Business of Benefits

Business of Benefits

Category Archives: 403(b)

Subscribe to 403(b) RSS Feed

Ignore Those Form 5500 Instructions: 403(b) Plans DO NOT Use Form 5330 For Late Deposits

Posted in 403(b), Complex Prohibited Transactions
One of the continuing confusions in how 401(a) rules apply to 403(b) plan  involves the reporting rules related to the correction and reporting on the 5500 of one of the most common errors in any elective deferral plan: the late deposit of those deferrals into the plan.  Neither non-ERISA or ERISA 403(b) will ever file a Form 5330. Ever. Even when the VFCP program is being used to correct the late deposit. Adding to the confusion is that the Form 5500 instructions do not differentiate between 403(b) plans and 401(a) plans. It simply states that  all "defined contribution" plans need to file the Form 5330 for late deposits, and pay the penalty tax. … Continue Reading

A 403(b) “Pseudomorph”: The IRS’s Gradual Shift On Applying 415 Limits to 403(b) Plans

Posted in 403(b)
There is a little noticed change in the IRS’s recent update of Publication 571 (which is the IRS’s 403(b) technical guide). In a highlighted box on page 4 is the following, under how the limits on “annual additions”-otherwise known as the 415 limits- apply: "More than one 403(b) account. If you contributed to more than one 403(b) account, you must combine the contributions made to all 403(b) accounts maintained by your employer. If you participate in more than one 403(b) plan maintained by different employers, you don’t need to aggregate for annual addition limits." This innocuous seeming statement is actually pretty outstanding, finalizing a quiet morphing over a generation of the way the IRS applies a regulation in a way we rarely see.… Continue Reading

The IRS Has a 403(b) MEP Problem

Posted in 403(b), Multiple Employer Plans
A 403(b) MEP is really complicated when you get down to it because-like anything 403(b), it seems-of the devil that exists in the details.  For example, besides  having to deal with the DOL 2012 Advisory Opinion on all MEPs; and  the fact that the Tax Code Section governing 401(a) MEPS does not apply to 403(b) plans (which means you can never really have a 403(b) MEP for tax purposes); and that the ERISA Section governing all ERISA MEPs (including 403(b) MEPs) requires compliance with that Tax Code Section which doesn’t cover 403(b) MEPS; you still have to deal with the complications of dealing with those legacy contracts of the various participating employers in the MEP. Then there is the issue of dealing with those combination of ERISA and non-ERISA 403(b) plans commonly sponsored by a 403(b)participating employer. These require use of traditional state law agency rules to make them work.… Continue Reading

Spousal Consent/J&S Issues Under 403(b) Plans May Trigger Document Conflicts

Posted in 403(b)
The application of the Spousal Consent and Joint and Survivor Annuity rules is one such issue which we need to consider. In the 401(a) space, dealing with this issue is pretty straightforward. The rules apply uniformly to all 401(a) plans through 401(a)(11) and 417, which is well coordinated with ERISA’s requirements under Section 205. As long as the default form of benefit under the plan is not a J&S benefit; and the spouse is entitled to the survivor benefits upon the participant’s death unless the spouse consents otherwise; the rules are met. If, however, the plan is a money purchase plan, or holds money transferred in from a money purchase plan or a defined benefit plan, or the plan’s default distribution is an annuity payment, the spouse must consent to a lump sum distribution-or even to a loan. Many will remember the efforts we went through years ago cleansing those annuity payment requirements from plans and products, just so no spousal consent would be required for lump sum distributions or loans. Now, though, we have to deal with documenting these rules as they apply to 403(b) plans. Its not so simple… Continue Reading

Mitigating Factors in Calculating a 403(b) Plan’s Maximum Payment Amount under CAP: “Inside Build-Up,” Partial Failures, and Non-Deductibility

