Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program Act.
Section 2. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 10, Section 35I is amended by adding the following new Section:- “ Section 35I ½. The Massachusetts secure Choice Savings Program Act”.
Section 3. Definitions. Unless the context requires a different meaning or as expressly provided in this Section, all terms shall have the same meaning as when used in a comparable context in the Internal Revenue Code. As used in this Act:
"Board" means the Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Board established under this Act.
"Department " means the Department of Revenue.
"Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Revenue.
"Employee" means any individual who is 18 years of age or older, who is employed by an employer, and who has wages that are allocable to Massachusetts during a calendar year under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 62.
"Employer" means a person or entity engaged in a business, industry, profession, trade, or other enterprise in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, whether for profit or not for profit, that (i) has at no time during the previous calendar year employed fewer than 25 employees in the State, (ii) has been in business at least 2 years, and (iii) has not offered a qualified retirement plan, including, but not limited to, a plan qualified under Section 401(a), Section 401(k), Section 403(a), Section 403(b), Section 408(k), Section 408(p), or Section 457(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in the preceding 2 years.
"Enrollee" means any employee who is enrolled in the Program.
"Fund" means the Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program Fund.
"Internal Revenue Code" means Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or any successor law, in effect for the calendar year.
"IRA" means a Roth IRA (individual retirement account) under Section 408A of the Internal Revenue Code.
"Participating employer" means an employer or small employer that provides a payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement as provided for by this Act for its employees who are enrollees in the Program.
"Payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement" means an arrangement by which a participating employer allows enrollees to remit payroll deduction contributions to the Program.
"Program" means the Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program.
"Small employer" means a person or entity engaged in a business, industry, profession, trade, or other enterprise in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, whether for profit or not for profit, that (i) employed less than 25 employees at any one time in the Commonwealth throughout the previous calendar year, or (ii) has been in business less than 2 years, or both items (i) and (ii), but that notifies the Department that it is interested in being a participating employer.
"Wages" means any compensation within the meaning of Section 219(f)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code that is received by an enrollee from a participating employer during the calendar year.
Section 4. Establishment of Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program. A retirement savings program in the form of an automatic enrollment payroll deduction IRA, known as the Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program, is hereby established and shall be administered by the Board for the purpose of promoting greater retirement savings for private-sector employees in a convenient, low-cost, and portable manner.
Section 5. Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program Fund.
(a) The Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program Fund is hereby established as a trust outside of the State Treasurer’s Office, with the Board as its trustee. The Fund shall include the individual retirement accounts of enrollees, which shall be accounted for as individual accounts. Moneys in the Fund shall consist of moneys received from enrollees and participating employers pursuant to automatic payroll deductions and contributions to savings made under this Act. The Fund shall be operated in a manner determined by the Board, provided that the Fund is operated so that the accounts of enrollees established under the Program meet the requirements for IRAs under the Internal Revenue Code.
(b) The amounts deposited in the Fund shall not constitute property of the Commonwealth and the Fund shall not be construed to be a department, institution, or agency of the Commonwealth. Amounts on deposit in the Fund shall not be commingled with the Commonwealth funds and the Commonwealth shall have no claim to or against, or interest in, such funds.
Section 6. Massachusetts Secure Choice Administrative Fund. The Massachusetts Secure Choice Administrative Fund ("Administrative Fund") is created as a nonappropriated separate and apart trust fund in the State Treasurer’s Office. The Board shall use moneys in the Administrative Fund to pay for administrative expenses it incurs in the performance of its duties under this Act. The Board shall use moneys in the Administrative Fund to cover start-up administrative expenses it incurs in the performance of its duties under this Act. The Administrative Fund may receive any grants or other moneys designated for administrative purposes from the State, or any unit of federal or local government, or any other person, firm, partnership, or corporation. Any interest earnings that are attributable to moneys in the Administrative Fund must be deposited into the Administrative Fund.
Section 7. Composition of the Board. There is created the Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Board.
(a) The Board shall consist of the following 7 members:
(1) the State Treasurer, or his or her designee, who shall serve as chair;
(2) the State Comptroller, or his or her designee;
(3) the Secretary of the Commonwealth, or his or her designee;
(4) two public representatives with expertise in retirement savings plan
administration or investment, or both, appointed by the Governor; a representative of participating employers, appointed by the Governor; and
(5) a representative of enrollees, appointed by the Secretary of the
(b) Members of the Board shall serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for necessary travel expenses incurred in connection with their Board duties from funds appropriated for the purpose.
(c) The initial appointments shall be as follows: one public representative for 4 years; one public representative for 2 years; the representative of participating employers for 3 years; and the representative of enrollees for 1 year. Thereafter, all appointments shall be for terms of 4 years.
(d) A vacancy in the term of an appointed Board member shall be filled for the balance of the unexpired term in the same manner as the original appointment.
(e) Each Board member, prior to assuming office, shall take an oath that he or she will diligently and honestly administer the affairs of the Board and that he or she will not knowingly violate or willingly permit to be violated any of the provisions of law applicable to the Program. The oath shall be certified by the officer before whom it is taken and immediately filed in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth .
Section 8. Fiduciary Duty. The Board, the individual members of the Board, the trustee appointed under subsection (b) of Section 30, any other agents appointed or engaged by the Board, and all persons serving as Program staff shall discharge their duties with respect to the Program solely in the interest of the Program's enrollees and beneficiaries as follows:
(1) for the exclusive purposes of providing benefits to enrollees and beneficiaries and defraying reasonable expenses of administering the Program;
(2) by investing with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the prevailing circumstances that a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with those matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims; and
(3) by using any contributions paid by employees and employers into the trust exclusively for the purpose of paying benefits to the enrollees of the Program, for the cost of administration of the Program, and for investments made for the benefit of the Program.
Section 9. Duties of the Board. In addition to the other duties and responsibilities stated in this Act, the Board shall:
(a) Cause the Program to be designed, established and operated in a manner that:
(1) accords with best practices for retirement savings vehicles;
(2) maximizes participation, savings, and sound investment practices;
(3) maximizes simplicity, including ease of administration for participating employers and enrollees;
(4) provides an efficient product to enrollees by pooling investment funds;
(5) ensures the portability of benefits; and
(6) provides for the de-accumulation of enrollee assets in a manner that maximizes financial security in retirement.
(b) Appoint a trustee to the IRA Fund in compliance with Section 408 of the Internal Revenue Code.
(c) Explore and establish investment options, subject to Section 45 of this Act, that offer employees returns on contributions and the conversion of individual retirement savings account balances to secure retirement income without incurring debt or liabilities to the State.
(d) Establish the process by which interest, investment earnings, and investment losses are allocated to individual program accounts on a pro rata basis and are computed at the interest rate on the balance of an individual's account.
(e) Make and enter into contracts necessary for the administration of the Program and Fund, including, but not limited to, retaining and contracting with investment managers, private financial institutions, other financial and service providers, consultants, actuaries, counsel, auditors, third-party administrators, and other professionals as necessary.
(f) Conduct a review of the performance of any investment vendors every 4 years, including, but not limited to, a review of returns, fees, and customer service. A copy of reviews conducted under this subsection (f) shall be posted to the Board's Internet website.
(g) Determine the number and duties of staff members needed to administer the Program and assemble such a staff, including, as needed, employing staff, appointing a Program administrator, and entering into contracts with the State Treasurer to make employees of the State Treasurer's Office available to administer the Program.
(h) Cause moneys in the Fund to be held and invested as pooled investments described in Section 45 of this Act, with a view to achieving cost savings through efficiencies and economies of scale.
(i) Evaluate and establish the process by which an enrollee is able to contribute a portion of his or her wages to the Program for automatic deposit of those contributions and the process by which the participating employer provides a payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement to forward those contributions and related information to the Program, including, but not limited to, contracting with financial service companies and third-party administrators with the capability to receive and process employee information and contributions for payroll deposit retirement savings arrangements or similar arrangements.
(j) Design and establish the process for enrollment under Section 60 of this Act, including the process by which an employee can opt not to participate in the Program, select a contribution level, select an investment option, and terminate participation in the Program.
