IRS Establishes Pre-Approved Plan Program For 403(B) Plans

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On March 28, 2013, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2013-22 which establishes a program for the IRS to accept applications for opinion and advisory letters for 403(b) prototype plans and 403(b) volume submitter plans, respectively, starting June 28, 2013. The new program is similar to the pre-approved plan program maintained by the IRS for tax-qualified plans with one significant difference – an employer who adopts a pre-approved 403(b) plan will not be able to apply for an individual determination letter for the 403(b) plan. In addition, the IRS has stated that it is not establishing a determination letter program for individually designed 403(b) plans at this time. Although many large employers will likely continue to use individually-designed 403(b) plans, the program offers employers an alternative to adopting an individually-designed plan to satisfy the written plan requirement under the final regulations issued under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The IRS has also issued an information package containing samples of 403(b) plan provisions to assist sponsors who are drafting 403(b) prototype plans and 403(b) volume submitter plans with the goal of accelerating the review and approval of these plans. [http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/403(b)-Pre-Approved-Plan-Program-Established] Some of the notes included in the information package reflect requirements that are not included in the final Section 403(b) regulations and have raised questions concerning 403(b) plan administration and compliance. In addition, the information package does not include sample provisions for mandatory employee contributions as a condition of employment, a common feature in many 403(b) plans.

Because there are still a number of unanswered questions and issues that need to be refined, we expect that the IRS will continue to provide guidance concerning the program and the sample provisions.