ARA Pushes for Plan Filing Relief Due to Coronavirus Impact

BY TED GODBOUT – ASPPA

Considering the ongoing and future business impacts of the coronavirus, the American Retirement Association asked the Treasury and DOL for relief from certain retirement plan filing deadlines.

“The American Retirement Association is writing to request relief from certain provisions under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA due to ongoing and future business impacts of the current COVID-19 (‘Coronavirus’) pandemic,” the organization states in a March 16 letter to Carol Weiser, Benefits Tax Counsel with the Department of Treasury, and Preston Rutledge, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

In particular, the ARA is asking for:

  • An automatic extension to October 15 for filing of the Form 5500 series for retirement plans with calendar year plan years (with corresponding extensions for non-calendar year plan years).
  • A 90-day extension to the deadline for correcting a failed ADP or ACP test and a 90-day extension of the period for distributing excess contributions and excess aggregate contributions under a plan (March 15 for a calendar year plan year) without incurring a 10% tax under Code Section 4979 for distributions after the statutory deadline.
  • A 120-day extension of the defined benefit plan restatement deadline (currently April 30, 2020).
  • A 90-day extension of the 1099-R e-filing deadline for employers (normally March 31, 2020).
  • Reasonable relief from notices required to be provided to plan participants under Title I of ERISA.

The letter observes that the Treasury Department, IRS and Labor Department have been very responsive in times of national emergencies and that these issues are within the scope of the agencies’ regulatory authority. Among other things, the letter notes that the IRS has broad regulatory authority under Code Section 7508A and the disaster relief provisions in Rev. Proc. 2018-58.

“We believe this authority has been triggered by the Presidential declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020. It would be helpful for IRS and the Treasury Department to confirm this in published guidance,” says the letter from ARA CEO Brian Graff and American Society of Enrolled Actuaries (ASEA) Executive Director Martin Pippins. Over the past several years, the Treasury Department and DOL have granted similar relief on account of various hurricanes, wildfires and floods.

“ARA looks forward to working with the agencies as necessary to provide relief to plan sponsors and third-party administrators as well as plan participants,” the letter concludes.

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