Retirement Plan Participants and Standing: Supreme Court’s New ‘No Harm, No Foul’ Ruling

The Supreme Court of the United States has held many times that the federal courts do not have jurisdiction over a lawsuit unless the plaintiff has standing to sue under the federal Constitution. To have standing, the Court has said that the plaintiff must show that he or she suffered or imminently will suffer a concrete and particularized injury to his or her legal rights; that the injury is fairly traceable to the conduct of the defendant; and that the injury can be redressed by a judgment of the court.

IRS Provides Relief for Nonresident Aliens Affected by COVID-19 Travel Disruptions

Because of travel restrictions, such as canceled flights and stay-at-home orders, the COVID-19 pandemic may have significantly limited a nonresident alien’s ability to leave the United States, regardless of whether the individual contracted the COVID-19 virus. An unexpected extended stay in the United States, however, could affect an individual’s tax residency classification or eligibility for certain tax treaty benefits. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released Revenue Procedure 2020-20 to address the potential tax consequences for eligible individuals impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

DOL Finally Relaxes Its Electronic Delivery Rule—But Only for Retirement Plans

On May 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced publication of its long-awaited guidance on electronic participant  disclosures. The good news is that the DOL has taken a step in the right direction in easing some of the difficulties that were present in the prior electronic communications safe harbor. The bad news is that the new guidance applies only to retirement plans.

IRS’s New 2021 HSA and HDHP Limits

On May 20, 2020, in Revenue Procedure 2020-32, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the annual contribution limits for 2021 for health savings accounts (HSA). The IRS also announced the 2021 definitional limits per Internal Revenue Code Section 223 for high deductible health plans (HDHP).

IRS Updates FAQs to Expand Eligibility for Employee Retention Credits Under the CARES Act

On May 7, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of the Treasury revised their frequently asked questions (FAQs) guidance on the Employee Retention Credit to allow employers that do not pay wages, but continue to cover the health plan expenses for laid-off or furloughed employees, to qualify for retention credits.

House Democrats Unveil HEROES Act, $3 Trillion Bill Responding to COVID-19 Crisis

On May 12, 2020, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the latest effort to respond to the ongoing coronavirus health care crisis. Among other provisions, the $3 trillion relief package would provide $1 trillion in aid to states, $75 billion for coronavirus testing and related healthcare measures, and another round of direct stimulus payments to individuals.

Employers Beware: COVID-19–Related Employment Lawsuits Are Heating Up

For the last several months, employers have been forced to learn how COVID-19 spreads, how to maintain or resume safe work environments, and how to navigate a complex web of new and existing laws and regulations implicated by the pandemic. Employers have also had to contend with a growing wave of COVID-19–related employment litigation.

Bankruptcy and Benefits Beyond a Crisis: How Chapters 11 and 7 Affect Retirement and Welfare Plans

Businesses large and small have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. It seems that no industry has been spared economic hardship. As many states prepare to reopen their economies, there are some businesses that will not be able to resume operations—it is too little, too late. Even with massive spending by the federal government to counteract the economic downturn, it appears that a large number of business bankruptcies may be on the horizon.

IRS Issues Update to Form 941 for COVID-19 Related Employment Tax Credits and Other Tax Relief

On April 30, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a draft of Form 941, Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, and accompanying instructions. The revised Form 941 includes various additional entries to report and reconcile payroll tax credits and deferral opportunities available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

IRS Provides Clarity for Retirement Plans on CARES Act COVID-Related Distributions and Loans

On May 4, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued informal guidance regarding the coronavirus-related distributions (CRD) and loan options provided for retirement plans and participants under Section 2202 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Time Is on Your Side: Additional COVID-19 Relief Now Available for Employee Benefit Plan Sponsors and Participants

Deadlines are an inescapable aspect of administering employee benefits plans, and even in the midst of a pandemic that seems to have slowed the progress of days to a crawl, time is always in short supply. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), with a bit of help from its friends at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has come to the rescue with broad compliance relief for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-covered plans.

Retail FAQs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Retail employers are facing challenges unique to their workforces due to the spread of COVID-19. Retailers must keep abreast of federal laws such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, in addition to guidance from federal agencies on these new laws. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions perplexing retailers confronting issues such as health and safety, unions and employee relations, and employee benefits.

