William M. Littell
Bill Littell is counsel in the Tax and Benefits Department where he has focused on employee benefits matters since 2001. Bill advises a wide range of tax-exempt and for-profit clients in the design, drafting and administration of their employee benefit programs. His clients include large universities and small colleges, church-sponsored health systems and leading national cancer institutes, small tax-exempt organizations and Fortune 500 companies. Working closely with members the Benefits Consulting Group, Bill assists clients in their efforts to deliver competitive and compliant employee benefit programs, keeping clients informed of relevant legislative and regulatory developments, and counseling them on plan qualification and compliance issues, plan administration questions, and deferred compensation matters.
- Plan Qualification: Bill works regularly with his clients to maintain their qualified retirement, 403(b) and 457(b) plan documents in compliance with applicable IRS and DOL requirements. He routinely drafts plan documents and amendments, and helps clients obtain IRS determination letters for their defined benefit and defined contribution plans, negotiating sometimes thorny plan qualification issues with the IRS – e.g., obtaining 7805(b) relief from onerous retroactive correction for a hybrid pension plan whose application for a determination letter had been long-ensnared in an IRS administrative “jail” for cash balance plans.
- Church Plans: Bill assists sponsors of non-electing “church plans” in navigating their way through unique plan qualification rules and issues – e.g., he helped a Catholic-sponsored health system comply with the final 403(b) regulations by amending their cash balance pension plan to eliminate a notional match on employees’ 403(b) plan contributions, while preserving the plan’s 5-year vesting schedule through its church plan exemption from ERISA and the 3-year vesting schedule that would otherwise have been required under the Pension Protection Act.
- Compliance and Correction Issues: Bill advises clients in a range of compliance and correction matters. For instance, Bill furnishes an Ivy-League university client with a customized employee benefits compliance calendar that is tailored and continuously updated to proactively facilitate administration of their particular employee benefit program. Bill also helps his clients resolve an array of compliance issues through both self-correction and voluntary correction filings under IRS and DOL programs, as well as representation in connection with benefit plan matters arising in agency audits.
- Plan Administration: Bill frequently provides counsel in all aspects of day-to-day retirement and health and welfare plan administration – e.g., assisting with qualified domestic relations orders and cafeteria plan election changes, reviewing vendor contracts and participant communications, and guiding plan sponsors in the preparation and distribution of summary plan descriptions and other benefits-related disclosures.
- Tax-Exempt Deferred Compensation: Bill helps tax-exempt clients with their deferred compensation programs, including 457(b) plans, 457(f) arrangements and individual employment and separation agreements. He also assists clients with the design, drafting, and communication of early retirement incentive programs.