AALU Seeking Greater Transition Relief For NQ Deferred Comp Plans
The Association for Advanced Life Underwriting is seeking expanded transition relief as Congress moves toward modifying the tax rules on nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements.
Differing versions of modification legislation are pending in the House and Senate, but the effective dates of the bills are troubling, AALU says in an analysis.
Generally, both proposals would apply to amounts deferred in taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2003, AALU notes.
The House bill, H.R. 2896, does contain limited transition relief, according to AALU. Specifically, AALU says, irrevocable deferral elections made before Oct. 24, 2003, for 2004 compensation would be subject to the prior law.
In addition, AALU notes, a brief period after enactment would be provided for participants to cancel existing deferral elections or terminate deferred compensation plan participation with respect to plans adopted before Dec. 31, 2003.
However, AALU says, these effective dates do not provide adequate time to amend existing plans with respect to 2004 deferrals.
AALU says it will continue to seek an expansion of the transition relief, including a full grandfather of 2003 deferrals for 2004 compensation.
Overall, AALU says, the House and Senate proposals have similar structures, but there are some significant differences.
(The Senate proposal is contained in the National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee Act, which was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on Sept. 17, but has not yet been sent to the floor because of the controversy surrounding the acts provisions on corporate-owned life insurance, which are likely to be revised. Despite the fact that the committee approved the bill on Sept. 17, it still does not have a formal bill number.)
Generally, AALU notes, both proposals would place restrictions on the timing of distributions, as well as prohibit accelerations of distributions and the use of devices such as financial health triggers and offshore trusts.
Under both proposals, a NQDC plan must provide that distributions may not be made earlier than separation of service, disability, death, a time specified under the plan as of the date of deferral, a change in ownership or control, or a substantial portion of its assets or specified unforeseen emergencies, AALU says.
The most significant difference between the two proposals involves investment options, AALU says.
Under the Senate proposal, AALU says the investment options under a NQDC plan must be comparable to those which may be elected by participants of the qualified plan that has the fewest investment options. Thus, AALU says, under the Senate bill, investment options of a NQDC plan could be less favorable or more limited that those of a qualified plan.