By: HUB’s EB Compliance Team
Recognizing the need for flexibility during the Covid-19 pandemic, the IRS issued Notice 2020-23 which provides relief from certain deadlines for a limited group of plans. Specifically, the notice provides relief for certain deadlines that occur only between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020. As a result, many plans will not benefit from the relief, but for those that do the relief is helpful.
In the Notice, the IRS provided that cafeteria plan enrollment elections that would normally have to be made before the beginning of a plan year may instead be made at any point up until July 15, 2020. This would only apply for employers with cafeteria plan years that begin April 1, 2020 through July 15, 2020. The IRS guidance is clear that benefits can only be provided after the election becomes effective. In other words, employees can make late elections, but they can only receive coverage, and pay for the coverage, after the date of the election, not retroactively.
Employers need to work with their cafeteria plan administrators to determine how to implement this delay. Employers should confirm that their insurance carriers (if their plan is insured) or third party administrators and stop loss carriers (if they are self-funded) will honor these late elections.
Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs)
For FSA plan years that would end between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020, the plan can delay forfeiting unused amounts until July 15, 2020. This guidance is a bit unclear, but it appears this means that expenses can be incurred during this time and reimbursed using funds for the plan year that ended during this period. Note that this only applies to FSAs that have plan years or grace periods ending from April 1, 2020 through July 15, 2020.
Since this guidance is unclear, employers should consult with counsel regarding the specific application of these rules. It appears this relief applies to health FSAs, dependent care FSAs, and adoption assistance FSAs. Additionally, employers need to work with their FSA administrators to determine how to implement this relief.
Forms 5500 that are due between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020 may now file by July 15, 2020. This includes any Forms 5500 that are subject to the available two-and-a-half-month extension (obtained by filing a Form 5558). This applies to plans that had plan years ending September through November of 2019 (if no extension was requested) or June through August of 2019 (if an extension was requested). No other plans are eligible. Employers that have plans whose years end in these windows should contact their Form 5500 provider to make sure they file by July 15.
Similarly, Forms M-1 (which only apply to multiple employer welfare arrangements, or MEWAs) that are due between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020 have until July 15, 2020 to file. MEWAs generally must file their annual reports by March 1. However, MEWAs can ask for a one-time 60-day extension. MEWAs that requested an extension would have had their forms due by April 30. Therefore, those MEWAs that requested an extension would now be able to file up to July 15.
While this relief is helpful for certain plans, it is limited to only those plans. As a result, most employers and employees will not benefit from this relief. However, other relief discussed in other articles in our Compliance Directory or in the Coronavirus Resource Center are more generally available, both to employees and employers.
For the latest information on the COVID-19 crisis and its effect on employers, please keep visiting HUB’s Coronavirus Resource Center. If you have any questions, please contact your HUB Advisor. You can also view more compliance articles in our Compliance Directory.
NOTICE OF DISCLAIMER
The information herein is intended to be educational only and is based on information that is generally available. HUB International makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy and is not obligated to update the information should it change in the future. The information is not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult your attorney and/or professional advisor as to your organization’s specific circumstances and legal, tax or other requirements.