These web pages offer valuable reference and legal information, and tools to help you enroll new employees, report monthly retirement contributions, and provide guidance to your employees.
2015 Law Creates New Tax Exemption
On June 29, 2015, President Obama signed into law the “Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act.” This new law expands the exemption from the 10% penalty tax on early distributions to qualified public safety employees from defined contribution governmental plans. Currently, amounts withdrawn from the NC 401(k) Plan before age 59½ may by subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty, applicable taxes, and plan restrictions.
The 10% tax penalty can be avoided if an individual retires or separates from service in the year they turn age 55 or older, and if they receive payments from the NC 401(k) Plan in substantially equal amounts over their life expectancy. Starting January 1, 2016, the exemption from the 10% penalty tax on early distributions will also apply to distributions from governmental defined contribution plans made to qualified public safety employees during or after the calendar year in which they attain age 50—including the NC 401(k) Plan. Please encourage your employees to contact their tax adviser with questions regarding their individual situations.
Legislation passed by the 2014 General Assembly establishes, effective January 1, 2015, a contribution-based cap on pension benefits for TSERS members who retire on or after January 1, 2015, and whose average final compensation (AFC) is $100,000 or higher. This legislation aims to control the practice of “pension spiking,” in which a member's compensation substantially increases to create a benefit that is significantly greater than the contributions paid by the member and that the employer would fund.
The Anti-Pension Spiking Contribution-Based Benefit Cap approach to limiting pension spiking will prevent employers in the Retirement Systems from absorbing the additional liabilities caused by pension spiking by other employers.
The Retirement Systems has posted Pension Spiking presentations for LGERS and TSERS that provide examples of pension spiking and how employers and employees will be responsible for paying the liability created by causing the pension spike.
Rehired Retirees Health Coverage May be Affected by Recent Legislation
The North Carolina General Assembly recently approved legislation to create a new category of eligibility under the State Health Plan to enable employing units to avoid tax penalties imposed under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). This new category extends eligibility to non-permanent full-time employees who traditionally have not been eligible for coverage with the State Health Plan. The benefit available to these employees is a high deductible health plan (HDHP). In addition, legislation was also passed that requires employing units to cover re-hired State retirees as active employees and specifies that during the time of their full-time employment, re-hired State retirees are not eligible for retiree health benefit coverage.
Employing units are responsible for determining the eligibility of their employees and for notifying the State Health Plan when a retiree is eligible for coverage with the employing unit. While eligible retirees are not required to enroll in the HDHP, the retiree is no longer eligible for the State Health Plan retiree group coverage under the Retirement System. Upon notice from the employing unit of the retiree’s eligibility as a full-time employee the State Health Plan will terminate the retiree from the State Health Plan retiree group coverage under the Retirement System and will issue a letter to the member confirming the termination.
Any re-hired retiree who enrolled in the HDHP will be offered COBRA, if the individual is no longer eligible for the HDHP. In addition, loss of eligibility is a qualifying life event under the State Health Plan enrollment rules and retirees will have 30 days to re-enroll in their State Health Plan coverage under the Retirement Systems. If they fail to re-enroll within the 30 days, they will be unable to come back on the Plan until the next enrollment period.
For more information, visit the State Health Plan Website.
Employers should sign up to attend Employer Training by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Retirement Systems will hold the training only if 10 or more employers have signed up. If enrolled in training, please attend, or email email@example.com to let the Retirement Systems know you need to cancel.