ML BeneBits

EXAMINING A RANGE OF EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
AND EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION ISSUES
In January 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) changed the withholding election rules applicable to distributions from pension plans (a term that includes 401(k) plans, money purchase pension plans and defined benefit pension plans). Specifically, the IRS issued a revised Form W-4P, to be used for reporting periodic payments only (such as monthly pension payments) and creating a new Form W-4R, to be used for nonperiodic payments (such as lump sum distributions and eligible rollover distributions). Use of the new forms was optional for 2022 but became mandatory as of January 1, 2023.
Recent action taken by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and the US Department of Labor (DOL) will affect plans that are eligible for, or have received, special financial assistance (SFA). SFA-eligible plans should note the new guidance when applying for SFA.
Single-employer defined benefit pension plans that have elected to use the “alternative method” for determining Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums have a window to take action that may significantly reduce their PBGC premiums for 2023. Action must be taken prior to the due date for PBGC premiums for the year, which for calendar year plans is October 16, 2023.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued proposed regulations that would require forfeitures in defined contribution plans—i.e., unvested benefits forfeited by terminating defined contribution plan participants—to be used to offset employer contributions or pay reasonable plan administrative expenses, or otherwise be allocated to participants, by the end of the year following the year of forfeiture.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is now allowing multiemployer pension plans that are applying for special financial assistance (SFA) to request relief from the standard withdrawal liability calculation requirements that would otherwise apply under the PBGC’s original final rule under 29 CFR Part 4262 (the Original Final Rule). The Original Final Rule, which took effect in August 2022, created various conditions for multiemployer plans receiving SFA, including conditions on the calculation of withdrawal liability.
In response to confusion regarding the “10-Year Rule” that was added to the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act), the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided relief to defined contribution plan beneficiaries and individual retirement account beneficiaries. In Notice 2022-53, the IRS provides two forms of relief: (1) the proposed RMD regulations, including the application of the 10-Year Rule, if finalized, will not apply earlier than 2023, and (2) the failure to distribute “Specified RMD” payments in 2021 and 2022 will not be treated as a plan qualification failure or trigger the 50% excise tax for the Specified RMDs.

Anti-ESG state legislation continues to focus on public retirement plan investing and asset management. Over the last year, 18 states have proposed or adopted state legislation or regulation limiting the ability of the state government, including public retirement plans, to do business with entities that are identified as “boycotting” certain industries based on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. Since our last update, four states have either adopted or proposed legislation or other forms of regulation that would restrict ESG activities using state assets.

As described in our prior blog post, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently extended many impending amendment deadlines for legislative changes made by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act), Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 (MINERS Act), and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). However, for reasons that were not entirely clear, the IRS did not extend the amendment deadline for certain CARES Act changes at the time. Now, in Notice 2022-45, the IRS is extending the amendment deadline for the remaining CARES Act changes.

Although variable annuity pension plan (VAPP) designs have been permissible for decades, they have not yet seen widespread adoption—particularly in the Taft-Hartley multiemployer plan space.

Recently, however, we have seen a trend of employers and unions (or existing multiemployer plan boards of trustees) agreeing to set up VAPPs as an alternative to the traditional multiemployer defined benefit plan design (hereafter, “Traditional DB Plan”).