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Determination Letters for Individually Designed Retirement Plans FAQs

Generally, an individually designed plan is a retirement plan drafted to be used by only one employer. An IRS determination letter expresses an opinion on the qualified status of the plan document. For more information on the benefits of a favorable determination letter and how to apply, see:

These frequently asked questions and answers provide general information and should not be cited as legal authority. 


What form should I file to request a determination letter?

Use:

  • Form 5300, Application for Determination for Employee Benefit Plan (instructions) if you are a sponsor of an individually designed plan. Pre-approved plans may be treated as individually designed if significant changes are made to the plan.

  • Form 5307, Application for Determination for Adopters of Modified Volume Submitter Plans (instructions) if you are a VS plan adopter that modified the underlying plan. See the FAQs for pre-approved plan adopting employers for additional information.

  • Form 5310, Application for Determination for Terminating Plan (instructions) if you are the sponsor of any type of plan that is terminating, except multi-employer plans covered by Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation insurance.

See Apply for a Determination Letter - Individually Designed Plans for specific procedures and other items you must submit.


What are the user fees for determination letters?

User fees for retirement plan determination letters are updated annually. See the user fee Web page for a link to the current amounts.


Is a restated document required when submitting an individually designed plan for review?

Yes, a restated document is generally required for an individually designed plan’s determination letter submission.  For Form 5300 applications submitted between February 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017, the plan should be restated to comply with the 2015 Cumulative List (Notice 2015-84) and it should incorporate all previously adopted amendments. For Form 5300 applications submitted after December 31, 2017, the plan should be restated to comply with the applicable Required Amendments List and it should incorporate all previously adopted amendments. A terminating plan submitted for review (with Form 5310) does not need to be restated. See Apply for a Determination Letter for details.


Must I submit a redlined copy of the plan document highlighting changes?

No, you’re not required to submit a redlined document for an individually designed plan.


Where do I file my application or request for a letter?

Applications for individual determination letters should be sent to:

Internal Revenue Service
Attention: EP Determination Letters
Stop 31
P.O. Box 12192
Covington, KY 41012-0192

Express mail or delivery services address:

Internal Revenue Service
Attention: EP Determination Letters
Stop 31
201 West Rivercenter Blvd.
Covington, KY 41011


How can I prevent delays in the processing of my application?

To ensure a complete submission, please use the procedural requirements checklist on the last page of Forms 5300, 5307 and 5310. Also, see Tips to avoid processing delays with your determination letter application.


How do I get assistance?


What happens to my application once it is received?

Your determination letter application will go through several layers of review. For details on this process, see Determination Letter Review Process.


Must I keep copies of determination letter applications and related information that were submitted to IRS?

Yes, it's very important to retain copies of the information you submitted to the IRS, including:

  • Applications
  • Forms
  • Cover letters
  • Other correspondence
  • Other information and plan data

You must keep this documentation to preserve reliance on your determination letter.

See Publication 794, Favorable Determination Letter, for a detailed discussion of the significance of a favorable determination letter.


How can I get a copy of my prior determination letter?

For instructions on how to obtain a copy of a prior letter, see Determination Letters – Need a Copy or Correction?


How can I request a corrected letter? 

See Determination Letters – Need a Copy or Correction?


What happens if a plan sponsor experiences a cycle-changing event?


For applications submitted prior to January 1, 2017, the general rule is that a plan’s five-year remedial amendment cycle (and date for submitting a determination letter application) is determined on the basis of the EIN or status of the employer that is maintaining the plan after a cycle-changing event such as a merger, acquisition or a spin-off. However, special rules may apply for determining a plan’s applicable cycle immediately after the event. For detailed examples of how these rules apply, see Section 11 of Revenue Procedure 2007-44, Rule for Determining Five-Year Remedial Amendment Cycle in Cases of Merger or Acquisition, Change in Plan Sponsorship, Plan Spin-off, or other events.

ALERT: Effective January 1, 2017, Revenue Procedure 2016-37 eliminated the 5-year remedial amendment cycle for individually designed plans; therefore, there will be no more cycle changing events for individually designed plans after that date.


What form do I file to notify the IRS of a plan merger, consolidation, spin-off, transfer of assets or QSLOB?

You must file Form 5310-A, Notice of Plan Merger or Consolidation, Spin-off, or Transfer of Plan Assets or Liabilities; Notice of Qualified Separate Lines of Business not later than 30 days before merger, consolidation or transfer of assets and liabilities. See the form instructions for a detailed description of these terms (for example, spin-off and merger).

Send your completed Form 5310-A to:

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 12192
Covington, KY 41012-0192

NOTE: A determination letter will not be issued for this type of form.


When two or more plans are merged, how many Form 5300 applications are necessary?

Only one Form 5300 application needs to be submitted for the 'surviving plan.


At the time of merger, what should be the qualification status of the merging plans?

Merging plans must have been timely amended for all applicable laws prior to the date of the merger.


What plan documents of the merging plans, if any, should be included in the application for the surviving plan?

For each plan merged out of existence, include a copy of the prior determination letter for all the plans, if available. If a prior determination letter is not available, an explanation must be included with the application, and the applicant must include a copy of the prior plan document (and adoption agreement  with the  opinion or advisory letter for the plan, if applicable)), the  opinion or advisory letter for the plan, if applicable, and all amendments necessary to verify that each plan was amended timely  through the date of the merger. Additionally, for each plan involved in a merger the applicant must provide all signed and dated plan amendments (including interim amendments, if applicable) adopted or effective subsequent to the most recent determination letter issued with respect to the planthe latest determination letter received by the plan sponsor with, if necessary, copies of the applicable signed and dated interim amendments, plus a signed and dated copy of the latest plan document. Submission of these documents will expedite the determination process.


Will a determination letter include a reference to amendments for merger plans that are included in a determination letter application?

All merger-related amendments must be included with the determination letter application, but the IRS determination letter will not address or rule on the merger.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 21-Feb-2017