Filing and Notice Deadlines for Qualified Retirement and Health and Welfare Plans

by King & Spalding

[author: Ryan Gorman, Atlanta, +1 404 572 4609,]

Employers and plan sponsors must comply with numerous filing and notice deadlines for their retirement and health and welfare plans. Failure to comply with these deadlines can result in costly penalties and excise taxes. To avoid such penalties and excise taxes, employers must remain informed with respect to the filing and notice deadlines associated with their plans.

The table below provides key filing and notice deadlines common to calendar year plans for the remainder of 2012. Please note that the deadlines will be different if your plan year is not the calendar year. Please also note that the table does not include all applicable filing and notice deadlines, just the most common ones. King & Spalding is happy to assist you with any questions you may have regarding compliance with the filing and notice requirements for your employee benefit plans.




Affected Plans

December 1 (at least 30 but no more than 90 days before the beginning of the plan year)

Safe Harbor Notice

Deadline for plan administrator to distribute safe harbor notification to participants and beneficiaries. This notice must be provided within a reasonable period of time before the beginning of the plan year. The regulations provide a safe harbor of not less than 30 days but not more than 90 days before the beginning of the plan year.

401(k) and 401(m) Plans

Auto-Enrollment Notice(s)

Deadline for plan administrator to provide annual auto-enrollment notice(s) for plans with qualified automatic contribution arrangements (QACA) or eligible automatic contribution arrangements (EACA). This notice must be provided sufficiently early so that the employee has a reasonable period of time after receipt to make QACA or EACA elections. The preamble to the regulations notes that this timing requirement is deemed to be satisfied if the notice is given at least 30 days but not more than 90 days before the beginning of each plan year.


401(k) Plans with QACA or EACA

December 1 (at least 30 days before the end of the plan year)

Qualified Default Investment Alternative Annual Notice

Deadline for plan administrator to provide annual QDIA notice to participants or beneficiaries.


Defined Contribution Plans with participant-directed investments

December 1 (no later than 30 days before participant becomes eligible to diversify employer stock)


Diversification Notice

Deadline for plan administrator to provide diversification notice to participants who will first be eligible to divest employer securities on January 1.

Defined Contribution Plans with participant-directed investments in employer stock


December 15 (2 months after the extension for filing Form 5500)

Summary Annual Report (SAR)


Deadline for plan administrator to distribute SAR for prior year to participants and beneficiaries, if the IRS granted a 2 month extension for Form 5500 on or before the original Form 5500 deadline.

Defined Contribution Plans

December 31 (last day of plan year following plan year for which contributions were made)

Correction of Excess Contributions & Excess Aggregate Contributions


Deadline for plan administrator to make corrective employer contributions or distribute excess contributions (ADP test failure) and excess aggregate contributions (ACP test failure) for the prior year.

401(k) and 401(m) Plans

December 31 (last day of plan year)

Discretionary Amendments


Deadline for plan sponsor to adopt discretionary plan amendments for calendar-year plans.


Qualified Retirement Plans

Adjusted Funding Target Attainment Percentage (AFTAP) Certification


Deadline for actuary to certify a specific AFTAP if a range certification was previously issued.


Defined Benefit Plans

December 31 (at least annually)

ERISA §404(c) Disclosures


Deadline for plan administrator to distribute notices to participants and beneficiaries if the employer wants to limit fiduciary liability for participant and beneficiary directed investment decisions.

Defined Contribution Plans with participant-directed investments

December 31

Required Minimum Distributions


Deadline for plan administrator to distribute current year’s required minimum distributions under IRC §401(a)(9).

Qualified Retirement Plans


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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