News

IRS Issues Deadline Relief for Tennessee Storm Victims

The IRS has issued a news release announcing the postponement of tax-related deadlines for Tennessee victims of severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding. The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting March 25. Affected taxpayers with a covered deadline on or after March 25, 2021, and before August 2, 2021, will have until August 2, 2021, to complete certain time-sensitive, tax-related acts. This includes the May 17 deadline for filing 2020 individual income tax returns and paying any tax due. Taxpayers also have until August 2 to make 2020 IRA contributions.

In addition, the relief includes completion of acts described in IRS Revenue Procedure 2018-58 and Treasury Regulation 301.7508A-1(c)(1), which include filing Form 5500 for retirement plans, completing rollovers, and making retirement plan loan payments.

“Affected taxpayer” automatically includes any individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. The areas included in this relief are Campbell, Cannon, Cheatham, Claiborne, Clay, Davidson, Decatur, Fentress, Grainger, Hardeman, Henderson, Hickman, Jackson, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Moore, Overton, Scott, Smith, Wayne, Williamson, and Wilson counties.

Those who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area, but have been affected by the disaster, may contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 to request relief.


IRS Provides 2022 Amounts for HSAs and HRAs

IRS Revenue Procedure (Rev. Proc.) 2021-25 provides the 2022 inflation-adjusted amounts for health savings accounts (HSAs) and the maximum amount that may be made newly available for expected benefit health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

The HSA 2022 calendar year annual limitation on deductions under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sec. 223(b)(2) is $3,650 for an individual with self-only coverage under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and $7,300 for an individual with family coverage under an HDHP.

In calendar year 2022, under IRC Sec. 223(c)(2)(A), an HDHP is a health plan with an annual deductible that is not less than $1,400 for self-only coverage or $2,800 for family coverage. The annual out-of-pocket expenses—deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts (but not premiums)—cannot exceed $7,050 for self-only coverage or $14,100 for family coverage.

Under Pension Excise Tax Regulation Sec. 54.9831-1(c)(3)(vii), the maximum amount that may be made newly available for the plan year for an excepted benefit HRA is $1,800 for plan years beginning in 2022.


IRS Notice Addresses Taxation of Dependent Care Benefits

On May 10, 2021, the IRS released Notice 2021-26, which addresses the taxation of dependent care benefits available during taxable years ending in 2021 or 2022 because of a carryover or extended claims period enacted under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA).  This notice clarifies that amounts that would have been excluded in the prior tax year remain excludable from income in the subsequent tax year. In particular, Notice 2021-26 provides three examples to illustrate when amounts carried over or available under an extended claims period are excludable from income, as follows.

Example 1: Calendar Plan Year

For the 2020 plan year, the employee elects to contribute $5,000, but incurs no dependent care expenses. The employee is permitted to carry over $5,000 into the 2021 plan year. For the 2021 plan year, the employee elects to contribute $10,500 to the plan. The employee is reimbursed for $15,500 in expenses during the 2021 plan year. The entire amount, $15,500, is excludable from income.

Example 2: Noncalendar Plan Year (July 1 to June 30)

For the 2020 plan year, the employee elects to contribute $5,000, but incurs no dependent care expenses. The employee is permitted to carry over $5,000 into the 2021 plan year. For the 2021 plan year, the employee elects to contribute $10,500 to the plan. The employee does not incur any dependent care expenses during the 2021 plan year. Beginning on January 1, 2022, the employee has $15,500 in available benefits. For the 2022 tax year, only $10,000 is excludable from income because $5,000 is the maximum carryover and $5,000 is the permitted contribution for the 2022 tax year. The remaining amount, if reimbursed is taxable. The example also includes another piece detailing the two-and-a-half-month grace period.

Example 3: Noncalendar Plan Year (July 1 to June 30)

For the 2020 plan year, the employee does not elect to participate or contribute in the dependent care plan. For the 2021 plan year, the employee elects to contribute $10,500 to the plan. The employee incurs $5,000 in dependent care expenses for the period July 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021. The $5,000 incurred is excludable from income. Beginning January 1, 2022, the employee has $5,500 available, but only $5,000 is excludable from income because $5,000 is the permitted contribution for the 2022 tax year. The remaining $500, if reimbursed, is taxable. The example also includes another piece detailing an additional employee contribution and incurred expenses.

