§ 135-8. Method of financing.
(a) Funds to Which Assets of Retirement System Credited. - All of the assets of the Retirement System shall be credited according to the purpose for which they are held to one of of two funds, namely, the annuity savings fund and the pension accumulation fund.
(b) Annuity Savings Fund. - The annuity savings fund shall be a fund in which shall be accumulated contributions from the compensation of members to provide for their annuities. Contributions to any payments from the annuity savings fund shall be made as follows:
(1) With respect to the period of service commencing on July 1, 1975, each participating employer shall deduct from the salary of each member on every payroll of the employer for every payroll period, six per centum (6%) of the compensation received by any member. Such rates shall apply uniformly to all members of the Retirement System, without regard to their coverage under the Social Security Act.
(2) The deductions provided for herein shall be made notwithstanding that the minimum compensation provided for by law for any member shall be reduced thereby. Every member shall be deemed to consent and agree to the deductions made and provided for herein and shall receipt for his full salary or compensation, and payment of salary or compensation less said deduction shall be a full and complete discharge and acquittance of all claims and demands whatsoever for the services rendered by such person during the period covered by such payment, except as to the benefits provided under this Chapter. The employer shall certify to the Board of Trustees on each and every payroll or in such other manner as the Board of Trustees may prescribe, the amounts to be deducted; and each of said amounts shall be deducted, and when deducted shall be paid into said annuity savings fund, and shall be credited, together with regular interest thereon, to the individual account of the member from whose compensation said deduction was made.
(3) Each board of education of each county and each board of education of each city, and the employer in any department, agency or institution of the State, in which any teacher receives compensation from sources other than appropriations of the State of North Carolina shall deduct from the salaries of these teachers paid from sources other than State appropriations an amount equal to that deducted from the salaries of the teachers whose salaries are paid from State funds, and remit this amount to the State Retirement System. City boards of education and county boards of education in each and every county and city which has employees compensated from other than the State appropriation shall pay to the State Retirement System the same per centum of the compensation that the State of North Carolina pays and shall transmit same to the State Retirement System monthly: Provided, that for the purpose of enabling the boards of education to make such payment, the tax-levying authorities are hereby authorized, empowered and directed to provide the necessary funds therefor. In case the salary is paid in part from State funds and in part from local funds, the local authorities shall not be relieved of providing and remitting the same per centum of the salary paid from local funds as is paid from State funds. In case the entire salary of any teacher, as defined in this Chapter, is paid from county or local funds, the county or city paying such salary shall provide and remit to the Retirement System the same per centum that would be required if the salary were provided by the State of North Carolina.
(4) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(e), effective June 30, 2017.
(5) The Board of Trustees may approve the purchase of creditable service by any member for leaves of absence or for interrupted service to an employer only for the purpose of acquiring knowledge, talents, or abilities and to increase the efficiency of service to the employer, subject to the provisions of this subdivision. A leave of absence or interrupted service may be approved for purchase under this subdivision for a period of employment as a teacher in a charter school. Any other leave of absence or interrupted service shall qualify for purchase under this subdivision only if (i) during the time of the leave or interrupted service the member is enrolled and participates in a full time degree program at an accredited institution of higher education, (ii) the member is not paid compensation, other than a stipend resulting from participation in a full-time degree program, for the activity in which he or she is acquiring knowledge, talents, or abilities, and (iii) the service is not purchased for any month in which the member performed any services for any of the organizations listed in G.S. 135 27(a) or G.S. 135 27(f), or a successor to any of those organizations. Approval by the Board under this subdivision shall be made prior to the purchase of the creditable service, is limited to a career total of six years for each member, and may be obtained in the following manner:
a. Approved leave of absence. - Where the employer grants an approved leave of absence, a member may make monthly contributions to the annuity savings fund on the basis of compensation the member was earning immediately prior to such leave of absence. The employer shall make monthly contributions equal to the normal and accrued liability contribution on such compensation or, in lieu thereof, the member may pay into the annuity savings fund monthly an amount equal to the employer's normal and accrued liability contribution when the policy of the employer is not to make such payment.
