Requesting Copies of Plan Documents in Determination Letter Applications


You may request a copy of a retirement plan’s determination letter application and certain other related documents from the IRS. Generally, the application file includes the:

  • plan document, including any amendments or restatements;
  • correspondence related to the application; and
  • determination letter issued by the IRS for the plan.

The IRS can’t disclose the following types of information that may be in the application file:

  • participant names or compensation;
  • voluntary correction program or examination issues, if present;
  • • any part of the letter or document which does not directly relate to qualification (see Reg. 301.6104(a)-3(d));
  • any other communication that doesn’t directly support the application; or
  • any information the IRS determines may adversely affect national defense.

An applicant may also request non-disclosure of information pertaining to a trade secret, patent, process, style of work, or apparatus if the applicant would be adversely affected by its disclosure.

Who may request a copy of the determination letter application?

For plans with:

  • more than 25 participants - anyone may request a copy
  • 25 or fewer participants -  only the following or their designed Power of Attorney may request a copy:
    • the employer;
    • current plan participants;
    • former employees, such as certain retired and terminated employees who have a vested right to plan benefits; or
    • beneficiaries of deceased former employees who are receiving benefits or are entitled to receive future plan benefits.

The IRS uses the plan’s most recently filed Form 5500-series return to determine the number of plan participants.

How do I request a copy?

Your written request for a copy of the application should:

  1. State you’re making the request under Internal Revenue Code Section 6104.
  2. Identify the name, address, Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the organization and the plan number (if known).
  3. Identify the documents you’re requesting (for example, a copy of the plan, amendments or the complete application filed on a certain date).
  4. Include your name, address, telephone number and relationship to the plan.
  5. Indicate if you’d like to be notified in advance if the fees (see below for costs) for your request exceed a certain amount so you can modify or withdraw your request, and avoid additional correspondence and delay.

Mail your written request to:

Internal Revenue Service Customer Service
Tax Exempt & Governmental Entities Division – EP
P.O. Box 2508 Room 4010
Cincinnati, Ohio 45201

What is the cost?

Generally, the cost is 20 cents per page after the first 100 pages. For larger orders, we may also charge $21.00 per hour research time. The exact cost depends on both the categories of:

  • users, and
  • services

(Internal Revenue Manual Sections 11.3.5 and 11.3.10, and Treas. Regs Section 601.702PDF)

When can I expect a response?

The average processing time is 60 days. However, we’ll contact you if we can’t locate the documents or have other problems processing your request.

How do I show I’m a plan participant?

Please provide any information you have showing you’re entitled to benefits from the plan, for example a:

  • copy of your annual benefits statement
  • W-2 showing you’re an current participant in the plan

How long does the IRS retain applications?

We’re required to maintain applications for 10 years; application packages older than that are securely destroyed.

Additional resources