IRS releases the 2018 Required Amendments List for qualified retirement plans

Tax Hot Topics newsletterThe IRS recently issued the 2018 Required Amendments (RA) List for qualified retirement plans in Notice 2018-91. In connection with the elimination of the five-year staggered remedial amendment cycles effective Jan. 1, 2017 (see Rev. Proc. 2016-37), the IRS changed the timing rules for adopting amendments to existing individually designed plans, particularly for required amendments. The deadline for required amendments is now based on the RA List, which is published annually by the IRS.

If an item appears on the RA List for a particular year, the plan sponsor must adopt any amendments needed to conform to the item no later than the end of the second calendar year beginning after the item first appears on the list (this timing rule also applies to non-calendar year plans). For example, an amendment required by the 2017 RA List generally must be adopted by the end of the 2019 calendar year (regardless of the plan year).
The first RA List, issued in 2016, was published in Notice 2016-80, and contained just one item – a potential amendment to reflect the bankruptcy-related change made by the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (HATFA) that some collectively bargained pension plans might need by the end of 2018. The second RA List was published in Notice 2017-72 and contained three items, which plans may need to adopt by the end of 2019.

The 2018 RA List does not include any items, and therefore, there will not be any required amendments due by the end of 2020. However, plan sponsors making optional plan design changes (those not required by a change in the law) generally must adopt conforming amendments by the last day of the plan year in which the changes take effect, and in some case earlier (for example, to comply with anti-cutback restrictions). Thus, if a plan sponsor of a calendar-year individually designed plan made an optional change in 2018, a conforming amendment would have to be adopted by the end of 2018 (or possibly earlier in certain cases).

Jeff Martin
Washington National Tax Office
T +1 202 521 1526

Keith Mong
Managing Director
Washington National Tax Office
T +1 202 521 1554

James Sanchez
Senior Associate
Washington National Tax Office
T +1 202 861 4107

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