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The IRS will seek public input on how to handle benefit reductions now allowed for troubled multiemployer pension funds.
In a request for information expected to be published Feb. 18 in the Federal Register, the IRS is inviting comments on how to implement the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014’s provision allowing for benefit cuts, which are called suspensions.
The law, enacted in December, created a new plan status, “critical and declining,” for plans likely to become insolvent and allows trustees to reduce benefits for current and future beneficiaries. It put the Treasury Department and IRS in charge of rules governing those cuts, in consultation with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and the Department of Labor.
An unpublished notice in Federal Register on Friday said the request for information will seek comments on implementing suspension rules, known as Section 432(e)(9), on topics including actuarial certifications of plan status, protection for retirees, communications with plan participants and participant voting for plan changes.
The law gave Treasury officials 180 days from the law’s Dec. 16 enactment to publish the guidance, which must be in place before plan sponsors can apply for benefit suspensions.
The request for information is being issued “to ensure that all stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input on this process (and) to help inform how the guidelines and procedures required by Congress for preparing and submitting applications are developed,” a Treasury spokesman said.
Hazel Bradford writes for Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Business Insurance.
Aided by strong investment results, multiemployer pension plan funding levels jumped last year, but many of the plans remain significantly underfunded, according to a new survey.