Posted in 403(b), Plan Administration
But it’s interesting to see the effect on a 403(b) plan going through the edit CAP process: There is no tax exempt trust here that is enjoying 501(a) tax exempt treatment; the employer is a tax-exempt entity; and, though the individual will suffer taxation, the amount of which should be included in the MPA, there are a couple of important factors which come into play here.… Continue Reading

403(b) Document Delays; the “Once In Always In” Rule; and the “Effective Date Addendum”

Posted in 403(b), Plan Administration
One of the roots of the problem is what the IRS generally refers to as the “once in, always in” rule of 403(b)’s “universal availability” requirement. “Once in, always in” refers to the IRS position that once an employee has become eligible to make elective deferrals into the plan by reaching the 1000-hour benchmark in one year, that employee will remain eligible to make elective deferrals in future years-even in years where that employee does not complete 1000 hours of service. That person can only lose that ability to defer if they become part of one of those limited categories of employees which can be excluded (such as certain students).… Continue Reading

How to Do a 403(b) Collective Trust: “Reverse-Engineering” the University of California 403(b) CIT

Posted in 403(b)
The University of California made news when it announced that it has found a way to apply the collective trust rules in such a way to make just such an offering to its 403(b) plan. The downside to this is that it still does not "crack the nut" to make CIT's available on a bulk basis as 81-100 trusts for unrelated employers. But it still is an interesting tool. It appears they could have done the following. Make sure you have a copy of your US Code handy (or at least you've pulled up the Cornell's on-line US Code tool). Its complicated.… Continue Reading

IRS’s New 401(k) Pre-Approved Document Rules Suggests a Path To Address 403(b) Document Challenges

Posted in 403(b)
One of the more difficult rules that the IRS has imposed on the 403(b) market in recent years is the complete ban on issuing determination letters on individually designed 403(b) plan documents, under any circumstance. But buried in Rev Proc 2017-41 is something we have been looking for in the 403(b) space, which actually would help alleviate some of the concerns document drafters have with these long-standing plans. … Continue Reading

Managing Critical 403(b) Issues through Proper Allocation of 3(16) and 3(21) Fiduciary Responsibility

Posted in 403(b), Fiduciary Issues, Multiple Employer Plans
The complex nature of handling 403(b) plans-and, in particular, the unique manner in which the fiduciary rules apply to them-make these plans uniquely suited to customized fiduciary services. It is well beyond the skill set of many 501(c)(3) organizations to make sense of their often complicated 403(b) programs, and to put them into some kind of sensical order. This must be done all the while applying a number of rules intended for the 401(k) market (with their centralized recordkeeping systems) in a plan which may have significant assets held by multiple vendors under a variety of contracts with differing terms. … Continue Reading

403(b)’s “Limitation Year” Rules Demonstrate their “Individual” Nature-and Their Potential Value of the Universal Platform of the Future

Posted in 403(b), Plan Administration
The 403(b) limitation year is determined on a person by person basis, it is not a plan wide rule. Only the individual can change the limitation year, and only for its contracts. To change the year, the individual must attach a statement to his or her income tax return filed for the taxable year in which the change is made. To change a plan's limitation year, the administrator would need each employee to make that 1040 filing.… Continue Reading

Correcting the “best guesses” on 403(b) Plan terms by using the first 403(b) Remedial Amendment Period under Rev Proc 2017-18

Posted in 403(b)
The IRS decided to handle this "best guess" period by announcing that any 403(b) document could be corrected under a new, special 403(b) Remedial Amendment Program, by that new RAP's end date. It announced that the beginning of the RAP was the required adoption date for 403(b) plan documents (generally, January 1, 2010). The end of the RAP would be announced once the IRS approves its first set of pre-approved 403(b) documents. Once those first pre-approved documents are released, the IRS promised to announce the "end date." It has now done that, with Rev Proc 2017-18 announcement of March 31, 2020 as the end of the RAP-which also suggest that the pre-approved documents will be released by that date. … Continue Reading

A Potential Impact of the 403(b) University Lawsuits on 401(k) Self Directed Brokerage Accounts

