Those of you with pre-approved retirement plans and a memory like a steel trap will remember that your retirement plan was rewritten sometime between May 1, 2008, and April 30, 2010. At that time we told you that another restatement would not be required for at least six years. Well, guess what? It has now been six years and it is time to begin a new restatement cycle.
Remedial Amendment Period Cycles
The IRS established a cyclical filing system in 2005 that requires retirement plans be restated once every five or six years depending on the type of plan you maintain. The IRS has announced that the second restatement period under that program for pre-approved retirement plans will open May 1, 2014, and close April 30, 2016. That means if your plan is based on the Warner Norcross & Judd's pre-approved volume submitter plan or your plan is based on another pre-approved plan, such as a prototype plan, you must restate your plan no later than April 30, 2016.
What is a Pre-Approved Plan?
Pre-approved plans generally fall into two categories, prototype and volume submitter. Prototype plans are required to have a basic plan document and an adoption agreement that enables the employer to choose among the plan design options that are offered. A volume submitter plan consists of plan language, including extensive optional language that is submitted for IRS approval and then used to create employer plans. The May 1, 2014, to April 30, 2016, remedial amendment period applies to both types of pre-approved plans. It does not apply to individually designed retirement plans, such as ESOPs, which are required to be restated each five years.
Warner sponsors pre-approved volume submitter plans. Use of our volume submitter documents results in a customized plan that is derived from thousands of flexible choices. In contrast, the separate adoption agreement for a prototype plan can practically offer only very limited choices. Moreover, in our view, prototype plans normally reflect the limitations of the recordkeeping system of the prototype sponsor and make it difficult to move to a new plan provider. More information on the benefits of the Warner volume submitter document is available here
In addition, maintaining a plan through volume submitter documentation is becoming relatively less costly yet more valuable. The IRS filing fee for individually designed plans was recently raised to $2,500 while the fee for volume submitter filings remains at $500. And under recent changes to IRS procedures, a prototype plan sponsor is not permitted to file for an individual determination letter if the plan does not modify the terms of the prototype plan, which the prototype sponsor often will not permit. We expect almost all plans that are based on the Warner pre-approved volume submitter plan to be customized to some extent that will allow the plan to be submitted to the IRS for an individual determination letter.
Here We Go Again
If your plan is based on the Warner pre-approved volume submitter plan, you will hear from us in the near future about the required restatement of your plan and submission of the rewritten plan to the IRS for review and a favorable determination letter as to the plan’s tax qualification. If you sponsor a prototype plan and would like to discuss converting to the Warner volume submitter or your ability (or lack thereof) to file with the IRS for an individual determination letter on your plan, please contact your Warner retirement plan attorney or any member of our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group.