Industry & Regulatory News

IRS Issues Final Regulations for Mandatory Deadline Postponements Related to Federally Declared Disasters

The IRS has released final regulations regarding the mandatory 60-day postponement of deadlines for certain time-sensitive, tax-related acts in circumstances of federally declared disasters, implemented under the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020.

The tax-related acts covered by this guidance are defined in Internal Revenue Code Section 7508A. This is the authority cited for postponement of deadlines in cases of localized disaster declarations. Such localized relief is announced by the IRS in news release form, describing the area affected—generally on a county-by-county basis—and describing the length of the deadline postponements.

The final regulations clarify the definition of “federally declared disaster” for purposes of deadline extensions to include both a major disaster declared under section 401 of the Stafford Act and an emergency declared under section 501 of the Stafford Act.

Additionally, the guidance provides details of the 60-day mandatory postponement period.

  • If the Treasury Secretary does not exercise her discretion to postpone a time-sensitive act, it cannot be postponed under the mandatory extension.
  • Time-sensitive acts specifically postponed include making contributions to a qualified retirement plan or IRA, withdrawing excess IRA contributions, recharacterizing IRA contributions, and completing rollovers.
  • The mandatory 60-day postponement period begins on the earliest incident date specified in a disaster declaration and ends on the date that is 60 days after the latest incident date.
  • In no event will the mandatory 60-day postponement period exceed one year.
  • The extension will not apply when there is no specified initial incident date.

The definition of “federally declared disaster” is applicable today with final publication in the Federal Register. The clarifications to the mandatory 60-day postponement period apply to disasters declared on or after December 21, 2019.


IRS Issues Deadline Relief for Louisiana Storm Victims

The IRS has issued a news release announcing the postponement of certain tax-related deadlines for Louisiana victims of severe storms and flooding. The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting May 17. The areas included in the relief are Ascension, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, and Lafayette parishes.

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 May 17, 2021, and before August 16, 2021, will have until August 16, 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 16 to make 2020 IRA contributions.

“Affected taxpayer” automatically includes any individuals who live, and 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.


Bill Would Double IRA Contribution Limit for Those Without Retirement Plan Access

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) has introduced the Increasing Retirement Amount Act to allow individuals without access to a workplace retirement plan to save more for retirement by providing an increased IRA contribution limit of $12,000 per year, subject to annual cost of living adjustments. The special rule would also allow catch-up contributions of up to $3,000 per year for those age 50 or older.

Eligible individuals include workers whose employer did not maintain a retirement plan during the applicable tax year. The current IRA contribution limit is $6,000, or $7,000 for individuals age 50 or older, regardless of taxpayer access to other retirement savings.


SECURE Act Video Series: IRA Amendments

Ascensus is excited to present the SECURE Act Video Series. This multi-video series will provide a snapshot of retirement-related SECURE Act provisions, included in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.

For more coverage from our experts on the SECURE Act and its implications, check out our latest news.


Enhancing Emergency and Retirement Savings Act Introduced

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) have introduced the Enhancing Emergency and Retirement Savings Act of 2021 to provide flexibility and access for those who experience unexpected emergencies.

The legislation would provide a penalty-free “emergency personal expense distribution” option from employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs. The proposal would allow for one emergency distribution per calendar year of up to $1,000 from the individual’s total nonforfeitable accrued benefit under the plan. The bill requires that the withdrawn funds be paid back to the plan before an additional emergency distribution from that same plan is allowed. The amount can be recontributed within a three-year period to any eligible plan to which a rollover contribution can be made.

An emergency personal expense distribution is defined as a distribution for purposes of meeting unforeseeable or immediate financial need relating to necessary personal or family emergency expenses. The plan sponsor of an employer-sponsored retirement plan may rely on an employee’s certification that the conditions are satisfied in determining whether the distribution is an emergency distribution.


IRS Issues Deadline Relief for West Virginia Storm Victims

The IRS has issued a news release announcing the postponement of certain tax-related deadlines for West Virginia victims of severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding. The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting February 27. 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 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 June 30 to make 2020 IRA contributions.

“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 Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, and Wayne counties in West Virginia.

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 Revised 2020 Publication 590-B

The IRS has issued a revised 2020 Publication 590-B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), intended to clarify the application of required minimum distribution (RMD) rules under the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act).

The explanation of the 10-year rule has been expanded to indicate that, if applicable, the entire balance of the IRA must be withdrawn by December 31 of the year containing the 10th anniversary of the owner’s death, and the beneficiary is allowed, but not required, to take a distribution before that date. The publication notes that the 10-year rule applies if

  • the beneficiary is an eligible designated beneficiary who elects the 10-year rule if the owner died before reaching his required beginning date, or
  • the beneficiary is a designated beneficiary who is not an eligible designated beneficiary, regardless of whether the owner died before reaching his required beginning date.

An example in the prior version of the publication that was carried forward from 2019 has caused some confusion in that it suggested a required life expectancy distribution where the 10-year rule would have been applicable. This example has been modified to reflect life expectancy payments for an eligible designated beneficiary, and a note has been added clarifying that, if death occurred before the required beginning date and the 10-year rule applies, no distribution is required for any year before the 10th year.

Taken together, the publication appears to suggest that the 10-year rule may not be an option for an eligible designated beneficiary for death on or after the account owner’s required beginning date.

The IRS has indicated that it will soon issue proposed regulations regarding changes made to the RMD rules under the SECURE Act.


