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What's New - December 1997

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(12/31/97) Click here for the latest News Online compiled weekly by the staff of Pensions & Investments.

(12/31/97) The December 29, 1997, issue of the Washington Status Report from the research staff of Hewitt Associates updates the following issues: FICA/FUTA taxation of nonqualified deferred compensation, minimum funding of pension plans, section 415 individual limits in retirement plans, retirement plan investments in insurance products, SIMPLE IRA plans for small businesses, transportation expenses, long-term care insurance, hospital surcharge in Massachusetts, and Medicare.

(12/30/97) The Ernst & Young December issue of Business Upshot is out, complete with the Outlook for 1998.

(12/30/97) The Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) Notice 97-60 was published in IRB 1997-46 dated November 17, 1997, and provides guidance on education tax incentives enacted in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 for Education Individual Retirement Accounts (Education IRAs).

(12/23/97) The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 takes effect Jan. 1, 1998. The law requires all health plans that offer both mental and physical health benefits offer the same dollar and lifetime limits. However, health plans that can demonstrate that the requirement would increase their costs by one percent or more are exempt. Long-anticipated regulations concerning the one percent exemption have now been issued by the Department of Labor, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services. To see the regulations, click here. To see an EBRI Issue Brief that discusses the mental health parity issue and provides an overview of various studies of cost estimates, click here. For further information on mental health parity, contact EBRI Research Associate Paul Fronstin at 202/775-6352.

(12/23/97) Special Facts From EBRI

(12/19/97) The Intellectual Capital site presents a double, year-end issue with a focus on the American worker and the shifting job market.

(12/19/97) Recently posted by the Census Bureau: 1992 Enterprise Statistics: Company Summary--These tabulations show summary characteristics of businesses in 1992 for the United States and states. The data include kinds of businesses, number of employees and annual payroll for different segments of the economy, i.e., mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, wholesale, retail and service industries.

(12/19/97) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Web site offers CBO publications, cost estimates, testimony, and other economic and budgetary analyses.

(12/19/97) Economic Security 2000 (ES 2000) is the nation's first nonpartisan grassroots, educational organization dedicated to saving and reforming Social Security. Along with other information, the new site provides a brief history of Social Security.

(12/18/97) The full transcript of an interview with Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of Social Security, on the future of Social Security, for the December 1997, AARP Bulletin, is available.

(12/17/97) Check out·EBRI's lastest publications. The December Issue Brief, "Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured" (EBRI Issue Brief no. 192), provides summary national and state data on the insured and uninsured populations in the United States. These data are based on EBRI analysis of the March 1997 Current Population Survey, representing 1996 data--the most recent data available. December Notes features "IRA and Keogh Assets Grew by 16 Percent During 1996," analyzing the growth of IRA and Keogh assets during 1996, asset trends, and retirement policy changes. "Estimates of the Percentage of Employers Offering Self-Funded ERISA Health Plans and the Number of Participants in These Plans," provides the latest estimates of the number of employers offering self-funded ERISA health benefit plans.

(12/17/97) The December 15, 1997, issue of the Washington Status Report from the research staff of Hewitt Associates updates the following issues: minimum distributions from retirement plans, self-correction of retirement plan defects, accounting for employee stock purchase plans, and employment discrimination and contingent workers.

(12/16/97) The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) has issued a report, "Expanding IRA Benefits," highlighting the benefits of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (TRA '97) on individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

(12/15/97) The Association for Worksite Health Promotion (AWHP) is a not-for-profit network of worksite health promotion professionals dedicated to sharing the best-of-practice methods, processes and technologies.

(12/15/97 The ERISA Advisory Council site has been updated. The ERISA Advisory Council Working Group Reports for 1997 are:

Report of the Working Group on Employer Assets in ERISA Employer-Sponsored Plans, November 13, 1997

Report of the Working Group on Defined Contribution vs. Defined Benefit Plans With an Emphasis on Small Business Concerns, November 13, 1997

Report of the Working Group on Soft Dollars/Commission Recapture, November 13, 1997

(12/12/97) The International Center for Pension Reform (ICPR) promotes the privatization of government-run social security systems along the Chilean model of individual Pension Savings Accounts.

