Employee Benefit Services
Windes has access to significant resources, including the technical expertise of the professionals in our Employee Benefits Services department. Our Employee Benefits Services department provides complete plan design, documentation, and administration services for employee benefit plans.
Employee Benefit Plan Audit Experience
For over 40 years, Windes has offered the employee benefit plan audit expertise, commitment, and professional excellence plan sponsors need to comply with complex regulations imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We are a select member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center, a membership center for eligible CPA firms that perform employee benefit plan audits, and attend the annual AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Conference to remain current in our field.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is composed of increasingly complex regulations surrounding benefit plan compliance. At Windes, you will always work with experienced professionals who are thoroughly informed of current issues facing the highly regulated field of employee benefit plan audits. All staff are trained annually and obtain updates regularly to ensure that the technical demands of employee benefit plan audit quality are met. We audit more than 100 plans and are committed to providing quality professional service at competitive rates.
Below is a list of some employee benefit plans that require an audit under ERISA regulations, depending on the number of eligible employees on the first day of the plan year and where it lines up with the 80-120 Rule.
A 401(k) plan is a defined contribution plan generally sponsored by the employer – the Plan Sponsor. Employees who participate in the plan can save money by contributing a portion of their paycheck to the plan. This portion is tax-deferred until the participant withdraws from the account. Some 401k plans also offer employer matching contributions. Under a safe-harbor plan, the employer matching contributions are immediately vested. Otherwise, employer matching contributions will follow a vesting schedule defined by the plan document. Some 401k plans offer Roth (or after-tax) contributions, in which case participants can contribute after-tax money, which will be tax-free upon withdrawal.
A 403(b) plan is similar to a 401(k) plan with the exception that it is used by nonprofit companies, religious organizations, school districts, and governmental organizations. Certain administrative processes are exempt for a 403(b) plan, which reduces administrative costs and enables small tax-exempt organizations the ability to offer a retirement savings plan to their employees.
A defined benefit plan is entirely funded by the employer and defines the specific formula that determines the fixed monthly retirement benefits for the employees at retirement age. The formula is generally based on the employee’s compensation and years of service. An actuary is used to determine the employer’s annual contribution to the plan, and the assumptions used in the calculation includes investment performance, years until retirement, employee turnover, and life expectancy at retirement.
An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a defined contribution plan designed by the employer to provide employees with company shares, essentially providing the employee with stock ownership in the company, generally at no upfront cost to the employees. An ESOP’s goal is to align the employees’ interests with the shareholders’ and encourage them to operate in the best interest of the company. Employees do not contribute money into the plan. Instead, the employer will pay into the plan either by contributing new shares of its own stock into the plan or buying existing shares.
A health & welfare benefit plan provides medical, life insurance, unemployment, disability, tuition assistance, legal service benefits, and post-employment benefits to name a few. See AICPA website for additional information about a defined benefit plan or defined contribution plan.
A profit-sharing plan is a defined contribution plan that allows the employer to share its profit with eligible employees by contributing money to the eligible employees’ accounts. Employer contributions are discretionary and must follow the plan document. There are four basic methods of allocation: salary ratio, integration or permitted disparity, new comparability, or age-weighted. A 401k plan can also be attached to a profit-sharing plan, which allows employees to contribute to their 401k plan while allowing employers to make a discretionary profit-sharing contribution.