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[UPDATED] New Year’s Resolution for 403(b) Plan Sponsors

[UPDATED] New Year’s Resolution for 403(b) Plan Sponsors

January 14, 2020

Authored by: Denise Erwin and Sarah Bhagwandin

UPDATE:

The IRS has posted the following information regarding extension of the deadlines for 403(b) plans a(see complete posting here).   The IRS is extending the last day of the initial remedial amendment period for Section 403(b) plans from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020. Plan sponsors now have until June 30, 2020, to update their pre-approved and individually designed 403(b) plan documents.

ORIGINAL POST:

Previously we posted on our blog about a deadline looming in the distance for 403(b) plan sponsors to adopt a pre-approved plan document.  Now that 2020 has arrived, the deadline is just around the corner and imminent action is required.

As you may know, if a plan sponsor retroactively adopts a pre-approved plan by the last day of the remedial amendment period on (3/31/2020), it will automatically be deemed to have corrected any form defects in the plan document it previously adopted and will be considered to be in compliance with applicable plan document requirements back to January 1, 2010.

This opportunity is important because although an individually designed plan can be amended to correct any form defects prior to the end of the remedial amendment period, the IRS has opted against establishing a determination letter program for 403(b) plans at this time.  As a result, adoption of a pre-approved plan document is the only way to obtain assurance from the IRS that a 403(b) plan document is fully compliant.

For more background and our suggested Action Steps, see our Read More

Highlights from Proposed Section 162(m) Regulations

Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code disallows a deduction by any publicly held corporation for applicable employee remuneration paid with respect to any covered employee to the extent that remuneration for the taxable year exceeds $1 million.   As we’ve previously blogged here, here, and here, the bill popularly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 significantly amended and expanded the scope of Section 162(m) for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, including by eliminating its performance-based compensation exception.  Now, Proposed Regulations on the amended Section 162(m) have been released which expand on the entities, individuals and compensation that are now subject to Section 162(m).

This blog highlights some of the common questions that the Proposed Regulations attempt to clarify. The Proposed Regulations supersede (but largely confirm) the guidance in Notice 2018-68 (released in August 2018) and will generally be effective for taxable years beginning after the publication of the final regulations, except with respect to guidance relating to covered employees and grandfathered arrangements, which will be effective as of September 10, 2018.

  1. What does it mean to be a “publicly held corporation”?

A publicly held corporation includes any corporation whose securities (debt or equity) are required to be registered under Section 12 of the Exchange Act or that is required to file reports under Section 15 of the Exchange Act, in each case, as of the

ISS Updates its U.S. Compensation and Equity Compensation Plan Policies for 2020

In December 2019, Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) published updates to its FAQs for its U.S. Compensation Policies and its policies related to U.S. Equity Compensation Plans with respect to annual meetings occurring on or after February 1, 2020.  While ISS did not make major changes for 2020, reporting companies should be aware of the following key updates.

  • The passing scores for all U.S. Equity Plan Scorecard (“EPSC”) models remain the same as in effect for the 2019 proxy season (55 points for S&P 500 reporting companies, 53 for other reporting companies). However, ISS made the following notable changes and clarifications to EPSC’s scoring model:
    • An evergreen feature (i.e., automatic share replenishment without the need for additional stockholder approval) in an equity plan submitted for stockholder approval will be considered a negative overriding factor which may result in a negative vote recommendation. Sunset provisions applicable to such evergreen features will not be considered as a mitigating factor.
    • While the passing scores for EPSC models remain unchanged, certain factor scores within the models have been adjusted (but not disclosed since they are proprietary).
    • Limited partnership interests, including operating partnership units issued by REITs, will be included in common shares outstanding (CSO) for purposes of shareholder value transfer (SVT) and burn rate calculations if such interests are equivalent to common stock on a 1:1 basis and can be exchanged into common stock at any time at no cost to the holder.
  • ISS confirmed

IRS Releases 2020 Adjusted Qualified Plan Limitations

The Internal Revenue Service released the cost-of-living adjusted qualified retirement plan limitations effective January 1, 2020.  For ease of reference and comparison to prior years, we have placed the adjusted limitations in the table below.  For more information, refer to the Internal Revenue Service’s news release and Notice 2019-59 and to the Social Security Administration’s October 10, 2019, fact sheet.

