On June 17 2008, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (HEART) was signed into law. HEART contains a number of provisions affecting tax-qualified retirement plans and affecting “cafeteria” plans under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). Some of the new provisions, certain of which are mandatory and others of which are discretionary, include: (i) changes in survivor and disability benefits under retirement plans; (ii) changes in the definition of compensation for retirement plan purposes; (iii) the elimination of the December 31, 2007 “sunset” with respect to “qualified reservists distributions” from defined contribution retirement plans while on qualified military leave; (iv) and (v) permitting “qualified reservist distributions” from cafeteria plans. In addition to requiring or permitting changes in the operation of plans, all tax-qualified retirement plans generally must be amended to comply with HEART no later than the last day of the plan year beginning on and after January 1, 2010. Cafeteria plans being amended to allow for qualified reservist distributions should be amended to add such provision prior to the making of any such distributions.
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