All About Blackout Periods

We recently had some questions about how blackout periods work, and I learned a lot by consulting some of our TPA (third party administrator) colleagues and the DOL website. A blackout period is basically a time that participants temporarily lose control of their retirement accounts.  During this period, no changes can be made to investment …

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Department of Labor and IRS Audits of 401(k) Plans

Federal oversight of 401(k) plans is essentially divided between the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor. The IRS oversees the qualified status of 401(k) plans and issues determination letters. The DOL oversees fiduciary standards, reporting and disclosure requirements, and all other rules that do not affect the qualified status of 401(k) plans. Audits …

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Remitting Contributions Timely

The Department of Labor regulations states that employee contributions should be remitted to the plan as of the earliest date on which such contributions can reasonably be segregated from the employer’s general assets, but no later than the 15th business day after the end of the month from the date on which such amounts are …

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Thinking of Terminating Your 403(b) Plan?

The IRS provided some additional guidance of considerations when terminating a 403(b) plan in their Spring 2011 Edition of Retirement News for Employers.  It accompanies their Revenue Ruling 2011-7, which provides examples of how to terminate a 403(b) retirement plan funded in various ways and discusses when terminated plan distributions may be taxable.  You can …

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Pack Rat? Hoarder? Neat Freak? Record Retention Guidelines

If you are either quick to toss things, or are one who keeps things around until you run out of space, you might want to take a step back and reevaluate your system. While the “round file” may be the best place to immediately “file” junk mail and the like, when it comes to important …

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Proposed Changes by the DOL to the Definition of “Fiduciary”

As a follow up to my blog, “Planned Changes to the Regulatory Definition of Fiduciary,” the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a proposed regulation that further defines when a person becomes a fiduciary of a plan by providing investment advice for a fee or other compensation, thus making them subject to the Employee Retirement Income …

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401(k) and 403(b) Plans to Disclose Fees Charged to Participants

If you’re like most people, it’s not easy to determine exactly how much you’re being charged for your employee benefit plan fees.  Some expenses are disclosed on your statement, but some are not.  Instead, they’re deducted from earnings, and only the net earnings amount is shown.  New rules issued by the DOL last week will …

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What Does it Mean if Your Form 5500 is Late?

As the October 15th deadline looms closer, many of our clients are asking the question; “What does it mean if our Form 5500 is late?”  If you haven’t looked into this question before, you will be surprised at the substantial penalties that can be assessed.  The DOL takes failure to file return/reports very seriously.  Below …

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IRS Compliance Testing: Top-Heavy Test

In order to ensure that employee benefit plans do not violate certain standards that the DOL and IRS believe are important, plans are subjected to annual compliance tests. These tests are designed to ensure that the amount employees are deferring is within certain maximum limits and that plans are not operating in a manner that …

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