IRS Provides Guidance on HEART Act

January 20, 2010 ( – The Internal Revenue Service has provided guidance in the form of questions and answers with respect to certain provisions of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2008.

IRS Notice 2010-15 addresses HEART Act section 104 (relating to survivor and disability payments with respect to qualified military service), section 105 (relating to treatment of differential military pay as wages), section 107 (relating to distributions from retirement plans to individuals called to active duty), section 109 (relating to contributions of military death gratuities to Roth IRAs and Coverdell education savings accounts), and section 111 (relating to an employer credit for differential wage payments to employees who are active duty members of the uniformed services).

The HEART Act was passed in June 2008 (see Rules/Regs:Heroic Measures), and provisions in the law include:

  • Employers who provide differential pay to employees called up for active military service now must recognize that compensation in calculating employees’ pension­ benefits.
  • For individuals ordered to active military duty for at least six months on or after December 31, 2007, those reservists’ requests for defined contribution plan distributions will not require the typical 10% early withdrawal penalty applied if the taxpayer is younger than 59 1/2.
  • A survivor of a deceased service member is allowed a tax-free rollover of any military death gratuity and any group life insurance payment to the survivor’s Roth individual retirement account (Roth IRA) or to an education savings account.
  • As part of a plan’s qualifications under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code, it must provide survivors of a partic­ipant who dies while on active military service any additional benefits (other than benefit accruals relating to the period of military service) that would be provided under the plan had the participant gone back to work and then died while an active employee. For purposes of the new law, the person would be considered a “deemed rehired employee.”

The IRS is also requesting comments regarding any additional issues relating to the sections of the HEART Act that are addressed in the notice.