EP Examination Process Guide
In response to the results of the Customer Satisfaction Surveys, the Employee Plans Examination function has developed the EP Examination Process Guide to help our customers through the examination process. The guide will clarify the various steps in the examination process and introduces to our customers resources that are available on the Retirement Plans Community web site.
As a foreword to this guide, Monika Templeman, Director, Employee Plans Examinations, would like to keep the Retirement Plans Community informed about the most important items, labeled the "Critical Priorities", that are being addressed in the examination program. The current Critical Priorities and news articles specifically addressing portions of the Critical Priorities can be found in this section
Section 1 - Overview to EP Examinations
This section of the Guide provides a general explanation of the EP Examination process from the initial contact through final conclusion. Information is provided on general examination techniques and procedures that are used to conduct examinations of qualified retirement plans. This section also contains information on compliance procedures and initiatives, including the future direction of EP Examinations.
Section 2 - Compliance Monitoring Procedures
This section of the Guide provides various links for plan sponsors to aid in determining if their plan is in compliance with the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and regulations. There are links to examination guidelines used by EP agents in performing their audits. Also included is our “Trends and Tips” analysis that identifies compliance risks and recurring plan issues. This site will also link you directly to the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), where information on the Self-Correction Program (SCP) and the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) can be found.
Section 3 - Initiation of an Examination
This section of the Guide provides a general explanation and examples of the techniques and procedures used to select EP examinations, contact taxpayers and their representatives, schedule appointments, and request initial information. This section also contains a description of your rights as a taxpayer to be informed of the EP examination process.
Section 4 - Communications During Examination
This section of the Guide provides a general explanation of the techniques and procedures used during an EP examination to effectively communicate with taxpayers and their representatives. There are also examples of communications involving compliance issues that may occur during examinations.
Section 5 - Audit Guidelines
This section of the Guide provides a compendium of IRS guidance, forms and other information applicable to EP examinations. As an approach, we will explain the purpose of the steps. This is a sample of what is generally a starting point. An individual case may warrant more additional effort.
Section 6 - Resolution of Issues and Closing the Examination
This section of the Guide provides references to resources and procedures available to a plan sponsor/authorized representative and EP agent for resolving issues and examination closing. This site will also link you directly to the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), where information on the Audit Closing Agreement Program (Audit CAP) can be found.
Section 7 - Appeals
This section of the Guide provides a description of the process of appealing issues that cannot be resolved with the EP agent or through informal means. This section also discusses the status of the plan while under appeals and any applicable statute of limitations.
Section 8 - Customer Education and Outreach
This section of the Guide provides information on how to obtain educational materials, retirement forms and publications, customer account services, and other helpful information for plan participants, plan sponsors and representatives.
Section 9 - Participant Rights
This section of the Guide provides plan participants with information on their rights as participants in a qualified retirement plan. Participant rights are broken into two sections: (1) rights triggered by a participant event, such as when a participant stops working; and (2) rights triggered by a plan event, such as when the plan is terminated. There are also links to other government agencies involved with retirement plan regulation including the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
Section 10 – International Issues Affecting Retirement Plans
International issues, including international tax compliance by large corporations and high-wealth individuals, are an IRS-wide priority. The Office of Employee Plans is focused on addressing existing abuse and preventing abuse going forward.
Section 11 - Feedback
This section of the Guide provides a mechanism for comments and suggestions concerning EP Examinations and/or their process guide.