Generally, any type of organization can offer a defined benefit pension plan under Section 4019a) in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code) or a Code Section 401(k) Plan. However, only employers described in Code Section 501(a) and educational organizations described in Code Section 170(b)(A)(iii) are permitted to sponsor Code Section 403(b) plans. Equally, Code Section 457 plans can only be sponsored by governmental and other organizations exempt from tax under the Code. Until roughly 2009, both Code Sections 403(b) plans and Code Section 457 plans had been basically ignored or overlooked by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the Department of Labor (“DOL”). However, as these two plans have accumulated significant assets over the course of time (many occurring due to the consolidation of large plans in the healthcare sector through business combinations), the IRS and DOL have deemed it necessary to start taking a closer look. The audits of Code Section 403(b) plans and Code Section 457 plans has increased dramatically in the last few years to the point where the IRS has now issued its “top ten list” of issues which tax-exempt entities need to focus on when sponsoring these types of plans.
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