Yet again, the end of the year is rapidly approaching! To avoid costly penalties that can arise from inadvertent errors in the year-end crush, plan sponsors should begin talking with their service providers now about what must be done before December 31, 2019.
Retirement Plan Disclosures
As a quick reference, following is a list of common year-end disclosure requirements for retirement plans:
- 401(k) safe harbor notice – must be distributed to participants 30-90 days prior to the beginning of each plan year for plans relying on safe harbor rules; by December 1, 2019 for calendar-year plans. The same deadline applies to traditional safe harbor plans and qualified automatic contribution arrangement (QACA) safe harbor plans.
- Automatic contribution arrangement (ACA) notice – must be distributed to participants 30-90 days prior to the beginning of each plan year; by December 1, 2019 for calendar year plans. The same deadline applies to plans with plain ACAs and eligible automatic contribution arrangements (EACAs).
- Qualified default investment arrangement (QDIA) notice – must be distributed to participants 30-90 days prior to the beginning of each plan year; by December 1, 2019 for calendar year plans.
- Annual participant fee disclosure documents – ERISA plans must provide an annual fee disclosure at least once in each 14-month period. If you distributed the fee notice with your other notices toward the end of last year, plan to do so again this year.
- Summary annual report (SAR) – ERISA-covered defined contribution plans must provide the SAR to participants within nine months of the end of the plan year or two months after the Form 5500 filing deadline. For calendar year plans, this generally means the SAR is due September 30 if the Form 5500 was not extended or December 15 if the Form 5500 was extended. December 15 falls on a Sunday this year, so sponsors technically have until December 16 to distribute the SAR.
Keep in mind that vendor-prepared and distributed notices are often computer-generated and may not accurately reflect special features of your plan (particularly if you use an individually designed plan or have any special addenda for your preapproved plan). Ineffective or incorrect notices may result in confusion among your participants as well as errors and penalties. Be sure to review all notices carefully and address any concerns or questions with your benefits counsel.