Our Employee Benefits team provides comprehensive services related to the design, implementation, and administration of tax-qualified retirement plans including pension plans, “cash balance” plans, 401(k) plans, multiemployer pension plans, governmental and tax-exempt organization plans, KSOPS and ESOPs. We assist clients to ensure that their benefits and compensation programs comply with the myriad federal, state and international laws that govern these programs while still meeting their design goals. We prepare readable and protective plan documents and make required filings with the appropriate governmental agencies.
Ensuring compliance requires reviewing for plan defects and, where necessary, restoring compliance. We assist employers in identifying and successfully correcting a broad range of plan defects, and we have extensive experience with plan compliance self-audits and the IRS’s Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System. We provide critical assistance to companies facing an IRS or Department of Labor audit and have negotiated favorable closing agreements for employers facing IRS assessments.
- 401(k) Plans
We advise employers how to meet nondiscrimination requirements and to set up safe harbor plans. In merger and acquisition situations we work closely with company clients to merge or spin off 401(k) plans. For clients that offer employer stock, we provide sophisticated counseling that materially reduces risk through customized, culturally attuned solutions, including advising how to qualify for the dividend deduction, how to comply with Sarbanes Oxley, and how to avoid Enron-like exposure.
- Defined Benefit Pension Plans
Our decades of experience with a broad array of defined benefit plans (including traditional single employer, multiple employer, multi-employer, cash balance, pension equity and variable annuity plans) allows us to deliver value to new clients from the inception of the relationship. In addition, our regular involvement in the Washington policy process with IRS, Treasury and the Department of Labor affords us a high level of insight and access that delivers tangible benefits to clients. For example, the firm was one of the founding members of the Cash Balance Practitioners Group, which played a leading role in the development of IRS guidance for cash balance plans. We comprehensively review governance structures and documentation, suggest appropriate revisions, provide targeted fiduciary training and, where appropriate, help with the efficient use of independent fiduciaries.
- Cash Balance Plans
Using our experience in the pension plan area, we have assisted in designing and converting traditional defined benefit pension plans into cash balance or other hybrid plans that have features similar to defined contribution plans. In this regard, we have testified on behalf of clients before the Department of Treasury on proposed cash balance plan regulations and have worked closely with the IRS, DOL, and PBGC to foster a more favorable regulatory environment for cash balance plans.
- Corrections and Audits
Our considerable experience in IRS and Department of Labor corrections has produced some exceptional results. In one notable case, two other prominent law firms opined that it would cost well over $1 million dollars to correct a 401(k) plan defect, relying on contacts with the IRS district office. Upon reviewing the matter, we concluded there was no error and proposed that we seek IRS National Office confirmation, which was duly obtained. On the enforcement side, we have successfully guided clients through Department of Labor and IRS audits, including the newer Employee Plans Team Audits, and once again obtained some exceptional results.