The IRS imposes different deadlines on preapproved plans (e.g., prototype or volume submitter plans) for submitting determination letter requests depending on whether they are defined benefit (DB) or defined contribution (DC) plans. It imposes different deadlines on individually designed plans (i.e., all other plans) depending on which “cycle” they are assigned to, which depends on the last digit of the plan sponsors EIN and, in some cases, what type of plan they are.

The period for filing determination letter requests for individually designed plans in Cycle D, which includes plans whose sponsors’ EINs end in 4 or 9, plus nongovernmental multiemployer plans), ended on February 1, 2010. The period for filing determination letter requests for individually designed plans in Cycle E, which includes plans whose sponsors’ EINs end in 5 or 0, plus governmental plans that did not file in Cycle C, has just begun and will end on January 31, 2011.

The period for filing determination letter requests for preapproved DC plans will end on April 30, 2010. Companies that plan to adopt such plans also must do so by that date. Although companies that use preapproved plans may rely (with limited exceptions) on the letter that the plan’s sponsor received from the IRS, there still are significant advantages to obtaining an individual determination letter. In particular, if the company ever decides to amend the plan in a way that is not permitted under the preapproved plan document, it will lose that reliance and might have to produce plan documents going back many years in order to obtain a new determination letter.