Remember the tag line from the old commercial starring Bill Cosby? “There's always room for Jell-O.”
Well, in the retirement world, the equivalent appears to be, “There's always room for more explanations about 403(b) plans.”
The latest entrant in the how-to-figure-out-the-new-rules and the Form 5500 is none other than the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration, which just posted on its website a detailed question-and-answer format about the intricacies of the 403(b) plans, http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/regs/fab2010-1.html.
Several of the 18 questions on the website are longer than the answers for a subject that some plan sponsors and administrators say is as difficult to pin down as Jell-O (Pensions & Investments, Feb. 22).
The latest information from the Labor Department is called a field assistance bulletin — something the department prepares when it gets requests from employees, Gloria Della, a DOL spokeswoman said in an interview. “We do this because it is helpful to our field investigators,” Ms. Della said, adding that such bulletins cover many subjects and are occasionally posted for the public. In the case of 403(b) rules and Form 5500, “we decided to share our enforcement guidance with the whole retirement benefits community.”
The DOL also has created a new website http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/403b.html that contains other field assistance bulletins about 403(b) plans as well as information about electronic filing and Internal Revenue Service rules governing 403(b) plans. There's even a toll-free Form 5500 help desk number: 866-463-3278. — Robert Steyer