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Recent Blog Posts

  • IRS letter ruling generates interest in employer student loan benefit plans, but be aware of testing and other issues By Greg Daugherty and Seth Hanft    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a private letter ruling, PLR 201833012 (PLR) that has generated interest among employers about student loan benefit programs. An IRS official at a recent conference, however, cautioned practitioners to read the PLR because the scope of the PLR is more narrow than what some headlines may have led people to believe. In particular, the PLR did not allow employers to authorize distributions from 401(k) plans to allow employees... More
  • Recent IRS guidance affects corporate tax deductibility of public company executive compensation arrangements and related proxy statement disclosures By Greg Daugherty and Dave Tumen    We previously blogged about how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Act) amended Internal Revenue Code Section 162(m). In general, the amended Code Section 162(m) restricts the ability of publicly traded companies to recognize a tax deduction for amounts paid to “covered employees” in excess of $1 million. It does this primarily by expanding the groups of individuals who are classified as covered employees and restricting the scope of the arrangements that are exempt... More
  • Fifth Circuit issues mandate that vacates the ERISA fiduciary rule: What plan sponsors should do next By Greg Daugherty    After years of revising regulations and even more years of legal battles, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) 2016 ERISA fiduciary regulations (the regulations) essentially end up right where they started. That is because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued its mandate officially vacating in toto the regulations, including the Best Interest Contract or “BIC” Exemption, and the DOL’s other related prohibited transaction exemptions. Because the deadline to appeal the decision lapsed on June 13,... More
  • Tie goes to the plan administrator: Sixth Circuit clarifies importance of Firestone language for ERISA plan interpretation By Greg Daugherty and Seth Hanft    In baseball, there is a common saying that a “tie goes to the runner.” Under this maxim, if a base runner and the baseball arrive at the base at the same time, the runner is safe. Stated another way, the baseball must arrive at the base before the runner in order for the runner to be out. The rule, essentially, construes close calls against the defense. Yet, many Major League Baseball umpires interpret the rule... More
  • IRS provides guidance to 403(b) plan sponsors who can’t locate participants required to receive distributions (but be mindful of DOL rules too) By Greg Daugherty and Seth Hanft    The IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division recently issued a memorandum (the memo) to its auditors that directed them not to challenge a 403(b) plan as failing to satisfy the required minimum distribution (RMD) standards under circumstances set out in the memo. This guidance is helpful to 403(b) plan sponsors and consistent with missing participant procedures that the IRS set forth for qualified plan sponsors last year. For those 403(b) plans that are governed... More
  • Tax reform will affect public company executive compensation arrangements and related proxy statement disclosures By Greg Daugherty and Dave Tumen    While opinions on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act vary, one thing everyone can agree on is that it is a game changer in many areas of law and business. We explain this change and outline what it could mean for public companies in our recent post over at our firm’s Banking & Finance Law Report blog. Click here to read the full article: Tax reform will affect public company executive compensation arrangements and related proxy statement... More
  • Department of Labor continues to watch ESOP valuations with recent trustee settlements By Greg Daugherty    In recent years, the Department of Labor (DOL) has had a laser-like focus on valuation issues when privately held companies establish employee stock ownership plans (ESOP). In particular, the DOL is concerned with valuations that rely upon unrealistic growth projections, which lead to the ESOP paying too much (in the DOL’s view) for the shares of employer stock. The DOL has raised this issue in litigation, and in 2014, it entered into a settlement agreement with GreatBanc Trust... More
  • House and Senate have their sights on deferred compensation in proposed tax bills By Greg Daugherty and Dave Tumen    A week after telling everyone to “relax” about the proposed executive compensation changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we have to admit that we have been watching anxiously as the proposed bills move through the legislative process. The executive compensation items that we discussed last week  have experienced quite a journey in the past week, with the House Ways and Means Committee making some welcome changes and the Senate Finance Committee introducing its... More
  • Proposed tax bill would make big changes to (and create new opportunities for) executive compensation By Greg Daugherty and Dave Tumen    Three games into the 2014 National Football League season, the Green Bay Packers had a 1-2 record. Fans were panicking. Many were questioning whether the Packers and its quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, were doomed to have a bad season. Rodgers responded with a simple message for fans: “R-E-L-A-X”. The Packers redoubled their efforts and made the playoffs that year, showing that the initial panic was rather silly. A similar scenario could be playing out with respect... More
  • Are the ERISA disability claims procedure regulations going to be delayed? How qualified and nonqualified plan sponsors should respond to the latest guidance By Greg Daugherty and Seth Hanft    While the fiduciary rule has received most of the attention in the world of ERISA as of late, a lesser known regulation that was finalized late last year also may require action by plan sponsors. This regulation , issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) in December 2016, requires applicable plans to satisfy additional procedural and notice requirements for disability claims. As a result, disability claims procedures will become more aligned with the claims and... More