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January 2019 Retirement Report

Six Easy Steps to Keep Your Plan Assets Safe Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM, Senior Vice President, ERISA Compliance Cyber fraud is a growing concern globally. Individuals are typically very careful to keep their bank account and email authentication information safe, but they aren’t always smart with the rest of their personal information. Participants need to be vigilant with their retirement savings accounts as well. In the past year we’ve seen a slew of cases of attempted fraud – some…

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Hey Joel! Answers From a Former Practicing ERISA Attorney

Hey Joel, When does the five-year clock start for Roth withdrawals? -Tick Tock in Tennessee Dear Tick Tock, For most investors, it’s important to know that there is a five-year waiting period for tax-free withdrawals of earnings, and it is applied differently, depending on if you made Roth IRA contributions, converted a traditional IRA to a Roth, rolled over Roth 401(k) assets or inherited the Roth account. The five-year clock starts with your first contribution to any Roth IRA…

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Tips for Preventing Uncashed Retirement Checks

Managing uncashed retirement checks may be considered a nuisance by plan administrators. Nevertheless, the employer still has fiduciary responsibility when a former employee fails to cash their distribution. Search efforts to locate a missing plan participant consume time and money and may fail to locate the participant. Likewise, going through the process of turning over dormant accounts to the state can also consume time and resources. Decrease the burden of uncashed checks by: Discussing with terminating employees during the…

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How and When to Pay Plan Expenses With Plan Assets

Some retirement plan expenses can be paid for with plan assets — but many can’t. Which are the “reasonable and necessary” retirement plan expenses that can be paid out of plan assets? Generally, services required to maintain the plan’s compliance and administration can be paid from plan assets. Obvious examples include the annual nondiscrimination testing and preparation of the annual Form 5500. Another example is a plan amendment or restatement that is required because a legislative change. Optional services…

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Are You Prepared for an IRS Audit?

The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) Employee Benefit Audit Program is used to audit and enforce. The IRS’s emphasis, with respect to defined contribution plans is on compliance with the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code), the plan’s tax qualification and administration of all plan documents. In the event of noncompliance with regulations, the IRS can impose taxes, penalties and interest. Most IRS audits are selected at random, but certain audit triggers exist that plan sponsors should be…

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Hey Joel! Answers From a Former Practicing ERISA Attorney, Fiduciary Review

Do you have a question for an ERISA attorney burning in your heart? This forum features answers to some of the most common plan sponsor questions from all over the country, written by a former practicing ERISA attorney. Should I distribute the Fiduciary Investment Review to plan participants? – Generous in Georgia Dear Generous in Georgia, I appreciate your desire to provide detailed information to your plan participants, but hold your horses. While there is nothing legally preventing the…

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Have You Conducted a Fee Equalization/Levelization?

Fees in defined contribution (DC) plans can be complicated. Historically, fees have not been fully and simply disclosed, but the industry is changing towards greater and more understandable disclosure. Simply put, there are two basic types of fees: administrative and investment-related. The investment-related fees are deducted from earnings on participant accounts and will vary from one investment to the next. These fees are paid to the firms that are making decisions about how the various funds are invested in…

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Is it Time for a Plan Refresh?

The duty to provide participants with sufficient information to make consistently informed retirement investment decisions is a basic fiduciary responsibility under ERISA Section 404(a). However, there could be some plan committees who feel their participants are not consistently making prudent decisions. According to a recent JP Morgan survey1 nearly 75 percent of participants say they are not confident with selecting investments. It is no surprise they found that 80 percent of participants surveyed have portfolios that do not match…

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What Happens When You Deposit Employee Deferrals Late?

Judges Gavel

In our research, late deposit of contributions is a frequent error made by plan sponsors and is a key priority of the Department of Labor (DOL). In every plan audit conducted by the DOL, the investigator looks to see if contributions have been deposited in a timely manner. A number of years ago, the DOL revised the instructions to Form 5500 requiring plan auditors to review and confirm that contributions are made in a timely manner. For this reason,…

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IRS Retirement Plan Announcements for the Recent Hurricanes and California Wildfires

Many individuals have recently been significantly impacted by both the hurricanes and California wildfires and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided relief for qualified individuals in retirement plans through several announcements. In addition, President Trump signed the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 (“Act”), which provides tax relief for individuals affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (“HIM”). Below is a summary of the recent communications, including new information based on a recent IRS…

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