ERISA News

Industry & Regulatory News
Enhancing Emergency and Retirement Savings Act Introduced in House

Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) has introduced the Enhancing Emergency and Retirement Savings Act of 2022 to provide flexibility and access for those who experience unexpected emergencies. The bill is the House companion to S. 1870, introduced by Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) last year.

The legislation would provide a penalty-free “emergency personal expense distribution” option from employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs. The proposal would allow for one emergency distribution per calendar year of up to $1,000 from the individual’s total nonforfeitable accrued benefit under the plan. The bill requires that the withdrawn funds be paid back to the plan before an additional emergency distribution from that same plan is allowed. The amount can be recontributed within a three-year period to any eligible plan to which a rollover contribution can be made.

An emergency personal expense distribution is defined as a distribution for purposes of meeting unforeseeable or immediate financial need relating to necessary personal or family emergency expenses. The plan sponsor of an employer-sponsored retirement plan may rely on an employee’s certification that the conditions are satisfied in determining whether the distribution is an emergency distribution.

March 22 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
Long-Term Care Affordability Act Introduced

Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) has introduced the Long-Term Care Affordability Act to allow distributions from retirement accounts for the payment of long-term care insurance coverage. The bill is the House companion to S.2415 introduced in the Senate by Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) last year.

The proposal would permit tax-free retirement saving distributions of up to $2,500 per year—indexed for inflation—that are used to purchase long-term care insurance. The arrangements to which the legislation applies would include qualified retirement plans, 403(a) and 403(b) plans, governmental 457(b) plans, and IRAs. These distributions would also be exempt from the 10 percent early distribution penalty tax. The bill would also create new distribution triggers for employee deferral amounts that have been contributed to 401(k), 403(b), and governmental 457(b) plans.

 

March 22 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
IRS 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.

March 25 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
Washington 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.

March 09 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
Legislation Proposed to Automatically Re-enroll Employees

Bill text has been made available for legislation introduced by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) intending to improve participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans. The Auto Reenroll Act of 2022 would require qualified automatic contribution arrangements and eligible automatic contribution arrangements that take effect after December 31, 2024, to re-enroll at least every three years, eligible participants that chose not to defer. Representative Kathy Manning (D-NC) has also introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

March 04 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
Proposed 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.

March 01 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
IRS 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.

March 01 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
Legislation Proposed to Expand Qualified Medical Expenses to Include Infant Diapers

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has introduced the Diaper Inclusion in Accounts for Parental Expense Reduction (DIAPER) Act. The bipartisan bill would allow the use of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to be used to purchase disposable infant diapers as qualified medical expenses. Any progress of the bill through Congress will be monitored, and details provided as they become available.

February 28 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
IRS 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.
February 28 2022
Industry & Regulatory News
Legislation Proposed to Promote Retirement Plan Lifetime Income Options

Legislation to promote retirement plan lifetime income options has been reintroduced by Representatives Donald Norcross (D-NJ) and Tim Walberg (R-MI). The Lifetime Income For Employees (LIFE) Act of 2022 would modify the qualified default investment arrangement rules under ERISA to allow annuity investments as part of a default in employer-provided 401(k) plans. The proposal is intended to provide employees with a steady guaranteed income during retirement and allow greater peace of mind that their income will last throughout retirement.

February 25 2022