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What is the IRS Employee Plans Office?

The Employee Plans Office is responsible for ensuring that plan sponsors, individuals and benefits practitioners understand and comply with the tax law governing retirement plans and IRAs. It’s part of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the IRS.

Departments of the Employee Plans Office

  • Determinations – reviews retirement plan documents and gives assurance to plan sponsors that their documents are written according to the rules
  • Technical Guidance – writes rules (revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices, regulations) that interpret the law or provide further explanations
  • Technical – provides private letter rulings on a case-by-case basis to individual requestors
  • Voluntary Compliance – administers IRS programs that allow plan sponsors to correct self-identified problems in plan documents or operations
  • Examinations – reviews taxpayer books and records to ensure that plans provide the promised benefits and comply with all relevant laws
  • Customer Education & Outreach – provides speakers at benefits conferences and other events, creates publications on retirement plan topics and maintains the Retirement Plans Web page on IRS.gov
  • Customer Account Services – answers retirement plan-related questions

Administrative responsibility for retirement plans

The Employee Plans Office was created in 1974, following enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, to help protect the retirement benefits of employees. Under ERISA, jurisdiction over employee benefit plans was divided among the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

  • The IRS primarily looks at participation, vesting and funding issues.
  • The DOL primarily looks at fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transactions.
  • The PBGC insures a minimum guaranteed benefit under certain pension plans.

Although jurisdiction is divided among the IRS, DOL and PBGC, ERISA requires them to coordinate their activities.

Additional resources:

Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT)
Recommendations for Employee Plans from our public advisory committee

Employee Plans Organization Chart
Structure of the Office of Employee Plans

Retirement Planning (mymoney.gov)
Tools for retirement planning from the mymoney.gov website

Statistical information on retirement plans:

Private Pension Plan Bulletin - Abstract of Form 5500 Annual Reports
DOL statistics on plans, participants, assets, income and expenses based on Form 5500 filings

PBGC Annual Report
PBGC statistics on defined benefit plans, including multiemployer plans

Pension Insurance Data Book
Detailed statistics on PBGC program operations and benefit protection

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 16-Oct-2014