Employee Plans News

June 28, 2019

Changes to forms used on Pay.gov for IRS Voluntary Correction Program submissions  

The IRS updated Forms 8950 and 8951 on Pay.gov used for Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) submissions. 

Form 8950, Application for VCP Submission:

Updates to the “Before you begin” landing page include:

  • Employers or authorized plan representatives may use the same Pay.gov username to submit multiple Forms 8950 for different plans or employers.
  • Applicants may now submit larger faxes, up to 150MB. Include the Pay.gov tracking ID number, the applicant’s name and EIN, and plan name on the fax coversheet.
  • Updated citations and edits for clarity.

Form 8950, page two - Penalty of Perjury Statement

Revised the penalty of perjury statement to clarify:

  • Authorized representatives submitting a VCP submission on behalf of an employer are not signing under penalty of perjury.
  • Instead, they are certifying their status as documented on an included Form 2848, Power of Attorney.
  • The VCP submission must include a signed and dated penalty of perjury statement completed by the employer.

Form 8951, Additional Payment for Open VCP

Updates to the “Before you begin” landing page include:

  • Employers or authorized plan representatives may use the same Pay.gov username to submit multiple Forms 8951 for different plans or clients.

Learn more about VCP at Correcting Plan Errors.

Pre-approved Second Cycle Cash Balance Plan - use of a lookback month and stability period when using a Treasury-based interest crediting rate

Pre-approved Cash Balance plans were first permitted for the second Cycle. Announcement 2018-05 gives adopting employers of pre-approved plans Cash Balance until April 30, 2020, to restate their plans to be timely for the second Cycle.
The Defined Benefit Listing of Required Modifications (LRM) Cash Balance Supplement provides language that meets the requirements of the pre-approved program. Section 26CB.I.B.4. of the LRM contains Treasury-based interest crediting rates for purposes of a cash balance plan’s hypothetical account.

A plan is permitted to specify a look back month and stability period for purposes of determining the Treasury-based interest rate for the interest credit period; however, this is not currently addressed in the LRM.

If a sponsor, practitioner, or employer amends their pre-approved cash balance plan to specify a look back month and stability period, reliance on the second cycle (PPA) opinion or advisory letter will not be jeopardized.

May 2, 2019

Determination Letter Program

The IRS released Revenue Procedure 2019-20, in response to comments we received, which expands the determination letter program to include:

  • Statutory hybrid plans – plan sponsors may submit determination letter applications for statutory hybrid plans from September 1, 2019, through August 31, 2020.
  • Plan mergers – plan sponsors may submit determination letter applications for certain merged plans on a continuing basis.
  • Remedial amendment period - a limited extension of the remedial amendment period and a special sanction structure.

Plan sponsors may continue to submit determination letter applications for initial plan qualification and for qualification upon plan termination, as provided in Rev. Proc. 2016-37.

Operational Compliance List

The Operational Compliance List includes legislation and guidance that can help plan sponsors identify changes that may affect their plan’s compliance.

Hardship Distributions

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 enacted three changes to the hardship distributions rules effective for hardship distributions made in 2019 (may also be relied on for 2018):

  • repealed the previously-required 6-month suspension of elective deferrals after a participant received a hardship distribution
  • amounts previously contributed as qualified non-elective or qualified matching contributions (QNECs/QMACs) are available as a hardship distribution.
  • removed the requirement to take available plan loans prior to requesting a hardship.

Proposed regulation for hardships:

  • revise the standards governing when a distribution can be made on account of hardship.
  • permit hardship distributions to participants seeking to repair a primary residence, even if that repair would not otherwise qualify for a casualty loss deduction.
  • apply most of these rules to participants in 403(b) arrangements.

Other hardship resources:

Expanded Self-Correction Program

The IRS expanded the Self-Correction Program (SCP) in Rev. Proc. 2019-19 to make it easier to self-correct certain retirement plan mistakes. Expanded SCP permits:

  • The self-correction of certain plan document failures,
  • Correction options and possible relief from deemed distributions associated with specified failures involving plan loans made to participants, and

Additional opportunities for correcting certain operational failures by plan amendment

April 19, 2019

Expanded Self-Correction Program – Rev. Proc. 2019-19

The IRS expands its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System self-correction program (SCP) in Revenue Procedure 2019-19, effective April 19, 2019, to make it easier to fix various failures. This expansion includes: 

  • Using SCP to resolve certain plan document failures,
  • Correction options and possible relief from deemed distributions associated with specified failures involving plan loans made to participants, and
  • Additional opportunities for correcting certain operational failures by plan amendment.

VCP Submissions Must be Made Electronically

Beginning April 1, 2019, you must make all Voluntary Compliance Program submissions electronically using Pay.gov. Any paper VCP submissions postmarked after March 31, 2019, will be returned to the applicant.

April 18, 2019

Pre-Approved Retirement Plan Adopting Employers FAQs

These FAQs can help you determine how to switch to a pre-approved plan, when you need to adopt a new version of your pre-approved plan and more.

