Since the announcement by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that sponsors of individually designed retirement plans may no longer receive a periodic determination letter, plan sponsors have faced uncertainty about how to demonstrate compliance for their retirement plans. Our McDermott Retirement Plan Compliance Program, a new opinion letter and operational review program for individually designed 401(a) and 403(b) retirement plans, will allow plan sponsors to document their plans’ compliance with tax code requirements in response to the curtailment of the IRS’ determination letter program.

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Two recently published memoranda by the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) indicate that it is permissible for 401(k) and 403(b) plan sponsors and their third party administrators (TPAs) to rely on participants’ written summaries describing their financial hardships when processing hardship withdrawals from plans that apply the safe harbor event rules. Plan sponsors and TPAs may find relief from the former time-consuming, manual reviews of participants’ hardship withdrawal documentation.

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On Thursday, December 11, 2014, Chicago partner, Todd Solomon will speak at the Illinois Fiduciary Summit at Hyatt Lodge at McDonald’s Campus. Joined by additional keynote speakers from Wells Fargo and Crowe Horwath, Todd will discuss various topics important to retirement plan committee decision makers, including:

  • Top 10 Fiduciary Pitfalls 401(k) & 403(b) Plan Sponsors Need To Avoid
  • Fiduciary Obligations & Reducing Your Liability
  • How to Measure Plan Success
  • Evaluating Service Providers & Maximizing Vendor Negotiations
  • Outlook on the Bond Market and Recent On Goings at PIMCO

This event free of charge to McDermott clients and is certified for three hours of CPA/CPE credit and HRCI/SPHR/PHR general credit.

To register for the event, click here.

by Mary K. Samsa, Todd A. Solomon and Joseph K. Urwitz

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released a revenue procedure establishing a new program for the pre-approval of 403(b) plans.  The program opens June 28, 2013, and the IRS will begin accepting applications for opinion and advisory letters on whether the form of prototype plans and volume submitter plans meet the requirements of Code Section 403(b).

To read the full article, click here.

by Mary K. Samsa, Todd A. Solomon and Joseph K. Urwitz

On February 21, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) added to its “self-help” resources a new “403(b) Plan Fix-It Guide” to provide guidance more specifically directed at 403(b) plan sponsors that identify qualification or operational plan failures under their 403(b) plans.  Additionally, the IRS issued as a companion piece a booklet entitled “Voluntary Correction Program Submission Kit,” which provides more detailed directions to 403(b) plan sponsors on how to complete and file a correction filing with the IRS specifically relating to the failure to adopt a written 403(b) plan document.

This new “fix-it” tool addresses 10 potential errors (likely the most common 403(b) plan errors), including, but not limited to, ineligible organizations offering 403(b) plans, failure to adopt a written plan document as required by the final 403(b) regulations, violation of the universal availability rule, failure to appropriately limit elective deferrals and failure to follow the underlying terms of the plan document.  Although these types of failures are not necessarily new (i.e., they could have occurred in prior years), the IRS is slowly bringing 403(b) plans under more scrutiny as the dollars being contributed to these types of plans continue to increase.  The IRS is developing more expertise in this area and is training more agents to be able to identify the particular differences between 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans, and the specific nuances and legal requirements of operating 403(b) plans.  Since the 403(b) regulations were issued in 2007, this is the first step in which the IRS is taking a more active role to ensure compliance under these types of plans.

Revenue Procedures 2013-12 (Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, or EPCRS) may be used with respect to any 403(b) plan corrections going forward.  It incorporates in greater detail the “403(b) Plan Fix-It Guide.”  Although prior EPCRS guidance such as Revenue Procedure 2008-50 was often applied to 403(b) plans by analogy for correcting errors, new Revenue Procedure 2013-12 is drafted to be directly applicable to 403(b) plans.  Consequently, given the IRS movement toward greater scrutiny of 403(b) plans, tax-exempt organizations that have not recently conducted any type of internal compliance review are encouraged to review, at a minimum, the mistakes highlighted in the “403(b) Plan Fix-It Guide” to determine whether greater analysis is required with respect the compliance and operation of their 403(b) plans.

by Nancy S. Gerrie, Elizabeth A. Savard and Joseph K. Urwitz

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the "fiscal cliff" bill) allows employers to amend 401(k), 403(b) and governmental 457(b) plans to permit participants to convert pre-tax account balances to Roth account balances.  Previously, such conversions were permitted only when the pre-tax amounts could be distributed.

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by Joseph S. Adams, Paul J. Compernolle, Jeffrey M. Holdvogt, Maureen O’Brien, Patrick D. Ryan and Elizabeth A. Savard

Employers sponsoring 401(k) or 403(b) plans should give immediate consideration to recently enacted legislation that allows participants to convert their retirement accounts in such plans to Roth accounts in 2010 and avoid some of the plan sponsor concerns that existed under prior law. With a potential increase in individual income tax rates looming in 2011, plan sponsors may be under pressure from executives and other plan participants to permit such conversions prior to the end of the year. 

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