(k) Evaluate and establish the process by which an individual may voluntarily enroll in and make contributions to the Program.
(l) Accept any grants, appropriations, or other moneys from the Commonwealth, any unit of federal, State, or local government, or any other person, firm, partnership, or corporation solely for deposit into the Fund, whether for investment or administrative purposes.
(m) Evaluate the need for, and procure as needed, insurance against any and all loss in connection with the property, assets, or activities of the Program, and indemnify as needed each member of the Board from personal loss or liability resulting from a member's action or inaction as a member of the Board.
(n) Make provisions for the payment of administrative costs and expenses for the creation, management, and operation of the Program, including the costs associated with subsection (b) of Section 20 of this Act, subsections (e), (f), (h), and (l) of this Section, subsection (b) of Section 45 of this Act, subsection (a) of Section 80 of this Act, and subsection (n) of Section 85 of this Act. Subject to appropriation, the Commonwealth may pay administrative costs associated with the creation and management of the Program until sufficient assets are available in the Fund for that purpose. Thereafter, all administrative costs of the Fund, including repayment of any start-up funds provided by the State, shall be paid only out of moneys on deposit therein. However, private funds or federal funding received under subsection (k) of Section 30 of this Act in order to implement the Program until the Fund is self-sustaining shall not be repaid unless those funds were offered contingent upon the promise of such repayment. The Board shall keep annual administrative expenses as low as possible, but in no event shall they exceed 0.75% of the total trust balance.
(o) Allocate administrative fees to individual retirement accounts in the Program on a pro rata basis.
(p) Set minimum and maximum contribution levels in accordance with limits established for IRAs by the Internal Revenue Code.
(q) Facilitate education and outreach to employers and employees.
(r) Facilitate compliance by the Program with all applicable requirements for the Program under the Internal Revenue Code, including tax qualification requirements or any other applicable law and accounting requirements.
(s) Carry out the duties and obligations of the Program in an effective, efficient, and low-cost manner.
(t) Exercise any and all other powers reasonably necessary for the effectuation of the purposes, objectives, and provisions of this Act pertaining to the Program.
(u) Deposit into the Massachusetts Secure Choice Administrative Fund all grants, gifts, donations, fees, and earnings from investments from the Massachusetts Secure Choice Savings Program Fund that are used to recover administrative costs. All expenses of the Board shall be paid from the Massachusetts Secure Choice Administrative Fund.
Section 10. Risk Management. The Board shall annually prepare and adopt a written statement of investment policy that includes a risk management and oversight program. This investment policy shall prohibit the Board, Program, and Fund from borrowing for investment purposes. The risk management and oversight program shall be designed to ensure that an effective risk management system is in place to monitor the risk levels of the Program and Fund portfolio, to ensure that the risks taken are prudent and properly managed, to provide an integrated process for overall risk management, and to assess investment returns as well as risk to determine if the risks taken are adequately compensated compared to applicable performance benchmarks and standards. The Board shall consider the statement of investment policy and any changes in the investment policy at a public hearing.
Section 11. Investment firms.
(a) The Board shall engage, after an open bid process, an investment manager or managers to invest the Fund and any other assets of the Program. Moneys in the Fund may be invested or reinvested by the State Treasurer's Office or may be invested in whole or in part under contract with the State Board of Investment, private investment managers, or both, as selected by the Board. In selecting the investment manager or managers, the Board shall take into consideration and give weight to the investment manager's fees and charges in order to reduce the Program's administrative expenses.
(b) The investment manager or managers shall comply with any and all applicable federal and state laws, rules, and regulations, as well as any and all rules, policies, and guidelines promulgated by the Board with respect to the Program and the investment of the Fund, including, but not limited to, the investment policy.
(c) The investment manager or managers shall provide such reports as the Board deems necessary for the Board to oversee each investment manager's performance and the performance of the Fund.
Section 12. Investment options.
(a) The Board shall establish as an investment option a life-cycle fund with a target date based upon the age of the enrollee. This shall be the default investment option for enrollees who fail to elect an investment option unless and until the Board designates by rule a new investment option as the default as described in subsection (c) of this Section.
