Employee Benefits Blog
Archives for 2013
December 27, 2013
In a previous post we discussed IRS Notice 2013-54, in which the IRS reversed its previous position by indicating that, when an employer pays for an employee’s individual health insurance policy premiums, the benefit can no longer be provided on a pre-tax basis and must now be treated as taxable wages. We encountered a situation recently which led us to conclude that, while it is not free from doubt, it appears that S corporation owner employees who directly or indirectly own at least 2% of the shares may now potentially be in a more favorable position than owner-employees of C corporations.
December 12, 2013
November 4, 2013
On October 31, 2013, the IRS issued Notice 2013-71, which significantly modifies the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule applicable to health flexible spending accounts (health FSAs).
October 31, 2013
On October 31, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service issued IR-2013-86, a news release announcing the 2014 inflation adjustments affecting pension plans and other retirement-related items.
October 1, 2013
On Friday, September 13, the IRS issued Notice 2013-54 to discuss the application of the “market reform” provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to certain employer healthcare arrangements, including, among others, arrangements under which employers pay for employees’ individual health insurance policies, either by paying the insurance company directly or by reimbursing the employee. The Notice, which mirrors substantially identical guidance issued by the DOL, also covers health reimbursement accounts under Section 105 and health flexible spending arrangement under Code Section 125. The “market reform” provisions include the requirements to provide certain preventive services with no cost-sharing and to refrain from imposing a lifetime cap on benefits. There are many aspects to this Notice, but this post will focus only on its impact on employers’ subsidies of employees’ individual health insurance policies.
October 1, 2013
During the past several months, numerous provisions of the Affordable Care Act have taken their turn on center stage. For example, starting in early July we have had constant reminders of first the one-year delay in the employer mandate, then the Patient Center Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee, then the exchange notices, and most recently the possibility of a government shutdown over funding the ACA. There is another ACA provision that has received very little attention to date that may turn out to be among the Act’s most significant changes: the new nondiscrimination rules applicable to insured group health plans.
One of the traditional quirks in the taxation of employee benefits is that, whereas self-insured health plans are subject to significant and potentially punitive nondiscrimination rules under Code Section 105(h), health plans funded through commercial insurance are subject to no discrimination rules. (In general, Section 105(h) prohibits discrimination as to either eligibility or benefits in favor of highly compensated employees. For this purpose, the definition of “highly compensated employee” is very broad, in that it includes the highest paid 25% of all employees.) Thus, employers have been free to provide very rich insurance coverage to certain employees and far inferior coverage to others. Congress attempted to address this discrepancy in the late 1980’s by enacting Code Section 89. However, this section was so convoluted and controversial that it was repealed before it came into effect.