(12/11/97) "Australia's Privatized Retirement System: Lessons for the United States," by Daniel J. Mitchell and Robert P. O'Quinn, is available on The Heritage Foundation site.

(12/11/97) The Bureau of Labor Statistics posted December 1, 1997, the "Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, February 1997" report.

(12/11/97) The December 8, 1997, issue of the Washington Status Report from the research staff of Hewitt Associates updates the following issues: information returns on higher education expenses, Roth IRAs, and the deferral limit for 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities.

(12/10/97) The 1997 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States can be accessed on the Census Bureau's Web site.

(12/9/97) The Internal Revenue Service has released Document 10288, "Overview Of 1997 New Tax Laws." This document covers the Taxpayer Browsing Protection Act of 1997, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. It provides an overview of the new legislation and does not address the impact or implementation strategies for the new laws. Document 10288 is offered in PDF format and is 131 printed pages.

(12/9/97) The electronic versions of the 1997 Tax Tables and Tax Rate Schedules are now available on the IRS Digital Daily.

(12/9/97) The Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration issued a Final Rule effective November 25, 1997, amending the Department of Labor's regulation published in the Federal Register on August 7, 1996, that defines when participant contributions to a pension benefit plan become plan assets for purposes of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA). The amendment set forth in this notice harmonizes the Title I rules governing the definition of plan assets with the Internal Revenue Code (Code) rules governing the timing of deposits for Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE plans) that involve Individual Retirement Accounts (SIMPLE IRAs) and thereby simplifies compliance by small businesses.

(12/8/97) Click here for remarks by David M. Strauss, Executive Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, before the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, December 4, 1997.

(12/8/97) National Journal magazine presents "Clockroom," a Web site on politics. For a one-month free trial, click here and use "politicsnow" as a password.

(12/5/97) A new report from the Families USA Foundation provides information on Medicare disenrollment: "Comparing Medicare HMOs: Do They Keep Their Members?"

(12/5/97) Click here for the latest News Online compiled weekly by the staff of Pensions & Investments.

(12/4/97) The December 1, 1997, issue of the Washington Status Report from the research staff of Hewitt Associates updates the following issues: SIMPLE retirement plans and income tax credit for qualified adoption expenses.

(12/3/97) Click here to go to JobSmart's links to 150 salary surveys.

(12/3/97) Check out the Census Bureau's new CENSTATS page. Take a test drive and sign up for the electronic subscription service that gives easy "look-up" access to the contents of popular Census Bureau databases including some CD-ROMs. All Census Bureau publications released since January 1, 1996, as well as several 1990 census and 1992 economic census reports are still accessible for free in pdf format

(12/2/97) The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans compiles a list of hot topics based on member requests for information. Each topic provides summaries of related articles. Current hot topics include:

401(k) Plans
Canadian Health Care Cost Management
COBRA
Collection of Employer Contributions
Communication of Benefits
Disability Benefits Management
Domestic Partner Benefits
Executive Benefits
Family and Medical Leave Act
Flexible Benefit Plans
Health Care Coalitions
Health Care Cost Management
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
International Benefits
Outsourcing Benefits Administration
Public Employee Pension Plans
Retiree Health Benefits
Self-Funding of Health Care Benefits
Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996
Vacation Benefits
Wellness Programs

(12/1/97) The following item was added to the General Accounting Office's World Wide Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format: Social Security Reform: Demographic Trends Underlie Long-Term Financing Shortage. T-HEHS-98-43. 13 pp. November 20, 1997.

If the title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO Index of Reports and Testimony, FY98, and search for the report by entering words or phrases from the title.



Updated 12/31/97

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