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The IRS Retirement Plan Determination Letter Program – The IRS Taketh and Then Giveth (Some Transition Guide)

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Last July, in Announcement 2015-19, the IRS announced that it was terminating its determination letter program for individually designed qualified retirement plans, other than for new or terminating plans.  This week, in Notice 2016-03 the IRS provided us with specific transition guidance on the winding down of its program.  Specifically, the IRS announced that:

  • Controlled groups and affiliated service groups that maintain more than one plan are permitted to file determination letter requests during the “Cycle A” period beginning February 1, 2016 and ending January 31, 2017, only if the Cycle A election for the group was made by January 31, 2012;
  • The expiration dates included in determination letters issued before January 4, 2016 are no longer operative (the IRS plans on issuing guidance to clarify when an employer can rely on its determination letter after a subsequent change in the law or plan amendment);
  • To facilitate the plan sponsor’s transition from an individually designed plan to a pre-approved plan, the deadline for an employer to adopt a pre-approved defined contribution plan and to apply for a determination letter is extended from April 30, 2016 to April 30, 2017 (other than a plan that is adopted as a modification and restatement of a pre-approved defined contribution plan that was maintained before January 1, 2016).

If you have any questions about the determination letter process or the transition guidance, please do not hesitate to contact any of the attorneys in the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group at Snell & Wilmer.