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Ricardo Carlo can be reached at rcarlo@joneswalker.com or 504.582.8409.

As noted in our previous alerts regarding the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) COBRA subsidies and return to work issues, employers have until May 31, 2021, to notify “Assistance Eligible Individuals” of their potential right to subsidized COBRA coverage during the six-month period from April 1 to September 30, 2021 and potential right to enroll or re-enroll in COBRA coverage.
Continue Reading Reminder – ARPA COBRA Notice Deadline Approaching; IRS Provides Much-Needed Guidance

In response to last year’s devastating hurricane season and other natural disasters, the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act, which is a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Act), included various relief provisions (similar to those under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2021 (CARES Act)), designed to assist individuals who suffered an economic loss as a result of these disasters. The Act, signed by former President Trump on December 27, 2020, provides individuals with increased access to their retirement plan accounts as well as plan loan and hardship distribution-related relief as described in more detail below. The relief under the Act generally expires on June 25, 2021.Continue Reading Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans Disaster-Related Relief

As part of an ongoing effort by the IRS to provide employers and employees with flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS recently issued notices 2020-29 and 2020-33, providing relief with respect to “cafeteria plans,” health flexible spending accounts (Health FSAs), dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs), and high deductible health plans (HDHPs). The relief applies to all employees who are eligible to participate in such plans, regardless of whether they are actually affected by COVID-19. Below is a summary of key aspects of the guidance and practical issues to consider.
Continue Reading IRS Temporarily Relaxes Cafeteria Plan Midyear Election Change and FSA Rules and Provides Other Employee Benefit Relief

In accordance with emergency powers granted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance temporarily extending a number of benefit plan-related deadlines and providing other relief for participants and plan sponsors having difficulty complying with these requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a summary of the guidance, which is posted in the Employee Benefits Resources Section.

DOL and IRS Final Rule

The May 4, 2020, Final Rule generally suspends certain benefit plan deadlines for the duration of the “Outbreak Period,” which is an open-ended period beginning March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the end of the COVID-19 national emergency. The relief under the Final Rule is generally aimed at participants and beneficiaries, and mostly affects group health plans.Continue Reading IRS and DOL Issue Sweeping Deadline Relief for Benefit Plan Participants and Plan Sponsors

On September 29, President Trump signed into law the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 (the “Act”). The Act provides temporary tax relief to the victims Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (the “Hurricanes”). The Act also provides victims of the Hurricanes with additional access to their retirement accounts and lessens

On August 25, 2017, and September 10, 2017, President Trump declared major disasters in Texas and Florida due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma (the “Hurricanes”). Following the declarations, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) issued relief for affected individuals and entities. The IRS is postponing certain tax filings and payment deadlines for taxpayers who reside or work in the disaster area. The relief also provides qualifying individuals with expanded access to their retirement plan assets to alleviate hardships caused by the Hurricanes. Additional IRS guidance allows donation of employer-paid leave to charitable organizations aiding victims of the Hurricanes.

The DOL is providing additional relief to employers and plan fiduciaries, in the form of deadline leniency and relaxation of fiduciary requirements for benefit plans that have compliance lapses resulting from the Hurricanes. Finally, the PBGC is waiving certain penalties and extending certain filing deadlines. Below is a summary of the relief provided by the IRS, DOL, and PBGC. Additional relief is sure to follow for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.Continue Reading Federal Agencies Provide Benefit Plan Relief to Victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma