Compliance

PBGC Offers Substantial Detail on Hurricane Harvey Relief

The disaster relief announcement provides significant leeway relating to PBGC deadlines and penalties for impacted employers and sponsors, both for single and for multiemployer plans. 

By John Manganaro editors@strategic-i.com | September 01, 2017
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Following up on a previous announcement, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has shared more detail about its intent to waive certain penalties and extend certain filing deadlines in response to the hurricane disaster in Texas and Louisiana.

Technically speaking, this disaster relief announcement provides relief relating to PBGC deadlines to “designated persons."  A “designated person” is defined as “any person responsible for meeting a PBGC deadline (e.g., a plan administrator or contributing sponsor) that is located in the disaster area for which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided relief in TX-2017-09, in connection with filing extensions for Form 5500 series returns, or cannot reasonably obtain information or other assistance needed to meet the deadline from a service provider, bank, or other person whose operations are directly affected by the severe storms and flooding from Hurricane Harvey that began on August 23, 2017, in Texas.”

In TX-2017-09, the IRS provides relief in connection with filing extensions for Form 5500 series returns as a result of the disaster for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. The relief generally extends from August 23, 2017, through January 31, 2018. As laid out by PBGC, the disaster area consists of Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Jackson, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton Counties.

If IRS adds additional areas in connection with those filing extensions, any person responsible for meeting a PBGC deadline that is located in those additional areas will also be a designated person, PBGC confirms.

PBGC also clarifies that this disaster relief announcement “does not cover every situation in which PBGC disaster relief may be warranted. For example, it does not capture every person that might experience difficulty in meeting a PBGC deadline for reasons relating to the severe storms and flooding from Hurricane Harvey that began on August 23, 2017, in Texas. It also does not grant specific disaster relief for all filings. For example, it does not provide relief for certain filings that involve particularly important or time sensitive information where there may be a high risk of substantial harm to participants or the PBGC insurance program, e.g., notices of large missed contributions under section 302(f) of ERISA (Form 200), advance notices of reportable events under ERISA section 4043, and annual financial and actuarial information from certain controlled groups under ERISA section 4010.”

Those persons affected by the severe storms and flooding from Hurricane Harvey that began on August 23, 2017, in Texas who need relief from PBGC that is not covered by this disaster relief announcement should contact PBGC as soon as reasonably possible. To request case-by-case relief, contact Diane Morstein at PBGC by calling 1‑800‑736‑2444, extension 4136, or 202‑326‑4136; sending an e-mail to practitioner.pro@pbgc.gov; or “writing to Diane Morstein, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Suite 610, 1200 K Street, NW, Washington, D.C.  20005‑4026, Re: “Disaster Relief Announcement 17-09”.

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