IRS Revises Retirement Plan Checkup

By John Iekel • January 18, 2018 • 0 Comments

The IRS has issued a revised version of its comprehensive brochure on the retirement plan checkup material it makes available for plan sponsors.


The IRS offers these tips:

Watch for law changes. Keep a plan up-to-date with the law and be mindful of what to change in the plan and when to do so. A plan audit and review may be useful in this exercise.

Perform periodic reviews of your plan. The IRS cautions that changes that are made to a business can result in unexpected changes in how a plan operates. It suggests that period reviews of a plan may be especially useful since they can identify an error before it can become something difficult and expensive to fix.

Get an independent reviewer to check your plan. An independent reviewer may see something that has been overlooked by others, which could save you and your employees money, and may improve benefits.


The IRS reminds that it makes checklists available for a variety of retirement plans. It cautions, however, that while they are useful. the checklists do not cover all plan requirements and therefore are not a means to a complete plan review.

The checklists it makes available include:

  • Publication 4284, SIMPLE IRA Plan Checklist

  • Publication 4285, SEP Checklist

  • Publication 4286, SARSEP Checklist

  • Publication 4531, 401(k) Plan Checklist

  • Publication 4546, 403(b) Plan Checklist

The IRS also suggests questions a plan can ask itself:

  • Has your plan document been updated within the past few years to reflect recent law changes?

  • Are the plan’s operations based on the plan document’s terms?

  • Are all eligible employees participating in the plan?


The IRS reminds that it makes the following materials available at

  • Publication 560, Retirement Plans for Small Business (SEP, SIMPLE, and Qualified Plans)

  • Publication 3998, Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business

  • Publication 4222, 401(k) Plans for Small Businesses

  • Publication 4333, SEP Retirement Plans for Small Businesses

  • Publication 4334, SIMPLE IRA Plans for Small Businesses

  • Publication 4336, SARSEP for Small Businesses

  • Publication 4483, 403(b) Tax-Sheltered Annuities for Sponsors

  • Publication 4484, Choose a Retirement Plan

Errors and Correcting Them

The IRS notes that common mistakes it finds in retirement plan examinations include:

  • not covering the proper employees;

  • not giving employees required information;

  • not depositing employee deferrals on time;

  • not depositing employer contributions on time;

  • not following the terms of the plan document; and

  • not limiting employee deferrals and employer contributions to the proper maximum limits.

The IRS also provides an overview of correction programs it offers and a reminder that it offers
retirement plans assistance in staying in compliance.

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