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Termination agreements – especially termination agreements for resigning executives – are ripe to address potential challenges and opportunities in tax planning. Before designing your next deal, you should be wary of the following three pitfalls: The difficulty of 409A is the overly broad definition of what constitutes an unqualified compensation plan. The 409A Treasury Regulations define an unqualified compensation plan as any plan, agreement, program or agreement that offers a “contractor” (including employees and self-employed contractors) a “legally binding right” to pay compensation to be paid in a subsequent fiscal year. This broad definition includes bonuses, capital remuneration, redundancy agreements and other forms of remuneration and benefits to be paid to executives under a remuneration contract or employment contract. The exception for reimbursements and benefits in kind means that, where reimbursement costs or benefits in kind are granted under a severance pay agreement, these payments are excluded from Article 409A if this is the type of expense normally included in income under Articles 162 or 167. For example, in the case of a voluntary or involuntary separation of the employment relationship, moving expenses, sickness expenses, use of an office, use of company cars or planes are reimbursed as part of the redundancy package, these reimbursements are excluded from the requirements of Article 409A if they are incurred within two years of the termination of the employment relationship. The reimbursement fee must be paid by the company before the end of the third year following the termination of employment. One of the reservations is that when medical expenses are reimbursed, medical expenses are limited to the COBRA period (usually 18 months) applicable to the employee concerned. Severance pay paid under a window program (i.e. a program in which staff members receive extended benefits when they voluntarily terminate the employment relationship for a limited period of time are exempt from section 409A if they meet the amount and maturity limits set out in the preceding paragraph.

Tariff-negotiated redundancy plans are also exempt if payment is made in the event of voluntary separation from service or as part of a window programme and if the limits on amount and maturity do not apply. Given that many termination agreements may have difficulty complying with Article 409A and that the penalties for non-compliance are so severe, the first question should be whether any of the exceptions provided for in Article 409A is available. In order to give employees choice and greater flexibility in their financial programming, some employers give employees the choice between a lump sum indemnity and monthly payments. While this approach seems reasonable, this conception poses two potential problems: as a general rule, a severance pay agreement requires that a release of rights be signed and not revoked by the employee who resigns. In the event that a severance pay agreement is covered by Article 409A, the contract shall indicate a specific date for the severance pay or the start date of the severance pay. The agreement must indicate the date on which the authorisation is to be signed in a manner consistent with Article 409A. .

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Healing the Inner Goddess is an all inclusive retreat that offers a unique opportunity for women to move beyond healing from trauma. Many women who have experienced trauma spend their entire lives burdened by symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Their personal relationships suffer and they have diminished capacity for happiness. Many women self-medicate and end up with alcohol and/or chemical dependency issues. Residential and out-patient substance abuse treatment programs, 12-step groups and psychotherapy offer support and structure in which sobriety may be obtained. Many women are able to reach this important milestone, yet continue to feel burdened by past trauma, which may make maintaining their clean and sober for life. Healing the Inner Goddess Retreat is a wonderful opportunity for the woman who has obtained a state of sobriety and is ready for Recovery Treatment Aftercare. This inner healing retreat, led by Laurie Monroe, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, provides a rare opportunity to LET GO OF THE TRAUMA and RECLAIM OUR POWER!

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