Notice 2018-74

This notice modifies the two safe harbor explanations in Notice 2014-74 that must be provided to recipients of eligible rollover distributions. It considers recent guidance and law changes, including changes related to qualified loan offsets made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Form 8880

Use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to figure the amount, if any, of your Saver’s Credit. For 2018, you can take the Saver’s Credit for traditional and Roth IRA contributions, ABLE contributions by the designated beneficiary, and salary deferrals or other employee contributions to a 401(k) or other qualified retirement plan.

Form 8915

Use Form 8915A, Qualified 2016 Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments, if you were adversely affected by a 2016 disaster and you received a distribution that qualifies for favorable tax treatment.

Use Form 8915B, Qualified 2017 Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments, if you were adversely affected by a 2017 disaster and you received a distribution that qualifies for favorable tax treatment. Both qualified 2017 disaster distributions and repayments of qualified 2017 disaster distributions can be made in 2018.

Revenue Ruling 2019-06: Covered Compensation Tables

IRS updated the tables of covered compensation under Internal Revenue Code Section 401(l)(5)(E) for the 2019 plan year. These tables are used to determine contributions to defined benefit plans and permitted disparity.

March 14, 2019

IRS Retirement Plan Correction Program

The IRS maintains a correction program that permits any size business or organization that sponsors a retirement plan (including SEP and SIMPLE IRA plans) to identify and correct problems they find. This correction program, the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), is outlined in Revenue Procedure 2018-52 (PDF).

Under the Self-Correction Program (SCP), you can correct many plan mistakes without contacting the IRS.

  • Identify and correct mistakes using the procedures in EPCRS.
  • Do not notify the IRS.
  • Pay no fees to the IRS.
  • Your plan’s tax benefits are preserved.

The Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) works for mistakes that are not eligible for self-correction or if you want IRS assurance about how you corrected a mistake.

  • You must make a written submission and pay a compliance fee to the IRS, prior to an IRS audit.
  • Disclose the self-identified problems along with a proposal to fix them.
  • The IRS determines if the proposal is acceptable and issues a compliance statement documenting approval.
  • Your plan’s tax benefits are preserved.

If you want to learn how to find and correct mistakes in a small business retirement plan, visit Correcting Plan Errors. Information on that webpage, including the Fix-it-Guides, can help you learn how to use the IRS correction program to correct mistakes in your retirement plan.  

VCP Submissions on Pay.gov

Beginning April 1, 2019, you must make all VCP submissions electronically through Pay.gov. Any paper VCP submissions sent to the IRS with a postmark after March 31, 2019, will be returned to the applicant.

Note the following tips when making a VCP submission electronically through Pay.gov:

  • A VCP application is not considered filed with the IRS until the VCP user fee has been paid and the Pay.gov website generates a payment confirmation receipt. If you don’t have a receipt with a Pay.gov Tracking ID #, you haven’t made a VCP submission to the IRS.
  • Please include all required VCP submission items in your PDF file that’s uploaded to the IRS. See Rev. Proc. 2018-52, section 11.04 and, if applicable, enclosure lists associated with the model VCP submission forms in the Form 14568-A through Form 14568-I series.
  • The completed Form 8950 is uploaded automatically, so don’t include any copy of the Form 8950 as part of the uploaded PDF file containing the VCP submission documents.
  • Place the VCP submission documents in the uploaded PDF in the order specified by Rev. Proc. 2018-52, section 11.11.

Prior to making a submission, please review the electronic VCP submission process outlined in Revenue Procedure 2018-52 (PDF). For more information, check out this IRS video and review Updated Retirement Plan Correction Procedures that discuss the VCP submission process.

December 14, 2018

Pre-Approved Filing Deadline Rapidly Approaching
The on-cycle filing deadline for third cycle pre-approved defined contribution plans ends December 31, 2018. Please note the changes to the mailing address and shortened response times for follow-up requests for third cycle applications.

Form 4461-B
Use revised Form 4461-B for approval of a plan submitted by a mass submitter on behalf of an adopting sponsor or practitioner, which is based on a plan submitted by the mass submitter.

Notice 2018-91 (PDF)
This notice contains the Required Amendments List for qualified retirement plans for 2018.

Rev. Proc. 2018-52 – New Electronic VCP Submission Process
New video discusses existing and new procedures for filing VCP submissions with the IRS.

Notice 2018-95 (PDF)
This notice provides transition relief for the once-in-always-in condition for excluding part-time employees in a 403(b) plan.

November 2, 2018

IRSAC expands to cover more areas of the IRS; IRPAC and ACT to join centralized advisory committee in 2019
The IRS announced that the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee’s (IRSAC) role will expand in 2019 to have a wider portfolio and will incorporate the Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC) and the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT). Although ACT will no longer exist, the IRS emphasizes that TE/GE issues will remain a priority area in the expanded IRSAC.

401(k) contribution limit increases to $19,000 for 2019; IRA limit increases to $6,000
The Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2019.

