IRS Calls for Comment on PPA In-Service Payout Provision

Federal regulators have turned to the public for comment on how to formulate guidance on “phased retirement″ in-service plan distributions as provided for by the Pension Protection Act (PPA).
In Notice 2007-8, the US Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requested the input about Section 401(a)(36), which was added by the PPA’s Section 905(b).

According to the PPA, for plan years beginning after December 31, 2006, “a pension plan does not fail to qualify under §401(a) solely because the plan provides that a distribution may be made to an employee who has attained age 62 and who has not separated from employment at the time of the distribution,” the notice stated.

The regulators are asking for comments on a series of issues relating to Section 401(a)(36), including:
  • whether an in-service distribution to a participant who is at least age 62, but not yet the normal retirement age, should be capped at the actuarial equivalent of the normal retirement age benefit;
  • how to characterize subsidized benefits that are distributed to a participant who has attained age 62, but still is in-service and younger than normal retirement age, for purposes of Section 411; and
  • whether final regulations permitting in-service distributions at age 62, under a bona fide phased retirement program, still are needed given the ability of plans to permit such distributions under the newly enacted section.
Regulators first proposed the idea of a phased retirement in November 2004 with suggested regulations that would allow a qualified pension plan to make in-service distributions before normal retirement age under a bona fide phased retirement program.

The latest IRS notice said written comments are due by April 16, 2007, and should be sent to: CC:PA:LPD:DRU (Notice 2007-8), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, POB 7604 Ben Franklin Station, Washington, D.C. 20044.

Comments may be hand delivered between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to the courier’s desk at IRS Building and marked: Attn: CC:PA:LPD:DRU (Notice 2007-8), 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. Comments also may be submitted via the Internet at (Notice 2007-8).

Text of the latest notice is here. More information about the tax implications of PPA’s new provisions is here.