Summary of ERISA Benefit Legislation

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed into law on September 2, 1974 by President Gerald Ford.  Since then, Congress has passed over 100 major pieces of employee benefit legislation since ERISA was signed.  Chronological Summary of Major Post-ERISA Benefit Legislation provides a summary of the major employee benefits legislation:

Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD)

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act) was signed into law on December 18, 2015.  One item covered under the law was the permanent extension of the option to take a qualified charitable distribution (QCD).  This option, first available in 2006, allows IRA participants to exclude up to $100,000 from gross income for donations paid directly to a qualified charity from their IRA.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act)

President Signs Extenders And Omnibus Acts, Impacting Broad Range Of Provisions provides a summary of The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act) that was signed into law on December 18, 2015.  The legislation permanently extended provisions that previously had to rely on “extenders” to apply retroactively to the past year and also extended other provisions.  Here are some relevant highlights:

2015 ESOP Benefit Payment Government Filings (IRS Forms 1099-R, 1096, 945)

If you paid any ESOP or other qualified retirement plan distribution of $10 or more last year you will have to prepare and file some government forms: Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc.

The 2015 Instructions for Forms 1099-R and 5498 provides guidance on how to prepare and file the 2015 forms.  Prior instructions can be found here.

2015 ESOP Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

ESOPs and other qualified retirement plans require that plan participants begin taking a distribution of their retirement plan benefits after they reach a certain age. This distribution, also known as an IRS Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), is required for plan participants annually starting with the year that the participant reaches 70 ½, or if later, the year in which the participant retires. [If the account is an IRA or the account owner is a 5% owner sponsoring the plan, the RMD must begin upon attainment of 70 ½ .]

2016 ESOP and Pension Plan Limits

The IRS has announced the 2016 pension plan limits, including the following:

S. 1212: Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act of 2015

S. 1212: Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act of 2015 was introduced on May 6, 2015, by Sen. Benjamin Cardin [D-MD], and is co-sponsored by Ayotte, Kelly [R-NH], Blunt, Roy [R-MO], Collins, Susan [R-ME], Crapo, Michael [R-ID], Franken, Alan “Al” [D-MN], Heitkamp, Heidi [D-ND], Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN], Leahy, Patrick [D-VT], Risch, James [R-ID], Roberts, Pat [R-KS], Stabenow, Debbie [D-MI], Thune, John [R-SD], and Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI]. Baldwin, Tammy [D-WI], Sanders, Bernard “Bernie” [I-VT], King, Angus [I-ME], and Kirk, Mark [R-IL] have also co-sponsored the legislation.  It has been referred to the Senate Finance committee.

H.R. 2096: Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act of 2015

H.R. 2096: Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act of 2015 was introduced on April 29, 2015, by Rep. Reichert [R-WA], and was originally co-sponsored by Blumenauer, Earl [D-OR]Boustany, Charles [R-LA], Kind, Ron [D-WI]Neal, Richard [D-MA]Pascrell, Bill [D-NJ]Paulsen, Erik [R-MN], and Tiberi, Patrick “Pat” [R-OH].  As of May 21, 8 additional co-sponsors have signed on to the legislation: Ashford, Brad [D-NE2], Dold, Bob [R-IL10], Moore, Gwen [D-WI4], Conyers, John [D-MI13], Davis, Rodney [R-IL13], Goodlatte, Bob [R-VA6], Marchant, Kenny [R-TX24], and Smith, Jason [R-MO8].  It has been referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the House Small Business Committee, and the House Ways and Means Committee.

ESOP Compensation for ESOP Allocations

As mentioned in our prior article on ESOP Compensation for Compliance and Nondiscrimination Testing, one of the most important items that a plan sponsor will need to gather for ESOP administration purposes is plan compensation.  The legal compensation requirements are defined by the Internal Revenue Code and your specific plan requirements are defined in your plan document. 

Compensation is defined for allocating ESOP and other qualified retirement plan contributions, determining deduction limits, and nondiscrimination testing.  Depending on your plan design, there may be differing definitions for each plan component/money source (e.g. ESOP, safe harbor match, discretionary profit sharing, salary deferrals, etc.).

ESOP Compensation for Compliance and Nondiscrimination Testing

One of the most important items that a plan sponsor will need to gather for ESOP administration purposes is plan compensation.  The legal compensation requirements are defined by the Internal Revenue Code and your specific plan requirements are defined in your plan document. 

Compensation is defined for allocating ESOP and other qualified retirement plan contributions, determining deduction limits, and nondiscrimination testing.  Depending on your plan design, there may be differing definitions for each plan component/money source (e.g. ESOP, safe harbor match, discretionary profit sharing, salary deferrals, etc.).

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