IRS Preps for Changes to Determination Letter Program

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By Kristen Ricaurte Knebel

Oct. 1 — The Internal Revenue Service's Employee Plans group will spend the majority of 2016 transitioning its determination letter program, which will no longer provide determination letters for amended, individually designed plans beginning in 2017, an agency official said.

Working on the change will require a lot of heavy lifting “for our plan folks,” Sunita B. Lough, Commissioner of IRS's Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, said during an Oct. 1 call with reporters.

The IRS officially announced the forthcoming change in its determination letter program in Announcement 2015-19, citing a need to focus limited resources (140 PBD, 7/22/15).

In addition to working on the changes to the determination letter program, Employee Plans will continue to focus on examinations in 2016, developing and maintaining “a comprehensive collection of enforcement mechanisms that identify and focus efforts on addressing retirement plan noncompliance,” according to a document released Oct. 1 describing TE/GE's fiscal year 2016 priorities.

Employee Plans also will focus on its specialty programs in the areas of multiemployer plans, along with 403(b) and 457(b) plans, because “they have a historical pattern of noncompliance and also allow for greater coverage of the retirement plan participant universe,” the agency said.

The Employee Plans Compliance Unit expects to have several new compliance check projects in 2016, the agency said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Ricaurte Knebel in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at