(b) The Board may also establish any or all of the following additional investment options:
(1) a conservative principal protection fund;
(2) a growth fund;
(3) a secure return fund whose primary objective is the preservation of the safety of principal and the provision of a stable and low-risk rate of return; if the Board elects to establish a secure return fund, the Board may procure any insurance, annuity, or other product to insure the value of individuals' accounts and guarantee a rate of return; the cost of such funding mechanism shall be paid out of the Fund; under no circumstances shall the Board, Program, Fund, the State, or any participating employer assume any liability for investment or actuarial risk; the Board shall determine whether to establish such investment options based upon an analysis of their cost, risk profile, benefit level, feasibility, and ease of implementation;
(4) an annuity fund.
(c) If the Board elects to establish a secure return fund, the Board shall then determine whether such option shall replace the target date or life-cycle fund as the default investment option for enrollees who do not elect an investment option. In making such determination, the Board shall consider the cost, risk profile, benefit level, and ease of enrollment in the secure return fund. The Board may at any time thereafter revisit this question and, based upon an analysis of these criteria, establish either the secure return fund or the life-cycle fund as the default for enrollees who do not elect an investment option.
Section 13. Benefits. Interest, investment earnings, and investment losses shall be allocated to individual Program accounts as established by the Board under subsection (d) of Section 30 of this Act. An individual's retirement savings benefit under the Program shall be an amount equal to the balance in the individual's Program account on the date the retirement savings benefit becomes payable. The State shall have no liability for the payment of any benefit to any participant in the Program.
Section 14. Employer and employee information packets and disclosure forms.
(a) Prior to the opening of the Program for enrollment, the Board shall design and disseminate to all employers an employer information packet and an employee information packet, which shall include background information on the Program, appropriate disclosures for employees, and information regarding the vendor Internet website described in subsection (i) of Section 60 of this Act.
(b) The Board shall provide for the contents of both the employee information packet and the employer information packet.
(c) The employee information packet shall include a disclosure form. The disclosure form shall explain, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(1) the benefits and risks associated with making contributions to the Program;
(2) the mechanics of how to make contributions to the Program;
(3) how to opt out of the Program;
(4) how to participate in the Program with a level of employee contributions other than 3%;
(5) the process for withdrawal of retirement savings;
(6) how to obtain additional information about the Program;
(7) that employees seeking financial advice should contact financial advisors, that participating employers are not in a position to provide financial advice, and that participating employers are not liable for decisions employees make pursuant to this Act;
(8) that the Program is not an employer-sponsored retirement plan; and
(9) that the Program Fund is not guaranteed by the Commonwealth.
(d) The employee information packet shall also include a form for an employee to note his or her decision to opt out of participation in the Program or elect to participate with a level of employee contributions other than 3%.
(e) Participating employers shall supply the employee information packet to employees upon launch of the Program. Participating employers shall supply the employee information packet to new employees at the time of hiring, and new employees may opt out of participation in the Program or elect to participate with a level of employee contributions other than 3% at that time.
Section 15. Program implementation and enrollment. Except as otherwise provided in Section 93 of this Act, the Program shall be implemented, and enrollment of employees shall begin, within 24 months after the effective date of this Act. The provisions of this Section shall be in force after the Board opens the Program for enrollment.
(a) Each employer shall establish a payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement to allow each employee to participate in the Program at most nine months after the Board opens the Program for enrollment.
(b) Employers shall automatically enroll in the Program each of their employees who has not opted out of participation in the Program using the form described in subsection (c) of Section 55 of this Act and shall provide payroll deduction retirement savings arrangements for such employees and deposit, on behalf of such employees, these funds into the Program. Small employers may, but are not required to, provide payroll deduction retirement savings arrangements for each employee who elects to participate in the Program.
(c) Enrollees shall have the ability to select a contribution level into the Fund. This level may be expressed as a percentage of wages or as a dollar amount up to the deductible amount for the enrollee's taxable year under Section 219(b)(1)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code. Enrollees may change their contribution level at any time, subject to rules promulgated by the Board. If an enrollee fails to select a contribution level using the form described in subsection (c) of Section 55 of this Act, then he or she shall contribute 3% of his or her wages to the Program, provided that such contributions shall not cause the enrollee's total contributions to IRAs for the year to exceed the deductible amount for the enrollee's taxable year under Section 219(b)(1)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code.
