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IRS Publishes Pension Plan Limitations for 2019

On November 1, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced cost-of-living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for the 2019 tax year. These limits include both employee and employer contribution limits. The list below details some of the key limit increases and those limits that remain unchanged effective January 1, 2019:

Fifth Circuit Opines on when Claims may be Properly Maintained under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B) Versus § 502(a)(3)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently addressed “the labyrinthine complexities of ERISA law and practice.” Manuel v. Turner Industries Group, LLC, et al., No. 17-30835 (5th Cir. Oct. 1, 2018). In this wide-ranging opinion, the Fifth Circuit highlighted the importance of identifying the underlying purported injury to understand whether an ERISA § 502(a)(3) claim (a claim for equitable relief) is duplicative of a claim that could have been brought under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B) (a claim to recover benefits or enforce a right under the terms of a plan), in which case it should be dismissed.

Don’t Forget About Section 4960 Compliance

Section 4960 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC), as amended, imposes an excise tax on compensation of certain highly compensated employees of tax-exempt organizations. In an apparent attempt to level the playing field for tax-exempt and public corporations, Section 4960 imposes an excise tax of 21 percent on compensation paid to a covered employee in excess of $1 million and on any excess parachute payments paid to a covered employee. For purposes of Section 4960, any remuneration paid to a covered employee by a related entity is included in the calculation of the covered employee’s total remuneration for the year.

IRS Issues 2019 Retirement Plan COLAs and Fringe Benefit Limitations

The IRS has released the 2019 cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to the dollar limitations on benefits and contributions to qualified retirement and deferred contribution plans.

ONC and OCR Update HIPAA Security Risk Assessment Tool for National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October 2018 marks the 15th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month. In honor of this occasion, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have jointly launched an updated HIPAA Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tool to help covered entities and business associates comply with the HIPAA Security Rule. But remember, the HIPAA Security Rule does not require a “one-size-fits-all” approach to security.

IRS Clarifies Role of Gross-Ups When Taxes Are Assessed on an Earlier Year’s Fringe Benefits

When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines during an examination that a fringe benefit should have been taxed and the employer accordingly has to pay additional taxes in a later year, how is the subsequent payment treated for tax purposes? Recent IRS guidance on this issue serves to clarify when employers will need to “gross up” these payments for the employee.

Notice 2018-76: Taking a Bite Out of the Business Expense Deductions for Meals, Entertainment

On October 3, 2018, the IRS issued transitional guidance in Notice 2018-76 concerning the business expense deductions for meals and entertainment following the changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) — which generally disallowed a deduction for expenses related to entertainment, amusement or recreation, but did not specifically address the deductibility of business meal expense.

Student Loan Repayments or Retirement Savings? Maybe Both . . .

Recent statistics show that approximately 70 percent of college graduates will leave college with an average of at least $30,000 in student loan debt. Cumulatively, the national student loan debt is approximately $1.5 trillion. This burden is causing millennials to wait longer than previous generations to buy houses, start families, and save for retirement. Although student loan indebtedness is not an issue employers can solve alone, a few are finding ways to recruit and retain talent by offering a helping hand to employees dealing with massive debt burdens.

HR Pros Brace for Open Enrollment Season

It’s open enrollment season for many employers, which means a lot of HR and benefits professionals are struggling to effectively manage the annual process. Open enrollment is a big deal for everyone in the workplace and can be a chaotic time for both employers and employees.

Are You “Doing Enough” to Avoid ERISA Statutory Penalties?

Clients often are surprised to learn they are liable for ERISA statutory penalties associated with participant document requests even though they have retained an independent third party to administer their ERISA welfare benefits plans (such as disability, life, and health plans). It is fairly well established in most of the federal circuits that only the plan administrator, as defined by ERISA, can be penalized for failure to respond to document requests.