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Q-1: What account limits apply to welfare benefit funds that are maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement?

A-1: Contributions to a welfare benefit fund maintained pursuant to one or more collective bargaining agreements and the reserves of such a fund generally are subject to the rules of sections 419, 419A, and 512. However, neither contributions to nor reserves of such a collectively bargained welfare benefit fund shall be treated as exceeding the otherwise applicable limits of section 419(b), 419A(b), or 512(a)(3)(E) until the earlier of: (i) The date on which the last of the collective bargaining agreements relating to the fund in effect on, or ratified on or before, the date of issuance of final regulations concerning such limits for collectively bargained welfare benefit funds terminates (determined without regard to any extension thereof agreed to after the date of issuance of such final regulations), or (ii) the date 3 years after the issuance of such final regulations.

Q-2: What is a welfare benefit fund maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement for purposes of Q&A-1?

A-2:

(1) For purposes of Q&A-1, a collectively bargained welfare benefit fund is a welfare benefit fund that is maintained pursuant to an agreement which the Secretary of Labor determines to be a collective bargaining agreement and which meets the requirements of the Secretary of the Treasury as set forth in paragraph 2 below.

(2) Notwithstanding a determination by the Secretary of Labor that an agreement is a collective bargaining agreement, a welfare benefit fund is considered to be maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement only if the benefits provided through the fund were the subject of arms-length negotiations between employee representatives and one or more employers, and if such agreement between employee representatives and one or more employers satisfies section 7701(a)(46) of the Code. Moreover, the circumstances surrounding a collective bargaining agreement must evidence good faith bargaining between adverse parties over the welfare benefits to be provided through the fund. Finally, a welfare benefit fund is not considered to be maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement unless at least 50 percent of the employees eligible to receive benefits under the fund are covered by the collective bargaining agreement.

(3) In the case of a collectively bargained welfare benefit fund, only the portion of the fund (as determined under allocation rules to be provided by the Commissioner) attributable to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and from which benefits for such employees are provided, is considered to be maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.

(4) Notwithstanding the preceding paragraphs and pending the issuance of regulations setting account limits for collectively bargained welfare benefit funds, a welfare benefit fund will not be treated as a collectively bargained welfare benefit fund for purposes of Q&A-1 if and when, after July 1, 1985, the number of employees who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement and are eligible to receive benefits under the fund increases by reason of an amendment, merger, or other action of the employer or the fund. In addition, pending the issuance of such regulations, for purposes of applying the 50 percent test of paragraph (2) to a welfare benefit fund that is not in existence on July 1, 1985, "90 percent" shall be substituted for "50 percent".

[T.D. 8034, 50 FR 27428, July 3, 1985]