Qualified Plan Limits

Type of Limitation 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 Elective Deferrals (401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1)) $19,500 $19,000 $18,500 $18,000 $18,000 Section 414(v) Catch-Up Deferrals to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), or SARSEP Plans (457(b)(3) and 402(g) provide separate catch-up rules to be considered as appropriate) $6,500 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 SIMPLE Salary Deferral $13,500 $13,000 $12,500 $12,500 $12,500 SIMPLE 401(k) or regular SIMPLE plans, Catch-Up Deferrals $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 415 limit for Defined Benefit Plans $230,000 $225,000 $220,000 $215,000 $210,000 415 limit for Defined Contribution Plans $57,000 $56,000 $55,000 $54,000 $53,000 Annual Compensation Limit $285,000 $280,000 $275,000 $270,000 $265,000 Annual Compensation Limit for Grandfathered Participants in Governmental Plans Which Followed 401(a)(17) Limits (With Indexing) on July 1, 1993  

$425,000  

$415,000  

$405,000  

$400,000  

$395,000 Highly Compensated Employee 414(q)(1)(B) $130,000 $125,000 $120,000 $120,000 $120,000 Key employee in top heavy plan (officer) $185,000 $180,000 $175,000 $175,000 $170,000 Tax Credit ESOP Maximum balance $1,150,000 $1,130,000 $1,105,000 $1,080,000 $1,070,000 Amount for Lengthening of 5-Year ESOP Period $230,000 $225,000 $220,000 $215,000 $210,000 Taxable Wage Base $137,700 $132,900 $128,400 $127,200 $118,500

The CCPA: Employee Data Requirements May Be Delayed, But Do Not Appear to be Going Away

July 12, 2019

Categories

Action is currently underway to amend the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) to provide employers an additional year to comply with the CCPA with respect to employee data of California-based employees.

The California Senate Judiciary Committee has passed AB-25, an amendment to the CCPA that would delay most of the compliance obligations for employee data until January 1, 2021. Specifically, the amendment provides that employees are not “consumers” for most purposes of the statute until January 1, 2021.

If the legislature passes the bill, the CCPA will still apply to employers with California-based employees in the following ways, effective January 1, 2020:

  • Employees will be able to sue employers for a data breach involving their unencrypted data
  • Employers must provide a notice to employees describing the categories of employee information collected, used and disclosed by the employer.

While there have been many predictions that the CCPA would be amended to remove employee data from the requirements of the statute altogether, if the California state legislature approves the bill amending the CCPA, the effect will be to simply delay the compliance obligations for employers for a year.

For now the bill is with the Senate Appropriations Committee for hearing and another round of voting.  Assuming Appropriations votes to pass the bill, it will go to the Floor for a vote.  The Appropriations Committee has until August 30th to vote on bills.

Employer CCPA FAQs #9: May an employer become subject to the CCPA because of a corporate transaction?

As our series of FAQs regarding the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) continues we are examining the scope of the law’s jurisdiction.    These FAQs should help employers determine if they are required to comply with the CCPA and if so, what steps their HR professionals and IT departments should take to be in compliance.

As a reminder, the CCPA is a new privacy law that applies to data collected about California-based employees.   The CCPA will go into effect in early 2020, and employers who must comply should be addressing compliance obligations now.

For US employers who have not had to comply with the GDPR, the requirements of the CCPA will likely require a new analysis of the treatment of employee-data and implementation of updated or new data policies.  For employers with European operations, one key area of interest is the degree to which the CCPA aligns with the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).   Employers in compliance with the GDPR will likely already be familiar with many of the requirements of the CCPA – and with some assistance, should be able to bring their operations and policies into compliance with respect to California-based employees.

BCLP offers a complete compliance program to employers that includes a formal gap assessment as well as policies, procedures, and protocols to close identified gaps.  If you or your organization would like information on this compliance program or any other issue, please contact us or one of your other trusted BCLP attorneys.

Question #9: May

Employer CCPA FAQs #8: Does the CCPA apply to non-profit employers?

As our series of FAQs regarding the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) continues we are examining the scope of the law’s jurisdiction.    These FAQs should help employers determine if they are required to comply with the CCPA and if so, what steps their HR professionals and IT departments should take to be in compliance.

As a reminder, the CCPA is a new privacy law that applies to data collected about California-based employees.   The CCPA will go into effect in early 2020, and employers who must comply should be addressing compliance obligations now.

