Our Attorneys

DISCLAIMER: This blog is published for general information only - it is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice.  U.S. Treasury Regulations require us to notify you that any tax-related material in this blog (including links and attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties, and may not be referred to in any marketing or promotional materials.  While we welcome you to contact our authors, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in Plan Administration (43)


The First Circuit’s DOMA Decision: What It Means for Employers

On May 31, 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.  Section 3 defines marriage for purposes of applying all federal statutes as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”  The First Circuit held that this definition of marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause by denying federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married under state law.  The Court, however, stayed enforcement of its decision pending appeal. 

As a reminder, DOMA does not formally invalidate same-sex marriages in the states that legally recognize them, but it does have several consequences for same-sex married couples under federal law.  For example, same-sex married couples may not file joint federal income tax returns, enjoy the preferential tax treatment afforded employer-sponsored spousal health insurance benefits, or receive health insurance as the spouse of a federal employee.  So what does this decision mean to employers and sponsors of employee benefit plans? 

Click to read more ...


HSA Contributions: Making Sense of the Moving Parts

As we have noted, high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with a Health Savings Account (HSA) feature are growing in popularity.  Our last post on HDHP/HSA arrangements explored some of the general eligibility questions we are asked most frequently.  Today we address common questions about HSA contributions.

1.  Are contributions limited by the number of months an employee is HSA-eligible, or is an employee entitled to the full contribution limit for being HSA-eligible for just part of the year?  HSA contributions generally may be made for months in which an individual is HSA-eligible, and the individual’s annual HSA contributions may not exceed the sum of the “monthly limitations” (the annual contribution limit divided by 12) for all months in the calendar year in which the individual actually is HSA-eligible.  Said another way, an employee’s yearly contribution limit is prorated based on the period the employee is actually HSA-eligible.  That is the general rule, often called the “general monthly contribution rule.”  By contrast, under the “full-contribution rule” described below an individual may be treated as HSA-eligible for the entire year and entitled to make contributions up to the annual maximum HSA contribution limit if the employee becomes covered by an HDHP in a month other than January and is HSA-eligible on December 1 of that year.

Click to read more ...


Participant-Level Fee Disclosure for ERISA and Non-ERISA Plans

After our recent post on the fiduciary-level fee disclosure rules under ERISA Section 408(b)(2), we wanted to complete the picture for plan fiduciaries by revisiting the participant-level fee disclosure rules under ERISA Section 404(a).  These rules require fiduciaries of participant-directed individual account plans (such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans) to periodically disclose certain plan- and investment- related information to plan participants, beneficiaries, and eligible employees (without regard to whether an eligible employee has actually become enrolled in the plan).  The rules were finalized in July, 2011 and are effective for the first plan year on or after November 1, 2011 (January 1, 2012 for calendar year plans). 

Non-ERISA plans are not required to comply with these disclosure obligations, though it may become a best practice to do so.  More on that later.

Click to read more ...


Plan Fiduciaries Should “Welcome” Final Regulations Regarding Service Provider Disclosures

Last week the U.S. Department of Labor published Final Regulations dealing with service provider disclosures under Section 408(b)(2) of ERISA.   This is the latest in a series of regulatory initiatives undertaken by the DOL to ensure that plan fiduciaries, as well as plan participants and beneficiaries, obtain meaningful information about the services that are provided to their employee benefit plans and the cost of those services.  The DOL began by revising Schedule C of Form 5500 to expand the disclosures regarding service providers.   Then came new regulations under Section 404(a) of ERISA requiring plan administrators to disclose specified plan and investment-related information, including fee and expense information, to participants and beneficiaries in 401(k) and other individual account plans.   The Section 408(b)(2) Final Regulations represent another significant component of the disclosure regime since, in the view of the DOL, plan fiduciaries need the information called for in the Final Regulations in order to satisfy the fiduciary standards of ERISA when selecting and monitoring service providers.  Plan fiduciaries need to be familiar with these important new rules, understand and apply the disclosures they receive from service providers, and be aware of certain new obligations they have regarding service arrangements. 

Click to read more ...


Three Tips for Cycle A Determination Letter Filers

Happy New Year!  The deadline for Cycle A filers (employers with EINs ending in 1 or 6) to submit determination letter applications to the IRS for their tax-qualified retirement plans closes on January 31, 2012.  That means that employee benefits lawyers and other professionals all over the country (including us) are hard at work completing Forms 5300 and 5307, getting information requests out to clients, preparing Notices to Interested Parties, and restating plan documents.  So we want to share a few thoughts that we think are worth bearing in mind for those fellow travelers who are swept up in the mad dash to the filing deadline.

Click to read more ...

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 9 Next 5 Entries »