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Presentation on theme: "ERISA COMPLIANCE AND ERRORS Top Ten Mistakes"— Presentation transcript:

Marcia S. Wagner, Esq. - President/Founder The Wagner Law Group Boston, MA Marilee P. Lau, CPA Retired Partner KPMG LLP San Francisco, CA

2 Speaker Biography – Marcia S. Wagner
Marcia is a specialist in pension and employee benefits law, and she is the principal of The Wagner Law Group, one of the nation’s largest boutique law firms, specializing in ERISA, employee benefits and executive compensation, which she founded over 18 years ago. A summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University and a graduate of Harvard Law School, she has practiced law for over twenty-seven years. Ms. Wagner was appointed to the IRS Tax Exempt & Government Entities Advisory Committee and ended her three-year term as the Chair of its Employee Plans subcommittee, and received the IRS’ Commissioner’s Award. Ms. Wagner has also been inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. For the past five years, 401k Wire has listed Ms. Wagner as one of its 100 Most Influential Persons in the 401(k) industry, and she has received the Top Women of Law Award in Massachusetts and is listed among the Top 25 Attorneys in New England by Boston Business Journal.

3 Speaker Biography - Marilee P. Lau
Marilee Lau provides consulting services and teaches various educational programs on accounting and auditing for employee benefit plans. Before retiring in 2009, Marilee was the National Partner in Charge of KPMG’s Employee Benefit Plan Audit Practice. She is a founding member and a former Chair of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center’s Executive Committee which was established in Marilee is currently the AICPA’s representative to the DOL’s ERISA Advisory Council. She has served on the AICPA’s Employee Benefits Plans Experts Panel and was the chair of the EBP Audit Guide Overhaul Task Force. Marilee is also on the Advisory Board for the Bureau of National Affairs Pension & Benefits Reporter which provides input on various pension issues and has served on the Accountants Committee for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. She is a member of the AICPA, California Society of CPA’s, and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and a frequent speaker for numerous professional conferences and programs. She is a graduate of Santa Clara University with a BS in economics and an MBA in accounting.

4 Introduction Auditors need to know what to focus on when they audit a plan.  They need to know the top ten errors, how they occur (usually people do not know the terms of the plan’s administration) and how they should be rectified.  For each of the “top 10” problems, we discuss:  (i) the issue, (ii) how it arises (iii) audit implications and (iv) how it can be fixed.

5 Top Ten Problems 1. Automatic Enrollment & Automatic Escalation
(b) Plan Universal Availability 3. Problem Shared and Leased Employees 4. Compensation Done Incorrectly 5. Controlled Group Issues 6. Bad Plan Documentation 7. Prohibited Transactions A. Plan Services B. Bad 408(b)(2) Disclosure 8. Illiquid Plan Assets 9. Late Elective Deferrals 10. Bad Administration

6 1. Automatic Enrollment & Automatic Escalation

7 Automatic Enrollment & Automatic Escalation
Applies to any plan allowing elective salary deferrals Employees enrolled in plan unless elect otherwise Plan document specifies percentage Employees can opt out or elect different percent Default percentage must be uniformly applied Qualified Automatic Contribution Arrangement (QACA) Exemption from nondiscrimination testing conditioned on : Default deferral percentage: Starts at 3% and increases to 6%; maximum 10% Matching Contribution (100% match up to 1% of compensation plus 50% between 1% and 6% of compensation) or 3% Nonelective Contribution 100% vesting in matching or nonelective contribution after 2 YOS No hardship distributions for required employer contributions

8 Automatic Enrollment & Automatic Escalation
Eligible Automatic Contribution Arrangement (EACA) • Withdrawals allowed within 90 days of first auto contribution Notice Requirements for QACA and EACA • Written explanation of rights not to have auto contributions or to elect deferral percentage other than default percentage Timing: reasonable period before beginning of each plan year Must give reasonable period of time after receipt to make alternative election and, in the case of a QACA, to make investment elections Excess Deferrals Participant must notify plan by April 15 of following year Corrective distributions of excess deferrals to be reported on Form 1099 Potential double tax if excess not withdrawn by April 15

9 Audit Implications Understand the nature of the enrollment process
Test that employees have been properly enrolled when plan provides for auto-enrollment Opt out election Specified deferral percentage Proper refund if participant withdraws Understanding regulatory requirements, correction process and accounting implications for the operational failure Determine if amount is material Book an employer contribution receivable Amend tax status footnote

