Additional Benefits Resources

I have added the following resources as links over on the right:

Pension and Benefit Power: Alvin D. Lurie is the Editor in Chief
Leimberg Information Services, Inc.: A monthly subscription service for financial services professionals. You do not need a subscription, however, to access some of the materials in the Employee Benefits and Retirement Newsletter Archives. Also, Leimberg Information Services, Inc. has some great employee benefits resources listed here. (Thanks to Leimberg Information Services, Inc. for listing Benefitsblog as a resource.)

SBSC Releases Its 8th Annual State by State Rankings of Small Business Climates

The Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC) released its eight annual rankings of the states according to their respective policy climates for small business and entrepreneurship in the “Small Business Survival Index 2003.” You can access the actual report here. Pennsylvania is 17th, Utah is 26th, Oklahoma 27th, and Kansas 32nd. (States I have lived in.) Thanks to the Tax Guru-Ker$tetter Letter for the link.

Also, check out this great cartoon, also from the Tax Guru-Ker$tetter Letter.

More on Offshoring . . .

If you have been a regular reader here, you know of my concerns that we are losing so many jobs overseas. The following article by Cole Gunther provides some very interesting food for thought on the subject: “Job Destruction: Where Did All the Jobs Go?” Quote of Note: “Offshoring is the latest rage in which American jobs are outsourced or contracted out, way out, offshore to a foreign country. American jobs by the millions are being swallowed up, disappearing into countries with third-world economies. With a straight face, government economists calmly report that, when these jobs leave the country, they are gone forever.”

Additional Quote of Note: “The first war is being fought over loss of jobs to foreign citizens brought to the U.S. on non-immigrant visas. For years, American corporations have been obtaining visas for foreign citizens and hiring them to replace American employees.”

Please note this article at CNN.com: “U.S. to sharply cut number of high-tech visas.” The article quotes a Human Resources Attorney for Intel Corporation as making this astounding statement: “We expect that we will continue to sponsor H-1B employees in the future for the simple reason that we cannot find enough U.S. workers with the advanced education, skills, and expertise we need.” What about all of the high-tech individuals out of work in this country due to overseas outsourcing?

In the News Today

Barry Woods for Voice of America News writes: “US Executive Pay Issue Stirs Controversy Following NYSE Chairman’s Resignation.”

Reuters reports: “Martha Stewart offers to swap options for stock.”

Jobs May Become Battle of the Ages, Studies Say“: the Boston Herald reports via the Daily News for the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans. According to the article, as older workers stay in the workforce to recoup their retirement plan losses and obtain health care benefits, many will compete with younger workers for jobs.

Accounting regulators to start testing options-expensing program“: SFGate.com reports that “several high-profile public companies Thursday volunteered to join a “road-testing” program the Financial Accounting Standards Board expects to kick off soon to determine how best to value employee stock options.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer today has this discouraging news: “Economy grows, workforce shrinks.”

SOX Surprises: An Accountant's Perspective

The CorporateCounselnet Blog has a very interesting post on the Top 10 Surprises of SOX from an accountant’s perspective. (No permalink.)

Quote of Note: “There’s new caution in mergers and acquisitions, as public companies fret over uncertain financial liability for the private companies they acquire. Due diligence is costing more and taking longer for both sides in a deal, and some deals aren’t getting done or even being considered because of it. And the law is unclear on whether the public company’s executives will be held accountable for the private company’s history. Deals are taking months instead of weeks.”

Additional Quote of Note: “Talk about trickle-down. The law was designed to make top executives take personal responsibility, but many are reportedly strong-arming middle-level and lower-level managers to sign off on their reports before sending them upstairs.”

The ABC's of Pension Funding

Milliman USA has posted a great article discussing the basics of pension funding as well as some “strategic actions for plan sponsors in today’s environment”: “How Fit is your Funding Policy?

DOL Advisory Opinion 2003-11A

A previous post at Benefitsblog discusses DOL Advisory Opinion 2003-11A which provides that a mutual fund profile may qualify as a prospectus for purposes of section 404(c) of ERISA. I am adding the DOL Advisory Opinion to the “Recent Hot Topics” section over on the right along with the following articles discussing the opinion:

Tax Professor Writes: Why Company Stock is Not Worth the Money

Tax Professor Maureen B. Cavanaugh of Washington and Lee University – School of Law; Florida State University – College of Law, has posted this article: “Tax as Gatekeeper: Why Company Stock is Not Worth the Money.” Here is what the article is about:

This Article argues that company stock is not worth the money and individual ignorance of basic principles of prudent investing has been incorrectly identified as the problem. In fact, individuals who invest in company stock are acting predictably according to behavioral economics (whether because of simplifying heuristics or excessive extrapolation). This article identifies the real problem: tax incentives that encourage employers to contribute non-transferable company stock to these plans thereby providing endorsement for company stock. Current tax rules allow corporations tax benefits far in excess of that realized by individual employees whose adequate savings at retirement is putatively the goal of this very expensive tax subsidy.

The Galen Institute on "Them Wacky Californians"

The Galen Institute has collected some information regarding the California legislation mandating that employers provide health insurance coverage for their employees (which was passed by the Senate and Assembly, but is awaiting the Governor’s signature) which you can access at this link. Included in the information is a short article expressing the view that the legislation does not have a chance of surviving an ERISA challenge. Quote of Note: “In a nutshell, California is allowed to regulate insurance companies until it is blue in the face, but it is not allowed to pass “any law relating to” how employers provide benefits. It could require insurance companies to sell policies for $10 a year, and it could require residents to buy them. But it cannot require employers to provide or pay for those benefits.”

You can access a copy of the legislation (SB 2) here.

More on the bill in a previous post at Benefitsblog here.

The Galen Institute on "Them Wacky Californians"

The Galen Institute has posted some information regarding the California legislation mandating that employers provide health insurance coverage for their employees (which was passed by the Senate and Assembly, but is awaiting the Governor’s signature) which you can access at this link. Included in the information is a short article expressing the view that the legislation does not have a chance of surviving an ERISA challenge. Quote of Note: “In a nutshell, California is allowed to regulate insurance companies until it is blue in the face, but it is not allowed to pass “any law relating to” how employers provide benefits. It could require insurance companies to sell policies for $10 a year, and it could require residents to buy them. But it cannot require employers to provide or pay for those benefits.”

You can access a copy of the legislation (SB 2) here.

More on the bill in a previous post at ERISAblog here.