For US employers who have not had to comply with the GDPR, the requirements of the CCPA will likely require a new analysis of the treatment of employee-data and implementation of updated or new data policies.  For employers with European operations, one key area of interest is the degree to which the CCPA aligns with the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).   Employers in compliance with the GDPR will likely already be familiar with many of the requirements of the CCPA – and with some assistance, should be able to bring their operations and policies into compliance with respect to California-based employees.

BCLP offers a complete compliance program to employers that includes a formal gap assessment as well as policies, procedures, and protocols to close identified gaps.  If you or your organization would like information on this compliance program or any other issue, please contact us or one of your other trusted BCLP attorneys.

Question #8: Does

Deep Dive: DOL Appeals Federal Court’s Association Health Plan Ruling and Issues Interim Guidance

As we predicted in our last Deep Dive, the Department of Labor (DOL) has appealed the District Court for the District of Columbia’s ruling in State of New York, et al. v. United States Department of Labor, et al. which vacated key portions of the DOL’s association health plan regulation (AHP Rule). The DOL filed its Notice of Appeal with the federal district court (D.D.C.) on April 26.

In response to the Court’s ruling (and before filing its appeal) the DOL had published a Q&A-style discussion of the ruling’s impact. After filing its appeal, the DOL published an official statement (DOL Statement) outlining interim guidance for previously-formed AHPs and employers who began participating in an AHP in reliance on the AHP Rule. The DOL Statement clarifies that these employers and AHPs may continue their coverage for the time being, yet leaves key questions unanswered.   In welcome news for AHPs that sought to form under the AHP Rule, the DOL confirms its commitment to “taking all appropriate action within its legal authority to minimize undue consequences on employees and their families.”  As support, the DOL Statement reassures that:

  • Employers participating in insured AHPs formed under the AHP Rule may continue their coverage through the later of the end of the current plan year or contract term and that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed employers have an independent right to continue coverage through

IRS Expands Determination Letter Program for Mergers of Qualified Plans Following Corporate Transactions

The IRS recently reversed course on the availability of the determination letter program for merged qualified retirement plans – thereby providing new alternatives for integrating qualified retirement plan benefits in the context of corporate transactions.

Merged Plan Relief:  Rev. Proc. 2019-20, released on May 1, 2019, expands the IRS’ determination letter program for individually designed qualified retirement plans (e.g., defined benefit plans or defined contribution plans) that result from a merger of two or more qualified retirement plans following a corporate merger, acquisition or other similar business transaction (a “Merged Plan”).  The newly expanded program will be available beginning September 1, 2019 and continuing on an ongoing basis.

Eligibility:  To be eligible for the determination letter program:

  • The Merged Plan must be a combination of two or more qualified retirement plans maintained by previously unrelated entities (i.e., entities that are not members of the same controlled group under Section 414 of the Internal Revenue Code);
  • The plan merger must occur no later than the last day of the first plan year that begins after the effective date of the corporate merger, acquisition or other similar business transaction (the “Corporate Transaction”); and
  • A determination letter application for the Merged Plan must be submitted by the last day of the first plan year that begins after the effective date of the plan merger.

Pre-approved or prototype qualified retirement plans are not explicitly covered by the procedure  — additional IRS guidance will be needed to determine the applicability

Employer CCPA FAQs #7: If an employer is based in California, will the CCPA requirements apply to all employee data held by the employer?

As our series of FAQs regarding the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) continues we are examining the scope of the law’s jurisdiction.    These FAQs should help employers determine if they are required to comply with the CCPA and if so, what steps their HR professionals and IT departments should take to be in compliance.

As a reminder, the CCPA is a new privacy law that applies to data collected about California-based employees.   The CCPA will go into effect in early 2020, and employers who must comply should be addressing compliance obligations now.

For US employers who have not had to comply with the GDPR, the requirements of the CCPA will likely require a new analysis of the treatment of employee-data and implementation of updated or new data policies.  For employers with European operations, one key area of interest is the degree to which the CCPA aligns with the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).   Employers in compliance with the GDPR will likely already be familiar with many of the requirements of the CCPA – and with some assistance, should be able to bring their operations and policies into compliance with respect to California-based employees.

BCLP offers a complete compliance program to employers that includes a formal gap assessment as well as policies, procedures, and protocols to close identified gaps.  If you or your organization would like information on this compliance program or any other issue, please contact us or one of your other trusted BCLP attorneys.

Question #7:  If an

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