IRS Provides Guidance on 403(b) Plan Terminations

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided clarification on how section 403(b) plan termination provisions apply.

Revenue Ruling 2011-7 spells out four situations in which different plans funded in different ways terminate.  

A § 403(b) plan is permitted to contain provisions that provide for plan termination and that allow accumulated benefits to be distributed on termination. In order for a § 403(b) plan to be considered terminated under §1.403(b)-10(a), all accumulated benefits under the plan must be distributed to all participants and beneficiaries as soon as administratively practicable after termination of the plan.  

The Revenue Ruling says for this purpose, delivery of a fully paid individual insurance annuity contract is treated as a distribution. The mere provision for, and making of, benefit distributions to participants or beneficiaries upon plan termination does not cause a contract to cease to be a § 403(b) contract. 

Section 1.403(b)-7 provides rules regarding the tax treatment of benefit distributions, including §1.403(b)-7(b)(1) under which an eligible rollover distribution is not included in gross income if paid in a direct rollover to an eligible retirement plan or if transferred to an eligible retirement plan within 60 days.  

The IRS also explained that for purposes of the requirement that, after plan termination, the employer make no contributions to any other § 403(b) plan, contributions are made to “another § 403(b) plan” if and only if contributions are made to a § 403(b) contract during the period beginning on the date of plan termination and ending 12 months after distribution of all assets from the terminated plan. However, if at all times during the period beginning 12 months before the termination and ending 12 months after distribution of all assets from the terminated plan, fewer than 2% of the employees who were eligible under the terminating § 403(b) plan as of the date of plan termination are eligible under another § 403(b) plan, that § 403(b) plan is disregarded. 

Revenue Ruling 2011-7 is here.