10 Automatic Enrollment & Automatic Escalation
Failure 1 Plan sponsor fails to implement plan’s auto enrollment provisions by not deferring salary of an employee who did not make an election Corrected by providing nonelective employer contribution. Missed deferral is the plan’s auto enrollment deferral percentage multiplied by employee’s compensation. Required corrective contribution under IRS VCP is 50% of this missed deferral Failure 2 • Employee never receives enrollment materials and is, therefore treated as an excluded participant rather than a participant whose deemed election has not been implemented • Corrected by making nonelective employer contribution equal to 50% of missed deferral which is the ADP for the employee’s group (NHCE or HCE) multiplied by employee’s annual compensation

11 2. 403(b) Plan Universal Availability Problem

12 403(b) Plan Universal Availability Problem
Elective salary deferrals must be available to any employee Exceptions Employee who will contribute $200 or less annually Employee eligible to make elective deferrals to 457(b) or 401(k) plan or another 403(b) plan Nonresident aliens Students performing certain services and certain employees not meeting minimum age and service requirements Employees normally working fewer than 20 hours per week Exception conditioned on working less than 1,000 hours in a 12-month period and subsequent 12-month periods No part-time exception Universal availability applies separately to each 501(c)(3) entity even if multiple entities participate in same plan

13 403(b) Plan Universal Availability Problem
Universal availability standard met only if at least once each plan year plan lets employee make or change a cash or deferred election Universal availability requires meaningful notice of right to defer Rule only applies to elective deferrals, not employer match or discretionary or mandatory employer contributions Some plans are drafted so that the eligibility standard for these nonelective contributions is the same as universal availability. In these cases, operational failure occurs if universal availability not applied to nonelective contributions.

14 Audit Implications Understand who is eligible and who isn’t
Test for proper inclusion/exclusion Understanding correction process and accounting implications for the operational failure Determine if amount is material Book an employer contribution receivable Amend tax status footnote

15 403(b) Plan Universal Availability Problem
Failure 1: Excluding employees based on a job classification which is not one of the classes excepted from universal availability rule, such as part-time workers Corrected by making employer contribution under IRS VCP program of missed deferral Rev Proc provides special rule for calculating 403(b) corrective contribution which will generally be 1.5% of employee’s compensation adjusted for lost earnings and any match. Mistake may be eligible for self correction if error was insignificant and sufficient compliance procedures were in place Failure 2 Failure to properly notify a group of employees of their right to make deferrals Corrected by making employer contribution under same methodology as Failure 1.

16 3. Shared and Leased Employees

17 Shared and Leased Employees
Employee status controls application of plan rules Control (over when, where and how to perform services) is key to determining whether worker is common law employee (1992 Supreme Court Darden case, Rev Rul 87-41 Shared employee definition: a person working for ( and under control of) more than one business at a time Example: staff nurse working for several medical practices Each practice is the employer simultaneously and credits all hours of service for purposes of plan eligibility Pro rata share of shared employee’s compensation from each employer is allocated to the separate plans maintained by each employer Failure: Violation of qualified plan rules to exclude nurse from participation in any retirement plans maintained by medical practices if nurse has 1,000 hours of service overall Correction: require each plan to include nurse as participant

18 Shared and Leased Employees
Leased employee definition: a person on the payroll of one company but working for another company Example: employee on payroll of PEO who actually performs services for PEO’s client. If client controls the leased employee’s work, however, employee will be treated as employed by client, not as a shared employee (Rev. Proc ) For purposes of plan coverage, vesting, nondiscrimination and top heavy rules, a “leased employee” is treated as an employee of client organization, not PEO (Code §414(n) Definition of leased employee Full time – 1 year Contract between client organization and PEO for employee services “Primary” control by client organization

19 Shared and Leased Employees
Safe Harbor exception to treatment of leased employee as employee of client if employee is covered by PEO plan, subject to Leased employees no more than 20% of client’s NHCE workforce Money purchase plan Minimum contribution(nonintegrated) - 10% of compensation Full vesting Immediate participation by the leased employees Failure • IRS takes position that if leased employee is effectively a common law employee of client, covering this employee under PEO plan violates exclusive benefit rule Correction: Exclude employee from PEO plan. Also include leased employees as participants in client plan unless client plan specifically excludes them. If client maintains 401k) plan, inclusion of leased employees may require making nonelective contributions that compensate leased employee for missed deferral. Consider amending plan to exclude leased employees

20 Audit Implications Hum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Auditors need to be aware of the possibility that plans have improperly excluded “leased or shared”employees

