The Washington Report
November 27, 2019
A Note to Washington Report Subscribers—Holiday Publication
The Washington Report will not be published on Wednesday, December 4, 2019. Publication will resume on Wednesday, December 11, 2019. Happy Thanksgiving!
Short-Term Spending Bill Enacted Into Law; Government Shutdown Averted
On November 21, 2019, President Trump signed into law a short-term spending bill (H.R. 3055) that will continue funding for the government and its various departments and agencies. The bill was approved by the House and Senate last week. The law provides funding through December 20, 2019.
The full text of H.R. 3055 is available here.
Government Releases Advance Copies of Form 5500 Annual Return/Report for 2019
On November 18, 2019, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released advance informational copies of the 2019 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report and related instructions. The "Changes to Note" section of the 2019 instructions highlights important modifications to the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF, as well as to their schedules and instructions. Modifications include:
- Administrative Penalties: The instructions have been updated to reflect an increase to $2,194 per day in the maximum civil penalty amount assessable under ERISA Section 502(c)(2), as required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The increased penalty under Section 502(c)(2) is applicable for civil penalties assessed after January 23, 2019, whose associated violation(s) occurred after November 2, 2015. (84 FR 213 (January 23, 2019));
- Form 5500, Line 2d: The instructions to line 2d of the Form 5500 have been clarified on how to report the plan sponsor's business code for multi-employer plans;
- Schedule H Part III- Accountant's Opinion: The instructions for lines 3a(1), 3a(2), 3a(3), and 3a(4) have been revised to align with the language in the clarified generally accepted auditing standards, AU-C 700, Forming an Opinion and Reporting on Financial Statements and AU-C 705, Modifications to the Opinion in the Independent Auditor's Report;
- Schedule SB Mortality Tables: Line 23 has been revised to eliminate mortality table options that are not available after 2018;
- Schedule R: A new line 20 has been added to obtain information related to PBGC reporting requirements resulting from unpaid minimum required contributions. Only PBGC-insured single-employer plans are required to provide this additional information; and
- Form 5500-SF: A new line 11b has been added to the Form 5500-SF that parallels the new Schedule R, line 20 for PBGC-insured, single-employer plans that file the Form 5500-SF instead of the Form 5500.
The advance copies of the 2019 Form 5500 are for informational purposes only and cannot be used to file a 2019 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report. Pension and welfare benefit plans that are required to file an annual return/report regarding their financial conditions, investments, and operations each year generally satisfy that requirement by filing electronically the Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF and any required attachments under the all-electronic EFAST2 system for submission, receipt, and processing of the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF.
The news release is available here.
The 2019 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report and related instructions are available here.
Fall 2019 Regulatory Plans Released
The Trump Administration released its Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions on November 20, 2019. The Unified Agenda provides an updated report on the actions federal departments and administrative agencies (e.g., the Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of the Treasury, Department of Health and Human Services, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, etc.) plan to issue in the near and long term. The agendas include regulatory plans and priorities for 2020 and provide a framework of activity expected throughout the year. Departments and agencies may delay the release of regulations at any time, so it is important to note that projected timelines are estimates and may not be met by the date(s) indicated in the agendas.
The link to the Current Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (i.e., updated Regulatory Agendas and Plans, searchable by department and agency) is available here.
2019 IRSAC Annual Report Now Available
On November 20, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) issued its annual report for 2019, including recommendations to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on new and continuing issues in tax administration. The IRSAC is a federal advisory committee that provides an organized public forum for discussion of relevant tax administration issues between IRS officials and representatives of the public. IRSAC members offer constructive observations regarding current or proposed IRS policies, programs, and procedures. The 2019 Public Report includes recommendations on over 20 issues, which cover a broad range of topics and concerns including:
- Accelerating the Use of E-Signatures in Federal Tax Administration;
- Guidance Relating to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act;
- Establishing Safe Harbors by Relying on Certain Conclusions of Independent Parties;
- Broadening and Improving a Self-Correction Program for Tax-Exempt Bonds;
- Improving Customer Experience and Service Delivery; and
- Form W-4 2020 Version.
The complete IRSAC report is available here.
EEOC Releases Fiscal Year 2019 Agency Financial Report
On November 19, 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its annual Fiscal Year Agency Financial Report. Some highlights include:
- The EEOC secured more than $486 million for victims of discrimination in the workplace. This includes $346.6 million in monetary relief for employees and applicants in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through mediation, conciliation, and other administrative enforcement, and $39.1 million in monetary relief through litigation.
- In fiscal year 2019, the EEOC resolved 173 merits lawsuits.
- More than 295,600 people participated in 3,800 EEOC educational, training, and outreach events during fiscal year 2019.
For additional information, please refer to the financial report.
The news release is available here.
The Fiscal Year 2019 Agency Financial Report is available here.
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