October 26, 2018

IRS Nationwide Tax Forum presentations – Tax professionals can earn continuing education credits by viewing seminars from the Tax Forums. The summer 2018 sessions are now available online.

2019 TE/GE Program Letter (PDF) – Read about where IRS Employee Plans is heading this fiscal year, including executing compliance strategies, building better processes and providing guidance on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

October 1, 2018

Updated retirement plan correction procedures – explains how Revenue Procedure 2018-52 (PDF), released September 28, 2018:

  • modifies the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS),
  • replaces Revenue Procedure 2016-51,
  • is effective as of January 1, 2019, and
  • significantly changes how Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) submissions are made to the IRS.

Issue: September 21, 2018

Revenue Procedure 2018-42 (PDF) – extends the deadline for submitting on-cycle applications for opinion letters for pre-approved defined contribution plans for the third six-year remedial amendment cycle to December 31, 2018.

Notice 2018-69 (PDF) – extends the temporary nondiscrimination relief for closed defined benefit plans for plan years beginning before 2020 if certain conditions are met.

Avoid Making an Incomplete VCP Submission – explains how to avoid common mistakes in Voluntary Compliance Program submissions.

Notice 2018-74 (PDF) – modifies two safe harbor explanations plan sponsors may use to satisfy the IRC Section 402(f) requirement to provide information to eligible rollover distribution recipients.


Draft Form 1099-R (PDF) – submit your comments about draft Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., to IRS.gov/FormsComments.

Issue: August 14, 2018

IRS releases new revisions of Forms 14568-B, 14568-E and 14568-H, Model VCP Schedules - plan sponsors can use these forms as part of their submission to the IRS Voluntary Correction Program (VCP)

Qualified Matching Contributions (QMACs) and Qualified Nonelective Contributions (QNECs) - IRS and Treasury release final regulations amending the definitions of QMACs and QNECs. Under these regulations, an employer contribution may be a QMAC or QNEC if it satisfies applicable nonforfeitable requirements and distribution limitations at the time it is allocated to participants accounts

Updated forms

Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) (PDF)

Instructions for Forms 1099-R and 5498, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc. (PDF)

Issue: June 8, 2018

Issue Snapshots

Issue Snapshots are IRS employee job aids that provide analysis and resources along with audit tips or issue indicators for retirement plan topics. The most recent Issue Snapshots for retirement plans are:

Applications for Pre-Approved Defined Contribution Plan Opinion Letters - The IRS is accepting applications for opinion letters for pre-approved defined contribution plans for the third six-year remedial amendment cycle.

EP & EO participating in 2018 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums - TE/GE, Employee Plans and Exempt Organizations will participate in the 2018 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums in five cities starting in July.

Issue: April 20, 2018

New guidance released for retirement plans- reduces Form 5300 user fees, explains IRS has begun issuing opinion/advisory letters for pre-approved defined benefit plans restated for the 2012 Cumulative List, and changes the pre-approved plan program for cash balance plans. 

Notice 2018-24 (PDF) - Request for Comments on Scope of Determination Letter Program for Individually Designed Plans During Calendar Year 2019 – please submit your comments in writing by June 4, 2018

Issue: March 26, 2018

Join the IRS for a National Paycheck Checkup Thunderclap We invite you or your group to join @IRSnews in support of the IRS Thunderclap effort promoting a national “Paycheck Checkup.” Following major tax law changes, workers should review their withholding to make sure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their paychecks.

Revenue Procedure 2018-21 (PDF) – allows pre-approved defined benefit plans containing a cash balance formula to provide the actual rate of return on plan assets as the rate used to determine interest credits.

Adoption deadline – for employers who want to adopt pre-approved defined benefit plans with opinion/advisory letters.

Missing Participants and Beneficiaries and Required Minimum Distributions – 403(b) Plans – IRS memo directs Employee Plans examiners not to challenge a 403(b) plan as failing to meet the required minimum distribution standards under certain conditions.

Contribute to your retirement plan or IRA:

Updated forms and publications

Refunds Worth $1.1 Billion Waiting to be Claimed

Unclaimed federal income tax refunds totaling $1.1 billion may be waiting for one million taxpayers who did not file a 2014 federal income tax return. Time is running out. To collect these refunds, taxpayers must file their 2014 tax return by April 17, 2018.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

The IRS reminds you that every year, people fall prey to tax scams. Three of the scams on the list of 2018 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams include:

  • Phone Scams - Callers claiming to be IRS officials threaten police arrest, deportation or license revocation if the victim doesn’t pay a bogus tax bill.
  • Phishing - Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. Criminals may pose as a person in your organization you trust or recognize, requesting sensitive information.
  • Identity Theft - Criminals sometimes file fraudulent returns using information from a phishing scam, with a refund being deposited into the taxpayer’s bank account. They then use a phone scam to claim to be the IRS and ask for that money back.

Issue: January 29, 2018

Model Language for Pre-Approved Defined Contribution Plans - providers applying for IRS opinion letters during the third defined contribution pre-approved plan cycle (October 2, 2017 - October 1, 2018) may use the Listings of Required Modifications (LRMs) to draft or amend their plans.