b. No educational leave policy. - Where the employer has a policy of not granting educational leaves of absence or the member has unsuccessfully petitioned for leave of absence and the member has interrupted service for educational purposes, the member may make monthly contributions into the annuity savings fund in an amount equal to the employee contribution plus the employer normal and accrued liability contribution on the basis of the compensation the member was earning immediately prior to the interrupted service.
c. Educational program prior to July 1, 1981. - Creditable service for leaves of absence or interrupted service for educational purposes prior to July 1, 1981, may be purchased by a member, before or after retirement, who returned as a contributing employee or teacher within 12 months after completing the educational program and completed 10 years of subsequent membership service, by making a lump sum payment into the annuity savings fund equal to the full cost of the service credits calculated on the basis of the assumptions used for purposes of the actuarial valuation of the system's liabilities and shall take into account the retirement allowance arising on account of the additional service credit commencing at the earliest age at which the member could retire on an unreduced retirement allowance as determined by the Board of Trustees upon the advice of the consulting actuary, plus a fee to be determined by the Board of Trustees.
d. Repealed by Session Laws 2016-82, s. 2, effective June 30, 2016.
Payments required to be made by the member, the employer, or both under subparagraphs a or b are due by the 15th of the month following the month for which the service credit is allowed and payments made after the due date shall be assessed a penalty, in lieu of interest, of one percent (1%) per month or fraction thereof the payment is made beyond the due date; provided, that these payments shall be made prior to retirement and provided further, that if the member did not become a contributing member within 12 months after completing the educational program and failed to complete three years of subsequent membership service, except in the event of death or disability, any payment made by the member including penalty shall be refunded with regular interest thereon and the service credits cancelled prior to or at retirement.
(6) The contributions of a member, and such interest as may be allowed thereon, paid upon his death or withdrawn by him as provided in this Chapter, shall be paid from the annuity savings fund, and any balance of the accumulated contributions of such a member shall be transferred to the pension accumulation fund.
(b1) Pick Up of Employee Contributions. - Anything within this section to the contrary notwithstanding, effective July 1, 1982, an employer, pursuant to the provisions of section 414(h)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 as amended, shall pick up and pay the contributions which would be payable by the employees as members under subsection (b) of this section with respect to the service of employees after June 30, 1982.
The members' contributions picked up by an employer shall be designated for all purposes of the Retirement System as member contributions, except for the determination of tax upon a distribution from the System. These contributions shall be credited to the annuity savings fund and accumulated within the fund in a member's account which shall be separately established for the purpose of accounting for picked-up contributions.
Member contributions picked up by an employer shall be payable from the same source of funds used for the payment of compensation to a member. A deduction shall be made from a member's compensation equal to the amount of his contributions picked up by his employer. This deduction, however, shall not reduce his compensation as defined in subdivision (7a) of G.S. 135-1. Picked up contributions shall be transmitted to the System monthly for the preceding month by means of a warrant drawn by the employer and payable to the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System and shall be accompanied by a schedule of the picked-up contributions on such forms as may be prescribed. In the case of a failure to fulfill these conditions, the provisions of subsection (f)(3) of this section shall apply.
The pick up of employee contributions by an employer as provided for hereunder shall be equally applicable to participant contributions required under the optional retirement program as specified in G.S. 135-5.1(c).
(b2) Retroactive Adjustment in Compensation or an Underreporting of Compensation. - A member or beneficiary who is awarded backpay in cases of a denied promotional opportunity or wrongful demotion in which the aggrieved member or beneficiary is granted a promotion or a demotion is reversed retroactively, or in cases in which an employer errs in the reporting of compensation, including the employee and employer contributions, the member or beneficiary and employer may make employee and employer contributions on the retroactive or additional compensation, after submitting clear and convincing evidence of the retroactive promotion or underreporting of compensation, as follows:
(1) Within 90 days of the denial of the promotion or the error in reporting, by the payment of employee and employer contributions that would have been paid; or
(2) After 90 days of the denial of the promotion or the error in reporting, by the payment of the employee and employer contributions that would have been paid plus interest compounded annually at a rate equal to the greater of the average yield on the pension accumulation fund for the preceding calendar year or the actuarial investment rate-of-return assumption, as adopted by the Board of Trustees.
