30 March 2020

IRS Extends Amendment Deadlines for 403(b) Plans and Pre-Approved Defined Benefit Plans

***Information and guidance in client updates was up to date at time of publication. During the pandemic, information and guidance has been changing rapidly. If you have any questions about the information contained in a client update, please contact the author(s) or your Miller Johnson attorney.***

On March 27, 2020, the IRS announced that it is extending two rapidly approaching deadlines in light of the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Under the announcement, plan sponsors now have until June 30, 2020 (rather than March 31, 2020) to amend their 403(b) plans to comply with final regulations issued in 2007.  Also, sponsors of defined benefit pension plans now have until July 31, 2020 (rather than April 30, 2020) to adopt a pre-approved plan for the second remedial amendment cycle.

Remedial Amendment Deadline Extended for 403(b) Plans

In 2013, the IRS announced a process by which service providers (including law firms) could obtain IRS approval of the form of their 403(b) plan documents.  For example, Miller Johnson has an IRS-approved 403(b) plan that many of our clients use.  In the Revenue Procedure establishing this initial approval process, the IRS indicated that it would give all plan sponsors, including sponsors of individually-designed 403(b) plans, additional time to retroactively correct any defects in their plan documents under final regulations issued in 2007.  Four years later, in Revenue Procedure 2017-18, the IRS finally announced that this “remedial amendment” period for retroactively correcting plan documents would expire on March 31, 2020.  Under the IRS’s recent announcement, the March 31, 2020 deadline is delayed until June 30, 2020.

Deadline Extended for Adopting a Pre-Approved Defined Benefit Plan

Since 2007, sponsors of pre-approved defined benefit plans have submitted their form plan documents to the IRS for approval under a six-year remedial amendment cycle.  This process generally requires sponsors to submit their plans to the IRS by a certain deadline, and the IRS then takes approximately two years to review the submitted plans.  After the IRS finishes its review and issues approval letters to plan sponsors, it also gives employers a deadline for adopting an approved plan document.  The IRS’s announcement affects the last step in this process – the deadline for employers to adopt a pre-approved defined benefit plan.

Before the IRS’s recent announcement, employers had until April 30, 2020 to adopt a pre-approved plan for the current cycle.  Under the IRS’s announcement, Employers now have until July 31, 2020 to adopt a pre-approved defined benefit plan.


These deadline extensions provide welcome relief to human resources departments that have already shifted their priorities to critical workforce planning and health and safety demands resulting from the pandemic.

The IRS’s March 27, 2020 announcement is available on its website.  If you have any questions about these new deadlines, please contact any member of Miller Johnson’s Employee Benefits practice group.