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Employee Benefit Plan Audits

Distinctive Plan Audit Expertise

Our involvement in auditing employee benefit plans under ERISA dates back to the initial audit requirements specified in the law. Our team is focused on providing quality ERISA audits. We are currently the auditors of record for more than 170 plans. We have dedicated partners and staff who focus their practice on Employee Benefit Plan Audits. Our team is experienced in working with the key contacts at the client and outside service providers to facilitate an efficient, timely and value-added audit.

With valuable insights, specialized expertise, and a  commitment to benefit plan compliance, Windes is the best choice for your employee benefit plan audit needs.


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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.

ERISA - Employee Retirement Income Security Act

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.

401(k) Plan

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.

403(b) Plan

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.

Defined Benefit Plan

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.

ESOP - Employee Stock Ownership Plan

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.

Health & Welfare

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.

Profit Sharing

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.

Meet the dedicated and experienced Windes ERISA Team members.

We are longtime members of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center and other ERISA industry associations to ensure we are current on regulatory updates, and retirement plan topics and trends. We have completed our twelfth peer review of our accounting and auditing practice and, in each case, have received an unqualified “clean” opinion. A copy of our most recent peer review can be provided upon request.

Our team serves clients in the following industries: automotive, construction, energy, hospitality and leisure, manufacturing, medical practices, nonprofit, professional services, real estate, retail and consumer products, technology and telecom, transportation, trade and maritime, and wholesale distribution.

Lisa Carrick
Lisa D. Carrick, CPA

Partner, Audit & Assurance Services, ERISA Practice Leader
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