The IRS soon will send out questionnaires to about 1,200 401(k) plan sponsors as part of a project to provide the agency with information on a wide range of issues.
Among the 69 questions the IRS is asking are:
• What was the average contribution — as a percentage of salary — made by highly and non-highly compensated employees in 2006, 2007 and 2008?
• Does the plan permit participants to take loans?
• How frequently are participants required to make loan repayments?
• For what situations does the plan permit hardship distributions?
• How often can participants change the percentage of salary contributed to the plan?
• Does the plan have an automatic contribution feature?
The IRS says it is conducting the survey to “determine potential compliance issues” as well as to help it decide where to focus enforcement efforts.
A previous IRS study found that 401(k) plans are the “most non-compliant plan type in the retirement plan universe.” Since 401(k) plans have become the dominant employment-based retirement plan, “it is important to the future of the private retirement system these plans maintain the highest level of compliance possible,” the IRS said in a preface to the questionnaire.
Jerry Geisel is editor-at-large at Business Insurance, a sister publication of Pensions & Investments.