Finally, this notice provides that an amount carried over or available under the extended claims period is not taken into account when determining the applicable limit.

Notice 2021-26 will be published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin 2021-21 on May 24, 2021.


IRS Guidance Affects Employment Taxes and COBRA Premium Subsidy

The IRS issued Notice 2021-24, which provides guidance following the passage of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARPA). The Notice provides information regarding the applicable penalty relief available to an employer under the ARPA for failing to pay employment taxes in anticipation of a credit for COBRA premium assistance paid to assistance-eligible individuals. Notice 2021-24 provides that the credit applies against the employer Medicare taxes for each calendar quarter and is reported on the employer’s return, reporting liability for FICA tax or RRTA tax, as applicable. For most employers, the Form 941 would be used to file quarterly employment taxes and the Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19, would be used to obtain an advance payment of the refundable credit. An employer will not be subject to a penalty for failing to pay quarterly employment taxes if

  • the employer is the person to whom premiums are payable;
  • the amount of employment taxes that is not timely paid is less than or equal to the amount of the employer’s anticipated credits for the quarter; and
  • the employer did not seek an advance credit by filing the Form 7200.

Drafts of the Form 941-X Instructions and Form 7200 have been released by the IRS but will not be finalized until the Office of Management and Budget has reviewed and approved the forms. Usually, once approved, the final forms contain updated instructions and information. As released, the draft Form 7200 contains a line item to include the amount paid by the employer in COBRA premium subsidies. The draft Form 941-X contains outdated instructions applicable to COBRA premium assistance payments between September 2008 and May 2010. The draft Form 941-X section regarding COBRA premium assistance payments will be updated in July 2021 to reflect changes under the ARPA.


Securing a Strong Retirement Act Re-Introduced

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) have introduced the Securing a Strong Retirement Act (SSRA) of 2021, legislation that was first introduced in October 2020. It builds upon the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE) Act of 2019. The House Ways and Means Committee held a markup hearing Wednesday, May 5, and unanimously voted to advance this legislation to the full House of Representatives to vote on the measure.

This legislation is the first comprehensive bipartisan retirement legislation introduced in 2021. SSRA of 2021 expands upon and includes additional provisions from the SSRA of 2020. While this bill (and others) have been coined by many as “SECURE 2.0,” it is prudent to follow retirement legislation developments by bill name for clarity and think of “SECURE 2.0” in the context of retirement reform generally.

The new and amended provisions include the following changes from the 2020 proposal.

  • Requires automatic enrollment of eligible employees in 401(k) and 403(b) plans with certain exceptions and grandfathering provisions, but eliminates the same requirement for SIMPLE IRA plans that appeared in the 2020 proposal
  • Increases the required minimum distribution (RMD) age to 73 on January 1, 2022; to age 74 on January 1, 2029; and to age 75 on January 1, 2032. The SECURE Act previously increased the age from 70½ to 72.
  • Drops the provision aligning ESOP rules of S Corporations with those of C Corporations that appeared in the 2020 proposal, but adds a placeholder that it is a Congressional goal to preserve and foster employee ownership of S Corporations through ESOPs
  • Provides an additional, indexed higher tier of catch-up deferral contributions for those who are age 62, 63, and 64
  • Permits 403(b) plans to participate in multiple employer plan (MEP) arrangements, specifically including pooled employer plans (PEPs)
  • Reduces from three years to two years the period of service requirement for long-term, part-time workers, and disregards pre-2021 service for vesting purposes
  • Directs the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Treasury to issue regulations explaining what fiduciaries need to do to meet their fiduciary duty in searching for missing participants
  • Eliminates the provision permitting tax-free qualified charitable contributions to be made from employer-sponsored retirement plans that appeared in the 2020 proposal
  • Permits employers to perform top-heavy tests separately for defined contribution plans covering excludable employees
  • Limits repayment of qualified birth or adoption distributions to three years
  • Permits participants to self-certify that deemed hardship distribution conditions are met in certain circumstances
  • Permits participants who self-certify that they have experienced domestic abuse to withdraw the lesser of $10,000 or 50 percent of their account without being subject to the 10 percent early distribution penalty tax. The funds could be repaid to the plan over three years.
  • Makes changes to stock attribution rules under family attribution for coverage and nondiscrimination testing
  • Permits discretionary amendments that increase benefits to participants to be adopted by the due date of the employer’s tax return
  • Permits new 401(k) plans established after the end of the taxable year but before the employer’s tax filing date that are treated as having been established on the last day of the taxable year to receive elective deferrals up to the due date of the employee’s tax return for the initial year when they are sponsored by sole proprietors and single-member LLCs
  • Limits only the portion of an IRA used in a prohibited transaction to be treated as distributed, as opposed to current rules disqualifying and treating the entire IRA as distributed
  • Permits SIMPLE IRAs to accept Roth contributions, and, plan permitting, allows employees to treat employee and employer SEP contributions as Roth contributions
  • Matches hardship rules for 403(b) plans to the 401(k) plan rules
  • Requires catch-up contributions to be made on a Roth basis beginning January 1, 2022
  • Permits defined contribution plans to provide participants with the option of receiving match contributions on a Roth basis
  • Plan amendments pursuant to this legislation must generally be made by the end of the 2023 plan year (2025 for governmental plans); plan amendment dates under the SECURE Act, CARES Act, and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 are revised to conform with the same new dates

