IRS adds flexibility to rollover timing

Moen-AlexOn August 24, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Rev. Proc. 2016-47, allowing quicker and easier relief of the existing 60-day rollover rule for retirement plans, including 403(b) and governmental 457 plans and IRAs. In the past, under Rev. Proc. 2003-16, an individual had to submit for a private letter ruling requesting a waiver of the 60-day rule and await a response before proceeding with the rollover. The request for waiver via private letter ruling from the IRS is not free; in 2016, an individual may be required to pay up to $10,000 for the waiver. Under Rev. Proc. 2016-47, an individual can proceed with the rollover, at no cost, as long as he or she self-certifies the reason for the delay.

The revenue procedure provides a sample letter that can be supplied to the plan administrator or financial institution, and allows an individual to submit a request for waiver as long as the IRS has not already issued a denial. There are 11 acceptable reasons for waiver of the 60-day rule, including:

• The financial institution made mistakes or did not supply needed information when requested
• A lost check or postal service errors
• An IRS levy
• The check was deposited into an account incorrectly believed to be a retirement plan or IRA
• Personal reasons: family death or illness/disability, natural disaster, incarceration, or foreign country restrictions

If none of the above situations apply, a person can still use the old private letter ruling process to request relief.

As expected, there are timing conditions associated with the self-certification. An individual must complete the rollover contribution “as soon as practicable” after the reasons that caused the delay in the first place are no longer present. The revenue procedure refers to this as the 30-day safe harbor.

What happens if it is discovered during an IRS audit that the waiver is not accepted? The individual would receive additional income and be required to pay the taxes and, potentially, penalties.

This new rule reduces the burden on plan administrators, trustees, and custodians to verify the legality of the rollover. In addition, the ruling simplifies procedures for the individual because the rollover can be processed efficiently, without having to wait for an IRS review of the situation and response letter.

Plan sponsors, you may be wondering if there is any action you need to take, or if this is even relevant to you. The answer is no. This is simply for your reference in case a participant asks whether the 60-day rollover rule has any exceptions. I’ve found that with some of our smaller clients, plan sponsors receive a variety of questions and become more involved in assisting participants with the distribution process. You may get a question about this new Rev. Proc. from a participant and after reading this, hopefully, you are more equipped to assist them.

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