IRA FAQs - Recharacterization of Roth IRA Contributions – updated for the recharacterization rules of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Pub. L. No. 115-97).

Voluntary Correction Program – kits and guides updated for revised user fees:

Updated forms and publications:

Issue: January 2018

How to Obtain or Re-Establish an EIN for a Retirement Plan Trust - instructions for obtaining an EIN for a retirement plan trust.

November 2017 EA-2F Examination - Enrolled Actuaries Pension Examination, Segment F

Issue: December 2017

2017 Required Amendments List for Qualified Retirement Plans (PDF) - changes in retirement plan qualification requirements and amendment deadlines for individually designed plans (Notice 2017-72).

Disaster relief retirement plan distribution and loan options – allows recent hurricane victims to access funds from their retirement plans and allows retroactive plan amendments.

Required minimum distributions for missing participants, beneficiaries - explains steps a qualified retirement plan sponsor may take to avoid an IRS challenge to the plan’s obligation to make RMDs to missing recipients.

Form 5300, Application for Determination for Employee Benefit Plan, revised for changes in format and information required.

Pre-approved plans opinion letter program (video, 15:00) – webcast highlights the merger of prior programs, standardized and non-standardized differences and other changes made by Rev. Proc. 2017-41.

Prohibited loans to an employer (PDF) – two examples of when these loans from an Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b)(9) retirement income account violate the exclusive benefit rule (IRS Chief Counsel Memo 201742022).


Listing of Required Modifications (LRMs) and Information Packages – sponsors may use the updated and new sample plan provisions to draft defined contribution, pre-approved Employee Stock Ownership, and cash or deferred arrangement plans.

2017 Forms 5500 and 5500-SF – highlights of changes to these forms, their schedules and instructions.

Publication 4810 (PDF), Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants With Deferred Vested Benefits.

Retirement savings tips

With 2017 Extension Deadline Passed, All Eyes on 2018 – Read tax tip on IRA contributions and deductions

Save for Retirement Now, Get a Tax Credit Later; Saver’s Credit Helps Low, Moderate Income Workers (IR-2017-186).

Issue: October 2017

Cure period under Code Section 72(p) for missed loan prepayments – IRS Chief Counsel Advice Memorandum 201736022 gives two examples on making up missed installment loan payments.

Defined benefit plans

Procedures for automatic approval for certain changes in funding method – For single-employer defined benefit plans subject to the minimum funding requirements of Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 430 (Revenue Procedure 2017-56).

Updated procedures for obtaining IRS approval for a change in funding method (PDF) – Guidance includes procedures for defined benefit plan sponsors to revoke certain interest rate elections (Rev. Proc. 2017-57).

Updated Static Mortality Tables (PDF) – Use these tables to determine minimum present value under IRC Section 417(e)(3) and ERISA Section 205(g)(3) for certain distributions in 2018 (Notice 2017-60).

Final regulations - mortality tables for determining present value – Provide mortality tables that single-employer defined benefit plan sponsors must use to determine minimum required contribution and guidance about construction of substitute mortality tables (T.D. 9826).

New procedures to request to use plan-specific substitute mortality tables (PDF) – Certain defined benefit plans must follow these procedures for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2018 (Rev. Proc. 2017-55).

Updated forms

Form 4972, Tax on Lump-Sum Distributions (PDF) – Qualified plan participants born before Jan. 2, 1936, can use this form to calculate taxes on lump-sum distributions.

Form 8881, Credit for Small Employer Pension Plan Startup Costs (PDF) – Eligible small employers can claim a credit for establishing or administering certain retirement plans for their employees.

Issue: September 2017

Effective date addendum for pre-approved 403(b) plans – adopting employers can list effective dates for certain plan provisions that are different from the plan’s general effective date

Podcast – computation of maximum loan amount from retirement plans (8:21 mins) – describes how the IRS will review multiple loans to a participant during an audit

Defined benefit plans

Closed defined benefit plans now have relief (PDF) from IRC Section 401(a)(4) nondiscrimination testing for plan years beginning before 2019 (Notice 2017-45)

Model amendments for defined benefit plans (PDF) – plan sponsors may use model amendments to allow a combination of annuity and lump sum distributions (Notice 2017-44)

Issue snapshots

Issue Snapshots on retirement plan topics
Partial terminations, improper forfeitures, otherwise excludable employees in 401(k) plans, compensation in safe harbor 401(k) plans, 457(b) written plan requirements and 403(b) plan aggregation for IRC 415(c) are new on this list

Updated publications

Publication 4482, 403(b) Tax-Sheltered Annuities for Participants (PDF) – helps participants understand their retirement plan and avoid common mistakes

Publication 4483, 403(b) Tax-Sheltered Annuities for Sponsors (PDF) – contains information for tax exempt organizations and public schools about these retirement plans

Publication 1220, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G (PDF) – includes a “First Time Filers Quick Reference Guide" about Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE)

Updated Form 5305 series model agreements (Financial institutions may use these forms immediately)

Issue 2017-4, April 18, 2017

Date to adopt a pre-approved defined contribution plan extended to May 1, 2017.

