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[Official Guidance] Text of 2017 Instructions for IRS Forms 1099-R and 5498: Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, and IRA Contribution Information (PDF)
23 pages. "What's New: Report late rollover contributions certified by the participant in boxes 13a and 13b on Form 5498. Report the self-certification code in box 13c." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



[Opinion] Pension Rights Center Comments to EBSA on Proposed Form 5500 Revisions (PDF)
"Form 5500 reporting has not kept pace with changes in retirement savings plans (401(k)-type plans). The proposal includes additional reporting for these plans that will provide new information enabling policymakers to better evaluate the effectiveness of various individual account plan features and practices. Additional questions on fees and investments will give participants greater insight into the operation of their plans. Breaking down general questions into specific categories will not only benefit policymakers but will help participants to understand important features of their plans." (Pension Rights Center)



[Opinion] SPARK Comments to EBSA on Proposed Changes to the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report (PDF)
"[T]he Agencies' Proposed Reporting Changes include many elements that would frustrate our call for a simplified reporting process.... [M]any of the new information requests would unnecessarily expand the reporting requirements in a way that would increase the administrative burdens and costs associated with Form 5500 reporting.... We are also concerned that the Agencies have underestimated the extent to which all of these changes will increase administrative complexity and the overall length of the annual return/report[.]" (The SPARK Institute)



[Opinion] DCIIA Comments to EBSA on Annual Reporting and Disclosure Proposed Rule (PDF)
"DCIIA supports the Department's efforts to synchronize Form 5500 data elements with the fee disclosure requirements under ERISA ... Effective synchronization would make data collection more efficient, but, more importantly, it could reinforce for plan fiduciaries what to focus on when analyzing plan fees.... In addition to the importance of not adding burdens and cost to the process, we also encourage the Department to consider the impact of its Proposal on plan sponsor behavior so that it does not unintentionally inhibit innovations and decisions that benefit retirement savers." (Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association [DCIIA])



[Opinion] Changes to Form 5500 Open Up Employers to Litigation; Participants May See Increase in Fees
"ERIC asked for the current proposal to be withdrawn ... and if there must be changes, to take a less burdensome approach, including removing questions that would reveal confidential information.... The proposed changes to Schedule C will require employers to invest in developing new systems to collect, process and verify information. ERIC and the organizations are concerned that employers will be forced to pass that increase in cost on to plan participants and that participants may actually see their fees increase." (The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC])



Dallas Mayor Sues Pension Board to Stop Withdrawals
"Dallas Mayor Michael S. Rawlings ... filed the lawsuit Dec. 5 in state court in Dallas in his personal capacity. He seeks a court order to temporarily restrict all withdrawals from the pension system's Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) as 2016 outflows allegedly have greatly reduced the system's protected benefits. DROP is a program that allows eligible participants to simultaneously stay on the job with full pay while having their full retirement annuity paid into an interest-bearing account." (Bloomberg BNA)



ERISA Liability from 401(k) Plan Revenue Sharing
"City National ... [argued] that its administrative fees were reasonable, because they were lower than those of one outside vendor from which it solicited a quote. The court rejected this argument, stating that ERISA's fiduciary duties are the 'highest known to the law' and that a 'prudent fiduciary would have done more.' ... [E]mployers should periodically monitor revenue sharing fees to satisfy themselves that they remain reasonable, or alternatively, consider periodically shopping 401(k) plan administration or record keeping services to compare costs." (Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP)



[Guidance Overview] PBGC Offers Relief from Late Premium Payment Penalties
"The first reduction under the new regulations cuts the penalty percentages and caps in half. Going forward, the penalty for a self-corrected late payment is 0.5% per month, subject to a 25% cap. After the PBGC issues a notice of underpayment, the penalty increases to 2.5% per month, subject to a 50% cap. The second penalty reduction is a 'good citizen' waiver of sorts." (Morgan Lewis)



2016 Pension Accounting Preview: A Positive Outlook
"Many [DB] plan sponsors are aware that interest rates dropped significantly in the first half of 2016 but staged a remarkable rise since the November election. Combined with relatively strong equity returns, 2016 year-end pension disclosures may not be as bad as expected 6 to 8 weeks ago." (Van Iwaarden Associates)



