Health & Welfare Benefit Nondiscrimination Rules

Employers are generally permitted to structure plans with different eligibility, benefits, and contributions between classes of employees so long as the employer does not discriminate against a protected class (e.g., age, disability, race, religion, or sex) or based on health status. However, to offer benefits on a tax-favored basis, plans must be structured in accordance with benefit nondiscrimination rules. Benefit nondiscrimination rules restrict the ability to favor highly compensated individuals or key employees on tax-favored basis. Benefit nondiscrimination rules are enforced by the IRS. Failure to comply with benefit nondiscrimination rules risks the highly compensated and key employees being taxed on benefits received under the discriminatory plan.

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