Executive Order Includes Review of ESG Factors in Retirement Plans

Last week, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk, which includes a directive to the Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary to consider publishing, by September 2021, a proposed rule to suspend, revise, or rescind the Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments and Fiduciary Duties Regarding Proxy Voting and Shareholder Rights final rules that were published during the Trump administration regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments and proxy voting by employee benefit plans.

The Secretary is also directed to identify what actions the DOL can take under ERISA and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act to “protect the life savings and pensions of United States workers and families from the threats of climate-related financial risk,” along with assessing “how the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has taken environmental, social, and governance factors, including climate-related financial risk, into account.”

Within 180 days, the Secretary is to submit a report to the President on the actions taken in response to this executive order.

This executive order follows the DOL Employee Benefits Security Administration’s March 10, 2021 announcement that it would not enforce either of the final rules until it publishes further guidance. That announcement arose from a January 25, 2021 executive order directing federal agencies to review existing regulations.


Retirement Security and Savings Act Re-Introduced

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), have introduced the Retirement Security and Savings Act of 2021, legislation that was last introduced in 2019. This bill, like the Securing a Strong Retirement Act introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this month, is intended to build on the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE) of 2019. With more than 50 provisions, this bill contains a broad set of retirement reforms under the following categories, highlights of which are enumerated below.

Expanding Coverage and Increasing Retirement Savings

  • Establishes a new automatic enrollment safe harbor with contributions starting at 6 percent in the first year and a three-tier rate of matching contributions on deferrals up to 10 percent of pay
  • Provides for a special tax credit on the first 2 percent of pay to nonhighly compensated employees for employers that adopt the new safe harbor
  • Makes the individual taxpayer’s saver’s credit refundable and would require that the credit be contributed directly to a Roth IRA or designated Roth in a qualified plan
  • Reduces the long-term part-time threshold implemented under the SECURE Act from three consecutive years with at least 500 hours to two consecutive years with at least 500 hours
  • Provides for a 60-day rollover to an inherited IRA for nonspouse beneficiaries
  • Raises the RMD age to 75 in 2032
  • Creates an additional catch-up contribution for those who have attained age 60 that is $10,000 for retirement plans that are not SIMPLE IRA or 401(k) plans, and $5,000 for SIMPLE plans and will be indexed with the cost of living
  • Allows deferral of tax on gain from sale of employer securities to an ESOP

 

Preservation of Income

  • Increases the maximum amount that can be funded to a qualifying longevity annuity contract (QLAC) to $200,000
  • Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to update regulations to allow exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to be included in variable annuity products

 

Simplification and Clarification of Qualified Retirement Plan Rules

  • Directs the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor to adopt regulations outlining the consolidation of certain employee notices into a single notice
  • Permits nonspouse beneficiaries to roll over assets to 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans
  • Allows contributions to SIMPLE IRA plans on a Roth basis
  • Reduces the 50 percent penalty for late distribution of a required minimum distribution (RMD) to 25 percent
  • Allows mergers of 401(a) and 403(b) plans
  • Exempts retirement savers that have $100,000 or less in retirement assets from taking RMDs
  • Reduces penalties for IRA excess contributions and the failure to take an RMD from an IRA if corrected timely, and removes requirements that, in case of a prohibited transaction, the IRA ceases to be qualified as an IRA and that assets are deemed to be distributed
  • Creates a national retirement savings lost and found (including an online searchable database to reunite retirement savers with their savings), increases the cash-out limit to $6,000, and requires that unclaimed balances under $1,000 are transferred to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC)

 

Defined Benefit Plan Reform

  • Clarifies that the variable interest crediting rate used as the projected interest crediting rate for cash balance plans is a reasonable projection subject to a maximum of 6 percent
  • Eliminates indexing of PBGC variable rate premiums
  • Reduces the overfunding threshold by which employers with overfunded pension plans may use a portion of the surplus assets to fund welfare benefits to the same population of retirees and extends provision through 2031

 

Reforming Employer Plan Rules to Harmonize with IRA Rules

  • Synchronizes retirement plan rules to allow the exemption of Roth balances from RMD rules
  • Allows plan participants to make charitable distributions
  • Allows spouse beneficiaries to treat a deceased participant’s balance as their own in the plan
  • Roth IRA amounts would be permitted to be rolled over to retirement plans

 

Plan Amendments

  • Establishes an amendment deadline on or before the last day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2023 (2025 for governmental plans), and conforms the plan amendment dates under the SECURE Act, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act to these new dates

Smaller Sequel to SECURE Act Re-Introduced in Senate

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), along with co-sponsors Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and James Lankford (R-OK), have re-introduced the Improving Access to Retirement Savings Act. The bill was originally introduced late in the last session of Congress and contains the following provisions.

  • Expands access to multiple employer plan (MEP) arrangements by allowing 403(b) plans of tax-exempt organizations to participate
  • Clarifies that eligibility for the small employer pension plan start-up credit for small employers joining a MEP is predicated on the first three years of participation in the MEP, irrespective of how long the MEP has been in existence
  • Provides a 9½-month safe harbor for correction of employee elective deferral failures in an automatic contribution arrangement
  • Allows retroactive amendments until the employer tax return due date plus extensions that increase certain benefit accruals for the preceding plan year

These provisions were included in a larger bill, Securing a Strong Retirement Act or SSRA, that was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this month.