[Opinion] American Benefits Council Comments to EBSA on Proposed Revision of Form 5500 Annual Information Return/Reports
33 pages. "[S]ome of the Proposed Revisions will create significant administrative burdens for employee benefit plan sponsors and service providers, unnecessarily increase the cost of operating employee benefit plans, and reduce the appeal of plan sponsorship. Further, ... many of the Proposed Revisions would require plan administrators, under penalty of perjury, to answer questions for which they do not have readily available information.... [We] urge the Agencies to withdraw their Proposed Revisions and repropose the Form 5500 overhaul." (American Benefits Council)



2017 Regulatory Limits Poster and Compliance Calendar
"The Regulatory limits for 2017 poster describes regulatory limits for elective deferrals and catch-up contributions, as well as deadlines for returning excess contributions. The related 2017 compliance calendar includes recurring compliance and notice requirements for qualified defined contribution plans." (Vanguard)



[Opinion] American Retirement Association Comments to IRS on Documentation for Hardship Withdrawals and Plan Loans (PDF)
"The ARA recommends the Service issue guidance to clarify the rules applicable to the substantiation and documentation requirements related to hardship distributions and participant loans.... The ARA recommends the Service issue guidance permitting a plan administrator ... to reasonably rely on the representation from the employee as to [certain] items, unless the plan administrator has actual knowledge or should have known from the surrounding facts and circumstances that the representation is untrue[.]" (American Retirement Association [ARA])



[Official Guidance] Text of PBGC Disaster Announcement 16-17, In Response to Severe Storms and Flooding in Minnesota
"This Disaster Relief Announcement provides relief ... [to] any person responsible for meeting a PBGC deadline (e.g., a plan administrator or contributing sponsor) that is located in the disaster area for which the [IRS] has provided relief in MN-2016-03, Nov. 30, 2016 ... The disaster area consists of Blue Earth, Freeborn, Hennepin, Le Sueur, Rice, Steele, and Waseca counties." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])



[Official Guidance] Present Value of PBGC Maximum Guarantee for 2017
"These values apply to benefits with annuity starting dates in 2017. The 2017 table was developed using the 417(e) segment rates for August 2016 (1.39%, 3.27% and 4.18% respectively) for plan years beginning in 2017 and the 417(e) applicable mortality table for 2017." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC])



[Opinion] 5500 Overhaul Alert: Comment Deadline Is Monday December 5
"If you thought that Form 5500-SUP was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet! ... [1] Your client list will become available to anyone (due to mandatory paid preparer disclosure). [2] It will cost you and your clients real money! Unlike the Form 5500-SUP changes, those in the Proposal go so much wider and deeper that you will need to dedicate staff and resources to collect and organize all of this additional plan data. The time your staff will need to prepare 5500 series forms under the Proposal will substantially increase. [3] Cold callers will hound your clients and bombard them with 'ammunition' provided in the new, improved 5500 Forms." (Indiana Benefits, Inc.)



[Guidance Overview] IRS Proposes More Changes to Minimum Present Value Calculations (PDF)
"Proposed regulatory changes from IRS would update the rules for calculating the minimum value for certain defined benefit plan distributions -- primarily lump sums from plans that are not eligible for the cash balance (hybrid plan) exception. The changes incorporate PPA segment rates and the PPA mortality tables, establish a standard for reflecting pre-retirement mortality, and provide an example of how the rules apply in calculating Social Security level income options." (Xerox HR Services)



[Opinion] ARA Comments to EBSA on Proposed Revision of Annual Information Return/Reports (Form 5500 Series) (PDF)
"The ARA is concerned that the Proposal significantly underestimates the cost and burden to comply with the reporting requirements and that there is insufficient time to make the technology and procedural updates required for the proposed 2019 plan year effective date." (American Retirement Association [ARA])



