American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte


March 14, 2014

The Benefits Byte is the American Benefits Council’s regular e-mail and online newsletter for members only, providing timely reports on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments, along with updates on the Council’s activities in support of employer-sponsored benefit plans.

The Benefits Byte is published by the American Benefits Council, based on staff reports and edited by Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications. Contact information for Council staff related to specific topics can be found at the end of each story.

Click here to read past issues on the Benefits Byte Archive page.

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Blueprint Summary Now Available for Final PPACA Employer Responsibility Regulations

As we reported in the February 10 Benefits Byte, the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released final regulations implementing the “Employer Shared Responsibility” provisions (commonly known as the “employer mandate” or the “pay-or-play mandate”) under Section 4980H of the tax code, as added by PPACA. The IRS also released a fact sheet and a series of questions and answers to provide additional information on the new rules.

A Council Benefits Blueprint summary, prepared by Seth Perretta, Malcolm Slee and Allison Ullman of Crowell & Moring LLP, is now available on the Council website. The Blueprint covers the key differences between the proposed and final regulations, with a focus on provisions for important transition relief. These topics were covered on Part I of the Council’s P4P … Preparing for PPACA webinar series on the final regulations. A digital playback of that webinar is available here.

The Council will host Part II of that series on Thursday, March 20 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, addressing the application of 4980H to various types of workers, such as temporary, seasonal and expatriate workers. The discussion will also cover employees with special considerations, such as those in the education industry and those who work on a commission basis. Click here to register for Part II.

 For more information on webinar registration or recordings, contact Jason Hammersla, director of communications. For more information on PPACA and health care policy, contact Kathryn Wilber, senior counsel, health policy at (202) 289-6700.

Additional Materials Released Regarding 408(b)(2) Proposed 'Guide' Rules

As we reported in the March 11 Benefits Byte, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) recently released proposed regulations on March 11 generally requiring retirement plan service providers to furnish a separate explanatory "guide" (or similar tool) to plan fiduciaries along with initial standard information disclosures. Under Section 408(b)(2) of ERISA, service providers must make disclosures - including plan fees - to responsible plan fiduciaries in order for contracts or arrangements between the parties to be considered "reasonable."

EBSA has also released two additional, related items:

  • A fact sheet describing the proposed regulations, including additional information about the agency’s intention to conduct focus group sessions to explore current practices and the effects of EBSA’s final regulations governing 408(b)(2) disclosures; and
  • An information collection request (ICR) regarding the “effectiveness of the 408(b)(2) disclosure requirements.” Specifically, the ICR asks for comments on the agency’s focus group project, which it says “is designed to explore current practices and effects of EBSA’s final regulation and to gather information about the need for a guide, summary, or similar tool to help [responsible plan fiduciaries] navigate and understand the disclosures.”

EBSA is soliciting written comments in response to the ICR through May 12, 2014. The agency is soliciting comments on the aforementioned proposed regulations through June 9. For more information, or to provide input for the Council’s submission of comments, contact Jan Jacobson, senior counsel, retirement policy, at (202) 289-6700.

The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.

Notice: the information contained herein is general in nature. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, consulting, legal or tax advice or opinion provided by the American Benefits Council or any of its employees. As required by the IRS, we inform you that any information contained herein was not intended or written to be used or referred to, and cannot be used or referred to (i) for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein (and any attachment).