This week, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision on a key 401(k) lawsuit and the takeaway is a simple one: Plan Sponsors and Advisors must keep a close eye on all plan investments. This will include monitoring everything associated with the fund lineup.
The decision broadens the responsibility of defined contribution plans, saying they have a “continuing duty to monitor trust investments and remove imprudent ones” even though the federal ERISA law, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, sets a six-year time limit for lawsuits alleging breaches of fiduciary duty. The Supreme Court referred back to the common law of trusts, “which provides that a trustee has a continuing duty – separate and apart from the duty to exercise prudence in selecting investments at the outset – to monitor, and remove imprudent, trust investments” which is the fiduciary’s duty of prudence under trust law.
The retirement plan industry has been eagerly awaiting the outcome of Tibble v. Edison, a suit that was initially filed in 2007 and was among the first lawsuits brought by employees against their employers for fee-laden funds in the 401(k) plan.
The court ruled unanimously in the case of Tibble et al. vs. Edison International et al., in which Edison 401(k) participants accused the plan and its executives of breaching their fiduciary duties by choosing certain retail-priced investments over less-expensive institutionally priced versions of the same investments.
At the center of the conflict was the question of whether the six-year statute of limitations on breach of fiduciary duty protects plan fiduciaries from keeping imprudent investments in the plans if those funds were added more than six years ago.
Scrutinize and Monitor Everything
Plan sponsors, as well as advisors at broker-dealers or RIA firms, shouldn’t just review the performance of the funds in the plan, but must consider their fee policies and whether they are prudent and in accordance with the plan documents. Those items should be reviewed at least annually.
Since share classes are such a hot item, plan sponsors need to look at them periodically and document that the share class, revenue sharing and allocation methods are fair, according to Jason C. Roberts, CEO of the Pension Resource Institute.
He goes on to state that advisors and their firms need to make sure their plan sponsor clients are aware that they themselves are giving the advisor direction on the universe of funds that can be chosen for the menu.
As an example, an advisor wants to know what the plan’s objectives are with respect to share class and revenue sharing, as well as who is paying the expenses to administer the plan. These questions should be answered in the investment policy statement. This way, advisors know exactly what they’re supposed to do, and plan sponsors have no misconceptions about their duties as plan fiduciaries.
Now is a good time for employers to undergo a review their investment policy statement, investment lineup, update benchmarks and processes, and document their monitoring of all plan investments.
ATLANTA, Georgia – One of Alabama’s largest and respected accounting, tax and advisory firms, JamisonMoneyFarmer PC, met with six other US-based CPA firms from California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, and Wisconsin, and five firms from Germany for the US German Accounting and Tax Summit. Perry Barnett of Rushton and Company, LLC of Gainesville, Georgia acted as host for the event.
The 2015 Summit marks the third annual meeting of the like-minded accounting firms who serve clients in Germany and the United States. Chicago was the host city for the 2013 summit and last year’s summit was just outside of Stuttgart, Germany. These summits were the result of multiple years of discussions of how to best address the needs of the growing multinational, German-owned companies who are investing in subsidiaries in the United States, as well as US companies who are setting up outposts in Germany.
“We feel our offices in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa are uniquely positioned to service the German Mittelstand companies that are investing in Central Alabama due to the expanding MBUSI footprint. For businesses expanding internationally, it is important to secure professional service providers that understand both the international landscape and can help businesses successfully navigate the local environment, rules and tax authorities,” said Viki Gryska, a JamisonMoneyFarmer accountant who is originally from Dresden, Germany and speaks German fluently. Gryska also directs the functions of the firm’s German desk.
As part of an annual gathering of accounting firms with expertise in global business and international tax strategies, the 2015 US German Summit was held May 3-5 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near Buckhead. The meeting is an opportunity for member firms to share their expertise in international business trends and tax-law updates.
This year’s summit included a panel discussion on domestic and foreign investments moderated by Tracy Moon, partner with Fisher & Phillips, LLP. Thomas A. Strauss, Southern regional director of the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, discussed U.S. outbound investments in countries overseas. Nico Wijnbert of the international division of Georgia’s Department of Economic Development provided an overview of foreign business investment trends in the United States.
“I believe the Crowe Horwath Deutschland firms are pleased to see the progress that we have made over the last several years. We are on our third employee exchange, and are providing clients with bilingual personnel to better address their US or German tax and accounting related needs,” said Bobby Ingram, a JamisonMoneyFarmer shareholder with heavy involvement in the JMF International Practice Group.
The seven US-based CPAmerica International firms were AKT, Brickley DeLong, Gray, Gray & Gray LLP, JamisonMoneyFarmer PC, Mueller and Co., LLP, Rushton and Company, LLC, and Wegner CPAs. The five Crowe Horwath International firms in Germany are Crowe Horwath Frankfurt Intertax Treuhand, Dr. Kleeberg & Partner GmbH, MDS Moehrle GmbH, Trinavis GmbH & Co. KG, and RWT Horwath GmbH.
The US firms’ affiliation is through CPAmerica International, an association of independently owned and managed CPA and consulting firms in the US. The German firms’ affiliation is through Crowe Horwath International, of which CPAmerica is a member.