For members or beneficiaries electing to make the employee contributions on the retroactive adjustment in compensation or on the underreported compensation, the member's or beneficiary's employer, which granted the retroactive promotion or erred in underreporting compensation and contributions, shall make the required employer contributions. Nothing contained in this subsection shall prevent an employer from paying all or a part of the interest assessed on the employee contributions; and to the extent paid by the employer, the interest paid by the employer shall be credited to the pension accumulation fund; provided, however, an employer does not discriminate against any member or beneficiary or group of members or beneficiaries in his employ in paying all or any part of the interest assessed on the employee contributions due.
In the event the retroactive adjustment in compensation or the underreported compensation is for a period that occurs during the four consecutive calendar years that would have produced the highest average annual compensation pursuant to G.S. 135-1(5) the compensation the member or beneficiary would have received during the period shall be included in calculating the member's or beneficiary's average final compensation only in the event the appropriate employee and employer contributions are paid on such compensation.
An employer error in underreporting compensation shall not include a retroactive increase in compensation that occurs during the four consecutive calendar years that would have produced the highest average annual compensation pursuant to G.S. 135-1(5) for reasons other than a wrongfully denied promotional opportunity or wrongful demotion where the member is promoted or the demotion is reversed retroactively.
(c) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(f), effective June 30, 2017.
(d) Pension Accumulation Fund. - The pension accumulation fund shall be the fund in which shall be accumulated all reserves for the payment of all pensions and other benefits payable from contribution made by employers and from which shall be paid all pensions and other benefits on account of members with prior service credit. Contributions to and payments from the pension accumulation fund shall be made as follows:
(1) On account of each member there shall be paid in the pension accumulation fund by employers an amount equal to a certain percentage of the actual compensation of each member to be known as the "normal contribution," and an additional amount equal to a percentage of the member's actual compensation to be known as the "accrued liability contribution." The rate per centum of such contributions shall be fixed on the basis of the liabilities of the Retirement System as shown by actuarial valuation, duly approved by the Board of Trustees, and shall be called the "actuarially determined employer contribution rate."
(1a) For fiscal years beginning subsequent to January 1, 2017, the sum of the "normal contribution" and the "accrued liability contribution" shall not be less than the employee contribution required under subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section.
(2) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(h), effective June 30, 2017.
(2a) The actuarially determined employer contribution rate shall be calculated annually by the actuary using assumptions and a cost method approved by the Actuarial Standards Board of the American Academy of Actuaries and selected by the Board of Trustees.
(3) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(h), effective June 30, 2017.
(3a) Notwithstanding Chapter 150B of the General Statutes, the total amount payable in each year to the pension accumulation fund shall not be less than the sum of the rate per centum known as the actuarially determined employer contribution rate of the total earned compensation of all members during the preceding year as adjusted higher under a contribution rate policy adopted by the Board of Trustees and known as the "required employer contribution" rate. The Board of Trustees shall not adopt a contribution rate policy that results in a rate less than the normal contribution rate.
(4) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(h), effective June 30, 2017.
(5) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(h), effective June 30, 2017.
(6) All pensions, and benefits in lieu thereof payable from contributions of employer shall be paid from the pension accumulation fund.
(7) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(h), effective June 30, 2017.
(e) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(j), effective June 30, 2017.
(f) Collection of Contributions. -
(1) The collection of members' contributions shall be as follows:
a. Each employer shall cause to be deducted on each and every payroll of a member for each and every payroll subsequent to the date of establishment of the Retirement System the contributions payable by such member as provided in this Chapter, and the employer shall draw his warrant for the amount so deducted, payable to the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System of North Carolina, and shall transmit the same, together with schedule of the contributions, on such forms as prescribed.
