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January 7, 2010
2009 Form M-1 Filing
The DOL has released the 2009 edition of the Form M-1 Filing Packet. If you sponsored a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) in 2009, make certain that you file the Form M-1 annual report by March 1, 2010 (an automatic 60-day extension to May 3, 2010 can be requested).
COBRA Subsidy Extended
Congress has given plan administrators and COBRA continuees a Christmas present in the form of extending the COBRA subsidy that is part of theDepartment of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010 (“DOD Act”, HR 3326). President Obama signed this Act on December 19, 2009.
December 3, 2009
Form 5500 Updates
Schedule C Guidance
Retiree Health Plan Flexibility Under Fire
The national health care reform debate is in full swing. It is far too early to project what might, or might not, come out of this debate. However, for those who sponsor, or are contemplating adopting, a retiree health benefit, one point bears watching.
IRS Pilot Project Aims to Reduce Identity Theft
In an effort to address identity theft issues, the IRS and Treasury Department have started a 2-year pilot project for 2009-2010 (IRS Notice 2009-93), that would permit, but not require, the use of a truncated Social Security Number (SSN) number on paper copies of the Form 1098 series, the Form 1099 series, and the Form 5498 series. The pilot project is only available for paper filings of these types of payee statements. It would allow SSNs, or other 9-digit IRS tax identifying number, to be truncated by replacing the first five digits of the 9-digit number with asterisks or Xs (for example, a social security number 123-45-6789 would appear on the paper payee statement as ***-**-6789 or XXX-XX-6789).
DOL Updates its Employment Guide
The DOL recently released its updatedEmployment Law Guide. This Guide is made available to employers to provide general overview information and compliance assistance of the various laws administered and enforced by the DOL, including:
DOL Investment Advice Withdrawn Altogether
On November 19, 2009, the DOL announced that it was withdrawing its rules relating to investment advice (see prior Benefit Beat articles: Investment Advice Regulations Postponed…Yet Again! and Investment Advice Regulations Postponed Again).
November 5, 2009
Civil Penalties for HiTech Violations
On October 30, 2009, interim final regulations were issued by HHS’ Office for Civil Rights relating to civil monetary penalties, arising from violations of the HiTech law (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). These rules amend the four tiers of civil penalties that can be imposed upon covered entities, as defined by the HIPAA Administrative Simplification laws, to provide for penalties in the event of any HITECH violations relating to breach of medical information (seeBreach Notification Rules Issued). Below is the revised table of potential penalties:
COBRA Subsidy Extensions Proposed
At least two bills have recently been introduced in Congress that would extend the COBRA subsidy period:
2010 COLAs – Various Benefits, Social Security and Medicare
In Revenue Procedure 2009-50, the IRS released several cost of living adjustments for various benefits. Following are amounts applicable to tax years beginning in 2010.