Use of Forfeitures in Qualified Retirement Plans

On February 27, 2023, the IRS and the Department of Treasury published proposed regulations regarding the use of forfeitures in qualified retirement plans. If finalized, the proposed rule will be effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2024. However, plans may rely on the proposed regulations now.

Defined Contribution Plans

In 2010, the IRS informally stated that forfeitures could not be unallocated for longer than the year in which the forfeiture occurred, or in certain situations, by the end of the following year. The proposed rule formalizes this previously issued informal guidance and gives a deadline for defined contribution plans: to avoid an operational qualification failure, forfeitures must be used within 12 months following the close of the plan year in which the forfeiture occurs.

Additionally, the proposed rule outlines the allowed uses of the forfeitures, including: to pay for plan administrative expenses; to reduce employer contributions under the plan; or to increase benefits in other participants’ accounts in accordance with plan terms.

The proposed rule includes a transition rule for forfeitures that occur during a plan year that begins before January 1, 2024. Such forfeitures will be treated as having occurred in the first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2024. This means they will have to be used within 12 months of the end of the 2024 plan year.

Defined Benefit Plans

Currently, defined benefit plans cannot use forfeitures to increase participant benefits and must be used as soon as possible to reduce employer plan contributions. The proposed rule removes the second requirement, leaving only the rule that forfeitures may not be used to increase participant benefits.

Additionally, the proposed rule allows for forfeitures to be used as part of the plan’s minimum funding actuarial assumptions.

If you have questions regarding how the proposed rule may affect your benefit plans, please contact a member of the Faegre Drinker Benefits & Executive Compensation team.

The material contained in this communication is informational, general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. The material contained in this communication should not be relied upon or used without consulting a lawyer to consider your specific circumstances. This communication was published on the date specified and may not include any changes in the topics, laws, rules or regulations covered. Receipt of this communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this communication may be considered attorney advertising.

About Author: Karen Gelula

Karen Gelula counsels public and private companies across industry sectors on all types of employee benefits and executive compensation matters. She advises clients on the design, operation, governance and compliance of qualified retirement plans, and seeks to ensure that employers’ health and welfare benefits plans comply with all applicable federal and state laws, and associated regulations. View all posts by and

About Author: Inés Sosa

Inés Sosa counsels employee benefit plans on all aspects of the law. She utilizes her experience to assist clients in plan design, regulatory compliance and legal issues relating to plan investments. Inés assists clients in understanding ERISA law, tax law and employment law. View all posts by and

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