[Official Guidance] IRS Disaster Relief Notice MN-2016-03 for Victims of Severe Storms, Flooding in Minnesota
"Victims of the severe storms [and] flooding, that took place beginning on September 21, 2016 in parts of Minnesota may qualify for tax relief from the [IRS].... Individuals who reside or have a business in the counties of Blue Earth, Freeborn, Hennepin, Le Sueur, Rice, Steele, and Waseca may qualify for tax relief.... certain deadlines falling on or after September 21, 2016, and before January 31, 2017 are granted additional time to file through January 31, 2017." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



[Official Guidance] Text of 2017 Instructions for IRS Form 1098-Q: Qualifying Longevity Annuity Contract Information (PDF)
"File Form 1098-Q ... if you issue any contract that is intended to be a qualifying longevity annuity contract (QLAC).... A QLAC is an annuity contract that is purchased from an insurance company for an employee under any plan, annuity, or account described in section 401(a), 403(a), 403(b), or 408 (other than a Roth IRA) or eligible governmental plan under section 457(b), and that ... satisfies each of [certain specified] requirements." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



[Official Guidance] 2016 IRS Form 5329: Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts (PDF)
"If you only owe the additional 10% tax on early distributions, you may be able to report this tax directly on Form 1040, line 59, or Form 1040NR, line 57, without filing Form 5329. See the instructions for Form 1040, line 59, or for Form 1040NR, line 57." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



Fact Sheet: What Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and Why Should I Care?
"A retirement plan can be the largest asset in a marriage. Nonetheless, retirement plans are often forgotten or overlooked during divorce, in part because divorce is so complicated and in part because a divorce can occur years before retirement -- and who's thinking about retirement when it's 10 or 20 years down the road? If they don't have the right kind of court order, people going though divorce could neglect a significant portion of the marital assets and put themselves at risk of economic insecurity in retirement." (Pension Rights Center)



Retirement Plans Incur Data Breaches; ERISA Council Addresses Cyber Risks
"Apart from protecting online data, plan administrators are seriously concerned about the following: [1] Is cybersecurity a fiduciary responsibility under ERISA? If so, in some cases plan fiduciaries may have personal liability under ERISA for the consequences resulting from data breaches. [2] Are state cybersecurity laws and regulations pre-empted by ERISA? If not, in the event of a data breach, administrators of plans with participants residing in multiple states will have a daunting task in determining which laws and regulations apply." (McGuireWoods LLP)



[Guidance Overview] IRS Issues Proposed Regs on Minimum Present Value Requirements for DB Plans
"[T]he proposed regulations would: [1] Update the regulations for ... the new interest rates and mortality tables ... and the exception from the valuation rules for certain applicable defined benefit plans ... [2] Clarify that the interest rates that are published by the IRS Commissioner under the provisions modified by the PPA are to be used without further adjustment.... The proposed regulations also address whether a plan that provides a death benefit equal in value to the participant's accrued benefit may apply a preretirement mortality discount for the probability of death when determining the amount of a single-sum distribution." (Practical Law Company)



PBGC Proposes Missing Participant Program for Terminated Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
"[T]he PBGC has released a proposed rule that would expand the missing participant program to terminating defined contribution plans including: 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans, employee stock ownership plans, stock bonus plans, 403(b)(7) plans and abandoned plans.... This program can be a useful option for defined contribution plan sponsors after the elimination of the Social Security Administration's letter forwarding service on May 19, 2014." (VOYA Financial)



Another Question is Answered in the Who's the Employer Q&A Column
"A owns 100% of A, Inc., a dental practice which sponsors a 401(k) plan. B similarly owns 100% of B, Inc., another dental practice with its own plan. A and B want to buy 50/50 D, Inc., the practice of a deceased dentist in another city. The three practices would be totally separate, with no sharing of patients or employees (other than the dentists, A and B). Of course, there is the possibility of an occasional cross-referral or a patient who moves from one practice to another. Is this an ASG because D might be 'regularly associated with' the other two businesses?" (BenefitsLink)



[Opinion] AICPA Urges Changes to Employee Benefit Reporting Proposal
"In two comment letters sent to the DOL, the AICPA expressed support for many of the proposed changes but said some of them would create inconsistencies and confusion about the reporting requirements.... [T]he AICPA is concerned that plan sponsors may: [1] Pass on the additional expenses to plan participants. [2] Attempt to save costs by preparing forms on their own or choosing providers who have little or no experience. [3] Discontinue plan sponsorship or reduce the level of benefits provided." (Journal of Accountancy)



