American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte


July 20, 2015

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.

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House Approves Transportation Funding Measure with Extension of Section 420 Transfers

In a 312-119 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015, Part II (H.R. 3038), a short-term extension of highway and transportation project funding through December 18, 2015. One of the revenue measures used to offset the cost of extending the highway funding is a provision allowing employers to transfer excess defined benefit plan assets to retiree medical accounts and group-term life insurance under Internal Revenue Code Section 420, also called Section 420 transfers. 

The measure extends a provision that was included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act of 2012.  At that time the Section 420 transfers were extended through the end of 2021. The highway bill approved last week would further extend it through the end of 2025.

Section 420, originally enacted in 1990, permits the transfer of assets from significantly overfunded pension plans (that is, plans with assets in excess of either 120 percent or 125 percent of liabilities depending on the type of transfer) to pay for retiree health care costs. The Council has consistently argued that Section 420 transfers facilitate the continuation of retiree health insurance for countless retirees.  And this is accomplished without negative implications for pension funding, since it only applies to substantially overfunded plans. The expansion of Section 420 to permit transfers to pay the costs of retiree life insurance also provides additional financial security for seniors.  The Council’s support for Section 420 expansion was described in a letter to the House Ways and Means committee leadership when the issue was being examined in the context of the MAP-21 legislation (see the February 16, 2012, Benefits Byte).

H.R. 3038 supplements the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015, passed earlier this spring. It is now up to the U.S. Senate to pass legislation continuing highway and transportation project funding.

For more information, contact Lynn Dudley, senior vice president, global retirement & compensation policy, or Diann Howland, vice president, legislative affairs, 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).