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SEC Proposes Rule Requiring CEO Pay Ratio Disclosures

The SEC recently released a proposed rule that would require public companies to disclose the median annual total compensation of all their employees and the ratio of such median to the annual total compensation of their CEO.?á This requirement is commonly known as the ?Ç£pay ratio disclosure?Ç¥ requirement.?á?áThe proposed rule can be found?áhere.

HRAs May Cause Retirees to be Ineligible for Exchange Subsidies

The IRS has clarified that a retiree covered by a standalone health reimbursement arrangement (?Ç£HRA?Ç¥) will not be eligible for a premium tax credit under the Affordable Care Act to purchase coverage through an exchange.?á The HRA would constitute ?Ç£minimum essential coverage?Ç¥ for any month in which there is an available amount in the HRA, even after the employer has stopped contributing to the HRA. IRS Notice 2013-54 can be found here.

Employers Unable to Pay for Individual Policies on a Pre-Tax Basis

New guidance from the IRS suggests that the only way for employers to pay for employees?ÇÖ individual health insurance policies is to pay for such coverage on an after-tax basis. ?áHealth reimbursement arrangements and employer arrangements that pay or reimburse premiums on a pre-tax basis, which cover individuals who are not enrolled in group health plans, are no longer permissible under the Affordable Care Act.?á Employers may forward post-tax employee deductions to a health insurance issuer without establishing a group health plan. IRS Notice 2013-54 can be found here.

DOL Says Same-Sex Marriages are Marriages for ERISA Plan Purposes

The U.S. Department of Labor (?Ç£DOL?Ç¥) recently announced that the terms ?Ç£spouse?Ç¥ and ?Ç£marriage?Ç¥ would include same-sex couples lawfully married in any state or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage, regardless of the current state of residence. ?áThis is consistent with the position recently announced by the IRS in Revenue Ruling 2013-17. ?áAccording to the DOL?ÇÖs technical release, future guidance is forthcoming on specific ERISA provisions. Technical Release 2013-4 can be found here.

Procedures Announced for Employers to Correct Overpayments of Employment Taxes Related to Benefits Provided to Same-Sex Spouses

The IRS announced two special procedures for employers to correct overpayments of employment taxes made in 2013.?á The first procedure allows employers to use the fourth quarter 2013 Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, to correct the overpayment of FICA and federal income tax withholdings made during the first three quarters of 2013.?á The second procedure allows employers to file one Form 941-X, Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, for the fourth quarter of 2013 to correct the overpayment of FICA taxes during all quarters of 2013.?á For the overpayment of FICA taxes in years prior to 2013, employers may make a claim or adjustment for all four calendar quarters of a specific year by filing one Form 941-X.?á The employer can file a Form 941-X filed for the fourth quarter of a specific year if the year is still open under the statute of… Continue Reading

HIPAA Privacy Deadline Reminder

This is a reminder that September 23, 2013 is the deadline to update HIPAA policies and procedures, business associate agreements, notices of privacy practices, and HIPAA training presentations.?á There is an extended deadline for business associate agreements that were compliant and in place before January 25, 2013.

Important Changes Related to Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses Became Effective Monday, September 16, 2013

Effective September 16, 2013, same-sex spouses will be treated the same as opposite-sex spouses for all federal income tax purposes. ?áThis means that employers should no longer impute income to employees for the value of certain benefits provided to their same-sex spouses and that qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) and defined benefit pension plans, must extend spousal benefits and protections to same-sex spouses.?á For example, as of September 16, 2013, a qualified retirement plan must, among other things, provide same-sex spouses a qualified joint and survivor annuity payment option and treat a same-sex spouse as an employee?ÇÖs default beneficiary, absent the same-sex spouse?ÇÖs written consent to naming another beneficiary. A copy of the relevant IRS guidance can be found here.

Twitter Publicly Announced it Privately Applied to Go Public

On Thursday, Twitter announced — by tweet, of course — that it has filed to go public. That is, Twitter submitted a?á?áS-1 filing to the SEC?áfor a planned IPO.?á It did so confidentially, as allowed under the JOBS Act.?á Twitter revealed this to the world 3 days ago through its own Twitter account in a brief tweeter…and minutes later, casually tweeted, “Now, back to work.” Twitter’s IPO plans are sure to be watched closely by the world.?á Facebook going public?áwas, of course, an enormous event filled with business and legal questions and activities.

Exchange Notice May Be Distributed On Behalf Of Employers

An entity other than the sponsoring employer of a group health plan, such as an insurer, union, or third-party administrator, may send the ?Ç£Notice of Coverage Options?Ç¥ (aka ?Ç£Exchange Notice?Ç¥) on behalf of the employer under the Affordable Care Act.?á This notice must be distributed to all employees by October 1, 2013.?á If such other entity is providing the notice only to plan participants, the employer is still obligated to ensure that all employees who are not enrolled in the plan also receive the notice. The relevant U.S. Department of Labor FAQs can be found?áhere.

Final Rules Permitting Employers to Appeal Exchange Decisions

An exchange will notify an employer when it finds an employee is eligible for a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction in connection with coverage purchased through the exchange. This notice will identify the employee, state that the employee has been found eligible for such government assistance, state that the employer may be liable for the employer shared responsibility penalty, and notify the employer of its right to appeal this determination. ?áThe employer will then have 90 days to appeal the exchange?ÇÖs determination that the employer does not provide such employee with health coverage that qualifies under the Affordable Care Act. The final rules can be found here.

September 2013