(d) Enrollees may select an investment option from the permitted investment options listed in Section 45 of this Act. Enrollees may change their investment option at any time, subject to rules promulgated by the Board. In the event that an enrollee fails to select an investment option, that enrollee shall be placed in the investment option selected by the Board as the default under subsection (c) of Section 45 of this Act. If the Board has not selected a default investment option under subsection (c) of Section 45 of this Act, then an enrollee who fails to select an investment option shall be placed in the life-cycle fund investment option.
(e) Following initial implementation of the Program pursuant to this Section, at least once every year, participating employers shall designate an open enrollment period during which employees who previously opted out of the Program may enroll in the Program.
(f) An employee who opts out of the Program who subsequently wants to participate through the participating employer's payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement may only enroll during the participating employer's designated open enrollment period.
(g) Employers shall retain the option at all times to set up any type of employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a defined benefit plan or a 401(k), Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan, or Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) plan, or to offer an automatic enrollment payroll deduction IRA, instead of having a payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement to allow employee participation in the Program.
(h) An employee may terminate his or her participation in the Program at any time in a manner prescribed by the Board.
(i) The Board shall establish and maintain an Internet website designed to assist employers in identifying private sector providers of retirement arrangements that can be set up by the employer rather than allowing employee participation in the Program under this Act; however, the Board shall only establish and maintain an Internet website under this subsection if there is sufficient interest in such an Internet website by private sector providers and if the private sector providers furnish the funding necessary to establish and maintain the Internet website. The Board must provide public notice of the availability of and the process for inclusion on the Internet website before it becomes publicly available. This Internet website must be available to the public before the Board opens the Program for enrollment, and the Internet website address must be included on any Internet website posting or other materials regarding the Program offered to the public by the Board.
Section 16. Payments. Employee contributions deducted by the participating employer through payroll deduction shall be paid by the participating employer to the Fund using one or more payroll deposit retirement savings arrangements established by the Board under subsection (h) of Section 30 of this Act, either:
(1) on or before the last day of the month following the month in which the compensation otherwise would have been payable to the employee in cash; or
(2) before such later deadline prescribed by the Board for making such payments, but not later than the due date for the deposit of tax required to be deducted and withheld relating to collection of income tax at source on wages or for the deposit of tax required to be paid under the unemployment insurance system for the payroll period to which such payments relate.
Section 17. Duty and liability of the Commonwealth.
(a) The Commonwealth shall have no duty or liability to any party for the payment of any retirement savings benefits accrued by any individual under the Program. Any financial liability for the payment of retirement savings benefits in excess of funds available under the Program shall be borne solely by the entities with whom the Board contracts to provide insurance to protect the value of the Program.
(b) No State board, commission, or agency, or any officer, employee, or member thereof is liable for any loss or deficiency resulting from particular investments selected under this Act, except for any liability that arises out of a breach of fiduciary duty under Section 25 of this Act.
Section 18. Duty and liability of participating employers.
(a) Participating employers shall not have any liability for an employee's decision to participate in, or opt out of, the Program or for the investment decisions of the Board or of any enrollee.
(b) A participating employer shall not be a fiduciary, or considered to be a fiduciary, over the Program. A participating employer shall not bear responsibility for the administration, investment, or investment performance of the Program. A participating employer shall not be liable with regard to investment returns, Program design, and benefits paid to Program participants.
Section 19. Audit and reports.
(a) The Board shall annually submit:
(1) an audited financial report, prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, on the operations of the Program during each calendar year by July 1 of the following year to the Comptroller, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and the State Treasurer.
(2) a report prepared by the Board, which shall include, but is not limited to, a summary of the benefits provided by the Program, including the number of enrollees in the Program, the percentage and amounts of investment options and rates of return, and such other information that is relevant to make a full, fair, and effective disclosure of the operations of the Program and the Fund. The annual audit shall be made by an independent certified public accountant and shall include, but is not limited to, direct and indirect costs attributable to the use of outside consultants, independent contractors, and any other persons who are not State employees for the administration of the Program.
