The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced that it is requesting comments on the possible expansion of its favorable determination letter program for individually designed plans. Specifically, the IRS is interested in public input on circumstances it should consider in its decision to accept applications for favorable determination involving amended plans, or types of plan amendments, during calendar year 2019. Currently, the IRS only accepts applications for rulings on initial plan qualification or qualification on termination.

Background

Effective January 1, 2017, the IRS eliminated the staggered approach to accepting applications for favorable determination where such applications were accepted in a calendar year for plans in that year’s filing cycle. A plan’s filing cycle was based on the last digit of its sponsor’s employer identification number, and the cycles were identified as Cycles A through E. This elimination effectively terminated the favorable determination letter program for ongoing plans, though the program continued for plans where initial qualification or qualification on termination was sought.

The IRS stated that each year, it would consider whether to accept applications for ongoing plans under specific circumstances, including where plans have been impacted by significant law changes and/or new approaches to plan design, or where plans cannot be converted to a prototype platform. However, the IRS stipulated that its caseload and available resources would play a significant role in whether and when to so expand the determination letter program.

Comment period

Comments to the IRS must be submitted in writing on or before June 4, 2018. Comments that suggest expanding the determination letter program for a particular type of plan should state the type of plan and the applicable issues that would justify review. These issues could include specific plan features and special plan designs and/or unresolved questions of qualification in form for the type of plan at issue.

There are several ways to submit comments:

  • Mail comments to Internal Revenue Service, CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2018-24), Room 5203, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044.
  • Email comments to notice.comments@irscounsel.treas.gov. Include “Notice 2018-24” in the subject line.
  • Hand deliver comments (Monday–Friday, 8:00 am–4:00 pm) to CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2018-24), Courier’s Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC.

All comments will be available for public inspection and copying.

The IRS and the US Department of the Treasury will issue guidance if they decide to expand the program for the 2019 calendar year.