News

IRS Issues Deadline Relief for Mississippi Victims of Hurricane Zeta

The IRS has issued News Release MS-2021-01, announcing the postponement of certain tax-related deadlines for Mississippi victims of Hurricane Zeta, for hurricane-related events beginning October 28, 2020. 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, making retirement plan loan payments, etc.

The area included in the relief at this time includes George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, and Stone counties. Taxpayers in other locations will automatically be added to the relief if the disaster area is further expanded.

Affected taxpayers with a covered deadline on or after October 28, 2020, and on or before March 1, 2021, will have until March 1, 2021, to complete the act(s). “Affected taxpayer” automatically includes anyone who resides or has a business located within the designated disaster area. Those who reside or have a business located outside the identified disaster area, but have been affected by the disaster, may contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 to request the relief.


Final Regulations Published on Independent Contractor Status

Final regulations, entitled Independent Contractor Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, issued by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, are published in today’s Federal Register. They are described as being intended to clarify distinctions between “employee” and “independent contractor” status. The guidance was issued in proposed form in September 2020. Accompanying the final regulations is an agency news release.


IRS Revenue Ruling Addresses Tax Benefits Related to Paycheck Protection Program Loans

The IRS has issued Revenue Ruling (Rev. Rul.) 2021-02, guidance that addresses certain tax benefits associated with employer loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an element of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The PPP is a Small Business Administration lending program created by the CARES Act to help small employers meet payroll and other expenses, as businesses and the nation dealt with the economic effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Payroll expenses can include employer contributions to defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plans, as well as providing group healthcare coverage, including payment of insurance premiums. If certain conditions are met, PPP loans can be forgiven and treated as a grant.

Rev. Rul. 2021-02 addresses questions related to other potential tax ramifications and/or benefits associated with expenses for which PPP loans are taken, including loans that are ultimately forgiven.

Rev. Rul. 2021-02 retroactively amends the CARES Act, as well as supersedes post-CARES Act guidance (Notice 2020-32 and Rev. Rul. 2020-27). In doing so, it provides that no amount will be included in the gross income of a PPP participant as a result of a PPP loan being forgiven. No tax deduction for such PPP-related expenses is to be denied, and no other tax benefit reduced, as a result of that exclusion from gross income.


Final Regulations Published on Offset Retirement Plan Loan Rollovers

Published in today’s Federal Register are IRS final regulations that implement a provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that provides an extended period—beyond the normal 60 days—to roll over amounts of certain retirement plan loans that are offset and treated as distributions. These final regulations were released in pre-publication form on December 8, 2020.

A qualified plan loan offset (QPLO) is a plan loan in good standing that is offset as a result of plan termination or a participant’s severance from employment. The amount of such an offset loan can be rolled over to an IRA or another employer-sponsored retirement plan as late as the participant’s tax return deadline, including extensions, for the tax year when the loan was offset.

A plan loan that is offset for other reasons, such as for a failure to meet required payments while still employed, is not a QPLO and does not qualify for the extended rollover period. The final regulations provide details and examples to help make such determinations.

While these final regulations are considered “effective” with today’s publication, they are only required to be applied to loans that are offset on or after January 1, 2021. As a result, required reporting of QPLOs on Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., will first apply to 2021 information returns that are provided to participants and to the IRS in January 2022.

However, taxpayers and information return filers may optionally apply the guidance and report accordingly as of the August 20, 2020, date when the guidance was published in proposed form.


Ascensus Announces Agreement to Acquire Recordkeeping Retirement Business from Truist

Transaction Includes Heritage BB&T Plans Along with Heritage BB&T Outsourced Recordkeeping Business Currently Serviced by Ascensus

Ascensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—is pleased to announce that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the heritage BB&T bundled recordkeeping retirement business from Truist Bank. Ascensus will now serve as the recordkeeper for the heritage BB&T plans as well as the plans for which it currently serves as outsourced recordkeeper. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In total, the Truist business acquired by Ascensus covers more than 1,200 plans with approximately 125,000 participants and $5 billion in assets. The transaction, which is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2021, will increase Ascensus’ retirement plan count to more than 115,000, its participant base to more than 3.4 million, and its retirement plan assets under administration to more than $192 billion.

Truist has partnered with Ascensus for the past 12 years as the outsourced administrator for a segment of its retirement business. The long-standing relationship built by the two companies over time led Truist to select Ascensus to service both the current Ascensus-administered plans as well as the legacy plans that were previously administered in-house. Ascensus’ strong track record as a partner; ongoing commitment to client focus, service quality, and technology solutions; and industry-leading compliance and regulatory capabilities contributed to its selection.

“We’re extremely honored that Truist chose Ascensus to serve its heritage BB&T and Ascensus-administered retirement plans going forward,” said Kevin Cox, president of Ascensus’ Retirement line of business. “We’ve enjoyed a great degree of success in partnership with Truist and look forward to continuing our tradition of service excellence in helping participants save for retirement.”

