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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.
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
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).
Extension of Deadline to Adopt Certain Retirement Plan Amendments
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (“PPA”, Public Law 109-280) as subsequently amended by the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (“WRERA”, Public Law 110-458), require several changes to qualified plans. Many of these changes were required to have been made by December 31, 2009 for calendar year plans.
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.
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).
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.
Updated IRS Publications
The IRS has recently updated several publications that may be of interest to employers: