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October 2013

From the editors of CCH's BENE and BAN products, here are hot topics from recent Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletters as well as recent explanatory updates in Employee Benefits Management. Also included are recent explanatory updates to the Benefits Answers Now product.

If you have any comments/suggestions concerning the information provided or the format used, we'd like to hear from you. Please contact Tulay.Turan@wolterskluwer.com.

 

Hot Topics in Employee Benefits Management:

IRS takes place of celebration approach to same-sex marriages, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 547, September 10, 2013 — In Rev. Rul. 2013-17, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Mercer provides employers with open enrollment communication checklist, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 547, September 10, 2013 —  With key pieces of health care reform going into effect in 2014, employers have even more to consider this year as they prepare for their annual health benefits open enrollment. In response, Mercer has developed a short checklist that outlines steps employers should take to maximize the value of their benefits while minimizing employee questions and concerns.

IRS issues proposed rules on information reporting under Affordable Care Act, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 548, September 24, 2013 — The IRS has issued two sets of proposed rules to implement the information reporting requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The regulations are proposed to apply for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2014.

Third parties may send exchange notices to employees, EBSA says , Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 548, September 24, 2013 — Third parties may fulfill employers' obligations to send employees a notice of coverage options available through state health insurance marketplaces, according to frequently asked questions from the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

What's New in Employee Benefits Management:
Same-sex spouses  — Revenue Ruling 2013-17 (see story above) is discussed at ¶10,500 and ¶10,110.

Health insurance tax credit  — The IRS has released proposed regulations that provide guidance on the Code Sec. 45R tax credit available to certain small employers offering health insurance coverage to their employees. For details, see ¶10,505.

Regulations on exchanges —  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a final rule that outlines health insurance exchange standards with respect to eligibility appeals, agents and brokers, privacy and security, issuer direct enrollment, and the handling of consumer cases. It also sets forth standards with respect to a state’s operation of the exchange and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). For more information, see ¶12,130.

HSA — In Notice 2013, 57, the Internal Revenue Service issued clarification that a health plan will not fail to qualify as a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) merely because it provides preventive health care without a deductible, as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). See ¶39,067 for details.

Proposed rules on information reporting — The IRS rules on information reporting pursuant to ACA are discussed at ¶10,240.

What's New in Benefits Answers Now (BAN):
IRS takes place of celebration approach to same-sex marriages. In Rev. Rul. 2013-17, the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Find out more about the IRS ruling at ¶20,650, ¶20,680, and ¶20,810.

IRS issues proposed regs that require filing certain retirement plan returns on magnetic media. The IRS has issued proposed regulations that require the filing of certain retirement plan statements, returns, and reports (such as, Form 8955-SSA, Form 5500 series, and Schedule SB and Schedule MB) on magnetic media. The term "magnetic media" includes electronic filing, as well as other magnetic media specifically permitted under applicable regulations, revenue procedures, publications, forms, instructions, or other guidance on the IRS website. See the discussion at ¶10,170 for more information about the reports that are required to be filed using magnetic media.

Proposed guidance on employee health insurance tax credit of small employers issued. The IRS has released proposed regulations that provide guidance on the tax credit available to certain small employers offering health insurance coverage to their employees. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created a tax credit for certain small employers that provide health insurance coverage to their employees. The proposed regulations affect certain taxable and tax-exempt employers. More information about small employer tax credit and the proposed regulations can be found at ¶60,310.

Mercer provides employers with open enrollment communication checklist. With key pieces of health care reform going into effect in 2014, employers have even more to consider this year as they prepare for their annual health benefits open enrollment. In response, Mercer has developed a short checklist that outlines steps employers should take to maximize the value of their benefits while minimizing employee questions and concerns, An overview of the open enrollment checklist can be found at ¶40,755.

Survey shows growing number of companies favoring individual market-based strategies for post-65 retirees. In response to rising health care costs and mandated changes brought about by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a recent survey from Aon Hewitt shows that many U.S. organizations have or are seriously considering sourcing post-65 retiree health care benefit coverage through the individual Medicare plan market. The annual Retiree Health Care survey of 548 companies covering almost 4 million retirees shows more than 60 percent of employers are reassessing their long-term retiree health strategies due to the ACA. To find out more about how employers are changing their retiree health care strategy due to the ACA, see ¶22,879.

What's New in Spencer’s Benefits Reports:
Preventive care. The ACA requires group health plans provide coverage, without cost sharing, for certain preventive services. This report summarizes the preventive care provisions in the ACA that affect employer plans (Report 514.-1).

IRA distributions. Minimum distributions from retirement plans and IRAs must begin by age 70-1/2. However, distributions for individuals who are not 5 percent or more owners may be postponed past age 70-1/2. This report reviews the rules on minimum distributions (Report 185.-1).

Domestic partner eligibility. Most employers require documentation verifying that domestic partners seeking benefits meet their eligibility criteria. This report describes domestic partnership model statements from several large national employers (Report 327.4.-11).

COBRA in the courts. Since COBRA was enacted, numerous lawsuits have been heard by the federal appellate courts. This report summarizes the rulings in a number of COBRA cases (Report 329.4.-1).

Health insurance reporting. Under the ACA, employers have a number of reporting responsibilities. This report discusses those requirements (Report 558.-1).

New Pension/Benefits Titles Added:
401(k) Advisor, October 2013 issue
401(k) Answer Book, 2014 Ed
Cash Balance Plan Answer Book, 2nd Ed, 2014 Cum Supp
COBRA Handbook, 2014 Ed
Employee Benefit Plan Review, October 2013 issue
Employee Stock Ownership Plan Answer Book, 4th Ed, 2014 Supp
ERISA: A Comprehensive Guide, 4th Ed, 2013 Supp
ERISA Law Answer Book, 8th Ed
Governmental Plans Answer Book, 3rd Ed
Pension Benefits, October 2013 issue
Pension Distribution Answer Book, 2014 Ed
Roth IRA Answer Book, 7th Ed
Social Security & Medicare Answer Book, 5th Ed