On June 18, the U.S. Department of Labor published an Interpretive Bulletinin the form of regulations to facilitate the use by employers of payroll withholding as a vehicle for encouraging employee savings through Individual Retirement Accounts. In the bulletin, the department observed that although retirement saving vehicles like the SIMPLE and the SEP impose few administrative burdens and little expense on employers, for a number of reasons some employers are reluctant to take on even those costs. Expressing its strong interest in promoting retirement savings by employees, the department recognizes that making available a mechanism of regular payroll deductions transmitted directly by the employer to IRAs established by the employees is one relatively inexpensive method of creating an opportunity for employee retirement savings.

The Department concludes, however, that there are relatively few such programs in place and that some employers have indicated their reluctance to establish payroll withholding programs for IRAs because of a concern that such programs would be considered pension plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and therefore, subject to the requirements of Title 1 of ERISA.

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