21 4. Compensation Done Incorrectly

22 Compensation Done Incorrectly
Amount of plan benefits or contributions frequently expressed as percent of compensation Code §401(a)(17) limits annual compensation that can be taken into account Limit in 2014 will be $260,000 Plan definition of compensation must be nondiscriminatory under Code §414(s) Designed based safe harbors Include regular or base salary or wages and commissions, tips, overtime, premium pay and bonuses Exclude reimbursements, expense allowances, fringe benefits, moving expenses and deferred compensation Reasonable formula not favoring HCEs Examples: Rate of pay vs. actual pay Pay only while plan participant vs. pay for entire plan year Plan that includes bonuses but excludes overtime might be treated as discriminatory Test is whether average percentage of total compensation included under the definition for HCEs exceeds by more than de minimis amount the average percentage of total compensation included for NHCEs

23 Audit Implications Probably No. 1 issue detected by the auditor—wrong definition of compensation Usually found in contribution test work Could result in a material impact on the financial statements FinRec Recommendations on booking excess and corrective contributions Determination of correction amount can be very time consuming

24 Compensation Done Incorrectly
Failure 1: Plan allocation is based on compensation that exceeds the limit Correction (two alternative methods) Reduce account balance of affected employee by improperly allocated amount (adjusted for earnings); if excess amount would have been allocated to other employees in year of failure, it must be reallocated to those employees after adjusting it for earnings Alternative fix: adopt plan amendment increasing maximum percentage of compensation and contribute additional amount for each other employee who received an allocation in failure year Example: plan contribution rate equals 5% of compensation 5% applied to Employee X’s $300K comp. In 2012 when limit was $250,000 - reduce X’s account by $2,500 excess and reallocate Alternatively, retroactively amend plan to raise rate to 6%

25 Compensation Done Incorrectly
Failure 2: improper exclusion of bonuses, overtime, commissions or another element of compensation from base on which employees may make elective deferrals Correction: employer contribution equal to 50% of missed deferral opportunity which would be the employee’s elected percentage of compensation that would have been deferred from the excluded compensation element. Also contribute any applicable match and lost earnings Failure 3: Improper deferral on items not included in plan definition of compensation Correction: Distribute excess elective deferrals plus earnings to participant. Forfeit match related to excess deferrals and either reallocate or use to offset future employer contributions

26 5. Controlled Group Issues

27 Controlled Group Issues
Rules apply as if all controlled group employees worked for employer adopting the plan Applies to eligibility, vesting, minimum participation, determining contributions and benefits, nondiscrimination, compensation limits, top heavy rules and simplified employee pension and simple retirement accounts Minimum Participation Example Failure: Company A maintains a qualified plan with a one year service requirement only for its employees but is a member of a controlled group of corporations that includes Company B. Employee X completes 3 years of service with Company B and then transfers to Company A. Correction: The plan must recognize X’s service with Company B and admit her as a participant immediately. Highly Compensated Employee Example Failure: Company C and Company D are controlled group members each of which pay Employee Y a salary of $60,000 for 2013. Correction: For purposes of nondiscrimination testing, Employee Y will be considered highly compensated, since the HCE limit for 2013 is $115,000 and Employee Y’s aggregate compensation is $120,000.

28 Controlled Group Issues
Discrimination Testing Example Failure: Company E maintains a 401(k) plan for its employees that has never been extended to its wholly-owned subsidiary F Company. When the minimum coverage test is run, including the employees of F Company, the 401(k) plan fails to satisfy Code §410(b) and, as a result ceases to be tax-qualified. Correction: NHCEs of Company F must be included as participants on a retroactive basis and receive a QNEC sufficient to pass ADP/ACP test SIMPLE IRA Example Failure: SIMPLE IRAs can be established only by an employer which had no more than 100 employees who made at least $5,000 for the preceding year. Company G maintains a SIMPLE IRA for its 80 employees (all whom made more than $5,000 last year). Company G has a brother/sister affiliate, Company H, which is a member of the same controlled group as Company G and has 40 employees who made over $5,000. Because Companies G and H must be treated as a single employer, Company G is ineligible to maintain the SIMPLE plan. Correction: Stop employer and employee contributions. File VCP application requesting that contributions made for previous years remain in the employees’ SIMPLE IRAs.

