Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service Regulatory Agendas: What Employee Benefit Professionals Need to Know

To better serve business owners and plan sponsors, The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publish regulatory agendas that can help professionals plan for changes in employee benefit protocolthis year on May 9th, an update to the current guidance plan was released. 

It is Important to Note:

These agendas inform the public of proposed regulations that the DOL and IRS expect to settle, and the May 9th update includes new projects that were previously unreleased. 

What’s on the DOL’s Agenda? 

The DOL’s agenda, released semi-annually, provides notice of their current and long-term action items and includes 13 tentative employee benefits matters for 2018:  

  1. Electronic filing of apprenticeship & training notices and top hat plan statements 
  2. Adoption of amended and restated Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP)  
  3. Amendment of abandoned plan program  
  4. Request for information on Fiduciary Rule and prohibited transaction exemptions: regarding more streamlined compliance options in connection with the Fiduciary Rule and prohibited transaction exemptions  
  5. Fiduciary relief for investments in qualified default investment alternatives: explore whether and to what extent regulatory amendments would be appropriate to facilitate the use of lifetime income products and features as, or as part of, qualified default investment alternatives  
  6. Modernize Form 5500: joint project with IRS and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to streamline Form 5500, making its data mineable  
  7. Selection of annuity providers: safe harbor for individual account plans  
  8. Pension benefit statements: implement PPA § 508 
  9. Amendment to definition of short-term, limited duration insurance: for purposes of its exclusion from the definition of individual health insurance coverage 
  10. Definition of an “Employer” under § 3(5) of ERISA – association health plans 
  11. Moral exemptions and accommodations for coverage of certain preventive services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  12. Religious exemptions and accommodations for coverage of certain preventive services under the ACA 
  13. Improved fee disclosure for welfare plans: rules to ensure that fiduciaries of welfare plans have access to information necessary to determine whether an arrangement for services with a party in interest is reasonable  

The agenda contains one new piece—item number nine as listed above. Six projects that the Obama Administration enacted are also terminated under the DOL’s guidance.  

The IRS’s Plan 

While there are no new initiatives on the IRS’s 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan quarterly update, it does contain 17 pending matters concerning retirement benefits and 15 dealing with health care and related benefits (this plan defines issues that are under official guidance during July 2017 and June 2018). See the full list here 

Next Steps 

If you have any questions about the DOL’s and IRS’s updates and how they affect your employee benefit plans, please contact the Sikich’s professional employee benefit plans team. 

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