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Recent Blog Posts

  • IRS updates Nonqualified Plan Audit Technique Guide—Is a new enforcement initiative on the horizon? By Greg Daugherty, Dave Tumen and Rich Helmreich   The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently updated its Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Audit Techniques Guide (NQDC). It released Publication 5528 (NQDC guide) on June 1, 2021. The IRS last updated the NQDC Guide in 2015. Interestingly, the 2015 NQDC Guide was published shortly after the IRS sent information document requests to publicly traded companies to determine how well companies were complying with Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 409A. This latest update to the NQDC... More
  • DOL confirms cyber security is an ERISA fiduciary issue and issues guidance for retirement plan sponsors, service providers and participants By Rich Helmreich and Greg Daugherty   The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced new guidance for plan sponsors, fiduciaries, record keepers and participants on best practices for maintaining cyber security. This is the first time the DOL has issued such guidance, and it comes in response to a recent General Accounting Office (GAO) report responding to increased cybersecurity risks to retirement plan participant data and plan assets. If there is one central message to the guidance, it is this: The DOL now... More
  • For public companies, the time to update executive compensation practices is now: Final regulations issued under IRC Section 162(m) and American Rescue Plan Act further expands class of covered employees By Dave Tumen and Greg Daugherty   At long last, the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service published final regulations to explain how changes to Internal Revenue Code Section 162(m) under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) affect the deductibility (or lack thereof) of compensation in excess of $1 million paid to covered employees. We have blogged about these changes and made recommendations to public companies in the past about how to manage these changes. For the... More
  • Public companies may need to amend nonqualified and incentive compensation plans by Dec. 31, 2020 By Greg Daugherty and Dave Tumen   Public company nonqualified plans and incentive plans may need to be amended to avoid a potential violation of Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 409A as a result of changes to IRC Section 162(m) under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This amendment most likely is required for employers that mandated deferrals of amounts that exceeded the limit under IRC Section 162(m) but not those whose plans permitted but did not require deferrals of such amounts.... More
  • New IRS guidance reminds employers about new long-term part-time employee eligibility rules for 401(k) plans By Greg Daugherty and Rich Helmreich   Much of the employee benefits news this year has related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, particularly with respect to the greater flexibility it provided 401(k) plan participants with respect to requesting in-service distributions and loans. That is not a surprise during this year of economic upheaval. Updating plan administrative procedures to reflect these CARES Act terms has kept employers busy, but it is important that employers remember that they will... More
  • Process matters: IRS issues guidance on recognition of income and FICA taxes for stock-settled awards By Greg Daugherty and Dave Tumen   On May 22, 2020, the IRS released an Office of Chief Counsel Memorandum that addresses (i) the date that fair market value is determined and when gross income and federal income tax withholding liability arises for stock-settled awards and (ii) the timing for remitting FICA taxes for such awards. This question comes up frequently and has not always had a clear answer, and so the memo provides important guidance for employers who sponsor equity award... More
  • CARES Act provides temporary fringe benefit for employer repayments of employee student loans By Greg Daugherty and Victoria Hanohano-Hong   The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has provided a wide range of programs that affect employee benefit plans, employers and employees. One benefit that has flown under the radar is a new, temporary tax-qualified student loan repayment plan. Section 2206 of the CARES Act allows employers to claim a tax deduction for repayments of employee student loans, and allows employees to exclude these payments from taxable income, in amounts up to $5,250... More
  • Stop and review COVID-19 distribution and loan forms carefully By Greg Daugherty, Deb Boiarsky, Victoria Hanohano-Hong and Rich Helmreich   The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, authorizes employers to make changes to their qualified retirement plans to increase loan limits, delay loan repayments, and make distributions to plan participants experiencing certain COVID-19 related circumstances. Due to a lack of guidance from the IRS, there’s confusion among third-party administrators (TPAs) about how to administer these changes, resulting in potential issues with forms used by TPAs to approve these CARES... More
  • How ESOP sponsors can survive the disruption from COVID-19 By Greg Daugherty and Deb Boiarsky   The spread of COVID-19 and the resulting disruption to the economy has led many employers to think creatively about how to manage cash, provide for the sustainability of their businesses and preserve the culture they have created with their employees and customers. These issues are especially critical for employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) companies, many of whom are in the process of their annual appraisal. These appraisals are important because they directly affect the size... More
  • IRC Section 409A v. COVID-19: The nonqualified and executive compensation clash, and how employers can navigate it By Greg Daugherty, Dave Tumen and Rich Helmreich   Unintended consequences are a fact of life. As one of many examples, after the Titanic sank, the United States enacted a law that required any American ship carrying over 100 tons of weight to have enough lifeboats for every passenger. It was a noble thought – no more rationing of lifeboats in the event of a future ship wreck. Unfortunately, the SS Eastland was a poorly designed ship. The additional lifeboats required by... More