Strict Construction: Seventh Circuit Affirms Written Pension Obligations

On March 22, 2024, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling in Bulk Transp. Corp. v. Teamsters Union No. 142 Pension Fund, ordering the Teamsters Union No. 142 Pension Fund (the “Fund”) to repay Bulk Transp. Corp. (“Bulk Transport”) $2.3 million in withdrawal liability it had erroneously assessed upon Bulk Transport.

Bulk Transport and the Fund had a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) from 2003 to 2006. The CBA included a Construction Agreement and a Steel Mill Addendum. In 2004, Bulk Transport signed a contract for LISCO work – a term used by the parties to describe work hauling commodities. The LISCO work was not explicitly covered by the CBA, but Bulk Transport made contributions for the work using the wage rated and pension terms of the Addendum because the Union threatened to strike otherwise. In 2005, Bulk Transport stopped performing the LISCO work and subsequently stopped making contributions to the Fund for the employees who were performing that type of work. The Fund assessed withdrawal liability on Bulk Transport. Bulk Transport paid the withdrawal liability but requested arbitration.

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ERISA Moments Ep. 22: An Update on the DOL Fiduciary Proposals: A Race to the Finish

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments. See the newest episode, An Update on the DOL Fiduciary Proposals: A Race to the Finish, below.

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Can ChatGPT be Your ERISA Counsel?

Is ChatGPT sufficiently reliable to provide advice on employee benefits matters? Not yet, but ChatGPT and generative Artificial Intelligence may likely be useful tools for employee benefits attorneys in the future.[1]

As it is late March, we asked ChatGPT 3.5 to solve a common issue: an individual made deferrals above the Internal Revenue Code § 402(g) limit (although typically these are referred to as “excess deferrals,” in the ChatGPT 3.5 reply it uses both “excess contribution” or “excess deferral” interchangeably. In the Faegre comments, we use the term “excess deferral.”). As background, the Internal Revenue Code limits the amount of employee deferrals that can be made within a participant’s taxable year (almost always the calendar year). In 2023, that limit was $22,500. An individual who participates in more than one 401(k)/403(b) plan is responsible for monitoring whether they exceed the limit with respect to all plans in which the individual participates.

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ERISA Moments Ep. 21: The DOL Fiduciary Proposals and Rollover Recommendations

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments. See the newest episode, The DOL Fiduciary Proposals and Rollover Recommendations, below.

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ERISA Moments Ep. 20: Automatic Portability of Safe Harbor IRAs and the DOL Guidance

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments. See the newest episode, Automatic Portability of Safe Harbor IRAs and the DOL Guidance, below.

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Five Habits of the Healthy Health Plan Fiduciary

As it is often said, “the only constant in the world is constant change,” so it is important for health plan fiduciaries to periodically review the fundamentals for consistency and compliance to avoid risk and costly mistakes.  Below is a Health Plan Fiduciary Checklist with five (5) actions that health plan fiduciaries can take to help keep your organization safe and successful.

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ERISA Moments Ep. 19: The Fiduciary Rule: Effective Date and Lawsuits

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments. See the newest episode, The Fiduciary Rule: Effective Date and Lawsuits, below.

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ERISA Moments Ep. 18: Plan Sponsors and SECURE 2.0: IRS “Grab Bag” Guidance

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments. See the newest episode, Plan Sponsors and SECURE 2.0: IRS “Grab Bag” Guidance, below.

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IRS Announces Phase 2 of Pre-Examination Compliance Pilot Program

Recently, the IRS announced phase two of its expansion of the Pre-Examination Compliance Pilot Program. Under the pilot program, an employer may limit or entirely avoid an impending IRS audit if they promptly correct any identified errors via the IRS’s Self Correction Program (SCP). During phase two, the IRS will notify employers by letter that their retirement plan was selected for upcoming examination. The employer then has 90 days to review their plan’s documents and operations to determine if they meet current tax code requirements.

If the employer identifies any errors, they may self-correct the errors under the SCP. Errors that aren’t eligible for correction under the SCP can be corrected by requesting a closing agreement, and the IRS will use the favorable Voluntary Correction Program fee structure to determine the sanction amount payable.

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Roth Employer Contributions

On December 20, 2023, the IRS issued Notice 2024-2, which provides question-and-answer guidance on various aspects of the SECURE 2.0 Act. This post focuses on the ability to make employer contributions (match or nonelective) as Roth contributions under SECURE 2.0 Act Section 604.  (For an overview of SECURE 2.0 for defined contribution plan sponsors, click here.)

Overview of SECURE 2.0 Language on Employer Roth Contributions

Section 604 SECURE 2.0 Act permits employers to make employer contributions, both matching and nonelective contributions, as Roth contributions to a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plan. To be designated as a Roth contribution, the employer contribution must be fully vested (nonforfeitable) when made. The Roth contribution is not excluded from gross income. The ability to make Roth employer contributions was effective with respect to employer contributions made after December 29, 2022, the date of enactment of the SECURE 2.0 Act.

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