The Internal Revenue Service has given schools and tax-exempt organizations more time to finish writing their retirement plans.

The deadline was supposed to be the New Year. But the IRS said it is extending the deadline for plan sponsors to adopt new written plans, or amend existing plans, to satisfy the requirement of the final Section 403(b) regulations because of difficulties expressed by numerous plan administrators in meeting the current deadline of Jan. 1, 2009. The extension will give plan sponsors additional time to put their plan documents in place.

The new guidance is for retirement plans covering employees at public schools, colleges and universities, and other tax-exempt organizations. Their retirement plans are often referred to as 403(b) plans after the relevant section in the Tax Code.

The IRS will treat these plans as meeting the requirements of 403(b) and the regulations during the 2009 calendar year if:

* By Dec. 31, 2009, the sponsor of the plan has adopted a written 403(b) plan that is intended to satisfy the requirements of 403(b) and the regulations;

* During 2009, the plan sponsor operates the plan in accordance with a reasonable interpretation of 403(b) and the related regulations; and,

* By the end of 2009, the plan sponsor makes its best effort to retroactively correct any operational failure during the 2009 calendar year to conform to the written plan.

The IRS plans to issue further guidance on 403(b) plans, including a revenue procedure establishing programs for 403(b) plans to obtain IRS approval of the plan document and allowing these plans to make remedial amendments to retroactively fix the plan provisions under rules similar to those that apply to 401(a) qualified plans. 


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