(2) The collection of employers' contributions shall be made as follows:
a. Upon the basis of each actuarial valuation provided herein there shall be prepared biennially and certified to the Department of Administration a statement of the total amount necessary for the ensuing biennium to the pension accumulation and expense funds, as provided under subsections (d) and (f) of this section, and these funds shall be handled and disbursed in accordance with the State Budget Act, Chapter 143C of the General Statutes.
b. Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(l), effective June 30, 2017.
c. Repealed by Session Laws 1993, c. 257, s. 13.
d. Each board of education in each county and each board of education in each city in which teachers or other employees of the schools receive compensation for services in the public schools from sources other than the appropriation of the State of North Carolina shall pay the Board of Trustees of the State Retirement System such rate of their respective salaries as are paid those of other employees.
e. Each employer shall transmit monthly to the State Retirement System on account of each employee, who is a member of this System, an amount sufficient to cover required employer contribution of each member employed by such employer for the preceding month.
f. Except as otherwise provided under this subdivision, each employer shall transmit to the Retirement System on account of each member who retires on or after January 1, 2015, having earned his or her last month of membership service as an employee of that employer the lump sum payment, as calculated under G.S. 135-4(jj) for inclusion in the Pension Accumulation Fund, that would have been necessary in order for the retirement system to restore the member's retirement allowance to the pre cap amount. If the employer associated with the member's last month of membership service did not report to the retirement system any compensation paid to the member during the period used to compute the member's average final compensation, that employer shall not transmit the lump sum payment described in this subdivision, but instead the employer or employers who reported compensation during the member's average final compensation period shall each transmit a lump sum payment equal to the employer's share of the total required lump sum payment, allocated proportionally to each employer based on the total amount of compensation to the member that each employer reported during the period used to compute the member's average final compensation. Employers are not required to make contributions on account of any retiree who became a member on or after January 1, 2015, and who earned at least five years of membership service in the Retirement System after January 1, 2015. The retirement allowance of a member with a final average compensation of more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), as hereinafter indexed, shall not be subject to the contribution based benefit cap if the compensation was earned from multiple simultaneous employers, unless an employer's share of the average final compensation exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000). An employer is not required to make contributions on account of any retiree whose final average compensation exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), as hereinafter indexed, based upon compensation earned from multiple simultaneous employers, unless that employer's share of the average final compensation exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), as provided and indexed under G.S. 135-5(a3).
Under such rules as the Board of Trustees shall adopt, the Retirement System shall report monthly to each employer a list of those members for whom the employer made a contribution to the Retirement System in the preceding month that are most likely to require an additional employer contribution should they elect to retire in the following 12 months, if applicable. Reports received under this section shall not be public records. Employers or former employers in receipt of a report under this section shall treat the report, and the information contained within that report, as confidential and as though it were still held by the Retirement System under G.S. 135-6.1.
(3) In the event the employee or employer contributions required under this section are not received by the date set by the Board of Trustees and provided that a one-time exception has not been agreed upon in advance due to exigent circumstances, the Board shall assess the employer with a penalty, in lieu of interest, of 1% per month with a minimum penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25.00). The Board may waive one penalty per employer every five years if the Board finds that the employer has consistently demonstrated good-faith efforts to comply with the set deadline. If within 90 days after request therefor by the Board any employer shall not have provided the System with the records and other information required hereunder or if the full accrued amount of the contributions provided for under this section due from members employed by an employer or from an employer other than the State shall not have been received by the System from the chief fiscal officer of such employer within 30 days after the last due date as herein provided, then, notwithstanding anything herein or in the provisions of any other law to the contrary, upon notification by the Board to the State Treasurer as to the default of such employer as herein provided, any distributions which might otherwise be made to such employer from any funds of the State shall be withheld from such employer until notice from the Board to the State Treasurer that such employer is no longer in default.
In the event that an employer fails to submit payment of any required contributions or payments to the Retirement Systems Division, other than the one percent (1%) payment provided for in the first paragraph of this subdivision, within 90 days after the date set by the Board of Trustees, the Board shall notify the State Treasurer of its intent to collect the delinquent contributions and other payments due to the Retirement Systems Division and request an interception of State appropriations due to the participating employer.
