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Reminder of Annual Reporting and IRS Filing for ISO Exercises and ESPP Stock Transfers

This is a reminder for sponsors of equity incentive plans and tax-qualified “employee stock purchase plans” (“ESPPs”) of their year-end information reporting requirements under Section 6039 of the Internal Revenue Code with respect to stock issued to employees or former employees upon the exercise of “incentive stock options” (“ISO”) or transferred under an ESPP. The IRS has issued two forms that companies must use to satisfy the return and information statement requirements: (i) Form 3921, which is required when an employee (or former employee) exercises an ISO, and (ii) Form 3922, which is required when a company records the first transfer of legal title of shares acquired under an ESPP when either (a) the purchase price of the shares was less than the stock’s fair market value on the date of grant or (b) the purchase price of the shares was not fixed or determinable on the date of grant.… Continue Reading

DOL Issues Proposed Regulations for Electronic Delivery of ERISA-Required Retirement Plan Disclosures

The DOL recently issued proposed regulations which provide a “Notice-and-Access” safe harbor for the electronic delivery of ERISA-required disclosures. Under the proposed regulations, plan administrators can fulfill their obligation to provide these disclosures by making the information accessible online and by sending a notice of Internet availability (“Internet Availability Notice”) of the disclosures to participants’ e-mail addresses. The Internet Availability Notice must include a brief description of the document being posted online, a website address where the document is posted, and instructions for requesting a free paper copy of the disclosures or electing paper delivery of such disclosures in the future. Although the Internet Availability Notice must generally be sent each time a disclosure is posted online, the proposed regulations would allow a plan administrator to combine such notices in certain circumstances. The proposed regulations only apply to retirement plans, not health and welfare plans, and a plan administrator must… Continue Reading

Agency FAQs Provide Additional Guidance under Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

Recently, the federal Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services (collectively, the “Agencies”) jointly issued a set of frequently asked questions and responses (the “FAQs”) that (i) provide additional examples of applying the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, as amended (“MHPAEA”), to various fact patterns and (ii) finalize previous guidance issued by the Agencies in 2018 (see our prior blog post on that guidance here). The MHPAEA generally prohibits group health plans and issuers from imposing financial requirements (such as coinsurance or copays) or treatment limitations (such as visit limits or other “non-quantitative” limitations) on “mental health benefits” and “substance use disorder benefits” (collectively, “MH/SUD Benefits”) that are more restrictive than the predominant financial requirements and treatment limitations that apply to substantially all medical and surgical benefits (collectively, “Med/Surg Benefits”). The fact situations addressed in the FAQs include the following: • A group health plan’s imposition… Continue Reading

California Requires Employee Notice Regarding Flexible Spending Accounts

A new California state law requires an employer to notify its employees who participate in a flexible spending account (including health, dependent care, or adoption assistance flexible spending accounts) of any deadline to withdraw their funds before the end of the plan year. The employer must provide such notice in at least two of the following five forms, only one of which may be electronic: (i) email, (ii) telephone, (iii) text message, (iv) postal mail, or (v) in-person. Given that many flexible spending accounts have run-out periods that extend after a plan year ends, it appears that this notice requirement would apply when there is a termination of employment or other loss of coverage that requires submission of claims before the end of the plan year. However, the legislative history indicates that the statute is concerned with the “use it or lose it” rule for flexible spending accounts. Guidance under… Continue Reading

October 15 Deadline to Provide Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable Coverage

Health plans that offer prescription drug coverage must distribute the Annual Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable Coverage (the “Notice”) prior to October 15, 2019. The Notice informs participants whether the plan’s prescription drug coverage constitutes creditable or non-creditable coverage. Employers must provide the Notice to all Medicare-eligible participants and dependents. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has posted forms and instructions for providing this Notice, which are available here.

