Final Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) regulations, which became effective January 1, 2009, require that plan sponsors adopt written 403(b) Plan documents. A 403(b) Plan is a form of defined contribution retirement plan that may only be offered by employers that are tax-exempt entities under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or that are public educational organizations and for the benefit of certain clergy members. If a 403(b) Plan sponsor did not adopt a written plan document by December 31, 2009, the sponsor’s 403(b) plan is technically no longer considered to be a qualified tax-deferred retirement plan as of January 1, 2009. The benefit of correcting the written document failure is that all money that has been contributed to the 403(b) Plan will remain tax-deferred and that all investments under the 403(b) Plan will retain their tax-favored status.
To help 403(b) Plan sponsors voluntarily correct any plan document errors, the IRS recently updated its Employee Plans Compliance Resolutions System (referred to as EPCRS). Plan document errors are cured through the voluntary correction program (referred to as VCP) by having the 403(b) Plan sponsor adopt a written plan document that complies with the final regulations, make a VCP submission, and pay a compliance fee based on the number of employees eligible to participate in the 403(b) Plan. To simplify this procedure, the IRS has made available a 403(b) VCP Submission Kit [http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Correcting-Plan-Errors—VCP-Submission-Kits], and to encourage 403(b) Plan sponsors to take advantage of this program, the IRS has reduced the compliance fee by 50% if the VCP filing is made by December 31, 2013.