“Our collective time and efforts help all of the firms and their leadership develop and deepen technical and business development skills that can be brought back to their respective local markets to better serve our multinational clients as well as firms interested in expanding globally. We share their vision and understand the importance of international growth and providing financial and strategic advisory services to multinational firms,” said Bryan R. Chandler, JamisonMoneyFarmer’s Managing Shareholder.
The 2016 Summit is already scheduled to be in Hamburg, Germany.
For PDF version of this press release, please click here: JMF among twelve international firms that met for third annual US German Accounting and Tax Summit
JamisonMoneyFarmer PC (JMF), Alabama’s seventh largest CPA firm with three offices in Alabama, was founded in 1920 by the late Carl C. Jamison, one of the first Certified Public Accountants in the state. JMF was recently recognized as one of the Best Companies to Work for in Alabama and by the AICPA as one of the 500 largest firms out of 44,000 CPA firms in the United States. For more information about JMF, visit www.jmf.com. You can also find JMF on Facebook and JMFCPAs on Twitter.
ABOUT CROWE HORWATH INTERNATIONAL:
Crowe Horwath International, ranked among the top 10 global accounting networks, consists of more than 150 independent accounting and advisory services firms in over 100 countries around the world. Crowe Horwath member firms are known for their local knowledge, expertise and experience balanced by an international reputation for the highest quality of service.
ABOUT CPAMERICA INTERNATIONAL
CPAmerica International as a member of Crowe Horwath International, is one of the largest associations of independently owned and managed CPA and consulting firms in the world based on annual revenue of member firms. Together, the combined annual revenue of CPAmerica and Crowe Horwath International firms has grown from $2.73 billion to $3.07 billion.
The Birmingham City Council approved a $6 million city tax break which will lower the cost of business licenses in 2016 for several professions, with the exclusion of restaurants and dealerships. Under the direction of Mayor Larry Langford, business license costs were doubled back in 2007, which resulted in the collection of $243 million. While the main objective with such a large fund was to build a domed stadium and improve communal transportation, which did not occur, the fund singlehandedly kept the city’s budget above the waterline during the economic recession. In essence, the hope is that the reduction in license costs will make the city more attractive to businesses either for relocation purposes or to remain in the city.
As an American living overseas, each year you have to gather the information required to file a U.S. return. Unlike your compatriots, residing across the pond comes with its own process: complicated and with more risk and penalties. The following article sheds light on the expat, tax forms you will need in order to file your return.
Think before you click. Don’t open unexpected email attachments from unknown persons. Just because an email message looks like it came from someone doesn’t mean that it actually did. Scammers can “spoof” the return address, making it look like the message came from someone else. Don’t view or click on links in unsolicited emails.
Trust your instincts – If an email, link or email attachment seems suspicious, don’t open it, even if your anti-virus software indicates that the message is clean. Attackers are constantly releasing new viruses, and the anti-virus software might not have the signature. At the very least, contact the person who supposedly sent the message to make sure it’s legitimate before you open the attachment. However, especially in the case of forwards, even messages sent by a legitimate sender might contain a virus. If something about the email or the attachment makes you uncomfortable, there may be a good reason. Don’t let your curiosity put your computer at risk.
Fairfax, Virginia –Chip Helme, of Thompson, Greenspon & Co., PC is the new chair of the board of CPAmerica International. He succeeds 2014 chair and former president, Bryan R. Chandler, leading partner of JamisonMoneyFarmer in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Joseph Ciccarello, leading partner of Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP, has been elected to the vice chair/chair-elect position.
“Last year proved to be a great year and I’m looking forward to what this board will bring to the membership in 2014,” said Alan Deichler, CPAmerica president. “As a member-driven association, the board represents the membership within CPAmerica.”
Among the nine elected board members, returning board members include, J. Brad Steward of Pulakos CPAs, PC; and S. Scott Voynich of Robinson, Grimes & Company, P.C.
The four newly-elected board members include Timothy Arter of Brickley DeLong, PC; John Lauer of HBL CPAs, P.C.; Robert McGowen of McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.; and Jack Savage, Jr., of CF & Co., L.L.P.
CPAmerica is a unique blend of active members, headquarters staff and expert technical support.
About CPAmerica International:
CPAmerica International is an accounting association of independent, CPA firms that provides practice management support, continuing education, marketing, online services and other programs for the improvement of its member firms. As a member of Crowe Horwath International, the association has more than 670 offices worldwide, and combined firm revenues of the alliance of more than $3 billion. Learn more about CPAmerica on the CPAmerica blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.
For full release, visit CPAmerica News: CPAmerica International Announces 2015 Board of Directors
Please click here for Bryan R. Chandler’s biography.
Linda Wang of the United States Department of Agriculture has created a summary of the newest tax laws related to timber.
Tax laws on timber transactions are very specialized knowledge that are not commonly known. Yet they are important to timber owners in terms of the ongoing cost of owning and managing timber, forest stewardship and compliance to the tax law. This bulletin reviews the major federal income tax laws to help forest owners in filing their 2014 income tax returns.
While these guides can be very helpful, please feel free to contact anyone on our Timber and Other Natural Resources team to help with any specific tax questions or advice.
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