Posts Categorized: Qualified Plans

End of Determination Letter Program: Nearly a Year Later, the Future is Still Uncertain

in IRS Examinations, Qualified Plans, Retirement Plans

It has been nearly a year since the IRS generated shockwaves in the retirement plan community by announcing its intention to end its regular, periodic determination letter program for qualified retirement plans due to budget constraints. (See our previous posts on the end of the regular determination letter process here and here.) The Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities’ 2016 Report of Recommendations (“Advisory Committee Report”), released on June 8, 2016, shows that the uncertainties caused by the IRS’s announcement have largely been left unresolved. Under the determination letter process, employers can periodically apply for an IRS determination… Continue Reading

Harris v. Amgen

in Court Cases, Fiduciary Issues, Qualified Plans

On January 25, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Harris v. Amgen that will impact the pleading standard for stock drop litigation. The plaintiffs in Harris are former employees of Amgen Inc. who participated in their employer’s qualified ESOPs. When the value of Amgen stock fell significantly from 2005 to 2007, participants sued, claiming that Amgen violated their fiduciary duty of care under ERISA by continuing to offer the Amgen common stock fund as an investment option in the plans, when they knew (or should have known) that the stock was being sold to participants at… Continue Reading

IRS Announces Future Determination Letter Guidance in Notice 2016-03

in IRS Examinations, Qualified Plans, Retirement Plans, Tax Issues

In Notice 2016-03, the IRS provides an overview of guidance it intends to release to implement certain aspects of its decision to end the regular determination program, effective January 1, 2017, which it previously announced in Announcement 2015-19. (See this entry). Notably, employers may rely on the guidance issued in Notice 2016-03 until further guidance is issued. Notice 2016-03 provides that: • Controlled group members, including affiliated service group members, that maintain more than one plan may file for determination letters during the Cycle A submission period beginning February 1, 2016 and ending January 31, 2017, provided a Cycle A… Continue Reading

Plan Sponsor Forced to Restore Plan Benefits Due to Intentionally Misleading Communications to Employees

in Fiduciary Issues, Qualified Plans, Retirement Plans

On September 29, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a decision that emphasizes the importance of accurate communications to employees regarding changes in qualified retirement plan benefits. In Osberg v. Foot Locker, Inc., the plaintiffs in the class action consisted of nearly 16,000 participants in a defined benefit pension plan sponsored by Foot Locker. Prior to 1996, Foot Locker sponsored a traditional defined benefit pension plan in which benefits were defined as an annual life annuity commencing at age 65. Like most traditional defined benefit pension plans, the plan also provided early retirement… Continue Reading