Except as provided in this subdivision, upon notification by the Board of Trustees to the State Treasurer and the Office of State Budget and Management as to the default of the employer, the Office of State Budget and Management shall withhold from any State appropriation due to that employer an amount equal to the sum of all delinquent contributions and other debts due to the Retirement Systems Division and shall transmit that amount to the Retirement Systems Division. For the purposes of this subsection, the date set by the Board of Trustees for payment of the contribution-based benefit cap liability shall be 12 months after the member's effective date of retirement, or the first day of the month coincident with or next following six months after the date of the invoice, whichever is later.
(4) In conjunction with the employee and employer contributions required under this section, the Board of Trustees shall direct employers to submit such information on a monthly basis as is necessary for proper administration of the Retirement System, actuarial valuation, and reporting under accounting standards set forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board of the Financial Accounting Foundation. Submission of such information by an employer to the Retirement System constitutes a certification of its accuracy.
(5) Notwithstanding Chapter 150B of the General Statutes, as of the beginning of the fiscal year following 90 days after the assessment of a contribution-based benefit cap liability that is not paid as a lump sum payment, the required employer contribution rate for an employer shall be adjusted to include an additional contribution amount equal to a rate per centum that is estimated to extinguish the contribution-based benefit cap liability on an amortization schedule selected by the Board that has been applied to unfunded liabilities in the most recent actuarial valuation.
(f1) Felony Forfeiture Impact on Contribution-Based Benefit Cap. - If an employer made contributions on account of a retiree subject to the contribution-based benefit cap under G.S. 135-8(f)(2)f. and that retiree later forfeits retirement benefits under G.S. 128-38.4, 128-38.3A, 135-18.10A, 135-18.30, 135-75.1, or 135-75.1A, then the Retirement Systems Division may provide a credit to the employer. This credit shall be calculated in an amount reflecting the impact of the forfeiture on the amount due under G.S. 135-4(jj).
(g) Merger of Annuity Reserve Fund and Pension Reserve Fund into Pension Accumulation Fund. - Notwithstanding the foregoing, effective at such date not later than December 31, 1959, as the Board of Trustees may determine, the annuity reserve fund and the pension reserve fund shall be merged into and become a part of the pension accumulation fund, provided that such merger shall in no way adversely affect the rights of any members or retired members of the System and further provided the Board of Trustees shall be and hereby is authorized to make such changes in the accounting methods and procedures of the System from time to time as, in its opinion, are in the interest of sound and proper administration of the System.
(h) Repealed by Session Laws 1965, c. 780, s. 1.
(i) Procedure and Payment to Cease Participation. - Any employing unit that is allowed to cease participation in the Retirement System by the General Assembly; by sale, dissolution, or otherwise changing to a business or legal form not eligible for participation as an employer in the Retirement System under federal law; or as otherwise provided in this Chapter, through its governing body, may declare its intent to withdraw completely from the Retirement System as follows:
(1) The employer shall notify its employees and the Board of Trustees, in writing, of its action. An employer shall automatically be considered to have requested a complete withdrawal from the Retirement System the date the employer permanently ceases to employ active members. A withdrawing employer shall be required to make a lump-sum withdrawal liability payment to the Board of Trustees as provided by this section.
(2) Complete withdrawal by an employer shall be the first day of the month following the date the employer ceases to employ active members or the first day of the month following 60 days from the date the Board of Trustees receives the employer's written request to withdraw. However, the complete withdrawal date shall not occur before the withdrawal liability is determined, as provided in subdivision (5) of this subsection.
(3) After complete withdrawal, all employees of the withdrawing employer shall be ineligible to accrue future benefits with the Retirement System due to employment with the withdrawing employer. The withdrawing employer shall be ineligible to elect to become a participating employer in the Retirement System, as provided in G.S. 135-5.3, for five years after its complete withdrawal date.
(4) All active or inactive members of the employer shall be eligible for benefits accrued with the Retirement System up to the complete withdrawal date. However, no retirement allowance or return of accumulated contributions shall be paid until the member actually terminates employment and completely separates from active service with the withdrawing employer, and there is no intent or agreement, express or implied, to return to service with the withdrawing employer.