IRS asking for your comments on Form 5300, Application for Determination for Employee Benefit Plans, by June 6, 2017.

Memo directs EP staff to review cash balance defined benefit plans' (PDF) benefit formulas using the Definitely Determinable Benefits Issue Snapshot (TE/GE-04-0417-0014).

Issue Snapshots and Memo

Now available

Issue 2017-3, March 21, 2017

Avoid overpaying user fees for your Voluntary Correction Program submission

Register for EP and EO sessions at the 2017 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums

Follow SIMPLE IRA withdrawal and transfer rules

Be aware of dangerous W-2 Phishing Scam Evolving; Targeting Schools, Restaurants, Hospitals, Tribal Groups and Others (IR-2017-20)

Read (PDF) Publication 721 (2016), Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits to prepare 2016 tax returns

Contribute to an IRA for 2016; you have until April 18, 2017 (IR-2017-60)

Issue 2017-2, March 2, 2017

The Operational Compliance List identifies changes in plan qualification requirements effective in a calendar year to help sponsors and practitioners keep plans compliant

403(b) plan sponsors may self-correct violations of the IRC Section 403(b) written plan rules by March 31, 2020

Revenue Ruling 2017-05 contains the covered compensation tables for the 2017 plan year

401(k) plans:

IRA/retirement plan YouTube videos:


Issue 2017-1, February 6, 2017

Determination Letter Program

403(b) Plans

Proposed Regulations

Saver’s Credit helps low-and-moderate-income workers save for retirement (IR-2016-171)

Updated Forms and Publications

Issue 2016-13, December 16, 2016

FIRE Production System, used to electronically file certain forms. including Form 8955-SSA, will be down until January 16, 2017, for yearly updates

Additional instructions for Forms 8950 and 14568-B for Voluntary Compliance Program submissions beginning January 1, 2017

Procedures for Puerto Rico plan sponsors to make an ERISA Section 1022(i)(2) Election to qualify under the Internal Revenue Code

IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses and Self-Employed recorded webinar to learn how to track federal tax due dates, customize the online tax calendar, get reminders and more

Notice 2016-67 (PDF), Applicability of IRC Section 411(b)(5)(B)(i) to Implicit Interest Pension Equity Plans

Updated Publications

Taxpayer Security Reminders

Issue 2016-12, November 4, 2016

IRS announces 2017 pension plan limitations
Read the 2017 limits on contributing to employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs

New SIMPLE IRA Plan Listing of Required Modifications and Information Package [9-2016]
Sample plan language that satisfies specific Code requirements, as amended by the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (Pub. L. 114-113)

Presentation recordings now available for:

Retirement plans can make loans, hardship distributions to victims of Hurricane Matthew (IR-2016-138)

EP determination applications for Pension Equity Plans (IRS Field Directive) – explains how to apply IRC Section 411(b)(1)(G) accrued benefit rules

Issue Snapshots on retirement plan topics
Excess deferrals, change in vesting schedule, hardship distributions and safe harbor notice requirements are just a few on this list

Updated Fix-It Guides – help you find, fix, and avoid common mistakes in your:

Issue 2016-11, October 12, 2016

Updated procedures for correcting plan errors – highlights of the new Revenue Procedure for the Employee Plans Compliance Reso

Extension of temporary nondiscrimination relief for closed defined benefit plans through 2017 under certain conditions (Notice 2016-57)

Deadline extended to Dec. 5 to submit comments on Form 5500 Modernization Proposals

IRS Compliance Questions on the 2015 and 2016 Form 5500-Series Returns – list of questions plan sponsors don’t need to answer for the 2015 and 2016 plan years

Updated IRS Checklists for retirement plan documents – used by IRS employees to review plans that apply for determination letter during the third Cycle A, due January 31, 2017

Employee Plans Compliance Unit (EPCU) projects:

  • SIMPLE IRA Plans - Eligible Sponsors asked for information from sponsors who appeared to have more than 100 employees earning $5,000 or more.
  • Partial Termination in plans that have a 20% or more decrease in participation and must fully vest affected employees.
  • Ineligible Employer – 403(b) Project - designed  to educate IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations whose tax-exempt status had been automatically revoked per IRC Section 6033(j) to ensure an employer eligibility failure had not occurred in the sponsoring of an IRC Section 403(b) plan

Issue 2016-10, September 20, 2016

Submit comments on or before Dec. 15 on how plan sponsors can more easily comply with qualified plan documents requirements, especially in light of the changes to the determination letter program (Announcement 2016-32)

Voluntary Correction Program

  • Check out the Voluntary Correction Program to fix your plan
  • Use VCP submission kit if you didn’t adopt an updated pre-approved defined contribution plan for the Pension Protection Act of 2006 by April 30, 2016
  • Correct by plan amendment under VCP if you made hardship distributions but your plan didn’t allow them
  • Fix plan compensation errors when you didn’t follow your plan definition of compensation

Hardship Distributions

  • Understand the rules for hardship distributions
  • Correct these common hardship distribution errors
  • Permit loans, hardship distributions to Louisiana flood victims (News Release IR-2016-115)

Issue 2016-9, August 26, 2016

New 60-day waiver helps IRA, retirement plan rollovers

  • News release (IR-2016-113) - new procedure helps people making IRA and retirement plan rollovers
  • Accepting late rollover contributions - plans and IRAs can now accept late rollover contributions from individuals who self-certify they qualify for a 60-day rollover waiver
  • FAQs - waivers of the 60-day rollover requirement (updated for Rev. Proc. 2016-47)

Understanding the Universal Availability Rules in a 403(b) Retirement Plan - Webinar (May 19, 2016) - recording now posted


  • Simplified Employee Pension Plan Fix-it-Guide - tips on how to find, fix, and avoid common mistakes
  • User Fee Forms (revised 9-2016) - Specific user fee amounts no longer listed on either Form 8717 or 8717-A, now entered on line 5

Issue 2016-8, July 29, 2016

Clarifications to Instructions for Forms 5500 and 5500-SF – explains how to respond to Lines 4l of Schedules H and I for Form5500, and line 10f of Form 5500-SF.

Complete discontinuance of contributions can occur unless they are “recurring and substantial” for a profit sharing/401(k) plan

Correct plan required minimum distribution mistakes using the Voluntary Correction Program

IRS Compliance Statement – what you have to do after you get your statement

Plan amendments are required for termination – review the newly posted 2015 Termination Focus Report

Issue No. 2016-7, July 13, 2016

New revenue procedure discusses when plan sponsors must amend an individually designed plan for new law and may request a determination letter

After-tax amounts of designated Roth account distributions are allocated first to direct rollovers rather than pro rata to distributions to multiple destinations (Treas. Regs. 1.402A-1)

Deferred compensation plans of state, local government and other tax-exempt organizations – proposed rules for determining when amounts deferred are included in income (REG-147197-07)

Draft Form 5300, Application for Determination for Employee Benefit Plan - simplifies information plan sponsors must provide

Issue No. 2016-6, May 18, 2016

Register for upcoming free webcasts:

Learn about retirement plans:

  • 2016 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums - Employee Plans and Exempt Organizations will participate in forums being held in five cities starting in July
  • Read EP Issue Snapshots - research summaries about various retirement plan topics, including the 403(b) written plan requirement, automatic contributions in church plans and expanded rollover options for SIMPLE IRA plans

Correct plan failures:

Learn recent guidance:

Disaster relief for retirement plan and IRAs – determine when certain retirement plan and IRA deadlines may be extended for affected taxpayers

Issue No. 2016-5, April 4, 2016

April 30, 2016 deadline for employers using a pre-approved 401(k), profit-sharing or other defined contribution retirement plans to sign an updated version

Correcting missed plan deadlines - new option for financial institutions or service providers who offer pre-approved plans to request a closing agreement for their plan sponsors who miss the April 30, 2016, adoption deadline

2016-2017 Priority Guidance Plan - submit recommendations by May 16, 2016, to possibly include in the Plan (Notice 2016-26)

Plan designs using short service - ensure plan contributions or benefits don’t discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees

2015 Form 5500-EZ (PDF), Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan (instructions (PDF))

457(b) plans:

Recorded webinars:

IRS Tax Tips:

Issue No. 2016-4, March 23, 2016

Financial advisors: are assets in your client’s one-participant plans more than $250,000?

Multiemployer Annual Actuarial Certifications: don’t resend to confirm submission

Normal retirement age in multiemployer plans – interim guidance for how a plan with a normal retirement age that’s earlier than age 62, but not earlier than age 55, may satisfy the facts and circumstances test

Issue No. 2016-3, February 29, 2016

2015 Form 5500 - new IRS compliance questions don’t need to be completed.

Mid-year amendments to safe harbor 401(k) plans and notices – new guidance helps plan sponsors comply with the safe harbor plan and notice rules (Notice 2016-6)

2015 Reference List – helps you update your plan for new items on the 2015 Cumulative List of Changes in Plan Qualification Requirements

Publication 721 (01/2016) (PDF), Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits

Issue No. 2016-2, February 3, 2016


Revisions to the Employee Plans Determination Letter Program:
(Notice 2016-3) will update Revenue Procedure 2007-44 and:

  • allow controlled groups and affiliated service groups that previously made a Cycle A election to submit determination letter applications during the third Cycle A submission period
    (February 1, 2016 - January 31, 2017);
  • revoke any expiration dates on determination letters issued prior to January 4, 2016; and
  • extend the period from April 30, 2016, to April 30, 2017, during which certain employers may establish or adopt a defined contribution pre-approved plan on or after January 1, 2016, and may, if eligible, apply for a determination letter.

