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Bob Toth has more than 35 years of experience in employee benefits law. His practice focuses on the design, administration and distribution of financial products and services for retirement plans.

The DOL’s new ESG rules may have a curious impact on some church related organizations which utilize faith based standards in their retirement plan investments. Their ability to continue do may now turn on the manner in which they handle their status as a “church plan.” It arises because the ESG rules will NOT apply

We spend a lot of our time focusing on ERISA’s “Prohibited Transaction” rules, which extensively cover the manner in which compensation is paid under retirement plans, and how it is disclosed. Lurking darkly in the background behind all of our  discussions of fee disclosure and how the prohibited transaction rules apply under 408(b)(2), however, is something most of us in the benefits world typically pay little attention to: the U.S. Criminal Code and 18 USC 1954.
Continue Reading Remember, Some Sorts of Compensation Is Flat Out Illegal, Not Just “Prohibited”

The resource guide looks to be a very useful tool. It not only links to the statute and each of the regs, it also links to the IRS Manual sections on 457(b) plans. It does have its limitations (such as providing no guidance on how one corrects failures in tax-exempt’s 457(b)plan), but it should be a permanent part of the practitioner’s research tool list.
Continue Reading The IRS’s New 457(b) Resource Guides on Non-Compliance

A common misunderstanding between 408(b)(2) and 404(a)(5) is the nature of the requirements: 408(b)(2) requires the service provider’s contract with the plan’s fiduciary contain certain, specific terms. It does NOT require that those fees be disclosed to participants, nor does it require annual disclosure. It is simply a business matter between the fiduciary and the service provider. The only time a follow-up “disclosure” is ever required is if there is a material change in the contract’s terms (including the service fee), and then that disclosure is only required to be made to the plan fiduciary.
Continue Reading The Use, and Impact, of 408(b)(2) and 404(a)-5 Are Often Confused

With few notable exceptions, the statutory and regulatory references we need in the administration of plans are at our fingertips from a number of easily accessible internet resources, a great deal of them actually available for free. One of the most annoying of those “notable exceptions” is found under Code Section 411(e) (6) of the Code, the vesting standards which apply to governmental and church 401(a) plans. Section 411(e)(2) states, in pertinent part, that these plans “shall be treated as meeting the requirements of this section, for purposes of section 401(a), if such plan meets the vesting requirements resulting from the application of sections 401(a)(4) and 401(a)(7) as in effect on September 1, 1974.” You can find those here.


Continue Reading The Hard-To-Find “Pre-ERISA Vesting Rules” for Church and Governmental Plans

There is no “vesting on partial termination” for 403(b) plans, and no need to track the “20%” rule for vesting on partial terminations for a 403(b) plan. That rule simply does not apply. This his true for both ERISA and non-ERISA 403(b) plans.
As a practice note, if you have mistakenly applied that “partial termination” vesting rule to a 403(b) plan, you may have an operational error.
Continue Reading Are There “Partial Terminations” of 403(b) Plans ?

The new PEP rules do not add any new services to the marketplace. Rather, PEPs merely reorganize existing services to be provided in a different format, with the one exception is that it now permits unrelated employers to be able to file a consolidated Form 5500. The Department’s issuance of guidance as to the allocation of these different authorities (consistent with in ERISA Section 3(44)(C) which requires the Department to ‘‘(i) to identify the administrative duties and other actions required to be performed by a pooled plan provider…”) is a required condition precedent to the determination of whether any prohibited transaction exemptive relief is necessary in the operation of a PEP.
Continue Reading PEP Comment to DOL Outlines the Structure of PEPs

The ERISA marketplace is complex, with a plethora of different sorts of arrangements which will be affected in a variety of different ways by the new Fiduciary Prohibited Transaction Exemption. In general, however, I would be little surprised if it ending up being that not many parties will have the need to take advantage of this new exemption.
Continue Reading The DOL’s Fiduciary Rule Prohibited Transaction Exemption May Only Be Needed In Limited Plan Circumstances

Normally, all of the players in any ERISA plan’s life cycle operates under any number of these well-established PTEs. However, in that the PEP is a new sort of arrangement, it is not entirely clear that these existing PTEs will be sufficient to pay all of the PEP players. To address this crucial issue, the DOL has issued a Request for Information on June 18 to gather information on what further, if any, PTE relief will be needed to make the PEP work.There are two noteworthy developments related to these efforts, s the ARA/ASPPA letter to EBSA requesting PTE relief for PEP operatives and, is the letter Congressman Neal wrote to the EBSA.
Continue Reading Rep. Neal and ARA/ASPPA Differently Address Fundamental Issues Underlying the DOL’s Pooled Employer Plan “Request For Information”

What I thought may be useful to discuss is what happens when an employer chooses NOT to offer the CRD relief under the CARES Act. A surprising number of employers have taken this approach. But the employer’s decision is not the final word on this matter, because the statute grants participants specific tax benefits regardless of the sponsor’s choice. So what does this actually mean for participants?
Continue Reading What Happens To Participants’ Covid-Related Distributions When An Employer Chooses Not To Treat Them As Such?