Most recently, I was contacted by Jim Messier, President of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Association, and informed that he received notification from the Association’s accountants, McEnerney, Brady & Company, L.L.C., that Sick Leave Injury payments are not subject to state and federal income tax in accordance with Internal Revenue Code 104(A)(1) and Dyer

              Recently, there has been much concern over new Department of Treasury regulations promulgated by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and their effect upon State legislated pension systems for public employees. This entry summarizes the new regulations and their potential impact on the members of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”). After conducting research and for the reasons set forth in detail below, it our belief the new Treasury Regulations will not alter the ability of a PFRS member to retire under any existing PFRS law, including the special retirement provision allowing retirement prior to attaining the age of 50. 

 

By way of background, the New Jersey State PBA reported that the IRS adopted regulations that would prohibit any public safety officer in a state legislated pension system from retiring before the age of 50. As most public safety officers are aware, there is currently no minimum retirement age for a member of PFRS to qualify for a pension. In fact, all that is needed to qualify for a PFRS pension is twenty-five (25) years of service and retirement credits paid into the system. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 43:16A-11.1, entitled “Special Retirement; resignation with 25 years of creditable service; allowance; death benefit”, provides in pertinent part:

 

Should a member resign after having established 25 years of creditable service, he may elect “special retirement,” provided, that such election is communicated by such member to the retirement system by filing a written application, duly attested, stating at what time subsequent

to the execution and filing thereof he desires to be retired…

 

[N.J.S.A. 43:16A-11.1(a).]   

   

Treasury Regulation §1.401(a)-1 was recently modified. The modifications require qualified pension plans to revise the definition of normal retirement age to an age that is not earlier than the earliest age that is reasonably representative of the typical retirement age for the industry in which the covered workforce is employed. In addition, the regulations provide that a normal retirement age of at least 62 is deemed to be not earlier than the typical retirement age for the industry in which the covered workforce is employed. Thus, a plan satisfies this provision if its normal retirement age is age 62, or if its normal retirement age is the later than age 62 or another specified date, such as the later of age 62 or the fifth anniversary of plan participation. This is known as the “safe harbor” provision. 


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