2018 Roadmap—Be on the Lookout for These Retirement-Related Changes

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The start of a new year is an ideal time to reflect on what happened during the past year and to create a roadmap for the year ahead. For those in the retirement industry, your roadmap should include changes that potentially impact your business and that are beyond your control.

An example includes changes to the retirement plan rules made by those in power in Washington D.C.  Congress and various regulatory agencies are busy proposing new rules and making changes to existing ones. Below are some key items to keep your eyes on for 2018.

Fiduciary Regulations—Investment advice fiduciary regulations (conflict-of-interest rule) became effective in June, 2017. Some, but not all, of the related exemption requirements are delayed until July 2019. If your organization hasn’t already determined how it will comply with the investment advice fiduciary rule and the associated delays, then fiduciary regulations should be on your 2018 agenda.

Disability Regulations—The Department of Labor recently postponed the effective date of its final disability claims regulations to April 1, 2018, so that it can evaluate the potential impact of the regulation on the group disability insurance market. While not aimed at retirement plans, the new rules do impact the disability claims processes of all ERISA-governed benefit plans, including retirement plans. If the new disability claims procedure rules go into effect, it may require updates to administrative procedures, documentation, or plan documents.

Tax Reform—There are retirement provisions in Congress’ 2017 tax reform bill. As passed, tax reform requires changes to transaction forms, operations, and plan documents in 2018. In addition, a federal spending bill was passed in February 2018 with, among other things, additional tax-related relief to victims of recent disasters (California wildfires and 2017 hurricanes) that affect retirement savings arrangements.

Retirement Reform—Retirement reform proposals have been picking up steam in Washington, D.C. With bi-partisan support behind them, it is likely that some version of retirement reform legislation will be considered in Congress in 2018.

AICPA Audit Guidelines—Audit guidelines for CPAs performing Form 5500 audits may change if the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) releases new auditing standards. If their proposal is approved, CPAs will have more detailed and stringent guidelines to follow when auditing qualified retirement plans. Under the current proposal, these new rules will apply for audits on plan years that end on or after December 15, 2018.