ASPPA asks for clear guidance on MEPs

The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) is effectively a trade organization and like any trade organization, they get a lot of complaints about the work they do, some warranted and mostly not.

In a nice and required move, ASPPA contacted the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requesting  clarification and transitional relief for multiple employer plans (MEPs) obligated to report under both the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code.

Back in May, the DOL released two Advisory Opinions, which was specific to one MEP and applicable to one MEP. This Advisory Opinion caused a lot of grief with providers who operate them. Count me as one of this grief stricken providers.

MEPs are employee benefit plans adopted by unrelated employers and have been part of the law since the enactment of ERISA and the year of the flood. The Internal Revenue Code considers MEPs to be a qualified plan.

The DOL advisory opinions that have been read to mean that many of the MEPs may not qualify as a single plan under Title I of ERISA. Instead, the employers jointly sponsoring the MEP would be treated as each sponsoring a separate plan and as a result, each would be obligated to file its own individual Form 5500. The problem is that many MEPs have filed a single 5500 for years with no issue ever coming up.

The problem is that there is no further guidance. Not from the DOL, the IRS, ir the Form 5500 instructions. 8 months later, these MEPs are still in limbo with no clear guidance on how they should operate.

Hopefully, the government will get back to ASPPA, as well as all of us in the MEP business. Until that time comes, we’re all still in limbo and my back can’t take much more of playing that.

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