IRS Notice 2006-44: Sample Amendments for Adding the Roth Feature to 401(k) Plans

The IRS has issued sample amendments to be used by plan sponsors who wish to add the Roth feature to their 401(k) plans. Access the amendments in Notice 2006-44. Excerpt from the Notice:

Plan sponsors who want to provide for designated Roth contributions in their § 401(k) plans must adopt a discretionary amendment as provided in Notice 2005-95, 2005-51 I.R.B. 1172. The deadline to adopt a discretionary amendment is the end of the plan year in which the amendment is effective, as set forth in section 5.05(3) of Rev. Proc. 2005-66. The timely adoption of the amendment must be evidenced by a written document that is signed and dated by the employer (including an adopting employer of a pre-approved plan).

The IRS states in the Notice that “the amendment will not result in the loss of reliance on a favorable opinion, advisory, or determination letter” nor will adoption of the sample plan amendment affect “the pre-approved status of a master and prototype or volume submitter plan.”

Veto Override

The Massachusetts House on Tuesday voted “overwhelmingly” to override Governor Mitt Romney’s vetoes to the health care legislation discussed in previous posts here. KaiserNetwork.org reports here.

Veto Override

The Massachusetts House on Tuesday voted “overwhelmingly” to override Governor Mitt Romney’s vetoes to the health care legislation discussed in previous posts here. KaiserNetwork.org reports here.

Third-Year Anniversary for Benefitsblog

I note that Benefitsblog marked its third-year anniversary last week. Solely for my own purposes, I am recording here that Benefitsblog is currently receiving approximately 81,000 visitors a month and 225,000 hits a month.

One Company Reinstates Defined Benefit Plan

With all of the defined benefit plan terminations and freezes you read about, it is nice to hear about one company’s decision to go against the flow and reinstate its defined benefit plan. The reason: competition in the labor market. Read about it in this interesting article from Workforce Management: “Pension Defrosted: Aerospace Corp. Unfreezes Its Pension to Attract Skilled Workers.” Excerpt:

Employee retention was also a key issue. The defined-contribution plan that replaced the pension plan for new employees in January 1993 provided no incentive for workers to remain with the company. As a result, turnover among those employees was higher than acceptable before the retirement plan change, says Grant Aufderhaar, principal director of the sensor signals and electronics subdivision in the company’s Chantilly, Virginia, office. He says that the portable nature of the defined-contribution plan may have contributed to that. “The defined-benefit pension plan provides some golden handcuffs and an incentive for people to stay with the company,” he says.

(Long live the defined benefit plan! With boomers beginning to retire and leaving the workforce, perhaps defined benefit plans will make a comeback as employers seek to retain valued employees and to gain a competitive edge.)

Issuance of Final Regulations Governing Orphan Plans

EBSA has issued final regulations providing guidance and procedures pertaining to abandoned plans (sometimes known as “orphan plans”). Summary of the regulations from the preamble:

The first regulation establishes a procedure for financial institutions holding the assets of an abandoned individual account plan to terminate the plan and distribute benefits to the plan’s participants and beneficiaries, with limited liability. The second regulation provides a fiduciary safe harbor for making distributions from terminated plans on behalf of participants and beneficiaries who fail to make an election regarding a form of benefit distribution. The third regulation establishes a simplified method for filing a terminal report for abandoned individual account plans.

You can access the final regulations here. EBSA has also finalized Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2006-06, a class exemption for services provided in connection with the termination of abandoned plans.

Issuance of Final Regulations Governing Orphan Plans

EBSA has issued final regulations providing guidance and procedures pertaining to abandoned plans (sometimes known as “orphan plans”). Summary of the regulations from the preamble:

The first regulation establishes a procedure for financial institutions holding the assets of an abandoned individual account plan to terminate the plan and distribute benefits to the plan’s participants and beneficiaries, with limited liability. The second regulation provides a fiduciary safe harbor for making distributions from terminated plans on behalf of participants and beneficiaries who fail to make an election regarding a form of benefit distribution. The third regulation establishes a simplified method for filing a terminal report for abandoned individual account plans.

You can access the final regulations here. EBSA has also finalized Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2006-06, a class exemption for services provided in connection with the termination of abandoned plans.

Issuance of Final Regulations Pertaining to EBSA's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program

Last week, EBSA issued final regulations pertaining to its Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program. See also its related Amendment to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2002-51 (PTE 2002-51) to Permit Certain Transactions Identified in the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program.

EBSA only received six comment letters in response to the April 2005 VFC Program and related class exemption. (You can access the comment letters here.) EBSA states in the preamble to the PTE that it is modifying the exemption in accordance with IRS’s suggestions here.

Issuance of Final Regulations Pertaining to EBSA's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program

Last week, EBSA issued final regulations pertaining to its Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program. See also its related Amendment to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2002-51 (PTE 2002-51) to Permit Certain Transactions Identified in the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program.

EBSA only received six comment letters in response to the April 2005 VFC Program and related class exemption. (You can access the comment letters here.) EBSA states in the preamble to the PTE that it is modifying the exemption in accordance with IRS’s suggestions here.

Cash Balance Plan Decision

You can access a copy of the the recent case of Richards v. FleetBoston Financial Corp here [pdf]. A federal district court in Connecticut has opined in that case that an employee could continue with a claim that the company’s cash balance plan violates the age discrimination prohibitions under ERISA.

(Comment: The old adage that “you can’t fit a round peg in a square hole” really seems to apply here. Congress needs to fix this sooner rather than later. You can read about how things are going with pension legislation here.

I liked what House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) had to say about hybrid plans on the floor of the House in early April:

“[H]ybrid pension plans represent an important component of worker retirement security. In fact, more than 9 million workers today rely on these benefits for a safe retirement. Unfortunately, some continue to paint a misleading picture about these pension plans. . .

Not only are hybrid plans especially advantageous for women and lower-paid workers, but they also comprise the only part of the defined benefit system that is growing. Hybrid plans now provide the PBGC with approximately 25 percent of its premium income. And because the total number of defined benefit plans has declined significantly over the last 20 years, it is now more important than ever to encourage employers to stay in the defined benefit system and offer these benefits. . )