(5) On the date of complete withdrawal, the withdrawal liability of an employer is the greater of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or the amount determined by a. multiplied by the ratio of b. to c., as follows:
a. The excess of the actuarial present value of the vested accrued benefits of the Retirement System's members over the market value of its assets, both as of the date of the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date based on the plan provisions and actuarial assumptions used in the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date, except the interest rate assumption shall be reduced by an amount determined by the consulting actuary to reflect the increased investment, mortality, and other actuarial risk for the exiting agency's participants.
b. The total present value of accrued benefits of all active members of the withdrawing employer as of the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date.
c. The total present value of accrued benefits of all active members of the Retirement System as of the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date.
(6) The actuarial costs to determine the amount described in subdivision (5) of this subsection shall be paid by the withdrawing employer. An employer that does not pay the lump-sum withdrawal liability payment described in subdivision (5) of this subsection and the actuarial costs to determine this withdrawal liability within 90 days of the complete withdrawal date will continue to be a participating employer. No withdrawal liability payment shall be required if an employer exits before the end of the first year following the date of participation or if the Board of Trustees revokes entry as provided in G.S. 135-5.3(b8).
(7) Upon the complete withdrawal of the employer, the Retirement System shall have no further legal obligation to the employer or its employees, nor shall the Retirement System be held accountable for the continued future accrual of any retirement benefit rights to which the employees may be entitled beyond the complete withdrawal date. Any litigation regarding the forfeiture of any benefits because of the employer's complete withdrawal from the Retirement System shall be the sole legal responsibility of the withdrawing employer, and the withdrawing employer shall indemnify and hold harmless the Retirement System, its Board of Trustees, its employees, and the State of North Carolina from any claims, losses, costs, damages, expenses, and liabilities, including, without limitation, court costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees asserted by any person or entity as a result of the employer's withdrawal from the Retirement System.
(j) Pension Spiking Report. - Upon receipt of a report from the Retirement System generated pursuant to G.S. 135-8(f)(2)f., containing a list of employees for whom the employer made a contribution to the North Carolina Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System that is likely to require an additional employer contribution should the employee elect to retire in the following 12 months, the employer's chief financial officer shall transmit a copy of the report to the chief executive of the employer, as well as to the governing body of the employer, including any board which exercises financial oversight of the employer, if the employer has a governing body. Reports received under this section shall not be public records. Employers or former employers in receipt of a report under this section shall treat the report, and the information contained within that report, as confidential and as though it were still held by the Retirement System under G.S. 135-6.1. (1941, c. 25, s. 8; c. 143; 1943, c. 207; 1947, c. 458, ss. 1, 2, 8; 1955, c. 1155, ss. 3-5; 1959, c. 513, s. 4; 1963, c. 687, ss. 4, 5; 1965, c. 780, s. 1; 1967, c. 720, ss. 12, 13; 1969, c. 1223, s. 13; 1971, c. 117, ss. 2, 10; 1975, c. 457, s. 5; c. 879, s. 46; 1977, c. 909; 1981, c. 636, s. 1; c. 1000, ss. 1, 2; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1282, s. 8; 1985, c. 539, ss. 1, 2; 1991, c. 585, s. 3; c. 718, s. 1; 1993, c. 257, s. 13; 1997-430, s. 11; 2003-359, s. 10; 2006-203, s. 73; 2009-66, s. 7(a); 2010-72, s. 8(a); 2014-88, s. 1(e); 2014-101, s. 7; 2014-112, s. 2(a); 2015-164, ss. 5(a), 6(a); 2015-168, s. 3(a); 2015-241, s. 30.30; 2016-56, ss. 6(a), 7(a); 2016-82, s. 2; 2017-125, s. 2(a); 2017-128, ss. 4(b), 8(a); 2017-129, ss. 2(a), 2(b), 2(e), 2(f), 2(h), 2(j), 2(l), 2(m); 2018-52, s. 9(a); 2020-29, s. 4(a); 2020-48, ss. 1.8(a), 1.16(b), (c); 2021-72, ss. 1.1(b), 2.1(c), 3.1(f); 2021-75, ss. 1.3(b), 2.1(b).)