Posted in 403(b), Fiduciary Issues
There is a potential impact of the 403(b) University Lawsuits on the ability of 401(k) plans to maintain self-directed brokerage accounts. These 403(b) plans, with their wide variety of investments which are subject only to the control of the participants, are essentially structured in the same manner as SBDAs (without many of the security law protections that are given 403(b) participants). Should the plaintiffs succeed in their calms that it was imprudent to permit employees the ability to invest in a wide range of securities without fiduciary oversight, this may well be the death knell of SBDAs.… Continue Reading

Auditing Distributed 403(b) (and 401(a)) Contracts

Posted in 403(b), Lifetime Income, Plan Administration
How do you audit a 403(b) in-kind distribution? There is no financial transaction, no cash changes hands, there is no change in investments. It really is only a nominal change in the records of the insurer. Yet, somehow, GAAP requires that the "transaction" be verified. There is no answer, yet, to this question, which means the industries (that is, auditors, insurers, and lawyers) will be pressed for finding a standardized approach for bringing audit certainty to this process. It even becomes a bigger issue than 403(b)s: QLACs and other distributed annuity contracts are all able to be distributed as "in-kind" distributions from 401(a) plans as well, and there is no acceptable "recordkeeping" method to audit.… Continue Reading

403(b) and the Fiduciary Rule

Posted in 403(b), Fiduciary Issues
As in all things 403(b), it seems, retirement rules of generally applicability take unusual twists when applied to 403(b)plans. The DOL's fiduciary rule is not saved from that same problem. A close look reveals interesting twists in the manner in which the rule affects (or doesn't at all!) 403(b) plans, which simply do not apply to other participant directed defined contribution plans.… Continue Reading

A 403(b) Collective Trust? A Note of Caution…..

Posted in 403(b), B/D-IA Issues
Two issues need to be addressed with a 403(b) plan's purchase of the collective trust interests of the sort that are typically sold to 401(k) plans: Code Section 403(b) only permits investments in mutual funds and annuity contracts. The CIT interests purchased by 401(a) plans, however, are typically "unitized" non-mutual fund interests. Even if one could overcome the legal and logistical challenges to making them work for the IRS 403(b) rules, there is a serious securities law problem. … Continue Reading

Fiduciary Liability for 403(b) Non-ERISA Plans?

Posted in 403(b), Fiduciary Issues
In what appears to be one of the first reported appeals court cases involving school district liability under state law related to a wrongfully administered 403(b) plan a Wisconsin court found was that an action alleging a failure to exercise ordinary care in the administration of a 403(b) plan, if proven, could be a fiduciary breach under state law. This breach then may entitle the participants relief in state court. … Continue Reading

State Auto-IRAs and Federal Law: “We’ve already stepped on that rake…..”

Posted in 403(b), Auto-IRA, Automatic Workplace Pension, B/D-IA Issues, Lifetime Income, Retirement Plan Securities Issues, Uncategorized
Chuck Thulin, a fine ERISA attorney from Seattle, WA, chaired the DOL practitioner panel at the latest (and very successful) annual meeting of the 5 regional TE/GE Councils, in Baltimore.  When I commented that we’d  “been there, done that” when discussing some obscure rule,  he told me of reading of the Russian language version of that… Continue Reading

Trouble Ahead for the Non-ERISA 403(b) Plan*

Posted in 403(b)
* Except,of course for governmental 403(b) plans and non electing churches…… It is difficult to maintain the non-ERISA status of a 403(b) arrangement. Those who wish to do so really have to work at it, with the irony being that “working at it” just may be what triggers ERISA status for those plans. In essence,… Continue Reading

Rome was not built in a day… build internal controls one step at a time

Posted in 403(b)
After many years of wading through a variety of retirement plan platforms and services, I can honestly say “I will never stop being fascinated”.  I do believe, with 100% certainty, that I will never be able to anticipate every possible compliance issue.    However, with as much certainty, I can say “processes, procedures and effective internal… Continue Reading
.