Illinois Unemployment Benefits and COVID-19–Related Changes: What Employers Need to Know

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and the federal government have made significant changes to the laws governing the availability of unemployment insurance benefits. These changes, which respond to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, expand eligibility and provide additional benefits to workers.

The Advantages and Challenges of Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plans

The economic and financial consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis have forced some employers to furlough and lay off workers, resulting in record numbers of individuals claiming state unemployment benefits across the country. As a result, an increasing number of employers are considering implementing supplemental unemployment benefits plans (SUB-Pay Plans) in order to provide additional benefits to discharged employees. Unlike severance plans, SUB-Pay Plans can be structured to maximize employer savings while providing greater benefit to the employees. This is not always a quick fix, however, as there are numerous legal and administrative issues to consider when implementing a SUB-Pay Plan.

Can I Get an E-Witness? Retirement Plan Consents in the Age of Social Distancing

As the world faces the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, pension plan administration is often taking place from remote working locations. Prospective retirees and their spouses may increasingly find themselves in those vulnerable populations that are encouraged to avoid public outings as much as possible. Pension plan administrators are understandably eager to adapt their processes to the current situation in order to accommodate an individual’s request to commence retirement benefits. However, plan administrators may want to consider carefully whether to waive the requirement to obtain in-person pension elections.

Puerto Rico Issues Rules on Coronavirus-Related Distributions From Qualified Retirement Plans

On March 29, 2020, the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (commonly known by its Spanish name, Departamento de Hacienda de Puerto Rico, or Hacienda) issued Circular Letter of Internal Revenue No. 20-23 (CL 20-23), which extends to coronavirus-related distributions under qualified retirement plans (CRDs) essentially the same eligibility requirements, due dates, and local tax treatment that Hacienda established in Circular Letter 20-09 (CL 20-09) for distributions under qualified retirement plans related to the earthquakes that hit Puerto Rico during the beginning of the year (ERDs).

Leave in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health and economic cataclysm, and few employers have been able to escape its impact on their business operations and employees. In their efforts to better manage their workforces during this period of extreme economic instability, many employers are turning to unpaid leaves of absences and furloughs as a way to scale back on costs temporarily while maintaining a connection to employees whose help will be critical to restarting normal business operations (whenever that may be). However, at a time when access to health care and financial support for impacted employees is more important than ever, indefinite unpaid leaves or absence and furloughs can present complex administrative issues for many common employee benefit plans. In the discussion that follows, we highlight some of the more important employee benefits issues to consider when employees are placed on unpaid leaves of absence or furloughs.

Covered Entities May Disclose COVID-19-Related Protected Health Information—But Only Under Certain Conditions

Healthcare entities are facing a growing number of challenges related to the virus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease caused by that virus, COVID-19. Among the primary concerns is whether a specific healthcare entity is covered by the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); and if so, how to avoid violating that rule when sharing names or other identifying information of individuals infected with or exposed to the virus.

CARES Act: Foreign National and Immigrant Eligibility for Paid Leave, Unemployment Benefits, and Stimulus Rebates

On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, intended to stimulate the national economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act provides $2 trillion in direct financial assistance, including paid leave, unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and rebates to eligible individuals. Immigrants and foreign nationals in the United States may be eligible for some or all of the listed benefits, depending on the circumstances.

The Taxman Waiteth: IRS Moves Tax Deadline to July 15 Due to COVID-19

As part of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus (and the illness it causes, COVID-19) pandemic, on March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) jointly announced in Notice 2020-18 that taxpayers affected by the pandemic now have until July 15, 2020, to file and pay their federal income taxes for 2019.

Multiemployer Plan Pitfalls and Assistance for Employers Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis

For those employers that have obligations under collective bargaining agreements to contribute to multiemployer benefit plans, the employment implications of the COVID-19 crisis may have significant consequences. Here are some potential pitfalls and possible advantages to participating in multiemployer plans for employers grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.

The CARES Act: What Employers Need to Know About the Historic Stimulus Package

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, intended to stimulate the national economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would provide $2 trillion in direct financial assistance to Americans, ease access to loans and other economic assistance to businesses of all sizes, and provide aid and support to healthcare providers.