EBIA Weekly Newsletter

IRS Identifies No Qualification Changes Affecting 401(k) Plans on 2017 Required Amendments List

   December 7, 2017

IRS Notice 2017-72 (Dec. 5, 2017)

The IRS has issued its 2017 Required Amendments List (RA List) for qualified retirement plans. Annual RA Lists identify changes in the qualification requirements that may result in disqualifying provisions and require a remedial amendment. (A “disqualifying provision” is a required provision that is not in the plan document, a provision in the document that does not comply with the Code’s qualification requirements, or a provision that the IRS so designates.) RA Lists are divided into two parts. Part A lists changes in qualification requirements that require most plans (of the relevant type) to be amended. Part B lists changes that should only require amendments for certain plans with unusual plan provisions affected by the changes. Periodic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to various dollar limitations do not appear on the annual RA List but are treated as if they are included. (Many plans do not need to be amended to reflect these periodic COLAs.)

Like the 2016 RA List (see our Checkpoint article), the 2017 RA List does not identify any qualification changes affecting 401(k) plans. The only changes listed relate to defined benefit plans and cash balance/hybrid plans. Under the new rules that became effective January 1, 2017 (see our Checkpoint article), the remedial amendment deadline for disqualifying provisions resulting from items on the 2017 RA List is December 31, 2019 (or later, for certain governmental plans).

EBIA Comment: Changes in qualification requirements included on the RA List do not necessarily require plan amendments; plan sponsors must determine whether amendments are necessary for their particular plans. As a reminder, the RA List does not apply to discretionary plan amendments, which generally must be adopted by the end of the plan year in which discretionary plan design or operational changes are implemented, except for certain discretionary amendments that must be adopted before they are implemented—for example, amendments relating to elective deferral, safe harbor, and anti-cutback provisions. For more information, see EBIA’s 401(k) Plans manual at Sections IV.B (“Form and Operational Qualification Requirements”), XXVII.F (“Disqualifying Provisions and Remedial Amendments”), and XXVII.G.1 (“Extended Remedial Amendment Periods for Individually Designed Plans Resulting From a Change in Qualification Requirements”).

Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.