A Blueprint for Maintaining an Individually Designed Qualified Plan after the IRS’s Determination Letter Program Cutback

By and on August 2, 2016

On June 29, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officially sounded the death knell for the five-year remedial amendment cycle with its release of Revenue Procedure 2016-37. Effective January 1, 2017, employers that sponsor an individually designed qualified retirement plan—a group that includes most large retirement plans—may no longer request periodic determination letters. Instead, the IRS will continue to conduct random audits to assess plan compliance with plan document operational requirements.

The IRS will continue to conduct random audits to assess plan compliance with plan document operational requirements. Beginning in 2017, the IRS expects plan sponsors to amend written plan documents in accordance with Revenue Procedure 2016‑37 and without reliance on a determination letter. In the context of an audit, a plan sponsor may rely on a plan’s last favorable determination letter, but only with respect to provisions that have not been amended since the last issued determination letter. Sponsors of individually designed plans must develop new means for assuring they comply with the qualification requirements in the wake of Revenue Procedure 2016-37.

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Andrew Liazos
Andrew C. Liazos heads the Firm's Executive Compensation Group and the Boston Employee Benefits Practice. Andrew focuses his practice on compensation and benefit matters, including related securities, M&A, IPO, private equity, international and litigation matters. Clients range from Fortune 500 companies to compensation committees to individual executives in employment and severance negotiations. Read Andrew Liazos' full bio.


Emily Rickard
  Emily Rickard focuses her practice on executive compensation and employee benefits, and has devoted a substantial portion of her practice to assisting employers in implementing and maintaining employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). She has represented companies, inside ESOP trustees, and outside ESOP trustees in buy-side and sell-side transactions, as well as in ongoing ESOP compliance matters. Read Emily Rickard's full bio.

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