In response to the recent devastating Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the quickly approaching deadlines and other rules and restrictions, certain federal regulatory agencies have provided various relief for employee benefit plan sponsors and plan participants located in areas affected by the disasters including newly released rules on September 20, 2017.

The IRS has also taken action to allow certain leave-based donation programs which permit employees to forgo personal leave time in exchange for payment by their employers to charities that offer disaster relief for victims of the Hurricanes. Under the program, the donated leave will not be included in income or wages of the employees and employers will be permitted to deduct the payments as business expenses.

Congress is also considering taking legislative action to allow victims of the Hurricanes to withdraw funds from their IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) retirement accounts to help rebuild their homes without incurring penalties for withdrawal.

The various provisions for relief, outlined below, are further detailed in the related regulatory agency releases as noted:

  • Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB)
    • On September 13th, the FRTIB announced certain relief to the hardship withdrawal rules for plan participants affected by the Hurricane Irma. Further information can be found here.