The Internal Revenue Service has recently been auditing 412(i) defined-benefit pension plans.They are seeking substantial taxes and penalties from what they characterize as "abusive plans," but they do not regard all 412(i) plans as necessarily abusive. A properly structured and administered 412(i) plan can be an invaluable tax reduction tool for a business, but care must be taken.

In addition, the IRS is stepping up its examinations of companies' retirement plans this year, aiming to catch those that are cheating their workers or the government, and to ensure that the plans meet federal regulations. The offerings to be examined include traditional pensions, 401(k)s and profit-sharing plans.

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