Stefan P. Smith

Partner

Dallas
T +1.214.210.1202
F +1.214.210.1201

Overview

Stefan Smith utilizes his in-depth background in employee benefits and executive compensation law to advise both public and private companies on establishing and ensuring the continued compliance of tax-qualified defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plans and all forms of executive compensation arrangements.

Stefan counsels clients on employee benefit matters that arise during mergers and acquisitions, finding solutions and helping the deals to move forward. He also works with all types of health and welfare plans and executive and equity-based compensation. These include incentive and non-qualified stock options, restricted stock awards, stock appreciation rights, employee stock purchase plans, profits interests, phantom equity, performance unit and bonus plans, SERPs and other excess benefit plans, and non-qualified deferred compensation plans. 

Select Experience

  • Advises 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.
  • Represents 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.
  • Counsels the sponsors of governmental benefit plans on best practices for public boards and commissions, including compliance with applicable open government and open records rules and parliamentary procedures.
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Experience

  • Advises 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.
  • Represents 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.
  • Counsels the sponsors of governmental benefit plans on best practices for public boards and commissions, including compliance with applicable open government and open records rules and parliamentary procedures.
  • Assists employers with Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation examinations and investigations 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.
  • Represents 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.
  • Consults regarding the merger, spin-off and termination of plans, including the termination of defined benefit plans covered under Title IV of ERISA.
  • Addresses 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, profits interests, performance/phantom unit plans, bonus arrangements, severance agreements, retention programs and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, including the application of Sections 83, 162(m), 280G and 409A of the Code to such arrangements.
  • Provides counsel regarding reporting and disclosure obligations under applicable federal and state securities laws relating to benefit plans and compensation arrangements, including navigating the myriad of exemptions from securities laws that are applicable to compensation programs and private placements.
  • Works 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.
  • Assists employer with federal and state withholding, reporting and deposit obligations relating to employment and unemployment taxes and associated worker classification matters.
  • Advises employers regarding international pension and other cross-border arrangements, including Puerto Rico qualified and dual-qualified plans and Canadian benefit plans and equity award programs.
  • Provides counsel regarding all the above issues and other employment and compensation transition matters arising in connection with mergers and acquisitions.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Chambers USA: Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation in Texas
    • Band 1 (2019 to 2021)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®
    • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law in Texas (2013 to 2022)
    • Tax Law in Texas (2013 to 2022)
  • D Magazine, Best Lawyers in Dallas (2022)

Memberships

  • State Bar of Texas
  • State Bar of California
  • American Bar Association, Tax Section/Employee Benefits Committee
    • Employee Benefits Committee:  Vice Chair
    • Subcommittee on Multiple Employers, PEOs and Controlled and Affiliated Service Groups: Chair (past)
    • Subcommittee on Self Correction, Determination Letters and Other Administrative Practices: Chair (past)
  • Southwest Benefits Association
    • Board of Directors
    • Education Committee: Chair
  • Dallas Bar Association
    • Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Section: Chair (past)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
    • Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Section: Chair (past)

Community

  • American College of Employee Benefits Counsel: Fellow (elect)
  • Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law: Adjunct Professor of Law
  • Avant Chamber Ballet: Board of Directors
  • Boy Scouts of America, Order of the Arrow: Associate Adviser of Administration

Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • Texas
  • California

Education

  • J.D., University of Texas School of Law, 1999, with honors; Texas Review of Law and Politics
  • B.A., Political Science, Southern Methodist University, 1995, magna cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa