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Thomas G. Schendt

Thomas G. Schendt is a partner in Alston & Bird's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group in Washington, D.C.  His practice focuses on employee plan litigation, agency civil and criminal audits, investigations and disputes and voluntary compliance initiatives involving the Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.  He also regularly counsels large employers on the practical effect of various qualification requirements that are issued by appropriate government agencies. This includes assisting clients with the execution of various plan administration and qualification requirements under Titles I and II of ERISA.  Mr. Schendt also focuses on fiduciary issues affecting plan providers, including plan fee disclosure, exemption issues, and implications of recent PPA provisions.  Prior to joining Alston & Bird, he was with the Internal Revenue Service, where he held a number of positions including Technical Assistant to the Associate Chief Counsel, Employee Benefits and Exempt Organizations (EBEO) for the Office of Chief Counsel.  He also acted as a liaison between the National Office of the Internal Revenue Service and various field offices, including Exam and Appeals. The unique combination of his prior experience dealing with sensitive IRS, DOL and SEC compliance issues plus his understanding of the practical aspects in the administration and management of retirement plans provides clients with strategic alternatives in a cost effective manner. Mr. Schendt received a BS, MBA and JD from Marquette University.  He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Wisconsin.   He serves as outside counsel to The SPARK Institute, the industry’s premiere plan provider association that represents 98 percent of the employee benefit plans across the country.  He has authorized several articles including “Managing an IRS Audit,” Bloomberg BNA.  He is Chair of ASPPA’s Mid-Atlantic IRS Benefits Conference, Chair of DOL’s National Conference, Chairman of the IRS Liaison Group for the Mid-Atlantic Region (a group that provides the IRS with practical business experience in assisting them in developing guidance in the employee benefits area) and Chairman of the advisory board for BNA’s new web-based “ERISA Compliance and Enforcement Library”.  He is on the Advisory boards for BNA’s Pension and Benefits Reporter and Corporate Accountability Report, and the Editorial Boards of Aspen Publishers’ Pension Plan Administrator and the Journal of Pension Planning & Compliance.  Mr. Schendt has been an IAML instructor for more than 15 years.

Education

  • Marquette University (J.D., 1985)
  • Marquette University (M.B.A., 1981)
  • Marquette University (B.S., 1980)

Experience

  • Serves as outside counsel to The SPARK Institute, the industry’s premiere plan provider association that represents 98 percent of the employee benefit plans across the country.
  • Coordinated over 50 IRS/DOL civil and criminal audits and investigations. Obtained favorable results, including, in many cases, the closure of audits without penalty or indictments.
  • Implemented over 60 closing agreements with the IRS, DOL, SEC and Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation affecting issues relating to areas including retirement plan and welfare plan compliance and reporting.
  • Designed corporate governance infrastructures relating to the fiduciary concerns over benefit plan administration for boards of directors for several Fortune 100 companies.
  • Regularly conducts employee plan compliance self-reviews and provides alternative approaches to addressing complex plan administration issues.
  • Assisted a client in correcting errors that affected over 175,000 active and retired employees. Led the negotiations of several corrections involved in this matter with the IRS. The IRS approved a level of correction that saved the client an estimate of approximately $85 million in potential exposure. 
  • Provides in-house training for clients to assist in the education of their employees on their benefit programs.
  • Advises various benefit plan committees on corporate governance matters as they relate to ERISA roles and responsibilities.
  • Lobbied Treasury and IRS on various health and welfare matters, including Health Savings Account implementation.
  • Lobbied DOL on Plan Fee issues, default investment and investment advice concerns.
  • Lobbied Treasury and IRS on various retirement plan matters, including cash-balance remediation.
  • Lobbied SEC concerning various matters affecting retirement plan administrators, including mutual fund restitution issues.

Press

Publications

  • Over the past number of years, the Internal Revenue Service has put significant resources into refining and improving its efforts to implement ‘‘focused audits.’’ This is evident in what appears to be an increase in the intensity of reviews as well as the potential increase of sanctions that are being imposed on employers.
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