Pre-Approved Plan Submission Procedures


Plan sponsors can obtain IRS approval (“pre-approval”) of whether the form of defined contribution and defined benefit plans meet the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Sections 401, 403(a) and 403(b). The IRS also issues opinion letters for prototype IRAs.

Application steps

  1. Complete the current appropriate application forms
  2. Pay the appropriate user fee based on the user fee schedule
  3. Mail your application and user fee
  4. Wait for your application to be assigned to an IRS specialist for review
  5. Respond to any inquiries from the IRS specialist assigned to your case
  6. Interim notification – You may receive an interim notification stating that the plan appears to be compliant with the applicable qualification requirements. This notification is not an official opinion/advisory letter and it provides no qualification reliance. See Revenue Procedure 2017-41, section 12.02
  7. Receive your official opinion/advisory letter from the IRS

Forms to submit

Defined contribution plans (mass submitters and non-mass submitters)

Defined benefit plans

  • Form 4461-A, Application for Approval of Master or Prototype or Volume Submitter Defined Benefit Plan
  • Attachment I-A to Form 4461-A

Third six-year cycle defined contribution plan word-for-word identical providers and minor modifiers

Second six-year cycle word-for-word identical adopters and minor modifiers

All plans

  • Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, if applicable
  • Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, if applicable

Mailing addresses

Applications by regular mail:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Pre-Approved Plans Coordinator
Room 6-403, Group 7521
P.O. Box 2508
Cincinnati, OH 45201-2508

Applications shipped by express mail or a delivery service:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Pre-Approved Plans Coordinator
Room 6-403, Group 7521
550 Main Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202-5203

What adopting employers must do

Adopting employers of pre-approved plans must adopt the plan within the two-year adoption period  announced by IRS. Adopting employers generally do not apply for their own determination letters because they can rely on the pre-approved plan’s opinion or advisory letter. However, if an adopting employer makes certain changes to its plan, it may lose this reliance. It would then need to apply for a determination letter if it wants assurance that the form of its revised plan is qualified. . See sections 12 and 13 of Revenue Procedure 2018-4 for the determination letter application procedures applicable to adopters of pre-approved plans. Also, see Revenue Procedure 2015-36, Section 19, and Revenue Procedure 2017-41, Section 7, for a discussion of employer reliance on a pre-approved plan. 

Additional resources