29 Audit Implications Understand what other plans a company has
Parent-subsidiary Brother/sister companies Compliance issues Book receivable for QNEC contribution Inquire or test correction for other issues

30 6. Bad Plan Documentation

31 Bad Plan Documentation
IRS definition of “plan document failure” A plan provision (or absence of a plan provision) that violates Code qualification requirements Arises under 2 scenarios: New law passes or regulations issued and plan not timely amended to meet new rules Plan not timely amended during remedial amendment period for adopting good faith or interim amendments Interim amendments are required to keep a plan up to date between remedial amendment cycles Examples of recent law changes with expired deadline: Conversion of 401(k) accounts to Roth without distribution Allowing nonspouse beneficiary distributions via rollover Allowing suspension of required distributions for 2009 Special benefits for participants w/qualified military service Faster vesting of employer contributions under PPA 2006

32 Bad Plan Documentation
Correcting Amendment Failures Adopt amendments for missed tax law changes Look for IRS sample language in model amendments and List of Required Modifications Effective date of amendment should be retroactive to conform plan terms to legislative requirement File VCP submission with IRS Submission is expected to include the executed amendments that will correct the failure Issuance of compliance statement by IRS results in amendments being treated as if they had been adopted timely Avoiding Future Failures Do annual review of plan document Designate person responsible for identifying time-sensitive amendments Use annual cumulative list published by IRS (e.g., see Notice )

33 Audit Implications Determine whether plan amendments have been made that are required as a result of changes in the laws and regulations Inquire of the plan administrator whether plan operations have been revised to comply with current law changes, even if plan amendments are not yet required Review correspondence from plan’s legal counsel, third party administrator, or other ERISA or tax advisor Review corrective action to determine if compliance issues were corrected in accordance with prescribed procedures and properly recorded and disclosed in the financial statements.

34 7. Prohibited Transactions
A. Plan Services B. Bad 408(b)(2) Disclosure

35 Prohibited Transaction and Plan Services
Furnishing goods, services or facilities to plan is a prohibited transaction unless arrangement qualifies for exemption Violation results in 15% excise tax and100% tax if not corrected Four requirements for exemption Service must be necessary to establish or operate plan Necessary means appropriate or helpful Service contract must be reasonable Plan must be able to terminate contract without penalty on short notice Plan should not be locked into an arrangement that becomes unfavorable Long-term lease is acceptable only if it can be terminated before expiration Minimal early termination fee to allow recoupment of start-up costs is acceptable Plan should pay no more than reasonable compensation Management Evaluates reasonableness of fees by market rate for comparable services Disclosure by service provider

36 Bad 408(b)(2) Disclosure Regulation effective in 2012 requires plan service provider to make written disclosures to plan: Description of services Whether services to be performed as fiduciary Compensation to be received from plan and from third parties Bad disclosure makes service arrangement a prohibited transaction by plan fiduciary and service provider Failures can be cured Plan must make written request for information and provider must respond within 90 days Service provider refusal or inability to comply with request for information requires plan fiduciary to notify DOL Plan fiduciary must decide whether to terminate services Presumption is termination Services to be continued only if prudent Good faith mistakes must be corrected no more than 30 days after provider knows of error or omission

37 Audit Implications AU-C 250 Consideration of Laws and Regulations in an Audit of Financial Statements applies to prohibited transactions Inquire whether plan is in compliance with laws and regulations Understand who are parties in interest and what is deemed a prohibited transaction Understand plan fee arrangements Inquire as to compliance with applicable reporting and disclosure requirements for fees.

38 8. Illiquid Plan Assets

39 Illiquid Plan Assets Holding illiquid assets is problematic for an ERISA plan if Purchased in non-exempt prohibited transaction involving party in interest Purchase was an imprudent decision or It is imprudent for plan to continue to hold the asset Examples of illiquid assets Restricted and thinly traded stock Limited partnership interest Real estate Collectibles Plan fiduciary must determine that asset is illiquid because: Asset failed to appreciate, provide reasonable rate of return or caused loss Sale is in plan’s best interest Asset cannot be sold for its original purchase price or FMV (if greater) to a person other than person who is a party in interest to the plan May correct by selling to related party subject to conditions

40 Illiquid Plan Assets Conditions of correction by selling to party in interest Purchase price on sale to party in interest must be greater of FMV of asset at time of resale (unreduced by sale costs) Original purchase price plus lost earnings under DOL calculator Qualified independent appraiser must report on Asset’s FMV Application to DOL Documentation of original purchase price to be included in submission DOL no action letter Allows correction or asset’s original acquisition Permits sale of asset in transaction that otherwise might be prohibited Example Plan buys real property from party in interest in 1999 for $60,000. Plan official makes illiquid asset determination in In 2004, appraiser values property at $20,000. Plan sponsor pays plan $60,000 plus lost earnings and plan transfers real estate to plan sponsor.