Text of Enrolled Actuaries Pension Examination EA-2, Segment F, Fall 2016 (PDF)
108 pages. Complete text of exam dated Nov. 8, 2016, with answers, published online by IRS. (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA]; Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries [JBEA]; Society of Actuaries)



ERISA's Anti-Retaliation Provision: An Overview of Section 510
"A plaintiff must show that the alleged discrimination was intended either [1] to retaliate against the plaintiff for the exercise of a right, or [2] to interfere with the attainment of an entitled (i.e., vested) right. A plaintiff must show that the employer acted with the specific intent to violate the statute and to retaliate against the employee or interfere with an employee's ERISA rights." (Katz Marshall and Banks LLP, Via Lexology)



Another Question is Answered in the Who's the Employer Q&A Column
"A and B are in a controlled group. A sponsors a cross-tested profit sharing plan for its employees only. The plan passes coverage, but my concern is nondiscrimination. When performing rate group testing and the average benefit percentage test, does the plan count the employees of B?" (BenefitsLink)



[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Proposed Regs: Update to Minimum Present Value Requirements for DB Plan Distributions
"The proposed regulations would update the existing regulatory provisions to reflect the statutory changes made by PPA '06, including the new interest rates and mortality tables set forth in section 417(e)(3) and the exception from the valuation rules for certain applicable defined benefit plans set forth in section 411(a)(13). The proposed regulations clarify that the interest rates that are published by the Commissioner pursuant to the provisions as modified by PPA '06 are to be used without further adjustment.... [T]he proposed regulations make conforming changes to reflect the final regulations under section 417(e) that permit defined benefit plans to simplify the treatment of certain optional forms of benefit that are paid partly in the form of an annuity and partly in a more accelerated form." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Memorandum to TE/GE Examiners: New Process for Information Document Requests (PDF)
"The examiner will mail initial contact letters listed in the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) to notify a taxpayer and POA when a return is selected for examination.... After 10 business days have elapsed, the examiner may then initiate contact with the taxpayer or POA by telephone.... The examiner will call the [taxpayer] to discuss the issue being examined and the items being requested on the [Information Document Request (IDR)].... Prior to mailing the IDR, the examiner and the taxpayer should agree on the response date ... If they cannot agree on a response date, the examiner will assign a reasonable response date.... If the taxpayer did not respond or if the response was not complete, the examiner must determine within 5 business days if an extension will be granted.... The first extension may be granted by the examiner.... If the taxpayer did not respond or if the response is still incomplete, the examiner may grant a second extension for up to 15 business days, but only after discussion with the manager and with the manager's approval.... If the information is not received after the second extension, the examiner will begin the Enforcement Process." [Control no. 04-1116-0028, Nov. 21, 2016] (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



DOL Investigating Timely Payment of Pensions to Terminated Vested Participants Nationwide (PDF)
"[T]rustees should consider taking steps now to help ensure that they will not be caught off-guard if they receive a notice for one of these investigations.... [1] Determine whether the plan has the necessary data to identify the terminated vested participants ... who are about to about to become or who already are eligible for payment.... [2] Notify terminated vested participants who are about to become eligible for payment at NRA or to be required to start payment at age 70-1/2 ... [3] Inform terminated vested participants who are at or who have passed their required age 70-1/2 payment date that their payments must begin, and take steps to initiate payment as soon as possible.... [4] Investigate the treatment of uncashed checks under the plan." (Segal Consulting)



Are HR Employees 'Investment Advisors' under the DOL Fiduciary Rule?
"So long as an employee receives no additional compensation for the advice-related activities above and beyond his or her normal salary, an HR employee should be able to explain plan options to participants without incurring ERISA fiduciary liability.... On the other hand, an employee whose job description included assisting plan participants in selecting investment options in a self-directed 401(k) plan probably would be considered an ERISA fiduciary." (Thompson Coburn)



