Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Paul M. Hamburger

Paul M. Hamburger

Partner

Paul Hamburger is co-chair of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group and head of the Washington, DC office. Paul is also a leader of the Practice Center’s health and welfare subgroup and a member of Proskauer’s Health Care Reform Task Force.

Paul provides technical knowledge and advice to employers on all aspects of their employee benefit programs, and advises employee benefit plan trustees and service providers on ERISA and employee benefit plan-related matters. He has extensive experience in negotiating service provider and outsourcing agreements. Paul frequently represents clients before government regulatory agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

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Protecting Your Qualified Retirement Plan Now that the IRS Determination Program is (Mostly) Closed

A lot has been written over the last few months about what to do now that the IRS has closed its determination letter program for ongoing individually designed tax-qualified retirement plans. Some see this as cause for celebration because we no longer have to go through the trouble of collecting documents, filling out forms, and … Continue Reading

Big Employer Win in Wellness Program Case EEOC v. Flambeau

For the past couple of years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been challenging employer wellness programs for their alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The most recent EEOC challenge was in EEOC v. Flambeau, Inc., (No. 14-cv-638-bbc (December 31, 2015)).  In this case, the U.S. District Court for the … Continue Reading

Trade Act Reinstates Expired Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC)

As of December 22, 2015, IRS Notice 2016-02 supersedes certain information in this blog entry. On July 6, 2015, President Obama signed the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015.  Among other things, the Trade Act retroactively reinstated the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), which had previously expired on January 1, 2014, and extended its availability … Continue Reading

King v. Burwell – Supreme Court Upholds Premium Subsidies under Federally-Run Marketplaces; ACA Remains (Mostly) Unfazed

On June 25, 2015, the United States Supreme Court released its much anticipated King v. Burwell decision regarding the validity of premium assistance issued by Federally-run Marketplaces.  Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the 6-3 majority, agreed with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) interpretation that premium assistance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of … Continue Reading

Changes to the IRS Determination Letter Program

The IRS has informally stated that it is intending to make some significant changes to the Determination Letter program, and is even considering eliminating the program for individually designed retirement plans (other than perhaps initial and final determination letters).  The agency apparently is looking to streamline its operations and focus its resources on other areas. … Continue Reading

IRS to Close “Loophole” on “Sub-Standard” Plans without Hospitalization or Physician Services Coverage

On November 4, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) announced that it intends to close a perceived “loophole” in health care reform.  This so-called loophole allows employers to offer low cost health plans that don’t cover inpatient hospitalization services or physician services (or both).  If that coverage were treated as “minimum value” coverage, then employers … Continue Reading

IRS to Amend Cafeteria Plan Regulations to Facilitate Enrollment in Marketplace Coverage

On Thursday, September 18, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) released Notice 2014-55, which expands the cafeteria plan “change in status” rules to allow plans to offer employees an option to revoke their elections for employer-sponsored health coverage to purchase a qualified health plan through a Health Insurance Marketplace (“Marketplace”).   The notice is effective immediately … Continue Reading

IRS Increases 9.5% Affordability Threshold—Or Did It?

On July 24, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released three Revenue Procedures (2014-46, 2014-37, and 2014-41), which provide guidance to individuals on their obligation to maintain minimum essential coverage (MEC) under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) so-called “individual mandate.” Most notably for employers is that, in Revenue Procedure 2014-37, the IRS increased the threshold … Continue Reading

Final Regulations on Orientation Periods Released

On June 20, the Federal regulatory agencies in charge of health care reform guidance (the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services) released final regulations (“Final Regulations”) clarifying the relationship between a group health plan’s eligibility criteria and the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 90-day limit on waiting periods. Specifically, the Final Regulations (published … Continue Reading

What Does PPACA Stand For? Punitive Penalties Are Clearly Authorized

A recently posted IRS Q&A raises the specter of serious penalties for non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act. The context of the question relates to the consequences to employers that do not establish a health insurance plan for their own employees, but instead reimburse them for premiums they pay for other health insurance. The IRS … Continue Reading

Reminder: ACA’s Out-of-Pocket Limits Differ from HSA-Qualified HDHPs Starting in 2015

In April, the IRS released the 2015 inflation adjustments for Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and HSA-qualified high deductible health plans (HDHPs). A month earlier, HHS released details on the “premium adjustment percentage,” which is used to calculate annual increases in cost sharing under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) maximum out-of-pocket rules. These ACA rules limit … Continue Reading

New Guidance on COBRA and ACA Marketplace Coverage: The Gap in Coverage is (Not Quite) Filled

There has been much confusion and concern about the interplay between the COBRA continuation coverage rules and the new Health Insurance Marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act (the “Marketplace”). One important question has been how individuals could transition from COBRA continuation coverage to (often cheaper) Marketplace coverage. Also, many individuals are confused about whether … Continue Reading

ACA Shared Responsibility Penalties – Am I subject to (b) or not to (b)? That is the $3,000 question!

As previously reported, on Monday, February 10, 2014, the IRS released final regulations on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer “shared responsibility” provisions, also known as the “pay-or-play” mandate. The final regulations include a number of important transition rules that are intended to phase in the pay-or-play penalties during 2015 and 2016. A number of … Continue Reading

They’re Back! Final Regulations On Employer “Pay-or-Play” Mandate Released – IRS Provides Transition Relief To Employers with 50-100 Employees

On Monday, February 10, 2014, the IRS released final regulations on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer “shared responsibility” provisions, also known as the “pay-or-play” mandate. The final regulations weigh in at 227 pages. We will review them over the coming days and will release additional communication pieces once we fully digest these new regulations. … Continue Reading

IRS Issues Temporary Non-Discrimination Testing Relief for Closed Defined Benefit Plans and Request for Comments

On December 13, 2013, the IRS issued Notice 2014-5 which provides temporary relief for satisfying the nondiscrimination requirements under Section 401(a)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) for plan sponsors that maintain defined benefit plans which have been closed to new hires. Many defined benefit plan sponsors have implemented “soft freezes” of their plans, … Continue Reading

IRS Says PCORI Fees Are Deductible

As employers plan for paying various health care reform fees, one question that arises is whether the fees owed are tax deductible.  In particular, it has been unclear whether the fees paid pursuant the Affordable Care Act to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (“PCORI”) would be deductible business expenses under Section 162 of the … Continue Reading

American Taxpayer Relief Act Affects Mass Transit Benefits and Other Employee Benefits

On January 2, 2013, President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA”) into law.  ATRA, adopted as an alternative to stepping over the “fiscal cliff,” preserves most of the Bush-era tax cuts and reinstates several other lapsed tax provisions. Several provisions of ATRA are of particular interest to employers, employees, and employee benefit … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Will Not Rehear Quality Stores Decision that Severance Pay in Connection with a Reduction in Force is not Subject to FICA; Supreme Court Next Step?

On September 7, 2012, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held in United States v. Quality Stores, Inc. that severance payments to former employees pursuant to an involuntary reduction in force are not taxable “wages” for purposes of Social Security and Medicare withholding under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA. The decision is significant … Continue Reading
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