Form 8915-F (Qualified Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments) and Instructions; Form 8915-D (Qualified 2019 Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments) and Instructions (2021); Form 8915-C (Qualified 2018 Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments) and Instructions (2021); Form 8915-B (Qualified 2017 Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments) and Instructions (2021)
The IRS has issued new Form 8915-F for use by individual taxpayers to report retirement plan distributions due to qualified disasters as well as repayments of disaster distributions. Form 8915-F is a “forever form,” designed to be used for distributions for qualified 2020, 2021, and later disasters, and for each year of reporting income from and repayment of those distributions. This is a change to the approach the IRS has taken since 2016, in which a new form was issued each year (Forms 8915-A through 8915-E; see our Checkpoint article). For tax years beginning after 2020, Form 8915-F replaces Form 8915-E, which was used to report coronavirus-related distributions and other qualified 2020 disaster distributions received from retirement plans in 2020 (as well as 2020 repayments of those distributions). Forms 8915-B, 8915-C, and 8915-D (relating to qualified 2017, 2018, and 2019 disasters, respectively) have been updated for 2021. The 2021 revision is the last revision of Form 8915-B. Form 8915-A (qualified 2016 disasters) has not been updated; the 2020 revision is the last version of that form.
Form 8915-F is considerably different from previous forms in the series. It includes new lines for indicating the tax year for which the form is being filed, the calendar year in which the disaster occurred, and the FEMA number for the disaster. (Space is provided for multiple disasters in the same calendar year.) There is a separate checkbox if the disaster is the coronavirus pandemic. The form is referred to using the tax year and disaster year checked—e.g., a “2021 Form 8915-F (2020 disasters)” would be a form filed for the 2021 tax year that relates to disasters that occurred in 2020. To help filers determine which lines to complete, the first page of the form includes two flowcharts—one for filers whose only disaster is the coronavirus pandemic and the other for all other filers. The instructions include an appendix providing similar assistance (covering 2021 through 2024 reporting for 2020 disasters) and a separate appendix listing qualified 2020 disasters (with their FEMA numbers and incident periods).
Form 8915-F has four parts: Part I determines the portion of an individual’s total retirement plan distributions that may be entitled to special disaster-related tax treatment. Part II is used to report qualified disaster distributions from retirement plans (other than IRAs) and determine the amount subject to tax for the year; Part III reports this information for IRA distributions. Part IV determines the tax consequences of distributions taken for the purchase or construction of a main home that was not purchased or constructed due to the disaster, adjusted for repayments. Part IV applies only for specified disasters (not including the coronavirus pandemic).
Form 8915-F can only be used in connection with coronavirus-related distributions if those distributions were claimed on a 2020 Form 8915-E (coronavirus-related distributions cannot be made after December 30, 2020). The Form 8915-F instructions specify which portions of the discussion do not apply if an individual’s only qualified disaster is the coronavirus.
EBIA Comment: For taxpayers wanting to take advantage of statutory disaster relief, completing Form 8915-F will take time and attention, even with the help of the flowcharts, tables, and examples provided in the form and instructions. The form’s complexity reflects the complexity of the disaster relief rules, which is magnified when addressing multiple disasters. Tracking multiple disasters is challenging even for the IRS: In an earlier version, the appendix listing qualified 2020 disasters mistakenly included several 2021 disasters. And the instructions’ current list of reportable events includes an apparently incorrect reference to a “Washington (8593-DR-WA) disaster.” (The IRS may have intended to refer to the late-2020 Alaska (4585-DR-AK) disaster discussed later in the instructions.) This confusion may be cleared up in a later revision of the instructions, or by the 2021 version of Publication 575, which is expected soon. Although employers and plan administrators are not responsible for filing the Form 8915-series, they may find it useful to be familiar with the forms and their operation. For more information see EBIA’s 401(k) Plans manual at Sections XII.G.2 (“Disaster-Related Distributions”), XV.H (“Special Hardship Rules for Disaster Relief”), and XVI.N (“Distributions: Participant Loans: Special Rules for Disaster Relief”).
Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.