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Stephanie O. ZornBlog Posts

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  • Financial Conflict of Interest in the Eighth Circuit: Trigger of a Less Deferential Standard of Review or Mere Factor in Determining Plan Administrator Abuse of Discretion?

    It is well-established under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) that when an employee benefit plan grants the plan administrator discretion to decide questions of eligibility for benefits or to construe plan terms, judicial review of the plan administrator’s denial of benefits is generally limited to the deferential abuse of discretion standard...… Continue Reading
    April 15, 2018
  • 2018 Tax Reform Series: Goodbye to the Individual Mandate

    This is the seventh article in our series covering various tax and employee benefits-related changes contained in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by the President on December 22, 2017. Once significant change made by the Act, summarized below, is the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, effective 2019. Background Long an...… Continue Reading
    January 23, 2018
  • Employer Health Plan Premiums Rose in 2016, But Just Barely

    Premiums for Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace coverage continue to sky rocket, with the average cost of a benchmark plan in the individual market place rising 20% this year. There is very different news for employer-sponsored plans. According to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2016 annual family premiums rose on average a modest 3%...… Continue Reading
    September 25, 2017
  • 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Hardship Distribution Substantiation: What Will the IRS Be Looking For?

    On February 23 and March 7, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued memoranda to examination agents addressing review of substantiation provided in support of safe harbor hardship distributions under 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Although the memoranda cannot be relied upon as official guidance, they are good reference points to help plan sponsors and third … Continue Reading
    March 9, 2017
  • Are You Down With O.O.P.s?: Opt-Out Payments Under the Affordable Care Act

    In Notice 2015-87, the IRS addressed the impact of employer opt-out payments — payments made to employees who decline enrollment in an employer’s group health plan — on affordability for ACA purposes. Employers who do not offer group health coverage that is affordable as defined under the ACA risk significant penalties.  For 2016, group health … Continue Reading
    August 19, 2016
  • SUPREME COURT REBUKES NINTH CIRCUIT’S DISREGARD OF PRUDENCE PRECEDENT FOR EMPLOYEE STOCK OWNERSHIP PLANS

    For the second time in Amgen Inc. v. Harris, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit because of its failure to apply the proper pleading standard for claims alleging breach of the duty of prudence against fiduciaries who manage employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). The Supreme Court’s opinion sets forth a specific, stringent pleading standard … Continue Reading
    January 26, 2016
  • Late-Breaking Benefits News for 2016

    While taxpayers were completing their holiday shopping and preparing to spend time with their families, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) were busy changing laws governing employee benefit plans and issuing new guidance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The results of that year-end governmental activity include the following: Protecting Americans … Continue Reading
    December 30, 2015
  • ACA Cadillac Tax: Cruising Toward Proposed Regulations

    Background  Effective 2018, Section 4980I of the IRC — the so-called “Cadillac Tax,” which was added to the IRC by the ACA — will impose a 40% nondeductible excise tax on the aggregate cost of applicable employer-sponsored health coverage that exceeds an annually-adjusted statutory dollar limit. For 2018, the dollar limits are $10,200 for self-only … Continue Reading
    August 18, 2015
  • ACA Cadillac Tax Proposed Regs: What Treasury and IRS Are Considering

    The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) added section 4980I to the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”). Code section 4980I applies to tax years after December 31, 2017, and provides a tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage – if the aggregate cost of employer-sponsored coverage (referred to as “applicable coverage”) provided to an employee exceeds a statutory … Continue reading ACA Cadillac Tax Proposed Regs: What Treasury and IRS Are Considering
    March 10, 2015

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