41 Audit Implications Review any plan assets purchased from a related party If determined that asset is illiquid Perform appropriate audit procedures Record and disclose “fix” in financial statements

42 9. Late Elective Deferrals

43 Late Elective Deferrals
When participant funds become plan assets Amounts that a participant pays to an employer or amounts that a participant has withheld from wages must be paid to the plan trust on earliest date they can be segregated from employer’s general assets Safe harbor for plans with fewer than 100 participants: deadline for remittance to trust is 7th business day following day on which the amount is received by the employer or would have been payable to the participant in cash IRS Failure Employer fails to remit participant elective deferrals by the earliest date employer can reasonably segregate deferral deposits from general assets. This will not be an operational failure for VCP purposes if plan does not have language relating to time contributions are deposited. If plan has timing language, there will be a qualification failure for failing to follow plan terms. Correction: Employer makes contributions with earnings up to date of correction. VCP submission should describe new procedural safeguards adopted to ensure that deposits will be timely made.

44 Late Elective Deferrals
DOL Failure Regardless of plan language, failure to make timely remittance will be a prohibited transaction for DOL purposes. Correction: employer required to make delinquent contributions plus greater of: Lost earnings or Restoration of profits resulting from employer’s use of the delinquent funds prior to making contribution DOL Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program requires extensive documentation: Narrative of remittance practices and certification by plan official of earliest date when remittance possible Copy of payroll documents showing date / amount of each withholding Relief from submission of documentary evidence if amount is below $50,000 or delinquency is less than 180 days

45 Audit Implications Inquire of plan sponsor what their normal timeframe is from paycheck to remittance date Obtain contribution remittance schedule from plan sponsor detailing dates withheld, date deposited, and date received by trustee Test schedule and inquire about contributions remitted outside the normal timeframe Late deposits are a legal determination Disclose on supplemental schedule

46 10. Bad Administration

47 Bad Administration – Loans
Loans - In order for a plan loan to not be considered a taxable distribution, it must meet certain IRC requirements Maximum amount of loan Repayable within 5 years with exception for certain home loans Level amortization and not less than quarterly payments Failure 1 - Plan sponsor permits loan in excess of Code limit Failure - Loan is more than lesser of (a) 50% of vested account balance (but not less than $10,000) or (b) $50,000 reduced by highest amount owed on other loans by the participant during prior one-year period Correction – Participant repays excess amount to plan. Principal balance of loan reamortized over 5 years from date of original loan Failure 2 – Loan repayment period more than 5 years Failure – Loan provides 6-year term Correction – Plan sponsor can avoid treating loan as taxable distribution by filing VCP application. Remaining balance of loan at time of submission would be reamortized so that loan is fully paid by end of 5 years measured from loan date.

48 Bad Administration – Loans & Hardship Withdrawals
Loan Failure 3 – Repayment Failure Failure – Employee fails to make loan repayments according to repayment schedule (e.g., employee’s loan information not forwarded to payroll dept. which would have implemented repayment by payroll deductions. Correction - Two alternatives under VCP provide relief from reporting loan as distribution: Participant to repay missed payments plus accrued interest in lump sum and repay loan balance over remaining loan term or Loan may be reamortized over remaining term If plan provides that a loan does not become deemed distribution until end of calendar quarter following quarter in which payment was missed, the cure period may allow administrator to fix problem without VCP or other negative consequences Failure 1 Due to Financial Hardship Withdrawal Failure - Elective deferrals not suspended for 6-month period following financial hardship withdrawal, as required by the Code and plan terms Correction – 6 months of improper deferrals treated as current taxable distribution. File VCP application and distribute deferrals plus earnings.

49 Bad Administration – Hardship Withdrawals & Eligibility
Failure 2 Due to Financial Hardship Withdrawal Failure – Employer permits participant to take hardship withdrawal from a 401(k) plan that does not provide for such withdrawals Correction – File VCP application requesting authorization to amend plan retroactively to permit hardship distributions Eligibility Failures In general, employees must be allowed to participate in a qualified plan if: They have attained age 21 and They have at least 1 year of service Failure - Employer permits employees who have not met its 401(k) plan’s eligibility conditions to become participants Correction – Two alternatives If prematurely included employees are primarily NHCE, employer may file VCP submission requesting that plan be retroactively amended to permit their participation. Impact of amendment must not be discriminatory Distribute improper employee deferrals and notify them of their taxability A pptx

50 Audit Implications Testing of participant loans receivable and hardship withdrawals When transactions are not administered in accordance with the plan document or IRC requirements Book repayment to participant Book receivable for participant catch up loan repayments

51 Questions

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