 

This legislation carries forward the following provisions from the 2020 proposal.

  • Further enhances the small retirement plan start-up credit, with a maximum credit of 100% (vs. the current 50%) for employers with no more than 50 employees
  • Requires the IRS to promote the saver’s credit
  • Permits 403(b) plans to invest in collective investment trusts
  • Provides for indexing of IRA catch-up contributions
  • Permits certain student loan repayments to qualify for employer retirement plan matching contributions
  • Allows a small employer joining a MEP or PEP arrangement to potentially claim a small plan start-up credit during the first three years of the MEP/PEP arrangement’s existence
  • Provides a new small employer tax credit for enhanced plan eligibility for military spouses
  • Permits immediate de minimis financial incentives, in addition to a matching contribution, to individuals for contributing to a retirement plan
  • Enhances options for correcting employee salary deferral errors
  • Increases the qualifying longevity annuity contract RMD exemption
  • Permits increasing payments in IRA and defined contribution plan life annuity benefits
  • Allows retirement plan fiduciaries additional discretion in whether to seek recoupment of accidental overpayments
  • Reduces excise tax on certain failures to take RMDs
  • Changes disclosure rules for performance benchmarks for asset allocation funds
  • Directs Treasury, DOL, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to review and report on reporting and disclosure requirements and makes recommendations to Congress to consolidate, simplify, standardized, and improve such requirements
  • Simplifies retirement plan disclosures to non-participating employees
  • Creates a national online “lost and found” database to connect individuals with unclaimed retirement account benefits
  • Expands the IRS retirement plan correction program to permit self-correction of certain inadvertent IRA errors
  • Eliminates “first day of the month” deferral election requirement for governmental 457(b) plans
  • Requires defined contribution plans to provide paper benefit statements at least once annually, unless a participant elects otherwise
  • Makes certain technical corrections to SECURE Act provisions

DOL Withdraws Independent Contractor Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division is withdrawing the independent contractor rule that was scheduled to take effect on May 7, 2021. The rule had previously been delayed from its original effective date of March 7, 2021. The withdrawal of the rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register May 6, 2021.

The rule was published January 7, 2021, in the Federal Register. Its intended purpose, as described by the DOL at the time, was to clarify distinctions between employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

After having delayed the effective date, on March 12, 2021, the DOL published a proposal to withdraw the rule and requested comment. The DOL states it received over 1,000 comments supporting the withdrawal and numerous comments opposing the withdrawal. Upon review of the comments, the DOL has now finalized the withdrawal of the rule, stating that “the Rule is inconsistent with the FLSA’s text and purpose, and would have a confusing and disruptive effect on workers and businesses alike due to its departure from longstanding judicial precedent.”


FuturePlan by Ascensus Appoints Mark Wiggins as Divisional Vice President for the Southeast and Southwest Regions

Expert Consultant and Leader Will Expand Industry Partnerships, Strengthen Client Support in Southeast and Southwest Regions

FuturePlan by Ascensus—a leading national retirement third-party administrator (TPA) that specializes in the delivery of customized retirement plan consulting and administration services—is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Wiggins as divisional vice president (DVP) for the Southeast and Southwest regions, which are key growth areas for the FuturePlan organization. He will report to Kasey Price, FuturePlan’s head of sales.

