Important Update. On June 21, IRS announced the extension of the 8955-SSA deadline to January 17, 2011, for which no Form 58 extension will need to be filed. The announcement is here


The challenges continue for 403(b) plans, as the IRS and DOL continue to implement their plan level rules in the 403(b) space. The most recent: the IRS’s Form 8955-SSA  and instructions for the 2009 plan year, released on June 18th. You will need Adobe X to open them.  It is due to be filed by August 1, with a 2 1/2 month extension permitted if you file a separate Form 5558.

The Form 8955-SSA replaces the old Schedule SSA to the Form 5500, where former employees with vested account balances remaining in the plan are reported.

Prior to 2009, ERISA 403(b) plans (the only 403(b) plans required to file a Form 5500) never had to file a Schedule SSA because the Form 5500 instructions never required them to do so. Curiously enough, it appears that the DOL may never really have had the authority under ERISA Section 110 to waive its filing in prior years because it is required under Code Section 6057(a), not under ERISA. Here’s the language, by the way, from the 2008 5500 instructions:

"403(b) Arrangements: A pension plan or arrangement using a tax deferred annuity arrangement under Code section 403(b)(1) and/or a custodial account for regulated investment company stock under Code section 403(b)(7) as the sole funding vehicle for providing pension benefits need complete only Form 5500, Part I and Part II, lines 1 through 5, and 8 (enter pension feature code 2L, 2M, or both). Note: The administrator of an arrangement described above is not required to engage an independent qualified public accountant, attach an accountant’s opinion to the Form 5500, or attach any schedules to the Form 5500."

Now to the tough part.  For ERISA 403(b) plans for which no SSA has ever been filed, how far back does a 403(b) plan sponsor need to go in reporting past participants? Conni did quite a piece on this for our Thompson Publishing newsletter. She strongly makes the case, with which I concur (but, please, check with your own counsel), that Rev Proc 2007-71 is actually determinative here. Oversimplifyng it, under 2007-71, 403(b) contracts which were issued prior to 1/1/2005, and to which no contributions have been made after 12/31/2004 (but loans, 90-24 transfers and other such things may also come into play), are not considered part of the 403(b) plan.

If you use this as a starting point, it would appear that the plan sponsor may need to go back to the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 plan years, list all terminating participants from those years, and provide that to their current and deselected vendors. Then they will need to find which of those former employees have a current account balance (as of plan year end 2009)-but only if they had made a deposit to those contracts after 2004. And only for those years in which the plan was an ERISA plan. There is a bit more to it as well, as you are really trying to see who you can exclude for 2007-71 purposes.

A caution: the IRS has not taken this positiion on this. What really would be helpful is if the IRS issued relief telling us we only need to report those who left employment after January 1, 2009. 

408(b)(2) also comes into play here.  I had blogged on the "Flushing Effect" of 408(b)(2), where deselected ERISA 403(b) vendors will be required to make disclosures to plan sponsors in order to keep the comp on these contracts. I suspect that a number of employers will be surprised by these disclosures, and be receiving notices on contracts they may not realize exist.  This, in turn, is likely to cause consternation about the data on the 5500 filings in the past-and the new 8955- which then may need to be amended.

Its not getting any easier.  





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