Tips to Avoid Processing Delays with your Determination Letter Application


Follow these tips to help speed the review of your determination letter application.

  • Use the current version of Form 5300PDF, 5307PDF, 5310PDF and 5316PDF.
  • You must complete and submit the procedural requirements checklist on the last page of the application form you’re submitting.
  • If you don’t provide all required information, you will have 30 days after being contacted to submit the missing items before your deficient application is closed and your fee is forfeited.
  • Include the Additional Information Sheet (AIS) sent to you by the IRS specialist with any additional information you submit for your application.
  • Please don't staple, bind or fold plan documents, and use 8½ × 11 inch paper.

Form 5310

Board of Directors resolution

Include a copy of the resolution or other documentation formally terminating the plan. The date of the resolution must be before the date of termination.

Plan documentation

Amend your plan for all law changes that apply as of the termination date even if those changes are not listed on the latest Cumulative List or Required Amendments List.

Forms 5300 and 5307

Cover letter

Include a cover letter with your application to alert us to significant and relevant information for the plan, including:

  • any unique circumstances such as a “special ruling request”;
  • whether the plan is part of a controlled or affiliated service group or multiple employer plan arrangement, or if you're submitting it with a related plan (include the related plan's tax identification and plan numbers); and
  • if the plan was involved in a merger or consolidation of plan assets.

If you are filing as the sponsor of a group or pooled trust, please file Form 5316, Application for Group or Pooled Trust Ruling.

Current forms

Use the current version of all applicable forms and ensure that the forms are completed, signed, and dated.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Use the employer identification number of the plan sponsor and not the associated trust.

Correct user fee

Submit the appropriate fee based on the current user fee schedule. If you’re eligible for user fee exemption, sign and date the certification line on Form 8717, User Fee for Employee Plan Determination Letter RequestPDF. Stamped signatures aren't acceptable.

Prior determination letter

Include the last favorable determination letter we issued to the plan sponsor. If the plan has never received a prior determination letter, send signed and dated copies of the prior plan document and additional information listed below under “Plan documents.” For adopters of pre-approved plans using adoption agreements, include the prior adoption agreements, applicable opinion/approval letter and additional information listed below under “Plan documents.”

Plan documents

Include a copy of the plan, adoption agreement and all amendments since the last determination letter. Include all amendments adopted to comply with the applicable Cumulative Lists and/or Required Amendments Lists and all discretionary amendments effective after the date of the last determination letter. Ensure that the copies you submit include adoption dates and signatures.

  • Your plan document must be restated for all current guidance on the applicable Cumulative Lists and/or Required Amendments Lists. You can use the Alert Guidelines to help you verify that your plan is updated.
  • List the plan language and sections that have been modified by amendment(s).
  • Submit all required amendments to comply with the applicable Cumulative Lists and/or Required Amendments Lists, including evidence that you've timely adopted the amendments.

For applications submitted between February 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017, the 2015 Cumulative List is applicable.  

For applications submitted on or after January 1, 2018, a Required Amendments List (generally applicable to qualification changes first effective two calendar years before the submission year), will be applicable.

Reference lists

Reference lists help you verify that your plan has been amended for all necessary law changes. By including completed reference lists with your application, you will help speed the review process.

If you discover that amendments were not adopted by the required date, you can correct the late amendment failure using the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS).

Pre-approved plan adopters

If you adopted a pre-approved plan, include the approval letter for the plan document and write the letter number from the prior approval letter on the plan document.

  • If you adopted a volume submitter document that uses an adoption agreement, please include a copy of the associated plan. Also, include the most recently approved version of the volume submitter document.
  • Volume submitter modifications - Include either a list of modifications (items added, deleted or modified from the volume submitter specimen plan identifying the plan sections affected), or a certification that your plan is word-for-word identical to the specimen plan.
  • Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative for volume submitters - identify the volume submitter practitioner in Part I, line 2 (Representative) and include the practitioner’s signature in Part II (Declaration of Representative). See the Form 2848 instructions.

Other supplemental documents

Include all other pertinent documents, such as merger agreements, plan documents for merged plans, voluntary compliance statements or collective bargaining agreements referenced in the plan document. Identify and explain changes to plan sponsorship, plan name, EIN, and any other plan changes that have occurred since we issued the prior favorable determination letter, if applicable.

Supplemental information required for some questions

Some questions on the application require supplemental explanatory information, such as a controlled group statement for employers maintaining plans on behalf of a controlled group of affiliated employers. Be sure to check the form instructions to see when supplemental information is required – not all requirements are listed on the form. Include all required supplemental material with your submission.

Notice to interested parties

If you answer "yes" to the "Notice to Interested Parties" question on the application form, you don't have to send a copy of the notice with your application.

Multiple plan information (Form 5307, line 9)

If you answered “yes,” please include a statement listing the name, type, form and number of the plan; whether each plan has received a determination letter or has a pending application; and whether there are paired plans. If applicable, indicate the serial number of the letter issued for the paired plan.

Additional resources