New Guidance

Treatment of same-sex marriages – additional guidance for retirement plans (Notice 2015-86)

Deadline for adoption of discretionary plan amendments – interim guidance for EP Determinations and Examinations employees (TEGE-07-1215-0026)

Updated Forms and Publications

2015 Form 5500-EZ (PDF), Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan (instructions (PDF))

Publication 560 (01/2016) (PDF), Retirement Plans for Small Business (SEP, SIMPLE, and Qualified Plans)

Publication 590-A (01/2016 (PDF)), Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

2016 Form 1099-R (PDF), Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, Etc.

2016 Form 5498 (PDF), IRA Contribution Information

2016 instructions for Forms 5498 and 1099-R (PDF), Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, Etc., and IRA Contribution Information

Corrected mailing address for Form 5308 (PDF), Request for Change in Plan/Trust Year (Under section 412(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code):

Internal Revenue Service
Attn:  EP Letter Rulings
Stop 31
P.O. Box 12192
Covington, KY 41012-0192

Disaster relief for retirement plan and IRAs – determine when certain retirement plan and IRA deadlines may be extended for affected taxpayers

Issue No. 2016-1, January 8, 2016

IRS FIRE System (electronic filing for Form 8955-SSA and other information returns) is down for scheduled maintenance until Jan. 19

New Guidance:

Updated Forms:

Updated Publications:

Issue No. 2015-14, December 21, 2015

2015 Cumulative List explains the changes in plan qualification requirements for retirement plans (Notice 2015-84)

Year-end IRA reminders

IRS compliance questions on the 2015 Form 5500-series returns

Form 5500 automatic extension to file has been changed back to 2½ months for 2016 and later calendar year plan filings. Section 32104 of the FAST Act (P.L. 114-94, HR 22 Dec. 4, 2015) has repealed the earlier automatic extension of 3 ½ months for filing Form 5500. Therefore, plans will only have a 2 ½ month automatic extension to file Form 5500 for 2016 and later calendar plan year filings.

Issue No. 2015-13, November 23, 2015

IRS Hearing Notice: Administration of Multiemployer Plan Participant Vote on an Approved Suspension of Benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA) - notice of public hearing on proposed regulations for the administration of a multiemployer plan participant vote on an approved suspension of benefits under the MPRA. The public hearing is Friday, December 18, 2015, at 10 a.m; you must send outlines of discussion topics for the public hearing by Monday, November 30, 2015

Most retirees need to take required retirement plan distributions by Dec. 31 - reminder for taxpayers born before July 1, 1945: you generally must receive payments from your IRAs and workplace retirement plans by Dec. 31

Register for December 8, 2015, 2 p.m. (Eastern) free webcast about the latest activities in Employee Plans Examinations

Form 2848 Instructions (PDF) - To reduce undeliverable mail and allow us to reach you sooner, remember to include your firm’s name, floor, suite or room number in your address

Issue No. 2015-12, November 9, 2015

Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA) Program Changes – Registration for the final ERPA Special Enrollment Examination (ERPA SEE) to become an ERPA is open now and closes on January 4, 2016.

Issue No. 2015-11, November 3, 2015

IRS Announces 2016 Pension Plan Limitations - 401(k) contribution limit remains unchanged at $18,000 for 2016

Electronic filing for Form 8955-SSA – when can you seek a hardship waiver?

IRS webinars and video

  • Easy low-cost ways to start your small business retirement plan - Webinar - Learn about low-cost retirement plans; low-maintenance alternatives to traditional 401(k)s; points to consider in choosing a plan for your business; and resources for setting up and operating your plan, and avoiding plan mistakes (60 mins.)
  • SEP and SIMPLE IRA Plans – Avoiding Pitfalls - Learn how to properly adopt and operate SEP and SIMPLE IRA plans; use the right compensation to calculate contributions; determine when employees participate in the plan; handle employees of related employers; and take steps to avoid errors. You can use the Audit button to watch for free (Nationwide Tax Forum, 50 mins.)

Issue No. 2015-10, September 30, 2015


Correct plan mistakes

IRAs and IRA-based plans

  • Beginning date for your first required minimum distribution from your IRA (including SEP and SIMPLE IRAs) is April 1 after the calendar year you turn 70½
  • Video on retirement plans discusses low-cost, low-maintenance IRA based plans

Defined benefit plans:

April 30, 2016, is the deadline for employers using pre-approved retirement plan documents to sign an updated version of their 401(k), profit-sharing or other defined contribution retirement plans

New look for Retirement Plans page - we’ve added categories that help you find what you're looking for

Issue No. 2015-9, July 31, 2015

The IRS and Treasury intend to amend the minimum distribution regulations for defined benefit plans to generally prohibit the replacement of ongoing annuity payments with a lump sum payment or any other form of accelerated payment.

Employee Plans email questions - Beginning October 1, Employee Plans will no longer accept technical questions through email or from Customer Account Services.

Changes to the Employee Plans Determination Letter Program - Starting in 2017, the IRS will eliminate the staggered remedial amendment cycles and limit the scope of the determination letter program for individually designed plans.

