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California Court Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage a Week Prior to Windsor

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recognized the retroactive application of United States v. Windsor.

In Schuett v. FedEx Corporation, plaintiff and her long-time same-sex partner, Lesly Taboada-Hall were married in a civil ceremony on June 19, 2013. Taboada-Hall, a fully-vested participant in the FedEx Pension Plan, passed away the following day from cancer. As of the date of Taboada-Hall’s death, marriage licenses for same-sex couples were not available in California due to enforcement of Proposition 8, a voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage. Six days later, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Windsor decision declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

Here’s where this gets interesting. On August 6, 2013, plaintiff filed a Petition to Establish the Fact, Date, and Place of Marriage, as permitted by California Health & Safety

PEOs: A remedy for ACA reporting requirements?

PEOs: A remedy for ACA reporting requirements?

January 21, 2016

Authored by: benefitsbclp

IRS AheadSigned into law in December 2014 and effective January 1, 2016, the Small Business Efficiency Act (“SBEA”) provides welcome federal statutory recognition of Professional Employer Organizations (“PEOs”). PEOs, who act as “co-employers”, are becoming popular for many small to mid-size businesses struggling to maintain compliance with an ever-increasing volume of regulations impacting human resources and benefits compliance.

In the past, many states individually recognized PEOs through licensing or registration statutes, and there were only a handful of pieces of federal guidance concerning how PEOs should be treated under federal law. The SBEA changes the federal legal landscape by instituting a voluntary certification process for PEOs. By completing this voluntary certification process, a PEO has clear statutory authority to collect and remit taxes on behalf of their clients. Businesses can breathe a sigh of relief

Changes to User Fees for Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) Submissions

On January 4, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service published its annual update of user fees Rev. Proc. 2016-8 for various letter ruling and determination letter requests. The 2016 update now includes user fees and guidance for Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) submissions under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System. In many cases the user fee for VCP submissions is reduced under Revenue Procedure 2016-8. The revised fee schedule for employee plan user fees (including VCP submissions) is effective February 1, 2016.

Below are the current user fees for regular VCP submissions for qualified plans and 403(b) plans as set forth in Section 12.02 of Revenue Procedure 2013-12.*

Participants Revenue Procedure 2013-12 Fee 20 or fewer participants $750 21 to 50 participants $1,000 51 to 100 participants $2,500 101 to 500 participants $5,000 501 to 1,000 participants $8,000 1,001 to 5,000 participants $15,000 5,001 to 10,000 participants $20,000

The Force Awakens on 2016

The Force Awakens on 2016

January 4, 2016

Authored by: benefitsbclp

ThinkstockPhotos-101346654The ball dropped on 2016, but don’t drop the ball on your benefit plan compliance.  As part of our annual tradition, we’re pleased to present this year’s Top Ten New Year’s Countdown for the reading pleasure of our fellow ERISA geeks.  You may remember last year’s Top Ten list was set to Pop Culture themes that dominated 2014?  Well, we’ve decided to embrace the Star Wars fever that currently has a firm grip on our society and devote our entire list to Star Wars’-themed tips.  Get your lightsabers ready…

  • This epic space opera list starts just where you’d expect it:  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (called Congress)…there was born a law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law made it through infancy and even toddlerhood…but then
  • Post-Holiday Gift – ACA Reporting Deadlines Relaxed for 2016

    Post-Holiday Gift – ACA Reporting Deadlines Relaxed for 2016

    December 29, 2015

    Authored by: benefitsbclp

    We have been shouting the ACA reporting compliance deadlines from the rooftops for months now.  Well, I guess it is a case of the “boy who cried wolf”.  At the eleventh hour, the IRS has caved to a slew of complaints, concerns and continuing questions about the new (and complex) ACA reporting requirements and given employers a post-holiday present in the form of IRS Notice 2016-4.   But is it too little too late? The Notice relaxes the current deadlines for those who are not ready to file (or still have unanswered questions preventing them from filing).  Specifically, the Notice provides:

    • an automatic 60-day extension for furnishing Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to employees, and
    • an automatic three-month extension for filing the required forms with the IRS.

