Professional Accounting Blog

    Accounting For Your Prosperity

    IRS and DOL Audits: Are You At Risk?

    Posted by Brian Dunfee on Jun 20, 2017 9:33:39 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recently held their annual Employee Benefit Plans Conference. The conference provided information on current initiatives of the IRS and the DOL, as well as common findings noted based on their respective examinations and reviews of qualified plans. 

    In recent years, the IRS and DOL have indicated a focus on risk-based examinations and reviews, including identifying areas in plan operations where controls could be improved. As a result of these, they noted the following areas of focus:

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    How to Prevent Retirement Plan Fraud

    Posted by Michelle Buckley on Feb 10, 2017 8:32:00 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released the results of their Fraud Project, which was completed by the Employee Plans Compliance Unit (EPCU). Their project was based on Form 5500’s that were filed and had indicated an actual Fraud Loss. Based on their reviews, the IRS determined two of the main contributing factors to fraud were weak internal controls and risky investments. 

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    401k Retirement Plan Education Strategies for 2017

    Posted by Michelle Buckley on Jan 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    The start of the new year is a good time to plan out your retirement plan education strategies for the upcoming year. Some considerations for a successful education plan are:

    Information accessibility

    We live in an environment of technology. Individuals want to have access to information 24/7. It is important to work with outside vendors to ensure that you are providing information in the most efficient manner possible. Keep data concise and easy to access. Allow for information via many different means, such as email, text, opt out option, intranet and mail.

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    401k Plan Error, Now What?

    Posted by Michelle Buckley on Apr 19, 2016 8:51:36 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    Administering a 401k plan is not an easy task. We work in an electronic age in which it is very easy for a file to get uploaded incorrectly to a third party administer site or a deferral change file not be updated in payroll correctly. A little over a year ago, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2015-28 that provided for changes in certain correction methodologies for 401k and 403b plans. This revenue ruling is intended to supplement the existing procedures, not replace. 

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    Benefit Plan Disclosures SIMPLIFIED!

    Posted by Brian Dunfee on Sep 1, 2015 9:33:55 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    A Summary of Recent Standards Update (ASU 2015-12)

    On July 31, 2015, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) announced an accounting standards update (ASU 2015-12) which directly addressed some disclosures normally required as part of the Plan’s financial statements. Normally, these pronouncements add disclosure requirements. But in much-heralded and much-appreciated turn, the new update reduces some of the more cumbersome and least informative of these disclosures.

    The effective date of the ASU is for plan years starting after December 15, 2015 (so, effectively, 2016 calendar plan years). However, early adoption is permitted.

    Here is a summary of some of the most relevant provisions of ASU 2015-12:

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    What's an ESOP?

    Posted by Michelle Buckley on Apr 21, 2015 11:33:00 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    ESOP Planning & Consulting Facts

    An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is essentially a retirement plan which helps employees obtain ownership of the company. If you’re a privately held business owner considering succession planning, ESOPs can be great options. If you are thinking about moving forward with an ESOP, there are two things that you need to consider to make an educated decision: company culture and a feasibility report.

    Company Culture

    Are your employees empowered? Do they have an entrepreneurial personality? These are some of the questions you have to ask yourself to see if an ESOP is a good fit for you. 

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    Participant Fee Disclosure Reporting Update Offers ‘Flexibility’

    Posted by Carlo Berlingieri on Apr 9, 2015 3:41:00 PM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    In March of 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a direct final ruling (See Federal Register, Volume 80, Number 53) that looks to change certain rules regarding participant fee disclosures.  The goal of the updated ruling is to offer plan sponsors more flexibility in providing participant level fee disclosures while still providing plan participants timely information to make investment decisions.

    In the original ruling that was published in October 2011, starting for plan years beginning on or after November 1, 2011, plan sponsors were required to disclose certain fee and expense information to participants and beneficiaries for participant directed benefit plans. The information was required to be presented to participants before they were able to make investment decisions and then was required to be provided at least annually thereafter.  “Annually thereafter” was defined at the time was at least once in a twelve month period.

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    Controlled Groups: What Do I Need to Know?

    Posted by Brian Dunfee on Mar 12, 2015 8:45:00 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    Some of the major complexities of many qualified retirement plans result from the various subsidiaries and other entities that are part of the larger corporate parent. There are specific definitions within various regulatory provisions that need to be considered.

    What is a controlled group?

    A controlled group exists if a parent-subsidiary or brother-sister group exist: Read More

    Benefit Plan Compliance Alert 2015: Are You Ready?

    Posted by Brian Dunfee on Dec 4, 2014 12:33:18 PM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    As 2014 approaches its end, our attention naturally turns to reflection but also to planning for the coming new year. Inherent in any successful benefit plan strategy is awareness and action regarding the regulatory environment surrounding your employer-sponsored plans. Below, we have compiled a few reminders of upcoming regulatory deadlines:

    All deadlines below assume a calendar plan year-end:

    First Quarter 2015: Helpful Hints to Navigate

    • January 31: When did you last apply for a determination letter from the IRS for your individually-designed qualified retirement plan? It may have already been 5 years! We advise that you contact your ERISA counsel and discuss what may be required of you:
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    Plan Sponsor Dilemma: Missing Participants – What Should I Do?

    Posted by Brian Dunfee on Sep 2, 2014 10:31:00 AM

    Topics: Benefit Plan Advising & Auditing

    When the decision is made to terminate a defined contribution plan subject to ERISA, an important consideration for the plan sponsor is how to locate participants in order to distribute their vested benefit under the plan. Most participants will be readily locatable using personnel records currently on file. However, in the event of unresponsive or missing participants, the fiduciary provisions of ERISA require the plan sponsor to locate these participants and ensure that their account balances are distributed. The Department of Labor recently issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2014-01 which provides assistance to fiduciaries to properly discharge their obligations to these participants. 

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    Below are some suggested steps to help fulfill these obligations. The failure to take such steps would violate ERISA’s fiduciary obligations of prudence and loyalty.

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