Proposed regulations recently issued by the Treasury Department and the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) are aimed at coordinating rules in existing guidance regarding
the use of electronic media for:
- Providing notices to employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries,
- Transmitting elections or consents from participants
and beneficiaries to employee benefit plans.
The proposed regulations specify that a plan could use electronic media under:
- The consumer consent rules
of the Electronic Signatures
in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN), or
- An alternative, similar to the retirement plan rules for
electronic transmission in
effect before E-SIGN, which is less burdensome on employers and provides at
least as much protection for participants.
In general, E-SIGN provides that electronic documents and signatures should
be treated as having the same legal effect as paper
documents and signatures.
A public hearing on the proposed regulations is scheduled for November 2, 2005.
electronic comments are due
by October 12. The proposed
regulations would not go into
effect until they are adopted as