    By “automatic”, we mean that no action is required (and nothing needs to be sent to the IRS) to avail yourself

    Reacting to Our Failure to Effect Sound Retirement Policy

    December 11, 2015

    Categories

    Reacting to Our Failure to Effect Sound Retirement Policy

    December 11, 2015

    Authored by: benefitsbclp

    Puzzle PiecesEver since ERISA was first promulgated, and notwithstanding consequential economic, societal and demographic changes, efforts at improving the nation’s employer-based retirement structure have had fits and starts mostly due to the failure of Congress and the Nation to revisit retirement policy in a meaningful way. A cynic (or maybe a pragmatist) would surely believe that Congress’ part in failing focuses primarily on using the retirement system as a tool to exact revenue for the federal treasury, contrary to policies that enhance tax advantages for retirement saving. The smoke and mirrors of Congressional budgeting lead to intentional ignorance of most of the impact of long-term revenue from the retirement system.(To say nothing of changes to the Social Security system, which is beyond the scope of this piece.)

    ERISA was a wonderfully crafted and meaningful

    DOL’s Proposed Amendments to the Claims Procedure For Plans Providing Disability Benefits

    Recently, the DOL released proposed amendments to the current procedural rules for employees claiming disability benefits under an ERISA plan. The proposed rules enhance existing procedures, mirror the procedural protections for claimants contained in the PHS 2719 Final Rule, and update the ERISA claims procedures (set forth in ERISA Section 503) to align with these standards.

    Summaries of the major provisions follow:

    • Independence and Impartiality – avoiding conflicts of interest. All claims must be adjudicated in a manner which ensures that the persons making the decision are independent and impartial. The proposed rules specify that this independence and impartiality requirement mandates that decisions involving the hiring, compensation, termination, promotion, or similar matters of individuals making claims-related decisions, such as a claims adjudicator or medical experts, cannot be made based on the likelihood that the individual will support the denial of disability benefits.
    •  Enhanced

    Did They Do It? The Department of Labor “Clearing the Way” for State-Based Retirement Plans

    It is not news that Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement. But, what is news, is that this Administration seems to be bent on making some meaningful change on that front with the enactment of one particular solution – state-based retirement plans. After hearing the marching orders of the President to clear the path for state-based retirement savings initiatives (including legislation that automatically enrolls employees in IRAs), the Department of Labor has declared VICTORY!

    But let’s take a closer look. What did the Department actually do? And will it withstand public commentary, let alone judicial scrutiny?

    Last week, the Department issued two pieces of guidance: an Interpretive Bulletin and a Proposed Regulation. Each attempts to tackle a different element of the state-based IRA arena:

  • ERISA-Covered Plans, But No Preemption?
  • Performing a little fancy footwork, the Department issued an “Interpretive Bulletin” (which is, in effect, an interpretation

    Dodd-Frank SEC Guidance Executive Compensation – Status

    Dodd-Frank SEC Guidance Executive Compensation – Status

    November 2, 2015

    Authored by: benefitsbclp

    With all the rulemaking required under the Dodd-Frank Act, it can sometimes be hard to keep up with the status of the various rules.  Below is a handy chart that details the current status of the various executive compensation rulemakings.  We plan to update this periodically for additional rulemakings, so be sure to come back and visit from time to time.

    Last Updated: November 2, 2015

    Provision Summary Status of SEC Rulemaking Say on Pay; Say on Golden Parachutes § 951 Requires advisory vote of shareholders on executive compensation and golden parachutes; advisory vote on frequency of say on pay

    • Final rule: adopted January 25, 2011; SEC Rel. No. 33-9178

    Compensation Committee Independence § 952(includes comp consultant conflicts) Requires stock exchanges to adopt listing standards that require:

    • compensation committee members to be “independent;”
    • each committee must   have the authority to engage

    If At First You Don’t Have SSNs For Your ACA Returns, Ask, Ask Again

    As employers and other coverage providers are already aware, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) will require that certain information be reported regarding the coverage employers offer or the coverage that is provided to individuals starting in early 2016. The applicable forms generally require a Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number (collectively, “TIN”). But what happens if the individual does not provide his or her TIN?

    Generally, if filers submit incomplete or incorrect information reporting, penalties will be imposed. Under Code Section 6721, the IRS can impose a penalty of up to $250 per incomplete or incorrect return which is capped at $3,000,000 a year. If a filer cannot secure the individual’s TIN, IRS regulations allow the penalty to be waived if the failure is due to reasonable cause, meaning there are significant mitigating factors or impediments, and the filer acted in a responsible manner.

    A significant

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