The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 and the newly passed Department of Labor (DOL) final 401(k) fee disclosure rules were issues on the minds of retirement and pension professionals during the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries’ (ASPPA) annual conference, which convened in National Harbor, Md., Oct. 17-20.

The small business bill includes a provision allowing rollovers from 457, 403(b) and 401(k) plans into Roth IRAs as long as the assets remain as plan assets. This rollover option is currently only available to workers aged 59 1/2. One worry with this provision of the bill is that conversions to a Roth IRA could cause leakage of employer-sponsored 401(k) assets to Roth IRAs.

“We would like to make sure that plans, if they so choose, can limit this new provision in the small business bill to just in-plan conversions, as opposed to having to open it up to all in-service distributions,” Brian Graff, (left) executive director and CEO of ASPPA, told AdvisorOne in an interview.

Mark Iwry, Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for Retirement and Health Policy at the Treasury Department, noted at the conference that Treasury would provide guidance on this issue soon. Graff said he hoped the Treasury guidance just allowed for in-plan conversions.

While the DOL’s rules are final, two issues may drive Congress to take up fee disclosure legislation again, according to Graff: the fact that the DOL’s rules do not apply to 403(b) and 457 plans, and plan sponsors are worried about their fiduciary responsibilities under the new disclosure rules. The rule, Graff said, “imposes significant liability on plan sponsors.”

One other item of note at the conference came from Michael Julianelle with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), who said that the IRS would release its fiscal 2011 operating priorities on Nov. 4 (which can be found at irs.gov). Julianelle also said the IRS has gotten back 1,000 of the 1,200 401(k) questionnaires the IRS sent out recently. The IRS plans to issue an interim report based on the data culled from the questionnaires, and then it will conduct a more in-depth analysis of the responses, which could potentially result in rulemaking.  

Read a story called “Why Everyone Should Do a Roth Conversion” at AdvisorOne.com.