Washington, D.C. (March 22, 2004) -- Settling a question on which federal courts have been previously divided, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a working owner of a business qualifies as a “participant” in a pension plan covered by ERISA.

In Yates, etc. v. Hendon, U.S. Sup. Ct, 3/2/04, Raymond Yates, the sole shareholder and president of a professional corporation, was found to qualify as a plan participant because the plan covers one or more employees other than himself and his spouse.

According to the Supreme Court, as a participant, he may participate on equal terms with other participants and qualifies for the protection, rights and remedies under ERISA, including protection under the plan's anti-alienation provision.

The case arose because a bankruptcy trustee sued to get from the qualified plan amounts that represent a loan repayment by Yates.

-- WebCPA staff

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