403(b) Pre-Approved Plan Program - Key Provisions


Revenue Procedure 2013-22

Contains details of the 403(b) pre-approved plan program and the procedures to apply for an opinion or advisory letter.

Revenue Procedure 2019-39 

Remedial amendment period to correct form defects in a 403(b) plan, retroactive to January 1, 2010, if the plan sponsor adopts a pre-approved 403(b) plan with a favorable opinion letter or applies for an individual determination letter when available ends on March 31, 2020 and provides a limited extension of the Initial Remedial Amendment Period for certain Form Defects.

Revenue Procedure 2017-18 (Pre-approved 403(b) plans)

The last day of the remedial amendment period for Section 403(b) plans, for purposes of section 21 of Rev. Proc. 2013-22, 2013-18 I.R.B. 985, is March 31, 2020.

An employer that adopts a 403(b) pre-approved plan generally has assurance that its plan document complies with IRC Section 403(b). Please note that the IRS doesn’t intend to establish a determination letter program for individually designed 403(b) plans at this time.

Mandatory plan provisions

Revenue Procedure 2013-22 lists mandatory provisions for all 403(b) pre-approved plans, and additional required provisions for 403(b) prototype plans and for 403(b)(9) plans. 

To draft 403(b) pre-approved plans, sponsors can use:

403(b) pre-approved plan sponsor’s duties

Generally, a pre-approved plan sponsor must:

  • keep a written record of the eligible employers who adopted its plan and if requested by IRS, provide their names, addresses and EINs (this requirement doesn't apply to a church-related organization sponsoring a pre-approved plan 403(b)(9) retirement income account); and
  • keep the plan approved by:
    1. amending the plan for law changes;
    2. applying for a new opinion or advisory letter when required;
    3. informing about and providing each adopting employer all restated plans, amendments, and opinion or advisory letters; and
    4. complying with all required notice procedures.

Scope of an opinion or advisory letter

IRS will issue a favorable opinion or advisory letter to a pre-approved 403(b) plan if the submitted plan meets the requirements of IRC Section 403(b). A favorable opinion or advisory letter won’t cover whether the plan is subject to, or satisfies, any ERISA requirements, any investment arrangement terms or other documents incorporated by reference.

Application procedures

See Apply for an Opinion or Advisory Letter - Pre-Approved 403(b) Plans.

Additional resources