(b) In addition to any other statements or reports required by law, the Board shall provide periodic reports at least annually to participating employers, reporting the names of each enrollee employed by the participating employer and the amounts of contributions made by the participating employer on behalf of each employee during the reporting period, as well as to enrollees, reporting contributions and investment income allocated to, withdrawals from, and balances in their Program accounts for the reporting period. Such reports may include any other information regarding the Program as the Board may determine.
Section 20. Penalties.
(a) An employer who fails without reasonable cause to enroll an employee in the Program within the time prescribed under Section 60 of this Act shall be subject to a penalty equal to:
(1) $250 for each employee for each calendar year or portion of a calendar year during which the employee neither was enrolled in the Program nor had elected out of participation in the Program; or
(2) for each calendar year beginning after the date a penalty has been assessed with respect to an employee, $500 for any portion of that calendar year during which such employee continues to be unenrolled without electing out of participation in the Program.
(b) After determining that an employer is subject to penalty under this Section for a calendar year, the Department shall issue a notice of proposed assessment to such employer, stating the number of employees for which the penalty is proposed under item (1) of subsection (a) of this Section and the number of employees for which the penalty is proposed under item (2) of subsection (a) of this Section for such calendar year, and the total amount of penalties proposed.
Upon the expiration of 90 days after the date on which a notice of proposed assessment was issued, the penalties specified therein shall be deemed assessed, unless the employer had filed a protest with the Department under subsection (c) of this Section.
If, within 90 days after the date on which it was issued, a protest of a notice of proposed assessment is filed under subsection (c) of this Section, the penalties specified therein shall be deemed assessed upon the date when the decision of the Department with respect to the protest becomes final.
(c) A written protest against the proposed assessment shall be filed with the Department in such form as the Department may by rule prescribe, setting forth the grounds on which such protest is based. If such a protest is filed within 90 days after the date the notice of proposed assessment is issued, the Department shall reconsider the proposed assessment and shall grant the employer a hearing. As soon as practicable after such reconsideration and hearing, the Department shall issue a notice of decision to the employer, setting forth the Department's findings of fact and the basis of decision. The decision of the Department shall become final:
(1) if no action for review of the decision is commenced under the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 30A), on the date on which the time for commencement of such review has expired; or
(2) if a timely action for review of the decision is commenced under the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 30A), on the date all proceedings in court for the review of such assessment have terminated or the time for the taking thereof has expired without such proceedings being instituted.
(d) As soon as practicable after the penalties specified in a notice of proposed assessment are deemed assessed, the Department shall give notice to the employer liable for any unpaid portion of such assessment, stating the amount due and demanding payment. If an employer neglects or refuses to pay the entire liability shown on the notice and demand within 10 days after the notice and demand is issued, the unpaid amount of the liability shall be a lien in favor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts upon all property and rights to property, whether real or personal, belonging to the employer, and the provisions in the General Laws regarding liens, levies and collection actions with regard to assessed and unpaid liabilities under that Act, including the periods for taking any action, shall apply.
(e) An employer who has overpaid a penalty assessed under this Section may file a claim for refund with the Department. A claim shall be in writing in such form as the Department may by rule prescribe and shall state the specific grounds upon which it is founded. As soon as practicable after a claim for refund is filed, the Department shall examine it and either issue a refund or issue a notice of denial. If such a protest is filed, the Department shall reconsider the denial and grant the employer a hearing. As soon as practicable after such reconsideration and hearing, the Department shall issue a notice of decision to the employer. The notice shall set forth briefly the Department's findings of fact and the basis of decision in each case decided in whole or in part adversely to the employer. A denial of a claim for refund becomes final 90 days after the date of issuance of the notice of the denial except for such amounts denied as to which the employer has filed a protest with the Department. If a protest has been timely filed, the decision of the Department shall become final:
(1) If no action for review of the decision is commenced under the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 30A), on the date on which the time for commencement of such review has expired; or
(2) if a timely action for review of the decision is commenced under the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 30A), on the date all proceedings in court for the review of such assessment have terminated or the time for the taking thereof has expired without such proceedings being instituted.
