Category Archives: 401(k) Plans

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ERISA Record Retention: How long is long enough?

  ERISA record retention may not be of those sizzling retirement plan topics for some folks. But please don’t stop reading. It’s an important issue in today’s ERISA’s environment in which Plan Administrators and other fiduciaries must meet complicated compliance reporting requirements, oversight from regulatory agencies, and sometimes litigation. So here is some basic information … Continue Reading

IRS now requires an employer discretionary match to be “definitely determinable”

“Definitely Determinable” is one of those pre-ERISA concepts that are still applicable. It means that in order for a retirement plan to be considered “qualified” (eligible for favorable tax treatment), a participant’s retirement benefit had to be determined in accordance with a stipulated formula that is not subject to the discretion of the employer. The … Continue Reading

The IRS Required Restatement of 401(k) and Profit Sharing Plans: A Plain Language Explanation in Q & A Format

If you’re an employer who has adopted an IRS pre-approved defined contribution plan such as 401(k) or profit-sharing, you’ll need to have the Compliant box checked no later than July 31, 2022. Plan document compliance to be specific. It’s the IRS requirement that a retirement plan document must be up to date to qualify for … Continue Reading

Form 5500: The Body Language of ERISA Compliance

Last month, the  Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released advance copies of the 2020 Form 5500 Series. When filed, they will join those of prior years’ morphing into the body language of ERISA compliance. Here’s how:… Continue Reading

A Cautionary Note on the President’s Memorandum on Payroll Tax Deferrals

On August 6 President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders that expanded economic relief to taxpayers. One of those orders calls for employee payroll tax deferrals from September 1 through December 31, 2020. It includes the 6.2% of the employee’s share of Social Security taxes but not the 1.45% employee’s share of Medicare … Continue Reading

CARES Act provides access to participant retirement plan accounts

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act known as the “CARES Act” passed on March 27, 2020 provides $2 trillion in financial relief to individual taxpayers and loans and other concessions to businesses. The Act also includes several provisions affecting retirement plans which we will cover in later blog posts. For now, we’ll focus … Continue Reading

SECURE Act: How to take credit (tax, that is) for your retirement plan

This is the first in a series of articles on the retirement plan changes that are part of the SECURE Act. The $1.4 trillion appropriations package signed into law by President Trump on December 20, 2019 designed to fund federal agencies through September of this year contained the most significant legislative enhancements to retirement plans … Continue Reading

Who owns a 401(k) participant’s personal information?

Service providers for 401(k) and other retirement plans require access to personal data on participants including name, age, address, date of hire, compensation and possibly social security number to provide recordkeeping services. Are these plan service providers simply taking advantage of a business opportunity or are they improperly exploiting information that is a  plan asset … Continue Reading

How not to hire an ERISA auditor

Selecting an auditor for an ERISA plan is one of those fiduciary responsibilities which has been a continuing concern of the Department of Labor (“DOL”). At a June 25, 2019 meeting of the DOL’s ERISA Advisory Council, James Haubrock of the American Institute of CPAs responded to the Council’s request for recommendations on how the … Continue Reading

The elephant in the room for ERISA purposes could be that “other” company

  The passage of the Tax Reform and Jobs Act (“TRJA”) in 2018 made entity selection an important part of tax planning. The TRJA made fundamental changes affecting individual and entity tax rates. Combined with corporate transactions for strategic reasons and business owners acquiring interests in other companies, we’re seeing businesses and owners using multiple … Continue Reading

Take Advantage of ERISA Safe Harbors: They can help penetrate the ERISA fog.

Attorneys would define a Safe Harbor as a provision of a statute or a regulation that specifies that certain conduct will be deemed not to violate a given rule. In our ERISA world, a Safe Harbor is a provision of the retirement plan law  that can  cut through the sometimes fog of ERISA and provide … Continue Reading

“Compensation” for Sole Proprietors, Partners, and LLC Members…It’s complicated.

Compensation for employees is some variation of taxable wages reported on Form W-2. For allocation purposes, the employer or payroll provider downloads the census and compensation data based on the plan’s definition of compensation into a spreadsheet at the end of the year. It’s a little more complicated, of course, but let’s leave it at … Continue Reading

Playing the game of 401(k) audit roulette: the odds are getting shorter.

If you’re in the retirement plan business, you’ve heard the term “audit roulette”.  It refers to the belief by some employers that the odds of their retirement plan getting audited by the IRS are in their favor. Well, those odds are getting worse. The IRS is taking technology to the next level using  “data driven … Continue Reading

Will 2016 Form 5500 reveal outdated fidelity bonds or none at all?

The 2016 Form 5500 deadline has come and gone for calendar year taxpayers, and a number of them revealed outdated fidelity bonds or retirement plans without bonds at all. The fidelity bond requirement is high up on the Department of Labor’s compliance priorities so it’s not a stretch to assume that the Department of Labor monitors this … Continue Reading

“Decumulation”: It’s here now for individuals approaching retirement

“Decumulation” is a word that has now entered the lexicon of those individuals approaching retirement. The definition of which is the conversion of retirement plan assets accumulated during an employee’s working life into pension income to be spent during retired life. It’s a new risk for the record number of those moving from the accumulation phase … Continue Reading

Department of Labor targets retirement plans with missing participants

It’s a familiar story: you or your retirement plan’s third party administrator (TPA) need to make a benefit distribution to an ex-employee. But the employer’s records are out of date and the former employee cannot be located. Worse yet, the missing participant has attained age 70½ so the plan is required to make minimum distributions … Continue Reading
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