Wiggins previously served as a vice president, sales consultant within FuturePlan. In his new role, he will offer consultative support to retirement plan clients while expanding relationships with strategic recordkeeping and financial advisor partners. He will also be responsible for creating and implementing growth strategies for FuturePlan’s fast-growing sales team.

With a 20-year record of success in consulting, management, and retirement industry sales, Wiggins applies his extensive expertise to help clients and partners achieve their business objectives. Prior to joining FuturePlan, he was a partner and director of sales at Avintus, an innovative, service-focused, Nashville-based TPA that became part of FuturePlan in 2018. He has also held positions in sales and leadership at AT&T and BellSouth.

Wiggins earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Georgia and his master’s degree in business administration from Lipscomb University. He also holds his Chartered Retirement Plan Specialist designation.

“The fact that Mark is an exceptionally high achiever who hails from one of FuturePlan’s legacy firms speaks to the strength of our business model and our ability retain top talent within our organization,” says Price. “I’m delighted to congratulate him on his new leadership role on the FuturePlan sales team.”

“Mark’s integrity, breadth of industry knowledge, and collaborative approach to problem solving help him create and maintain strong relationships that are built on trust,” Price continues. “FuturePlan clients and partners will benefit greatly from his experience and leadership skills.”

 

About FuturePlan by Ascensus
FuturePlan is a leading national retirement TPA dedicated to helping advisors, recordkeepers, and plan sponsors deliver better outcomes for savers. Our highly responsive, personalized service is backed by the strength and security of a national leader in Ascensus. As of December 31, 2020, FuturePlan’s experienced team of experts supports more than 51,000 plan sponsors with more than 1.4 million participants and more than $104 billion in assets under administration. For more information, visit futureplan.com.

 

About Ascensus
Ascensus helps millions of people save for what matters—retirement, education, and healthcare. Through co-branded, private-labeled, and other governmental partnerships, our technology, market insights, and business knowledge enhance the growth and success of our partners, their clients, and savers. Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. For more information, visit ascensus.com.

Get the latest trends and insights based on our proprietary data from more than 113,700 retirement plans, 6 million 529 accounts, 426,000 health savings accounts, and 23 ABLE plans.* Inside America’s Savings Plans highlights average savings levels across these tax-advantaged accounts and showcases plan features that drive participation and growth. The State of Savings report outlines how plan contribution and withdrawal behaviors have shifted over the course of 2020 and since the passage of the CARES Act.

*As of December 31, 2020.


Ascensus Debuts AI-Driven Virtual Coach for Personalized Financial Wellness

Partnership with Financial Finesse Delivers Tailored Guidance to Employees

Ascensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—has enhanced its financial wellness offering to include Financial Finesse’s AimeeTM: Artificial Intelligence Motivating Employees Everywhere.

Aimee is a first-of-its-kind virtual coach that is available to all Ascensus and institutional partner plans that offer Financial Finesse’s program to savers. It uses machine learning to provide employees with personalized, real-time guidance that can help build short-term financial resiliency while considering long-term financial goals. For advisors looking to deliver innovative retirement plan solutions that include financial wellness to employers, Aimee further deepens the value and attractiveness of the financial wellness benefit.

Aimee’s launch is the latest in a series of strategic technology investments Ascensus has made to provide more personalization and guidance throughout employees’ retirement planning journey. In 2020, the firm launched the READYSAVETM retirement mobile app and announced the expansion of its managed account investment offerings, with plans to onboard additional managed account providers in 2021. Beginning in May 2021, Ascensus’ digital financial wellness experience will benefit from these Aimee-enabled enhancements:

  • Greater personalization: Real-time guidance and custom action plans are designed to help achieve individualized milestones.
  • Increased engagement: Dynamic financial wellness scores and dashboard motivate employees to continuously track and improve upon their progress.
  • Enhanced reporting: Aimee captures insights on employees’ key financial questions and priorities to illuminate workforce wellness trends for employers.

“In today’s world, providing employees access to personalized guidance and education services like Aimee can lead to more informed financial choices,” states Kevin Cox, Ascensus’ president of Retirement. “Ascensus is proud to partner with Financial Finesse, which continues to deliver innovative solutions for advisors seeking to offer plan sponsors and their employees tools that can lead to a more secure retirement.”

