IRS and DOL Announce Semi-Annual Regulatory Agenda

Each year, government agencies provide semiannual regulatory agendas that outline the agencies’ goals for proposing and finalizing agency regulations. The IRS and the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) annually provide such agendas, highlighting their possible action on a number of employee benefit plan issues. The regulatory agendas help plan sponsors and industry professionals prepare for potential changes in the employee benefits environment. The following is a preview of what the IRS and DOL have planned for the upcoming months.

Notably, the DOL is in the final rule stage for the following rules:

  • Amendment of the Abandoned Plan Program: This rule would broaden the scope of entities that are authorized to identify wind-down abandoned plans.
  • Adoption of Amended and Restated Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP): The DOL is expanding the VFCP to include more transactions and streamline the procedures.
  • Religious and Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the ACA: These two rules expand the exemptions from the ACA contraceptive mandate to include those companies who have religious and moral objections to offering such coverage.
  • Definition of an ‘Employer’ Under Section 3(5) of ERISA – Association Health Plans: This rule will establish criteria to allow more employer groups and associations to sponsor association health plans.
  • Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance: This rule will amend the definition of short-term, limited duration insurance to allow for a longer period of coverage.

The IRS has several rules affecting employee benefits (more than 20) that they’re seeking to propose or adjust in the coming months. Here are a few that may be of special interest to employee benefit plan sponsors:

  • Final regulations regarding qualified nonelective contributions (QNECs) and qualified matching contributions (QMACs): The final regulations will permit employers to use forfeitures to fund these contributions
  • Announcements on hardship distributions following last year’s hurricanes and the California wildfires
  • Church plan guidance: The proposed rule would update the definition of church plan under the IRC
  • Guidance on the definition of “affiliated service groups”: This guidance would define the term “affiliated service group,” and the IRS would release the guidance under consideration and request comments
  • Guidance on missing participants
  • Proposed Rule to modify EPCRS (IRS correction program) by expanding certain corrections

This appears to be another busy year for the IRS and the DOL. Interestingly, much of the regulatory action in the next 12 months seems to be aimed at clarifying requirements and providing additional ways for employers to comply with IRC and ERISA requirements. As with all years, the timing of this guidance is always subject to change.

DOL Agenda »
IRS Agenda »