Stefan Smith has extensive experience in employee benefits and executive compensation law. He works with both public and private entities to establish and ensure the continued compliance of tax-qualified defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plans, including 401(k)/profit sharing plans, traditional defined benefit plans, money purchase plans, employee stock ownership plans, and cash balance plans. In addition, Stefan assists with employee benefit matters arising during mergers and acquisitions and works with all forms of health and welfare plans and executive and equity-based compensation, including incentive and non-qualified stock options, restricted stock awards, stock appreciation rights, employee stock purchase plans, phantom equity, performance unit and bonus plans, SERPs and other excess benefit plans, and non-qualified deferred compensation plans.
- Advise public and private employers regarding the establishment, documentation, and administration of all forms of tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, traditional defined benefit plans, money purchase plans, employee stock ownership plans, and cash balance plans, covering both non-represented and collectively-bargained employees.
- Represent governmental and non-profit employers regarding the unique tax, ERISA, and state law issues associated with their sponsorship and administration of qualified plans under Section 401(a) of the Code, tax-deferred annuity plans under Section 403(b) of the Code, and deferred compensation arrangements under Sections 457(b) and 457(f) of the Code.
- Assist employers with Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation audits and the voluntary correction of compliance errors through the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program, and the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program.
- Represent plan sponsors and administrators regarding the identification and management of fiduciary duties under ERISA and the design and execution of prudent procedures relating to plan administration and the selection and monitoring of investments and third-party service providers.
- Consult regarding the merger, spin-off, and termination of plans, including the termination of defined benefit plans covered under Title IV of ERISA.
- Address income tax and ERISA issues relating to the investment by benefit plans in operating companies and other securities that are not publicly-offered, including the unrelated business taxable income and prohibited transaction risks associated with such investments.
- Experienced with all forms of incentive, executive, and equity-based compensation, including incentive and non-qualified stock options, restricted stock, stock appreciation rights, employee stock purchase plans, performance/phantom unit plans, bonus arrangements, severance agreements, retention programs, and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, including the application of Sections 162(m), 280G, and 409A of the Internal Revenue Code to such arrangements.
- Provide counsel regarding reporting and disclosure obligations under applicable securities laws relating to benefit plans and compensation arrangements.
- Work with all types of health and welfare benefit plans, including insured and self-funded arrangements, VEBAs, MEWAs, cafeteria plans under Section 125 of the Code, flexible spending and health savings accounts, employee wellness programs, life insurance, and other fringe benefits. This experience includes the application of the Internal Revenue Code, ERISA, HIPAA, ADA, GINA, and health reform efforts under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to any such plans.
- Assist employer with federal and state withholding, reporting, and deposit obligations relating to employment and unemployment taxes and associated employee classification matters.
- Advise employers regarding international pension and other cross-border arrangements, including Puerto Rico qualified and dual-qualified plans, Canadian registered retirement savings plans, and United Kingdom pension schemes.
- Provide counsel regarding all the above issues and other employment and compensation transition matters arising in connection with mergers and acquisitions.
Professional Affiliations and Recognitions
- Member, State Bar of Texas
- Member, State Bar of California
- Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
- Member, American Bar Association, Tax Section/Employee Benefits Committee
- Chair, Subcommittee on Multiple Employers, PEOs and Controlled and Affiliated Service Groups
- Past Chair of the Self Correction, Determination Letters and Other Administrative Practices Subcommittee
- Member, Dallas Bar Association
- Immediate Past Chair, Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Section
- Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association
- Past Chairman, Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Section
- Named, The Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2013-2020)
- Recognized, Chambers USA - Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation (2019-2020)
- Adult Patrol Leader, Boy Scouts of America Circle 10 Council