by Stephen Pavlick, Susan Schaefer and Kary Crassweller
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2012-70, extending the deadline for plan sponsors of defined benefit plans to adopt amendments to comply with Section 436 of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code), which generally imposes plan benefit payment and amendment restrictions if a defined benefit plan’s funding dips below specified levels.
Code Section 436 sets forth a series of limitations on the accrual and payment of benefits under an underfunded defined benefit plan (see “New Notice Requirements Effective November 1, 2012 for Single Employer Pension Plans with Funding-Related Restrictions” for more information). Under previous IRS guidance, (see “IRS Extends Year-End Deadline for Pension Plan Amendments Under Code Section 436” for more information), the deadline for adopting the Code Section 436 amendment to reflect such funding-based restrictions was generally the last day of the plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2012 (e.g., December 31, 2012, for calendar year plans).
On November 21, the IRS extended the deadline for adopting the required Section 436 amendment to the latest of the following:
- The last day of the plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2013 (e.g., December 31, 2013, for calendar year plans)
- The last day of the plan year for which Code Section 436 is first effective for the plan
- The due date (including extensions) of the employer’s tax return for the tax year that contains the first day of the plan year for which Code Section 436 is first effective for the plan
However, plan sponsors submitting determination letter applications on or after February 1, 2013, for individually designed plans must adopt the Code Section 436 amendment prior to submitting the application. Determination letter applications that are filed prior to February 1, 2013 (Cycle B plans), do not need to include provisions complying with Code Section 436.
Notice 2012-70 also extends the relief period under the anti-cutback requirements of Code Section 411(d)(6), which generally provide that a tax-qualified defined benefit plan may not be amended to reduce or eliminate a participant’s accrued benefit.
Defined benefit plan sponsors should review the new guidance to determine the proper deadline for Code Section 436 amendments for their plans. For more information on this guidance, please contact your regular McDermott attorney or one of the listed authors.