RMDs for Defined Benefit Plans

The recent edition of the IRS’s Retirement News for Employers reminds employers that required minimum distributions from defined benefit plans are still required for 2009 and that the 2009 waiver does not apply to these types of plans. See also this Q & A from the IRS’s website:

Does the 2009 RMD waiver also apply to defined benefit plans?

No, 2009 RMDs are waived only from defined contribution plans (including 401(k), profit-sharing, money purchase pension, SEP, SIMPLE IRA, SARSEP, 403(b), and certain 457(b) retirement plans) and Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). They are still required from most defined benefit plans. However, in some rare instances, a defined benefit plan may provide a benefit based in part on the balance of a participants separate account. This type of an account, known as 414(k) account, is treated as a defined contribution plan and is covered by the 2009 RMD waiver. Participants should contact their employer and /or plan administrator to determine their type of plan.

A Voice From the Past On Health Care Reform

Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine

U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Is 2nd Highest in Industrialized World

From the Tax Prof Blog:

The Tax Foundation has released U.S. Lags While Competitors Accelerate Corporate Income Tax Reform:

New data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that the U.S. corporate tax rate has fallen even further out of step with the rest of the industrialized world as countries such as Canada, the Czech Republic, Korea, and Sweden have cut their corporate rates in 2009, lowering the average statutory corporate tax rate of all OECD nations to 26.5%.

With a combined federal and state corporate tax rate of 39.1%, the U.S. continues to impose the second-highest overall corporate rate among industrialized countries. Only Japan’s 39.5% combined rate is higher. As the chart below indicates, the weighted average (accounting for country size) corporate rate of non-U.S. OECD nations is now below 30% for the first time in history. 2009 marks the 12th consecutive year in which the average corporate tax rate of non-U.S. OECD nations has been below the U.S. rate.

Article on Retiree Medical

For an article providing a review of recent legal developments pertaining to retiree medical, read: “Retiree Medical Litigation’s Dirty Little Secret: “Location, Location, Location!

(Reader beware: Some might take offense at the descriptive phrase used in the article: “Shipwreck of old age. . . ” :-)

FTC Guidance Regarding Application of Red Flags Rule to Certain Benefit Plan

The FTC has issued some Q & As which are very helpful to practitioners regarding the application of the Red Flags Rule to certain benefit plans:

Plan Loans:

12. If our company meets the definition of a

Op-Ed from Wall Street Journal on How Health Care Legislation Will Change ERISA

From the Wall Street Journal–”Repealing ERISA.” Excerpt:

ERISA allows employers that self-insure–that is, those large enough to build their own risk pools and pay benefits directly–to offer uniform plans across state lines. This lets thousands of businesses avoid, for the most part, the costly federal and state regulations on covered treatments, pricing, rate setting and so on. It also gives them flexibility to design insurance to recruit and retain workers in a competitive labor market. Roughly 75% of employer-based coverage is governed by ERISA’s freedom of purchase rules.

Goodbye to all that. The House bill says that after a five-year grace period all ERISA insurance offerings will have to win government approval–both by the Department of Labor and a new health choices commissioner who will set federal standards for what is an acceptable health plan. This commissar–er, commissioner–can fine employers that don’t comply and even has suspension of enrollment powers for plans that he or she has vetoed, until satisfied that the basis for such determination has been corrected and is not likely to recur.

One Man's Reward: Doing the Right Thing

A great story in the Boston Globe (as noted by Plan Sponsor) today: “Lappin takes hit for workers.” It describes how an owner and founder of a charity, Ronald Lappin, has restored the 401(k) balances of his employees to the tune of $5 million, after they were hit with losses resulting from the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The article notes that the restoration occurred even though Mr. Lappin’s net worth is only one-tenth of what it was before being impacted by the Madoff disaster. Excerpt:

Lappin himself lost some of his personal fortune to Madoff, and his foundation was forced to briefly close last December after $8 million of its money vanished in what investigators call the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

“I wanted to do the right thing,” Lappin said. “And, I feel, I’ve done the right thing and that to me is my reward.”

Organizational Chart of the Proposed Health Care Plan

Access it here. Read about it in this press release here. Read about the proposed legislation here.

Denial of Petition for Rehearing in Deere Case

You can read about it here at the Fiduciary Guidebook.

One Way to Lower Health Costs: Pay People to Be Healthy

There is a very interesting study here from Wharton suggesting that better wellness programs could be created by employers to encourage workforce health and lower health insurance costs. The article suggests that offering employees a discount in their health insurance premiums at the end of the year is less effective than smaller incremental incentives of cash or lottery tickets given throughout the year. However, the article notes the following negatives with such programs:

Pauly pointed out that there are other issues that incentive programs must overcome, such as regulatory and legal barriers, employer reluctance to invest in programs that might not pay off until years later when many workers will be at different companies, and the resistance from employees themselves, who may see such incentive-based programs as overly paternalistic. It will also be tricky for employers to establish incentive-based programs without creating resentment among workers who don’t have any bad health habits to kick.