Choose Site

The US Department of Labor (DOL) published in the September 18 Federal Register its Interim Final Rule (Rule) to implement “lifetime income illustrations,” which must be provided to defined contribution plan participants pursuant to the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act). With this publication, the Rule is set to become effective on September 18, 2021, and apply to pension benefit statements furnished after this date. The deadline for comments to be submitted to the DOL regarding the Rule is November 17, 2020. 

For a summary of the key provisions of the Rule and some of our preliminary observations, please see our recent LawFlash

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) published a final rule (Final Rule) on September 9 providing that effective January 1, 2021, it will use the interest and mortality assumptions under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 417(e)(3) when determining de minimis lump sum benefits for single-employer defined benefit plans undergoing distress or involuntary terminations. The Final Rule does not apply to multiemployer plans.

This change is part of the PBGC’s ongoing modernization initiative. To that end, the Final Rule also discontinues the PBGC’s monthly calculation and publication of interest rate assumptions. Acknowledging that many plans use the PBGC’s lump sum interest rates in the calculation of their own lump sum distributions, the Final Rule provides a table for plans to use to determine interest assumptions in accordance with the PBGC’s historical methodology.

On August 18, the US Department of Labor issued an Interim Final Rule regarding the parameters and disclosures required to implement “lifetime income illustrations,” which must be provided to defined contribution plan participants pursuant to the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act).

For a summary of the key provisions of the rule and some preliminary observations, read our LawFlash.

The IRS issued proposed regulations and new frequently asked questions regarding the extension of the normal 60-day rollover period to roll over a qualified plan loan offset (QPLO), which was provided for under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). While the proposed regulations will primarily affect the recordkeepers of qualified plans (which will need to administer the extension), plan sponsors should be aware of the proposed regulations and discuss compliance with their recordkeepers and other paying agents for their qualified retirement plans that allow loans.

As background, when a qualified retirement plan loan becomes immediately due and payable—which most often occurs upon default, but could also happen if the plan’s terms require immediate repayment upon a termination of employment—and the loan is not repaid, the loan is either treated as a “deemed distribution” or a “loan offset,” depending on whether the participant has had a distributable event. If the participant has had a distributable event—for example, a termination of employment or reaching age 59½ where the plan allows for an in-service distribution at that age—then failure to repay the loan is treated as a loan offset. Otherwise, it is treated as a deemed distribution.

Recent LawFlash publications include:

  • IRS Releases New Guidance for Distributions and Loans from Retirement Plans under Cares Act. The Internal Revenue Service recently published additional guidance on the coronavirus-related distributions and loans provisions of Section 2202 of the CARES Act. Notice 2020-50 is intended to assist employers and plan administrators, trustees and custodians, and qualified individuals in applying Section 2202 to take advantage of greater access to plan distributions and plan loans. Read more in our LawFlash.
  • Recent Developments in ERISA Plan Investment Regulation. The US Department of Labor has issued guidance on private equity in 401(k) plan designated investment alternatives and a proposed regulation on environmental, social, and governance investing. Read our LawFlash for an analysis.
  • COVID-19: Two New Stops on the Roadmap to Relief For IRA Owners and Providers. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released new guidance in IRS Notice 2020-50 and Notice 2020-51 to help owners and beneficiaries of individual retirement accounts and individual retirement annuities (IRAs) and IRA providers navigate the relief provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Read our LawFlash to learn more.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. Find resources on how to cope with the post-pandemic reality on our NOW. NORMAL. NEXT. page and our COVID-19 page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts, and download our biweekly COVID-19 Legal Issue Compendium.

IRS Notice 2020-51, released last week, provides additional guidance on the waiver in 2020 of required minimum distributions (RMDs) from defined contribution retirement plans and IRAs, and the interaction of this waiver with Section 114 of the SECURE Act. The SECURE Act changed the required beginning date for an employee or IRA owner to begin taking required minimum distributions to April 1 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which the individual attains age 72 (rather than April 1 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which the individual attains age 70½), for individuals who attain age 70½ after December 31, 2019.

The Notice clarifies that the 2020 suspension also applies to individuals with a 2019 RMD who have a required beginning date of April 1, 2020, that was not paid in 2019 (and therefore would have been due to be paid between January 1, 2020 and April 1, 2020). In April, the IRS issued a notice that said those who took an RMD between February 1 and May 15 could put the money back into a plan or IRA by July 15. The new guidance expands the relief to include those who took an RMD between January 1 and February 1, and also extends the deadline for rolling the funds back into a plan or IRA to August 31. For example, if a participant received a single-sum distribution in January 2020, part of which was treated as ineligible for rollover because it was considered an RMD, that participant will have until August 31, 2020, to roll over that part of the distribution.

IRS Notice 2020-52 provides welcome relief to plan sponsors considering suspending safe harbor matching contributions or safe harbor nonelective contributions (or who already suspended safe harbor contributions during 2020) in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On June 29, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance providing new COVID-19-related relief and other clarifications for sponsors considering mid-year changes to their safe harbor 401(k) plans. The guidance, set out in Notice 2020-52 (the Notice), provides helpful clarification that sponsors can eliminate safe harbor 401(k) contributions for “highly compensated employees” (HCEs) only and retain the plan’s safe harbor status, provided that the safe harbor 401(k) contributions continue to be made for non-highly compensated employees (NHCEs).

Under IRS Notice 2020-50, employers sponsoring nonqualified deferred compensation plans (NQCD plans) may now allow employees to suspend their deferral elections without having to determine whether the employee has had an unforeseeable emergency for purposes of Section 409A or otherwise qualifies for a hardship under Section 401(k) if the employee received a coronavirus-related distribution from an eligible retirement plan.

The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has greatly affected many employers and their employees. Employers sponsoring NQCD Plans are seeing an increase in requests from NQDC Plan participants to suspend deferral elections in order to deal with financial hardships resulting from COVID-19.

The US Department of Labor (DOL) published a request for information (RFI) on June 18 in the Federal Register on the subject of pooled employer plans (PEPs). The RFI provides interested parties until July 20 to submit comments to the DOL addressing potential prohibited transaction (PT) issues confronting PEPs, pooled plan providers (PPPs), participating employers, and others. Read our LawFlash for a refresher on PEPs and relevant parties.

The IRS has again extended the due dates for certain returns and payments because of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Notice 2020-35, which the IRS issued on May 28, 2020, postpones the due date for certain time-sensitive actions related to qualified retirement plans, health savings accounts and Archer medical savings accounts, and employment taxes. With some exceptions, which are noted below, affected filings are due July 15, 2020.

Extensions

Notice 2020-35 amplifies Notices 2020-18, 2020-20, and 2020-23 that postponed the due date for various tax returns and payments to July 15, 2020. The extensions provided in this most recent IRS notice apply to certain time-sensitive actions that would have been due on or after March 30, 2020 (and April 1, 2020 in some cases) and before July 15, 2020.