Court Penalizes Employer $41,140 for Failure to Timely Provide Plan Documents

In Kinsinger, a federal district court in North Carolina significantly penalized a plan administrator that failed to timely respond to employees’ request for plan documents related to an employer-sponsored group health plan subject to ERISA. The documents were not provided until 748 days after the ERISA required 30-day period to provide documents had expired, and then only in response to a lawsuit claiming an ERISA fiduciary breach for misappropriating employee contributions. The federal district court assessed a penalty of $55 per day (half of the statutory maximum of $110 dollars per day) for the failure to provide the required documents—a penalty determined by the court to reflect “both the egregiousness of the [plan administrator’s] misconduct as well as the extraordinary length of delay.” This opinion serves as a cautionary warning to ERISA plan administrators to not ignore document requests; however, not all documents requested by plaintiff’s attorneys are required to… Continue Reading

IRS Announces Final Regulations Implementing New Hardship Distribution Requirements

The IRS recently published final regulations addressing changes enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and other prior changes to the tax code. The final regulations do not contain any substantive differences to the proposed regulations issued by the IRS in November 2018. The new final regulations: • Permit, but do not require, hardship distributions from a participant’s elective contributions, QNECs, QMACs (including safe harbor matching contributions), and any earnings on those amounts, regardless of when they were contributed or earned. • Prohibit plans from containing a requirement that a participant may not contribute to the plan for any period of time following a hardship distribution (in other words, eliminate the six-month suspension rule). • Eliminate the requirement that a participant take out all available plan loans before receiving a hardship distribution (although plans may continue to contain such a requirement).… Continue Reading

OCR Issues Fact Sheet on Direct Liability for Business Associates under HIPAA

HHS’s Office for Civil Rights(“OCR”), which is the government agency responsible for enforcement of the HIPAA privacy, security, breach notification, and enforcement rules (the “HIPAA Rules”), recently issued a new fact sheet (“Fact Sheet”). The Fact Sheet recaps the provisions in the HIPAA Rules for which a HIPAA business associate may be held directly liable for compliance. HIPAA business associates of an employer-sponsored group health plan, which is a “covered entity” under HIPAA, would include, for example, the health plan’s third-party claims administrator, a health plan consulting firm, a benefits broker, and the health plan’s outside legal counsel, if such persons or entities create, receive, maintain, or transmit HIPAA protected health information (“PHI”) on behalf of the health plan. The Fact Sheet clarified that OCR has authority to take enforcement action against business associates only for certain requirements and prohibitions of the HIPAA Rules as listed in the Fact Sheet,… Continue Reading

Federal Departments Announce No Enforcement Action Regarding Drug Manufacturer Coupons Counting Toward Out-of-Pocket Maximums

HHS’s 2020 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (“NBPP”) provides that a group health plan does not have to count drug manufacturer coupons for brand-name drugs towards an annual out-of-pocket maximum if there is a medically appropriate generic equivalent. Many questions were raised by this rule, including (i) how it interacted with health savings account guidance and (ii) what types of arrangements and/or plans to which it applied. The DOL, HHS, and the Treasury Department (collectively, the “Departments”) announced in an FAQ (available here) that the Departments will not initiate any enforcement action if a group health plan does not count the value of drug manufacturer coupons toward an out-of-pocket maximum. This no enforcement policy lasts until HHS’s 2021 NBPP becomes effective, and the 2021 NBPP should clarify how this rule affects employer-sponsored group health plans.

IRS Addresses Medical Expense Reimbursements Related to Ancestry Genetic Testing Services

In Private Letter Ruling 201933005 (the “PLR”), the IRS recently addressed whether certain genetic testing services and reports provided to an individual by a commercial retailer of bundled ancestry and health evaluation services (“Ancestry Provider”) constituted “medical care” expenses under Section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, which would be reimbursable to the individual from his or her employer-sponsored health flexible spending arrangement (“HFSA”). Under the facts of the PLR, the Ancestry Provider (i) collected a DNA sample from an individual through a DNA testing kit, (ii) sent the sample to a third-party laboratory for genetic testing, and (iii) issued reports to the individual with results from such laboratory testing, including, among other things, information regarding the individual’s potential health risks. The IRS concluded that because the Ancestry Provider’s bundled services included both non-medical (i.e., ancestry) as well as health services, the costs of its services must be valued and… Continue Reading

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