Developments in Wellness Programs: What Every Tax Department Needs to Know

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In the face of rising health care costs and an increasingly aggressive regulatory environment that limits the manner in which those costs can be controlled, employer-sponsored wellness programs have been gaining popularity in recent years.  Wellness programs offer a means of potentially enhancing worker productivity and satisfaction, reducing absenteeism, and ultimately lowering health care costs.  However, wellness programs are also subject to a complex web of regulatory requirements that can lead to a myriad of potential traps for the unwary.

Although there are many statutes and regulations that govern employer-sponsored wellness programs, this webinar focuses specifically on federal tax-related issues. Employer plan sponsors must become familiar with these issues in order to avoid potentially being subject to a variety of potential excise, income, and employment tax liabilities. Tax departments, in particular, should ensure that they are involved in the design and implementation of wellness programs, at least to an extent, since they will likely be responsible for defending against any IRS enforcement actions that may arise.

Educational Objectives:
• Explain how to ensure compliance with the HIPAA and ACA non-discrimination rules, and implement practical tips to limit an employer’s exposure to potential excise tax liability
• Analyze how wellness programs implicate and interact with the ACA’s employer shared responsibility (or “pay-or-play”) rules
• Describe how the Internal Revenue Code’s federal income and employment tax rules apply to various wellness program incentives and rewards
• Explore issues related to the intersection of wellness programs and HSA eligibility, W-2 reporting, and the impending Cadillac plan tax, which is scheduled to apply beginning in 2018.

Who would benefit most from attending this program?
In-house tax professionals, as well as HR personnel, would benefit from attending the webinar.  Aside from obtaining knowledge about the relevant requirements, it is important for tax and HR personnel to understand how and why they should coordinate efforts to mitigate potential risk to the employer.



Garrett Fenton is a member of Miller Chevalier. He practices in the areas of employee benefits, tax, and executive and deferred compensation, with a focus on health and welfare benefits and healthcare reform under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. Within these areas, he assists primarily large employers and health insurers on a wide range of topics, including implementation of the ACA's “market reform” provisions, compliance with various taxes, fees and reporting obligations imposed under the ACA, and related issues under Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code, the Public Health Service Act, and other applicable laws; wellness program design and implementation; cafeteria plans; the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act compliance; Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy and security rules; Medicare Secondary Payer laws; day-to-day plan administration issues; and general ERISA and tax matters in connection with employer-sponsored health, welfare, and retirement plans. Garrett has been particularly active in tracking the development of the ACA legislation and implementing regulations since the healthcare reform debate began in 2009. Prior to earning his LL.M. in Taxation at the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, Garrett practiced civil and commercial litigation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was awarded the prestigious Dean's Scholarship for Superior Academic Achievement at Southwestern University School of Law. He is a member of the District of Columbia, California, Florida and Oregon bars.


Allison Rogers is a senior associate at of Miller Chevalier. She practices employee benefits law with a focus on Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and has experience with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy and security rules, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and the Medicare Secondary Payer laws. Allison assists sponsor and health insurer clients comply with the ACA’s insurance market reforms, the employer shared responsibility requirement, and various ACA fees and taxes. She has drafted and reviewed numerous employee benefits documents and disclosures including Summary Plan Descriptions, Summaries of Benefits and Coverage and other open enrollment materials. She also has assisted clients with Internal Revenue Service and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation filings and federal Department of Labor audits of health and welfare plans; drafted and prepared comment letters on new regulatory guidance; drafted proposed legislation; advised clients on potential health and welfare funding vehicles such voluntary employees' beneficiary association, 401(h) accounts, Internal Revenue Code 115 accounts and integral part trusts; advised clients on transitioning from employer sponsored health care coverage to a private exchange model; analyzed state same sex marriage and domestic partner laws and how these laws affect employee benefits; and counseled clients on the Internal Revenue Code section 105(h) nondiscrimination rules. Allison graduated from The George Washington University Law School and received a B.A. from Yale University. She is a member of the District of Columbia, Ney Jersey and New York bars.