(f) No notice of proposed assessment may be issued with respect to a calendar year after June 30 of the fourth subsequent calendar year. No claim for refund may be filed more than 1 year after the date of payment of the amount to be refunded.
(g) The provisions of the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 30A) and the rules adopted pursuant to it shall apply to and govern all proceedings for the judicial review of final decisions of the Department in response to a protest filed by the employer under subsections (c) and (e) of this Section. Final decisions of the Department shall constitute final agency decisions pursuant to the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 30A).
(h) Whenever notice is required by this Section, it may be given or issued by mailing it by first-class mail addressed to the person concerned at his or her last known address.
(i) All books and records and other papers and documents relevant to the determination of any penalty due under this Section shall, at all times during business hours of the day, be subject to inspection by the Department or its duly authorized agents and employees.
(j) The Department may require employers to report information relevant to their compliance with this Act on returns otherwise due from the employers under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 62 and failure to provide the requested information on a return shall cause such return to be treated as unprocessable.
(k) For purposes of any provision of State law allowing the Department or any other agency of the Commonwealth to offset an amount owed to a taxpayer against a tax liability of that taxpayer or allowing the Department to offset an overpayment of tax against any liability owed to the State, a penalty assessed under this Section shall be deemed to be a tax liability of the employer and any refund due to an employer shall be deemed to be an overpayment of tax of the employer.
(l) Except as provided in this subsection, all information received by the Department from returns filed by an employer or from any investigation conducted under the provisions of this Act shall be confidential, except for official purposes within the Department or pursuant to official procedures for collection of penalties assessed under this Act. Nothing contained in this subsection shall prevent the Commissioner from publishing or making available to the public reasonable statistics concerning the operation of this Act wherein the contents of returns are grouped into aggregates in such a way that the specific information of any employer shall not be disclosed. Nothing contained in this subsection shall prevent the Commissioner from divulging information to an authorized representative of the employer or to any person pursuant to a request or authorization made by the employer or by an authorized representative of the employer.
(m) Civil penalties collected under this Act and fees collected pursuant to subsection (n) of this Section shall be deposited into the Tax Compliance and Administration Fund. The Department may, subject to appropriation, use moneys in the fund to cover expenses it incurs in the performance of its duties under this Act. Interest attributable to moneys in the Tax Compliance and Administration Fund shall be credited to the Tax Compliance and Administration Fund.
(n) The Department may charge the Board a reasonable fee for its costs in performing its duties under this Section to the extent that such costs have not been recovered from penalties imposed under this Section.
(o) This Section shall go into effect 9 months after the Board notifies the Commissioner that the Program has been implemented. Upon receipt of such notification from the Board, the Department shall immediately post on its Internet website a notice stating that this Section is in effect. This notice shall include a statement that rather than enrolling employees in the Program under this Act, employers may sponsor an alternative arrangement, including, but not limited to, a defined benefit plan, 401(k) plan, a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan, a Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) plan, or an automatic payroll deduction IRA offered through a private provider. The Board shall provide a link to the vendor Internet website described in subsection (i) of Section 60 of this Act.
Section 21. Rules. The Department shall adopt rules and regulations, in accordance with the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 30A), any rules that may be necessary to implement this Act.
Section 22. Delayed implementation. If the Board does not obtain adequate funds to implement the Program within the time frame set forth under Section 60 of this Act, the Board may delay the implementation of the Program.
Section 23. Federal considerations. The Board shall request in writing an opinion or ruling from the appropriate entity with jurisdiction over the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act regarding the applicability of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act to the Program. The Board may not implement the Program if the IRA arrangements offered under the Program fail to qualify for the favorable federal income tax treatment ordinarily accorded to IRAs under the Internal Revenue Code or if it is determined that the Program is an employee benefit plan and State or employer liability is established under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
Section 23. The Massachusetts Secure Choice Administrative Fund, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 10, Section 35I ½.
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