Determination Changes Impacting Qualified Retirement Plans

A determination letter is a formal document from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that declares a retirement plan to be operating within the Employee Retirement Income Service (ERISA) guidelines. If the plan meets all the requirements, it becomes certified as a qualified plan and is then eligible for applicable tax benefits. Earlier this year, the …

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The Importance of Knowing Your Plan’s Definition of Compensation

As I reflect on my last 401k audit season, I remember running into some operational issues that were a result of plan administrators not using the correct form of compensation, as defined by their plan document, while calculating employee and employer contributions. Using the correct form of compensation while making contributions is important because if …

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Investment Policy – Why and What to Include?

An investment policy is created by an investment committee (those charged with making investment decisions for a retirement plan) to help establish and record its own policies in order to assist in future decision-making or to help maintain consistency of its policies by future committee members/trustees or to clarify expectations for prospective money managers who …

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Compliance for Small Company Employee Benefit Plans

As another employee benefit plan season draws to a close, I was reflecting on the many compliance errors that we find each year while auditing plans. The plans that require audits are typically larger employers with over 120 employees. These plans are typically administrated by professionals with significant experience in their fields. And yet, due …

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Compliance Testing Failures – Now What?

Hearing the news of a compliance testing failure sounds rather daunting. The severity of a compliance testing failure varies by case, and correcting it may not be as difficult or costly as it sounds. Throughout compliance testing, traditional 401(k) plans must be tested to ensure that contributions made by and for nonhighly compensated employees (“NHCE”) …

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Why a Quality Audit of Your Plan is so Important

The search is on for an accounting firm to perform the required audit of your employee benefit plan. In determining which proposal to accept, one must question the difference between the low end and the high end of the pricing spectrum. The intent of this blog is not to infer that everyone should hire the …

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How to Handle Forfeitures

As a plan sponsor, chances are that at some point throughout the course of business, the employee benefit plan that you manage has encountered plan forfeitures. Forfeitures typically result from the termination of service by an employee who was not fully vested in his or her employer contributions. The confusion related to forfeitures doesn’t revolve …

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What You Need to Know When Filing Form 5500

What is Form 5500? Form 5500 is the annual tax return for your retirement plan that must be filed with the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA), a division of the Department of Labor (DOL). It is required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to ensure employee benefit plans are operated and …

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How is Compensation Defined?

Compensation in its simplest form is pay in exchange for services rendered, although gross pay includes additional forms of compensation aside from the hourly rate paid to employees. In reference to 401(k) plans, the term “pay” becomes more complex. Under the statutory safe harbor regulations an employer is required to include additional forms of compensation …

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ERISA Accounts – Plan Assets?

Employee benefit plans are seeing increased regulation and disclosure of plan fees including new disclosures of compensation paid to covered service providers in July 2012 (http://www.hhcpa.com/blogs/employee-benefits-audit-services/fee-disclosure-regulations-for-covered-service-providers/). The result of the new fee disclosures and oversight by plan fiduciaries is that record-keepers are expanding their offering of expense accounts, typically known as an ERISA Account, to …

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