[Guidance Overview] IRS Tightens Plan Examination Process with New Rules for Plan Sponsors and IRS Examiners
"[The new IRS Memorandum centers] on the timing of the 'Information Document Requests' (IDR), which are central to an audit. The IDR is the manner in which the IRS collects the plan and employer information necessary to conduct the audit. The process has been relatively fluid in the past.... This is now changing, for both the plan sponsor and the examiner.... These new procedures appear to be aimed at instilling more discipline into the examination process." (Business of Benefits)



[Opinion] Comments by Pension Rights Center to PBGC on Proposed Rule for Missing Participants in Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
"We urge the PBGC to reconsider its decision not to use its authority under the Pension Protection Act to require employers who do not transfer accounts to the PBGC to report the names of missing participants and location of their accounts for inclusion in the searchable database.... We also urge the PBGC to incorporate specific diligent search criteria into the missing participant regulations for defined contribution plans.... We recommend that the PBGC form for transferring a missing participant account include a question asking whether the employer has verified that the amount transferred is correct.... Additionally, we recommend that the PBGC include several questions on the Annual Reporting Form 5500 for terminating defined contribution plans." (Pension Rights Center)



[Guidance Overview] IRS Changing Employee Plans and Exempt Organization Audit Procedures
"The IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (TEGE) [has] issued updated internal guidance governing the procedures its agents will use to gather information for employee benefit plan and exempt organization examinations beginning April 1, 2017.... The Guidance also calls for: [1] Taxpayers to be involved in the [information document request (IDR)] process; [2] Examiners to discuss the issue being examined and the information needed with the taxpayer prior to issuing an IDR; [3] Examiners to ensure that the IDR clearly states the issue and the relevant information they are requesting." (Solutions Law Press)



[Guidance Overview] IRS Publication 4286: SARSEP Checklist (PDF)
Revised Nov. 2016. "Every year it's important to review the requirements for operating your Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension (SARSEP) plan. Use this checklist to help you keep your plan in compliance with many important rules. For additional information (including examples) on how to find, fix and avoid each mistake click on [a link in the text of this Checklist].' " (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



Influencers Driving Today's Fiduciary Best Practices
"In today's market, where volatility is a 'new normal,' it becomes critical for fiduciaries to frame investment due diligence and portfolio performance around the investor's objectives rather than a hypothetical benchmark.... As the DOL encourages more level, transparent fee structures, fiduciaries must shift their focus to offering a service rather than selling an investment product.... Recent 401(k) litigation demonstrates that no fiduciary decision is insignificant." (Manning & Napier)



Preparing for a Partial Plan Termination: Considerations and Consequences
"In a difficult economic environment, partial plan terminations occur more frequently and often without any warning. To avoid administrative problems and potential plan disqualification or penalties, it is important for employers to understand the circumstances that may lead to a partial plan termination and to identify whether a partial plan termination has occurred as soon as practicable.... This article [reviews] the background and guidance issued by the [IRS] on determining whether a partial plan termination has occurred [and identifies] unresolved questions that still remain in this analysis in practice." (Baker Botts LLP)



Qualified Retirement Plan Amendments and IRS Filings (PDF)
"Although it appears that for most plans no such amendments are required in 2016 ... [if] you have made any discretionary amendments, you should take some time to make sure they have been formally adopted by the end of the year. Additionally, some cash balance and hybrid plans may still need to be amended by December 31, 2016, to comply with previously issued IRS guidance regarding market rates of return and other IRS guidance." (Alston & Bird LLP)



[Opinion] ERIC Submits Comments on PBGC Missing Participants Rule
"[1] Support expansion of the program to all defined contribution plans and not limited to only terminated defined contribution plans; [2] Increase the fee waiver threshold from $250 to $1,000, or lower the $35 fee for balances between $251-$1,000 to encourage utilization of the program; [3] Maintain the voluntariness of the program; and [4] Encourage exploration of electronic rollovers to qualified individual participant accounts." (The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC])



[Opinion] ARA Comment Letter to PBGC on Proposed Rules on Missing Participants (PDF)
"[The ARA recommends that] ... [1] for defined contribution plans, the 90-day deadline for filing with PBGC be extended to 180 days ... [1] the minimum missing distributee account balance to which a user fee would apply be increased from the proposed $250 threshold to $500 ... [3] the proposed instructions for reporting basis applicable to defined contribution plans should be extended to defined benefit plans ... [4] final regulations clarify the PBGC's position on a plan's use of default rollover provisions to provide benefits to missing participants after the decision has been made to terminate the plan.... [5] final regulations clarify whether a participant for whom benefits were previously forfeited due to the inability to locate the participant is to be treated as a missing participant upon plan termination." (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries [ASPPA])



[Guidance Overview] Pension Plan Limitations and Other Applicable Limitations for 2017
"Many of the pension plan limitations were increased, as the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory limits that initiate their adjustment. However, some limitations remain unchanged. [This article provides] a summary of some of the limitations." (Trucker Huss)



DOL Receives Cybersecurity Suggestions, While Union Acknowledges Hack
"The [ERISA Advisory Council] boiled its recommendations down to: [1] making its report publicly available as soon as administratively feasible, and [2] providing information to the employee benefit plan community to educate them on cybersecurity risks and potential approaches for managing those risks." (Bloomberg BNA)



Pension Lump Sums Are Likely to Be More Expensive in 2017
"Although many DB plans will likely use the November or December rates as their 2017 lump sum payment basis, the October rates are good indicators of what 2017 lump sum costs might look like. This [article] shares a brief update of the impact these rates could have on 2017 lump sum payout strategies.... [A table and chart] compare the November 2015 rate basis (used by most plans for 2016 lump sums) to the October 2016 basis." (Van Iwaarden Associates)



[Guidance Overview] IRS Publication 4285: SEP Checklist (PDF)
Revised Nov. 2016. "Every year it's important that you review the requirements for operating your Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan. Use this checklist to help you keep your plan in compliance with many of the important rules. Click on '(More)' in any of the questions for additional information (including examples) on how to find, fix and avoid each mistake." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])



2017 Planning for ERISA Multiemployer DB Plan Operations (PDF)
"The calendar provided in this [article] will help you set up your own schedule of activities to address as the year progresses so that you do not miss important deadlines for your qualified plans.... [It includes] a number of key issues for you to consider (along with the calendar deadlines) as we head into 2017." (Xerox HR Services)



[Guidance Overview] Form 5500 Penalties Increase: Do You Know Who Is in Your Controlled Group?
"The penalty [under ERISA Section 502(c)(2) for a failure or refusal to file Form 5500] has been increased from a maximum of $1,100 per day to a maximum penalty of $2,063 per day.... [G]iven the size of the increase, there could be more incentive for the DOL and IRS to pursue Form 5500 audits. Given the significant penalties, plan sponsors should carefully analyze their controlled group relationships to ensure that they are properly reporting subsidiary or other related entities on the Form 5500." (Wilkins Finston Friedman Law Group LLP)



DC District Court Gets First Word on Fiduciary Rule, But Trump Administration May Get the Last
"Setting up a potential split in the Circuits and a possible trip to the Supreme Court, ... Judge Randolph D. Moss of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia fully endorsed the [DOL's] final conflict of interest regulation ... rejecting the effort to invalidate the Rule brought by the National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA).... Although the ruling contained few surprises, Judge Moss did suggest that an argument could be made in the other court cases that the DOL exceeded 'the authority of an agency to mandate that regulated parties include particular terms in their contracts.' " [Nat'l Assoc. for Fixed Annuities (NAFA) v. Perez, No. 16-1035 (D.D.C. Nov. 4, 2016)] (Miller & Chevalier)



[Guidance Overview] Changes to Employee Benefit Plan Auditor's Reports May Be on the Way
"Changes to the auditor's report were intended to better help the auditors understand their responsibilities as well as to provide users of the financial statements with additional information on what the auditors do.... Much of the auditor's report under the proposed [Statement of Auditing Standards] will look familiar; however, there are some new aspects to it. Highlighted [in this article] are some of these difference for limited and full-scope audits, including whether the changes apply only to limited or full-scope audits." (Schneider Downs)



Matching Contributions in a Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan: An Online Calculator
"To get a quick estimate on how much Safe Harbor contributions will cost you, use [this] contribution calculator and find out the cost for: 3% non-elective contributions ... [and] 4% match contribution ... [A]fter a certain point, the 3% non-elective contributions are actually cheaper than the 4% match contribution -- this is all dependent on your overall participation and savings rate." (ForUsAll)



Interesting Angles on the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, Part 28
"Under the DOL's fiduciary regulation, the recommendation of a plan distribution and IRA rollover will be fiduciary advice, subject to the best interest standard of care and the prohibited transaction rules. But, what if a participant takes a distribution and rolls over into an IRA with an adviser ... without a recommendation by the adviser?" (FredReish.com)



[Opinion] Emerging Trends to Watch: Open MEPs, and PBGC Administration of Automatic IRA Rollovers
"For decades, the government has permitted closed MEPs, but these were usually too costly and complex for smaller companies. If the government decides to permit open MEPs, it would be a game-changer for small- to mid-size companies and their employees.... According to the PBGC, administration of their Auto Rollover accounts will incur a one-time charge of $35. After that, they won't charge any additional fees as long as an account remains on the books. As a government agency, the PBGC doesn't have the same overriding need as the private sector to turn a profit in order to survive. Even so, they still need to be able to cover their costs." (PenChecks)



2017 Planning for Governmental Retirement Plan Operations (PDF)
"The calendar provided in this [article] will help sponsors of governmental retirement plans that are exempt from many ERISA requirements set up a schedule of activities to address as the year progresses so that important deadlines for qualified public -sector plans are met.... [T]here are a number of key issues for you to consider as we head into 2017." (Xerox HR Services)



401(k) Participation and Contributions Increase
"24 percent more employees are enrolled and contributing to their company's retirement savings plan in the first half of 2016 compared to last year, and millennial participants (ages 21-34) generated more contribution rate increase activity during the first half of 2016 than any other age group.... 6 percent of new enrollments were generated by employers' use of simplified enrollment, including auto-enrollment (up 33 percent since 2015) and Express Enrollment (up 42 percent since 2015). Higher auto-enrollment default rates have also supported a rise in participation, in addition to the use of auto-increase, which is up 41 percent since last year and 153 percent since 2012." (Merrill Lynch)



Finding Value Under the New DOL Regime
"Assuming a Financial Institution has not fully adopted all the requirements imposed by the new regulation what happens to Financial Institution and the advisers they support if they are not ready? There are two options: [1] Establish a moratorium on the sale of any new products to new or existing clients along with a prohibition of providing recommendations/suggestions to existing clients. [2] Adopt some or none of the new requirements and continue providing recommendations with the understanding that since all the new requirements are not adopted, all compensation received is received without an exemption and is subject to disgorgement along with lost opportunity cost, potential penalties and/or excise taxes since the exemption does not apply." (Fiduciary Matters Blog)



2017 Planning for ERISA Single-Employer Defined Benefit Plan Operations
"The calendar provided in this [article] will help you set up your own schedule of activities to address as the year progresses so that you do not miss important deadlines for your qualified plans. As you evaluate the various tasks, you can confirm suitable deadlines with your vendors for their completion.... As you make your plans, [the article includes] a number of key issues for you to consider (along with the calendar deadlines) as we head into 2017." (Xerox HR Services)



2017 Planning for ERISA Single-Employer Defined Contribution Plan Operations
"The calendar provided in this [article] will help you set up your own schedule of activities to address as the year progresses so that you do not miss important deadlines for your qualified plans.... [It includes] a number of key issues for you to consider (along with the calendar deadlines) as we head into 2017." (Xerox HR Services)



[Guidance Overview] 2016 Year-End 'To Do' List for Qualified Retirement Plan Sponsors
The list has five categories: [1] All Qualified Plans; [2] Section 401(k) Plans; [3] Defined Contribution Plans (Other Than Section 401(k) Plans); [4] Defined Benefit Plans; and [5] Section 403(b) Plans. (Snell & Wilmer)