Financial Finesse has provided their Fortune 1000-level financial wellness benefit through Ascensus since 2018. The firm built Aimee based on learnings from years of one-on-one financial coaching, input from its network of CFP® professionals, two decades of proprietary data from its award-winning Financial Wellness Think TankTM, and behavioral psychology research. Financial Finesse never solicits, promotes, or cross-sells products, making them a well-aligned partner to Ascensus and complementary source of insights and tools to advisors and their clients.

“Ascensus is paving new ground with the launch of Aimee to bring unlimited, personalized financial coaching to every single retirement plan participant, regardless of income, job type, or any other factor,” says Liz Davidson, founder and CEO of Financial Finesse. “To my knowledge, they’re the only recordkeeper that has made an investment of this scale in an independent financial wellness program to create retirement plans that truly prioritize participants.”

“The launch also underscores Ascensus’ commitment to supporting its retirement plan advisors, who can now easily combine best-in-class financial coaching with their own best-in-class offering,” concludes Davidson.

 

About Financial Finesse
Financial Finesse is the country’s leading independent provider of unbiased workplace financial wellness programs. Since 1999, the firm has helped over 10,000 organizations improve their bottom lines and become more competitive by empowering their employees to achieve financial security. The company’s award-winning financial wellness programs are made available to employees at no cost as an employer-sponsored benefit. With highly personalized and ongoing one-on-one coaching from CFP® professionals, AI-powered virtual coaching, live workshops, webcasts, educational tools and content, Financial Finesse reaches over 2.4 million individuals every year. www.financialfinesse.com

 

About Ascensus
Ascensus helps millions of people save for what matters—retirement, education, and healthcare. Through co-branded, private-labeled, and other governmental partnerships, our technology, market insights, and business knowledge enhance the growth and success of our partners, their clients, and savers. Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. For more information, visit ascensus.com.

Get the latest trends and insights based on our proprietary data from more than 113,700 retirement plans, 6.0 million 529 accounts, 426,500 health savings accounts, and 23 ABLE plans.* Inside America’s Savings Plans highlights average savings levels across these tax-advantaged accounts and showcases plan features that drive participation and growth. The State of Savings report outlines how plan contribution and withdrawal behaviors have shifted over the course of 2020 and since the passage of the CARES Act.

*As of December 31, 2020.


IRS Issues Deadline Relief for Alabama Victims of Severe Storms and Tornadoes

The IRS has issued a news release announcing the postponement of certain tax-related deadlines for Alabama victims of severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes. The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on March 25. The areas included in the relief are Bibb, Calhoun, Clay, Hale, Jefferson, Perry, Randolph, and Shelby counties.

In addition to extending certain tax filing and tax payment deadlines, the relief includes completion of many time-sensitive, tax-related acts described in IRS Revenue Procedure 2018-58 and Treasury Regulation 301.7508A-1(c)(1), which include filing Form 5500 for retirement plans, completing rollovers, and making retirement plan loan payments.

Affected taxpayers with a covered deadline on or after March 25, 2021, and before August 2, 2021, will have until August 2, 2021, to complete the act(s). This includes the May 17 deadline for filing 2020 individual income tax returns and paying any tax due. Taxpayers also have until August 2 to make 2020 IRA contributions.

“Affected taxpayer” automatically includes any individuals who live, and any businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Those who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area, but have been affected by the disaster, may contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 to request relief.


IRS Issues Deadline Relief for Kentucky Severe Storms Victims

The IRS has issued a news release announcing the postponement of certain tax-related deadlines for Kentucky victims of severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides. The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on February 27. The areas included in the relief are Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clay, Cumberland, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Franklin, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Lincoln, Magoffin, Marion, Martin, Mason, Morgan, Ohio, Pike, Powell, Rockcastle, and Wolfe counties.

In addition to extending certain tax filing and tax payment deadlines, the relief includes completion of many time-sensitive, tax-related acts described in IRS Revenue Procedure 2018-58 and Treasury Regulation 301.7508A-1(c)(1), which include filing Form 5500 for retirement plans, completing rollovers, and making retirement plan loan payments.

Affected taxpayers with a covered deadline on or after February 27, 2021, and before June 30, 2021, will have until June 30, 2021, to complete the act(s). This includes the May 17 deadline for filing 2020 individual income tax returns and paying any tax due. Taxpayers also have until June 30 to make 2020 IRA contributions.