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March 4, 2010
DOL Issues Proposed Investment Advice Regulations
On February 26, 2010, the DOL issued proposed regulations and a Fact Sheet relating investment advice. Proposed regulations relating to investment advice were originally issued by the Bush Administration; and ultimately withdrawn altogether (see prior Benefit Beat articles: Proposed Rules: Investment Advice Exemption for 401(K) Plans and IRAs and DOL Investment Advice Withdrawn Altogether). These new proposed regulations are very similar to the original proposal, with a few important exceptions.
COBRA Subsidy Extension
On March 2, 2010, President Obama signed a law (Temporary Extension Act of 2010, enacted as HR 4691; became Public Law 111-144), that, among other things, modifies the COBRA subsidy, in a couple of ways.
February 3, 2010
Alas! MHPAEA Regulations
The much anticipated regulations interpreting the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) have, at long last, been issued, as interim final regulations. The MHPAEA, enacted on October 3, 2008, expanded the Mental Health Parity law, enacted in 1996.
Timing of Taking the COBRA Subsidy Credit
The IRS issued an FAQ (Reporting and Disclosure, RD-6) relating to the timing of reporting credit for payment of the COBRA subsidy premium. If a COBRA premium, subject to the COBRA subsidy, is paid in 2010 for coverage in 2009, the employer may claim the credit for the related premium subsidy on Form 941 for either:
IRS Guidance: HEART Act
The IRS has issued some clarifications (Notice 2010-15) relating to certain provisions of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2008. Of particular interest:
Medicare Part D Reminder: Annual Disclosure Notice to CMS
Group health plans are required to submit an annual report to CMS describing whether the prescription drug coverage is creditable or not creditable. This filing must be accomplished electronically, and is due within 60 days of the beginning of the plan year. For calendar year plans, this means March 2, 2010.
DOL Issues Final Safe Harbor Rules on Employee Contributions to Small Pension and Welfare Plans
The DOL has finalized its participant safe harbor rules applicable to small retirement and welfare benefit plans. These regulations were proposed February, 2008 (seeSafe Harbor for Placing Participant Contributions in Small Plans). The final regulations mirror the proposed regulations.
January 7, 2010
IRS Provides Relief for NQDC Plan Document Failures
Code Section 409A governs taxation of nonqualified deferred compensation. It provides specific rules relating to funding and distribution (also see409A Documentation Limited Relief from the Oct 2007 Benefit Beat). The IRS just issued Notice 2010-6, providing a voluntary document correction program for failures occurring in these plans.
Delayed Effective Date for Debit/Credit/Smart Cards Used for Qualified Transportation Expenses
According to IRS Notice 2009-95, the effective date for usingdebit or credit cards, or other smart cards, to pay for qualified transportation expenses, has been extended for one year, to January 1, 2011. The reason for the delay is to allow additional time for certain transit systems to modify their technology and make it compatible with the requirements of transit vouchers. In the interim, individuals may rely upon the 2006 guidance (seeSmartcards and Debit Cards Allowed for Qualified Transportation Expenses, Benefit Beat, December 2006).
Updated IRS Publications
The IRS has recently updated several publications that may be of interest to employers: