The final set of exemptions cover four transactions correctable by the VFC Program. According to the DoL, the transactions include:
- late transmittal of employee contributions and participant loan repayments to plans
- loans between plans and related parties at fair market interest rates
- purchases or sales of assets between plans and related parties at fair market value
- the sale and leaseback of property between plans and employers for fair market value and fair market rental value.
“By expanding the scope of relief from excise taxes in the final exemption, more employers and service providers will be encouraged to bring their plans into compliance with federal employee benefits law,” Assistant Secretary of Labor Ann Combs said in a statement. “Increased compliance with the law means more security for workers’ health and retirement benefits.”
On March 28, 2002, the DoL included the proposed class exemption in its expanded VFC program to allow applicants to avoid the excise taxes, which officials say otherwise discourage voluntary compliance.
Several Changes Made
Based on public comments, the DoL made several changes to the proposal. One change expands the transaction relating to employee contributions to cover delinquent transmittal of participant loan repayments to plans.
The other changes allow service providers to use the exemption more frequently than once every three years and let certain VFC applicants give the required notice to an unrelated plan fiduciary as a representative of plan participants and beneficiaries, a DoL announcement said.
The VFC Program allows plan officials, sponsoring employers, or parties to affected transactions to voluntarily correct ERISA violations.
The DoL said in order to comply, applicants must fully correct any prohibited transactions, calculate any losses and restore those losses with interest or profits, and distribute any supplemental benefits owed to eligible participants and beneficiaries.