Author Archives: Sheldon Smith

Using Public Policy to Create IRA Irony

You might recall that the Department of Labor (DOL) took the position earlier this year that it had to protect individual retirement accounts and annuities as well as IRA owners by extending certain ERISA protections to them. In its promulgation […]

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Kübler-Ross and IRS Announcement 2016-32

When the IRS announced that it would virtually eliminate the determination letter program for individually designed retirement plans, many practitioners moved through the classic Kübler-Ross five stages of grief (see the picture at the right).  Some have yet to finish.  […]

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Exceptional Plan Governance: Beat Back the Coming Litigation Onslaught

It was bound to happen. For several years, the plaintiffs’ bar has sued fiduciaries of large 401(k) plans asserting breach of their duties under ERISA by failing to exercise requisite prudence in permitting excessive administrative and investment fees.  It may […]

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Undermining the Goal of Expanding Coverage for Nonhighly Compensated Employees

One might be led to believe that the current administration is in favor of expanding retirement savings opportunities. After all, the DOL has somewhat apologetically subverted ERISA to allow the States to sponsor employer-based savings plans.  And the President’s recently […]

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Reacting to Our Failure to Effect Sound Retirement Policy

Ever since ERISA was first promulgated, and notwithstanding consequential economic, societal and demographic changes, efforts at improving the nation’s employer-based retirement structure have had fits and starts mostly due to the failure of Congress and the Nation to revisit retirement […]

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Risk-Shifting and the Demise of the Determination Letter Program

Last week, at the Western Benefits Conference, IRS Commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, Sunita B. Lough, addressed the conference minutes after the IRS released Ann. 2015-19, 2015-32 IRB.  This is the announcement reforming the determination letter […]

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Documentation Hardship for Hardships (and Participant Loans, Too)

What is the IRS thinking about when it announces that plan sponsors, even those using a qualified TPA/recordkeeper, should maintain the records for hardship distributions and participant loans? 401(k) plans particularly (although this applies to other types of qualified plans […]

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You’ll Need Your BIC® for This BIC

The Department of Labor (“DOL“) has responded to the concerns of the broker-dealer community as expressed in myriad comment letters concerning the 2010 proposed fiduciary regulations by adding the Best Interest Contract (BIC) exemption to the new proposed rule. The […]

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Are You My Fiduciary?

How many of you remember the classic children’s’ story “Are you My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman?  In that delightful story, we follow a confused but determined baby bird who is looking for his mother.  He sets off to find her, […]

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DOL’s Expansion of the Definition of Investment Advice (or “Fiduciary”)

Acting on reaction to a proposed and subsequently withdrawn regulation from October 2010 and attempting to address concerns expressed by both interested parties to the initial proposed regulation and an economic analysis by the Council of Economic Advisors (that the […]

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