are met, to the application of the “unified plan rule” for multiple employer plans (MEPs) when there is a failure by one or more participating employers to take actions necessary to satisfy requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. The unified plan rule (also referred to as “one bad apple rule”) specifies that the failure by one participating employer to satisfy an applicable qualification requirement would result in the disqualification of the MEP for all employers maintaining the plan. The release also withdraws prior proposed regulations that were published in the Federal Register on July 3, 2019.
The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act) created a statutory exception to the unified plan rule for certain types of MEPs and directed the Secretary to issue guidance to carry out that provision. The exception applies to defined contribution plans maintained by employers that have a “common interest” or have a “pooled plan provider” and failed to take action required to meet qualification requirements, subject to the following conditions.
- The plan assets attributable to employees of the employer that failed to take action will be transferred to a plan maintained only by that employer
- The employer (and not the plan or any other employer in the plan) will generally be responsible for liabilities with respect to the plan attributable to employees of that employer
- The pooled plan provider performs substantially all of the administrative duties for which it is responsible for any plan year
The proposed regulations provide that the terms of the MEP document must include language describing the procedures that will be followed to address a participating employer failure, including a description of the notices that the plan administrator will send and when such notices will be sent. The plan terms must also describe the actions that the plan administrator will take if by the end of the 60-day period following the date the final notice is provided, the unresponsive participating employer does not take appropriate action with respect to the failure or initiate a spinoff to a separate plan maintained by the employer. The IRS intends to publish model language for this purpose in connection with a final rule.
Under the proposal, a MEP plan administrator may be required to provide up to three notices to an unresponsive participating employer regarding a failure—with the final notice also being provided to affected participants and the Department of Labor. The unresponsive participating employer can either take appropriate remedial action or initiate a spinoff. The proposal delineates notice requirements for both “a failure to provide information” and a “failure to take action”, and in situations where a failure by a participating employer is initially a failure to provide information, but becomes a failure to take action, more than three notices may be necessary.
If an unresponsive participating employer neither takes appropriate action or initiates a spinoff within 60 days after the final notice is provided, the MEP plan administrator must 1) stop accepting contributions from the unresponsive participating employer and participants, 2) provide notice to affected participants of the unresponsive participating employer, and 3) provide participants with an election regarding treatment of their accounts.
Comments may be submitted within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register. A public hearing on the proposed rule has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 22.
Industry & Regulatory NewsWashington Pulse: IRS Releases Proposed Required Minimum Distribution Regulations
After a two year wait, we have guidance regarding certain changes brought about by the SECURE Act. On February 23, 2022, the IRS released proposed regulations that revise the existing required minimum distribution (RMD) regulations and other related regulations.
Industry & Regulatory NewsProposed RMD Regulations Initial Highlights
As announced on February 23, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released proposed regulations related to required minimum distributions (RMDs). The IRS released the proposed regulations due in large part to changes made by the SECURE Act, including increasing the RMD age from age 70½ to age 72 and eliminating the life expectancy options for many beneficiaries. While review of these substantial regulations is ongoing and additional details will be provided, a few initial highlights are worth noting.
- If an account owner dies after the required beginning date, the proposal would require that the 10-year rule include annual payments. Although the SECURE Act is silent regarding the applicability of annual distributions under the 10-year rule, the IRS is contending that the old “at least as rapidly” rule applies in conjunction with the new 10-year rule.
- Spousal beneficiaries would need to elect to treat a decedent’s IRA as their own by the later of December 31 in the year following the year of the account owner’s death, or age 72.
- The proposed regulations clarify that the age of majority for minor eligible designated beneficiaries is age 21.
- An exception has been added that allows an automatic waiver of the 50 percent excess accumulation penalty tax if a year-of-death RMD was missed and the beneficiary removes the required amount by his tax return due date, plus extensions for the year that the RMD should have been taken.
- If an account owner has multiple beneficiaries and one or more of the beneficiaries is not an eligible designated beneficiary, then the account owner is generally treated as having no eligible designated beneficiaries. Exceptions apply to children of the account owner and to multi-beneficiary trusts.
The regulations are proposed to become effective in 2022 for 2022 calendar distribution years. But because written comments are being accepted until May 25, 2022, and a public hearing is scheduled for June 15, 2022, the anticipated timing of the final rule is likely to be late summer or fall—at the earliest. For 2021, the existing regulations must be applied, along with a good faith application of the increased RMD age and the change in beneficiary options. Application of the proposed regulations for 2021 will result in compliance with the good faith requirement.
Industry & Regulatory NewsIRS Issues User Fee Guidance for EAs and ERPAs
The IRS has issued a proposed rule to increase the renewal fee for Enrolled Agents (EA) and Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents (ERPA) from $67 to $140. Public comments will be accepted within 71 days of publication in the federal register.
Additionally, final regulations increase user fees related to the special enrollment examination for enrolled agents (EA SEE). That fee has been increased from $81 (plus an amount payable to a third-party contractor), to $99 (plus an amount payable to a third-party contractor). The final regulations removed the user fee for the special enrollment examination for enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPA SEE), because the IRS no longer offers the ERPA SEE or new enrollment as an enrolled retirement plan agent.
The new fees are to be effective 30 days after publication of the final rule(s) in the federal register.
Industry & Regulatory NewsIRS Priority Guidance Plan Includes Retirement Items
The IRS has issued its 2021-2022 2nd Quarter guidance plan update, in which it describes guidance projects in the current fiscal year. Many items in the plan have appeared in prior years’ Priority Guidance Plans. A number of the guidance items deal with retirement savings arrangements, including the following.
- Regulations and guidance relating to the 10 percent early distribution tax
- Comprehensive IRA regulations
- Regulations and guidance updating electronic delivery rules for providing applicable notices and making participant elections
- Regulations relating to SECURE Act modifications to certain rules governing 401(k) plans
- Guidance on student loan payments and their interplay with qualified retirement plans and 403(b) plans
- Regulations on the exception to the unified plan rule for Internal Revenue Code Section 413(e) multiple employer plans (proposed regulations issued in July 2019)
- Regulations on the definition of "governmental plan"
- Final regulations updating minimum-present-value requirements for defined benefit pension plans (proposed regulations issued in November 2016)
- Regulations on mortality tables to determine present value for single-employer defined benefit pension plans
- Final regulations for withholding on distributions when payments are made to a non-U.S. address (proposed regulations issued in May 2019)
- Regulations relating to the Section 6057 reporting requirements (proposed regulations issued in June 2012)
- Guidance updating electronic filing requirements for employee plans to reflect changes made by the Taxpayer First Act.
Industry & Regulatory NewsCOVID-19 Relief Extended for Another Year
In March 2020, the President declared a national emergency effective March 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The national emergency was extended for one year until February 28, 2022. On February 18, 2022, the President once again extended the national emergency until February 28, 2023.
The extended national emergency provides relief to health and welfare plans related to the following.
- COBRA notices (i.e., employer and employee), payment, and election
- HIPAA special enrollment requests
- Claims and appeals request and claims perfection
As clarified in Notice 2021-01, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Treasury explained the disregarded period applies on a person-by person basis and cannot exceed one year, as follows:
- one year from the date an individual was first eligible for relief, or
- 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency.
Employers should continue to monitor deadlines pursuant to prior guidance.