Regulators ‘Making Progress’ on Missing Participant Guidance

By John Iekel • April 11, 2018 • 0 Comments
The IRS and Treasury Department are “making progress” on guidance regarding missing participants, according to a panelist at an April 11 session of the Enrolled Actuaries meeting held by the Conference of Consulting Actuaries and the American Academy of Actuaries in Washington, DC.

Session moderator Tonya B. Manning, the U.S. Retirement Leader and Chief Actuary for Conduent HR Services’ U.S. Wealth Practice, noted that the IRS and Treasury listed guidance on missing participants as one of their plans in their 2017-18 Priority Guidance Plan. She asked the panelists — IRS attorney Linda Marshall, IRS actuary Carolyn Zimmerman and Treasury Department actuary Harlan Weaver — what that means.

“The missing participant issue is big and complex,” remarked Weller. He said that as regulators, one of the determinations they have to make is whether to wait to answer questions until all issues are addressed, or issue smaller pieces of guidance that are not comprehensive and all-encompassing, but concern limited aspects of a matter. He said he considers it “likely” that they will take the latter approach regarding guidance on missing participants.

“We have work to do with our colleagues at the Department of Labor,” he said, but added, “we are making progress.”

Tax and Regulatory Reform

When an attendee raised the issue of earlier proposals during the crafting of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that called for new thresholds for and tax treatment of 401(k)s, Weller said that “the retirement system has a lot of bipartisan support” and “there doesn’t seem to be much appetite to use retirement plans as a funding source for other things.”

And when asked if President Trump’s “two-for-one” executive order (mandating that for every new regulation put in place, two must be eliminated) would affect regulations governing pensions, Weller averred that such matters are “way above my pay grade” but also observed that cost-benefit analysis is different for tax regulations than for rules in other departments.




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