“This transaction brings a large group of clients to the Ascensus platform, and we’re delighted to reach this agreement with Truist,” notes Raghav Nandagopal, Ascensus’ chief corporate development officer. “Our commitment to helping savers in America prepare for retirement is strong, as is our promise to provide differentiated solutions in recordkeeping, financial wellness, managed accounts, and analytics capabilities that help our clients better manage their retirement programs.”

 

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 114,400 retirement plans, 6.2 million 529 accounts, 417,000 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 September 30, 2020.


DOL Updates Q&As for Pandemic-Related Paid Leave

The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Division has issued an update to its question-and-answer guidance on paid employee leave under provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Specifically, this update includes the addition of the following.

Q&A-104 provides that employers are not required to provide FFCRA leave after December 31, 2020. However, employers may still provide such leave voluntarily. Employer tax credits for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave voluntarily provided to employees until March 31, 2021, are available for those employers that voluntarily offer FFCRA leave after December 31, 2020.

Q&A-105 provides that employees whose employers granted FFCRA leave but did not pay it may file complaints with the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. Q&A-105 also clarifies that the statute of limitations for both the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA is two years from the date of the alleged violation (or three years in cases involving alleged willful violation).


IRS Releases 2021 Tax Year IRA and Retirement Plan Reporting Forms 1099-R, 5498

The IRS has posted at its website the 2021 tax year version of Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. As the title implies, Form 1099-R is filed by financial organizations and service providers to report to account owners and the IRS distributions from tax-qualified retirement savings arrangements. Form 5498 more narrowly reports IRA-related information—including contributions to IRAs, SEP and SIMPLE IRA employer plans, end-of-year fair market values, rollovers, conversions, recharacterizations, etc.


Change is necessary.

All too often, we’re reminded that freedom from racism and injustice is still not universally available to black Americans, along with other diverse communities.

The loss of life and affront to human dignity are unbearable to observe and devastating for those affected. Our hearts go out to all who are grieving and seek justice.

It’s obvious that change is necessary. There is no room for racism or prejudice in our world, and we condemn these divisive tools of hate, the acts they inspire, and the people who wield them as weapons.

It is our obligation to listen with both greater empathy and curiosity, develop a deeper understanding of those different from ourselves, and support those in pain with a pledge that we will try harder to make a real difference – even if we do not know exactly what that looks like today.

As a company, we will continue our efforts to make this a place where all feel welcomed and valued, and the different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that each of us bring are not only respected, but make us stronger.

Each of us also has the chance and obligation to be a beacon for equality, justice, and compassion in our homes and communities, for choosing to demonstrate care and respect for one another as human beings and citizens is a calling to which we all can aspire.

Let’s embrace the important work ahead of us.

 

David Musto
President and CEO

 


Despite Some Confusion, December 30, 2020, Remains the Deadline for Special Tax Benefits of CARES Act Retirement Plan Distributions

Today is the last day for eligible taxpayers to take IRA and employer-sponsored retirement plan distributions that qualify for special tax benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This legislation was enacted in March 2020 as a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There has been some industry and media confusion over whether more recent pandemic relief legislation has provided an extended opportunity to qualify for such benefits, but it has not.

The following retirement plan-related CARES Act provisions apply to eligible coronavirus-related distributions (CRDs).

  • Exemption of up to $100,000 of retirement plan withdrawals from the 10% penalty tax for early withdrawals from retirement plans.
  • Three-year ratable taxation of such withdrawals, with a period of three tax years to return such withdrawal to a qualifying retirement account.

Just after Christmas, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021, which provided federal agency funding, limited additional coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic relief, and limited disaster relief. Among its provisions was the granting of the above-described tax benefits to victims of certain regional natural disasters, if such disaster events began  during the period beginning December 28, 2019, and the declaration ended within 60 days after CAA’s date of enactment, December 27, 2020. For those eligible for this new benefit, retirement account withdrawals may be made for up to 180 days after CAA’s enactment.

In March 2020, President Trump had declared that all 50 states would be considered disaster zones as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This appears to be the source of the recent confusion, and what some have believed to be the eligibility of all Americans to make retirement account withdrawals that qualify as CRDs and eligibility for these above-described tax benefits.

However, the CAA provision that may have contributed to the confusion actually excludes disasters that are declared solely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, President Trump’s COVID-19 disaster declaration of March 2020 covering the entire U.S. does not extend to all Americans the above-described tax benefits. (These individuals may, however, qualify for other benefits, such as extended deadlines for certain tax filings, and other tax-related transactions.)


DOL Final Regulations on Independent Contractor Status Have Been Received by OMB

Final regulations entitled Independent Contractor Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, issued by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, have been received by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB provides final review of regulatory guidance before its official release. Generally, only if found to be in need of revision, is such guidance returned to the originating agency for changes. Unless this proves to be the case, official release of these final regulations could be imminent.

These regulations, intended to clarify distinctions between employee and independent contractor status, were issued in proposed form in September 2020. Ascensus will review the final regulations when they are officially released. Visit ascensus.com for any new developments.