In my last blog I mentioned that there is no Internal Revenue Service (IRS) representation at this year’s Enrolled Actuaries meeting but that does not mean that there are no speakers who happen to also be employees of the IRS. For example, tomorrow there is Session 701 Dialogue with the IRS/Treasury described as:
A panel of high-ranking officials and experienced practitioners field your questions on a number of challenging issues. This is your chance to ask what you’ve always wanted to know about guidance. This session is not intended to address specific client issues.
- Kyle N. Brown U.S. Department of the Treasury
- Linda Marshall Internal Revenue Service
- Harlan M. Weller U.S. Department of the Treasury
- Carolyn E. Zimmerman Internal Revenue Service
However , anything said will be the views of the speakers, as they will make clear in the introduction, and not necessarily those of their employer whose views will still be up for speculation as Mr. Brown proved in a ‘Late Breaking Developments’ session he spoke at today where, according to my notes, he revealed:
The Employee Plans unit has put a lot of resources into and there has been an “incredible focus over the last year or so” on MEPRA (the law that allowed multiemployer plan benefits to be cut) so apparently other areas got less attention.
There happened to be an electrical fire last week at the IRS national headquarters so the building was closed most of last week.
There has been a reorganization of the agency between Operations and Chief Counsel where the latter is in charge of developing guidance (though actuaries from Operations do get to be on the team writing guidance if the material is math-centric).
No gray book since it took 300 man-hours to put together the answers.
No gray book since gray book answers were being used in court briefs and guidance development.
Future state: IRS is examining how they interact with taxpayers. “Wait and see.”
New mortality tables in 2017?
Finally, in response to the question about the requirement in proposed regulations that for each rate group in the general test the formula must apply to a reasonable classification of employee (classification by name not being reasonable) and, if not, the Average Benefit Test cannot be used and the plan must pass the Ratio Percentage Test which, according to one actuary, would “make 50% of their small plan business plans disqualified’ Mr. Brown could only say:
“We have heard.”