IRS Issues Guidance on Missing Participants and State Unclaimed Property Funds

In October 2020, the IRS issued two pieces of guidance addressing (1) the tax withholding and reporting of distributions from qualified retirement plans to state unclaimed property funds, and (2) the ability of taxpayers to roll over funds that were previously escheated to a state unclaimed property fund.

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The GAO Reviews QDROs

In July 2020, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) prepared a report for the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions about Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs). QDROs are court-issued orders that allow a divorced spouse (or in rare cases a child) to receive a portion of a participant’s qualified retirement plan benefit. A QDRO is one of the few ways in which a participant’s qualified retirement benefit can be assigned or alienated.

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IRS Compliance Strategy: Excess Executive Compensation Paid by Tax-Exempt Organizations

Tax-exempt organizations that pay excess parachute payments or remuneration in excess of $1 million for a taxable year to “covered employees” need to be aware of a recently announced IRS compliance strategy.

On November 5, the IRS’s Tax Exempt & Government Entities Division (TE/GE) released its Fiscal Year 2021 program letter and new compliance webpage. According to the webpage, one area of TE/GE focus for the 2021 fiscal year is compliance with Internal Revenue Code section 4960.  Section 4960 imposes a 21 percent excise tax on “excess remuneration” (remuneration that exceeds $1 million for a taxable year) and “excess parachute payments” paid by an applicable tax-exempt organization to certain “covered employees” during a taxable year. Section 4960 applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017.

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Health Plan Transparency Final Rule Requires New Health Plan Disclosures

On October 29, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Department of Labor (DOL) issued the final rule on transparency in health plan coverage. The final rule imposes significant new requirements on group health plans, including all issuers of non-grandfathered individual and group health insurance coverage and self-insured plans (that are not account based plans), to disclose information on pricing and cost-sharing under their plans. Grandfathered health plans and excepted benefit health plans are not subject to the transparency rules.

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Plan Sponsor and Plan Administrator Escape 401(k) Plan Cybertheft Suit, But Recordkeeper Remains

An Illinois district court issued a split decision in a case involving the cybertheft of retirement plan assets, allowing the plan administrator and plan sponsor to be dismissed, but requiring the recordkeeper to defend allegations that it breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Bartnett v. Abbott Laboratories, et. al. (N.D. Illinois, Case No. 1:20-cv-02127) is one of several recent lawsuits filed against plan sponsors and recordkeepers for allowing cyber-thieves to pilfer large distributions from participants’ retirement plan accounts.

Heide Bartnett, a former employee of Abbott Laboratories (Abbott) and participant in Abbott’s 401(k) plan, alleges that a hacker accessed her 401(k) account online, changed the password, added a new bank account and requested a $245,000 distribution from the 401(k) plan’s recordkeeper, Alight Solutions LLC (Alight) to be deposited into the newly added account. The imposter also called Alight several times to ask questions about the distribution.

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IRS Extends Deadline for Certain ACA Reporting Requirements

In Notice 2020-76 (Notice), the IRS extended the deadline from January 31, 2021, to March 2, 2021, for furnishing Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals for reporting year 2020. Note that the Notice does not extend the deadline to file Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS. Those forms must be filed with the IRS by March 1, 2021 or if filed electronically, by March 31, 2021.

The Notice also extends “good-faith” reporting relief for employers that report incomplete or incorrect information on their returns (such as missing taxpayer identification numbers or dates of birth).  This relief is available only when the employer can show it made a good-faith effort to comply with the filing requirements, such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission, or testing its ability to transmit information to the IRS.  The IRS has provided this good-faith relief in the past, but the Notice states that the 2020 reporting year will be the final year this type of relief is available.

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DOL Issues Guidance on Private Equity Investments in 401(k) Plans

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance in the form of an Information Letter describing the process that plan fiduciaries should undertake in determining whether an investment fund having a private equity component satisfies ERISA fiduciary standards. Specifically, the DOL emphasized that there are factors unique to such investment funds that should be considered as part of a prudent process.

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Audiocast: Year-End Checklist for Your Retirement Plan: 2020

Each year, retirement plans’ fiduciaries have a lot of responsibilities as they prepare for year-end. This year, fiduciaries and plan sponsors have a few extra “to do’s” on their list, with the passage of the CARES and SECURE Acts within the past year. Join Summer Conley, partner at Faegre Drinker, and Bonnie Treichel, co-founder and COO of ZUNA, on Thursday, October 22, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. ET for an actionable audiocast that will cover the tasks that are most critical to preparing for a successful year-end and start to 2021.

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Talking Through the DOL’s Proposed Prohibited Transaction Exemption, Episode 4: Litigation Risks

On June 29, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed prohibited transaction exemption (PTE), filling the void left when the Fifth Circuit vacated the Obama-era 2016 DOL regulation in 2018. While the proposed rule is ostensibly an administrative rulemaking on which the DOL seeks public comment, it also does a lot more. In this podcast episode, Faegre Drinker’s Jim Jorden and Brad Campbell analyze the litigation issues related to this new interpretation — particularly as it pertains to the sale of annuities and other insurance products.

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Employment Agreements: When to Call an Executive Compensation Attorney

Being asked to draft (or review) an executive employment agreement is a common occurrence for attorneys specializing in many practice areas (e.g., corporate, employment, healthcare, etc.). This presentation identifies compensation features in an executive employment agreement that should be reviewed by an Executive Compensation attorney. Failure to consider IRS rules when drafting employment agreements with these compensation features can lead to headaches down the road. The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all enough headaches. Do not let an employment agreement create another one – call your friendly Executive Compensation attorney when drafting or reviewing executive employment agreements.