Effective January 1, 2017, the IRS will begin publishing annual Required Amendments List (“RA List”) in lieu of the Cumulative List of amendments that previously applied to qualified retirement plans. An RA List is intended to include statutory and administrative qualification requirements that are first effective during the plan year in which the RA List is published. Generally, plans subject to the requirements of the RA List must be amended before the end of the second calendar following issuance of the RA List (the “Remedial Amendment Period”).
The IRS issued the first RA List in early December 2016, which includes a single amendment applicable only to certain defined benefit plans. Therefore, sponsors of qualified defined benefit plans affected by the 2016 RA List must adopt the required amendment no later than December 31, 2018.
The RA List is divided into two parts. Part A lists changes in qualification requirements that would require an amendment to most plans or to most plans of the type affected by the change. Part B lists changes in qualification requirements that the IRS anticipates will not require an amendment to most plans, unless the requirement applies to an “unusual” provision in a particular plan.
An RA List is not intended to include: (1) statutory changes in qualification requirements for which the Treasury Department and the IRS expect to issue guidance (which could be included on a future RA List); (2) changes in qualification requirements that permit (but do not require) optional plan provisions; or (3) changes in the tax laws affecting qualified plans that do not change the qualification requirements under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, such as changes to the tax treatment of plan distributions.
Employers/plan sponsors should therefore refer to an RA List as initial guidance in determining whether any amendments are required and must undertake a more extensive review of their plan's provisions in the context of existing regulations. It is possible an amendment listed on a RA List may not apply to your particular plan.
Contact the attorneys at Butterfield Schechter LLP for more information about the 2016 and future RA Lists and how they may affect your plan.