Pension & Benefits NetNews – February 12, 2019

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Featured This Week

Employee Benefits Management News

  • Bipartisan bill reintroduced to repeal Cadillac tax
  • Dispute over content of employee’s voicemails precluded summary judgment as to her FMLA claims
  • Survey finds nearly half of HR practitioners plan to change employee benefits offering this year
  • IRS releases information letters concerning FSAs, HSAs

Pension Plan Guide News

  • DOL adjusts ERISA civil monetary penalties for 2019 in final regs
  • PBGC pilot mediation program is now permanent and expanded
  • IRS gives some taxpayers 2018 withholding and estimated tax penalty waiver

Employee Benefits Management News

Bipartisan bill reintroduced to repeal Cadillac tax

On January 24, Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa) reintroduced H.R. 748, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, which would repeal the excise tax on high-cost health care plans, otherwise known as the “Cadillac tax.” For details, see ¶2122I.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Dispute over content of employee’s voicemails precluded summary judgment as to her FMLA claims

A dispute between the parties as to whether an employee’s voicemails to her supervisor alerted the employer that she was designating her absences as FMLA covered due to migraine headaches precluded the grant of summary judgment to either party on her FMLA claims. For more information, see ¶2122J.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Survey finds nearly half of HR practitioners plan to change employee benefits offering this year

According to Gallagher’s Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey, 45 percent of HR practitioners are planning changes to current benefit offerings amid a highly competitive labor market. For more information, see ¶2122M.

        (Read Cheetah) »

IRS releases information letters concerning FSAs, HSAs

The IRS has released two health care-related information letters, which were prepared in response to requests for general information by taxpayers or by government officials on behalf of constituents. INFO 2018-0032 addresses debit card payments in connection with health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and INFO 2018-0033 addresses contributions made in error to health savings accounts (HSAs). For more information see ¶2122O.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Pension Plan Guide News

DOL adjusts ERISA civil monetary penalties for 2019 in final regs

The DOL has issued final regulations that adjust the amounts of ERISA civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced under its regulations for inflation by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) for 2019. The adjustments are pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The increased penalty amounts apply to any penalties assessed after January 23, 2019. All of the penalty amounts currently in ERISA Reg. Sec. 2575.2 have increased, according to the final regulations. For example, the failure or refusal to file Form 5500s as required by ERISA Sec. 104 and the failure of a multiemployer plan to certify endangered or critical status under ERISA Sec. 305(b)(3)(C) that is treated as a failure to file an annual report will increase from up to $2,140 per day to up to $2,194 per day. For more information, see ¶162p.

        (Read Cheetah) »

PBGC pilot mediation program is now permanent and expanded

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has announced that its Pilot Mediation Project is now permanent and that the PBGC has added fiduciary breach cases to the categories of disputes covered by the program. This gives plan administrators the opportunity to resolve these cases with a neutral, professional, independent mediator in a timely and cost-effective manner. When the PBGC announced the creation of the new pilot program in October 2017, it offered mediation in certain Termination Liability Collection and Early Warning Program cases. The PBGC stated that the mediation project was part of the Agency’s ongoing efforts to make it easier for sponsors to maintain their pension plans. The PBGC offered mediation to ongoing plan sponsors as part of its Early Warning and Risk Mitigation Program and to former plan sponsors as part of the resolution of their pension liabilities following termination of underfunded pension plans. Mediation was offered to eligible respondents and proceeded only on a voluntary basis. According to the PBGC, cases were generally not eligible where the plan sponsor had a minimal ability to pay, there was a pending court proceeding, or there was limited time to act and the plan sponsor had declined to sign a standstill or tolling agreement. For more information, see ¶162S.

        (Read Cheetah) »

IRS gives some taxpayers 2018 withholding and estimated tax penalty waiver

The IRS has announced that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty in certain circumstances, giving some taxpayers a break. The penalty waiver applies to many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments did not meet the penalty’s usual safe harbor. The IRS has changed the safe harbor for 2018 tax payments. Now, the IRS will waive the penalty for any taxpayer who prepaid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability for 2018. If a taxpayer paid less than 85 percent, then he or she is not eligible for the waiver. The IRS will calculate their penalty using the 90 percent threshold. For more information, see ¶162m.

        (Read Cheetah) »

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