Issue No. 2015-8, July 27, 2015

Small businesses can get IRS penalty relief for unfiled retirement plan returns - take advantage of a low-cost penalty relief program to quickly come back into compliance

Welcome to Direct Pay! Use this secure service to pay your individual tax bill or estimated tax payment from your checking or savings account

Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act (P.L. 114-26) broadens the definition of “qualified public safety employee” for employees exempt from the 10 percent additional tax on early distributions from retirement plans, and adds federal defined contribution plans to this exemption

Trade Preferences Extension Act (P.L. 114-27, Title VIII, Section 806) increases penalties for not filing information returns and payee statements on time, including Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc.)

Issue No. 2015-7, June 23, 2015

Worksheets and explanations for the second Cycle E plan language

New VCP Submission Kit for correcting contribution failures for money purchase pension and target benefit plans

Determination letter review process for the second Cycle E and beyond

Penalty relief program for Form 5500-EZ late filers

Fix-It Guides updated

Suspension of benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014

Issue No. 2015-6, June 10, 2015

Issue No. 2015-5, May 6, 2015

Print version of newsletter (.pdf)

Changes to EP determination letter application processing – effective date depends on whether you file Form 5300, 5307 or 5310

New revenue procedures update the Correction Program

Form 5500-EZ late filer penalty relief – remember to file by June 2

Sponsoring a 403(b) plan – make sure you have your 501(c)(3) status or meet another eligibility requirement

Updated FAQs: multiple employer plans

Notice 2015-7 – the IRS and Treasury Department anticipate issuing proposed regulations under Internal Revenue Code Section 414(d) to define the term “governmental plan.” This notice describes the guidance under consideration, which would provide that employees of a public charter school may participate in a State or local retirement system if certain conditions are satisfied, and requests comments by May 11, 2015.

Issue No. 2015-4, April 1, 2015

Print version of newsletter (PDF)

Plan sponsors

Keep documentation for hardship distributions and plan loans
Retirement plan distributions to foreign persons require withholding
Follow up on the plan corrections you agreed to in your VCP compliance statements  
DOL Corner – news from Department of Labor

Plan document help

Apply for a determination letter for your individually designed plan
Tips to expedite the determination letter process
FAQs on reference lists of changes in qualification requirements (new)
Updated 403(b) Listing of Required Modifications sample plan provisions help plan sponsors draft their plans


Tax Time Guide: still time to contribute to an IRA for 2014
IRA limits for contributions and deductions
April 1 deadline to take required retirement plan distributions for many retirees who turned 70 ½ in 2014


SEP Plan Fix-It Guide
Publication 3998 (PDF), Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business
Publication 4284 (PDF), SIMPLE IRA Plan Checksheet
Publication 4285 (PDF), SEP Plan Checksheet
Publication 4286 (PDF), SARSEP Checklist
Publication 4334 (PDF), SIMPLE IRA Plans for Small Businesses
Publication 4484 (PDF), Choose a Retirement Plan for Employees of Tax Exempt and Government Entities
Publication 4587 (PDF), Payroll Deduction IRAs
Publication 4806 (PDF), Profit Sharing Plans for Small Business

Issue 2015-3, March 25, 2015

Print version of newsletter (PDF)

Defined benefit plans

Expanded annual actuarial certifications for multiemployer plans due March 31 for calendar year plans

Automatic approval for change in method due to takeovers of single-employer defined benefit plans

Issue 2015-2, February 27, 2015

Print version of newsletter (PDF)

Correction options for 457(b) plans – EP Voluntary Compliance is not available for form errors

March webinars:

  • Highlights of the Second Cycle E Determination Letter Application Process – March 5, 2015, at 2 p.m. Eastern
  • Retirement Plan Loans to Participants – March 26, 2015, at 2 p.m. Eastern

my Social Security account – with it, your clients can get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S online


Publication 4484 (PDF), Choose a Retirement Plan for Employees of Tax Exempt and Government Entities 

Form 8955-SSA (PDF), Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants With Deferred Vested Benefit (Instructions (PDF))

Issue 2015-1, February 2, 2015

Print version of newsletter (PDF)

Reference lists of changes in plan qualification requirements - tools to help you keep your plan document up-to-date

Send your applications for 403(b) pre-approved plans to Cincinnati

Penalties may be waived for delinquent Forms 5500EZ and some Form 5500-series

Forms and Pubs

Form 8606 (PDF) - use to report: nondeductible contributions you made to traditional IRAs; nondeductible contributions to traditional IRAs; IRA distributions; and IRA conversions



Recent internal directives

  • Realignment of Technical Work between the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (TE/GE) and Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt and Government Entities) (Jan. 7, 2015)

Limit your search results on IRS.gov to the Retirement Plans Web pages: click on Advanced, enter your search terms in the “Find results” fields, and type “/Retirement-Plans” in the “Domain” field

The Employee Plans News is a periodic IRS newsletter with retirement plan information for retirement plan practitioners.

If you have any comments or suggestions on our newsletter or Web pages, please send them to tege.outreach@irs.gov.

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