In Rev. Proc. 2017-18, the IRS establishes March 31, 2020, as the last day of the first remedial amendment period for 403(b) plans, which began January 1, 2010 (or on the plan’s effective date if later).

Under final regulations adopted in 2007, most 403(b) plans were required to have a plan document in place by December 31, 2009 (the tax code did not require a written document for 403(b) plans before then). The IRS subsequently announced that it would establish a preapproved program for 403(b) plans. In Rev. Proc. 2013-22, the IRS said there would be a remedial amendment period for all 403(b) plans that would end after the agency issued opinion or advisory letters under the preapproved program.

In contrast, there is no IRS determination letter program for individually designed 403(b) plans. Accordingly, sponsors of individually designed plans must seek out other resources, such as third-party advisors, to determine whether their plan document complies with the tax code and all associated guidance. Reviewers may refer to Rev. Proc. 2007-71 for compliance guidance and model plan language. Although that revenue procedure is directed to public schools, other eligible employers can also use its model language as a sample of provisions that meet IRS requirements.

Without a determination letter, however, sponsors of individually designed plans have no official assurance that the IRS will find their plan document acceptable; hence the need to take extra care to ensure that their plan documents will measure up to IRS standards.