IRS Establishes Program for Pre-Approved 403(b) Plans

April 1, 2013 ( – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has moved forward with a program for pre-approved § 403(b) plan documents.

Revenue Procedure 2013-22 establishes a program for the pre-approval of § 403(b) plans. This program offers employers that maintain a § 403(b) plan an alternative to adopting an individually designed plan in order to satisfy the written plan requirement of the 2007 regulations. Under this program, the IRS will issue an opinion or advisory letter as to whether the form of a § 403(b) prototype plan or a § 403(b) volume submitter plan, respectively, meets the requirements of § 403(b).   

An employer may satisfy the written plan requirement and obtain assurance that its plan meets the requirements of § 403(b) by adopting a plan that has received an opinion or advisory letter under this program.   

The program described in this revenue procedure is similar in many respects to the IRS’ pre-approved plan program for plans qualified under § 401(a). However, unlike the pre-approved plan program for qualified plans, in which adopting employers may be able to obtain individual determination letters under certain circumstances, the IRS is not establishing a determination letter program for § 403(b) plans at this time and an employer who adopts a pre-approved § 403(b) plan will not be able to apply for an individual determination letter for the plan.

The extent of the adopting employer’s reliance on the opinion or advisory letter may be limited, based on the type of pre-approved § 403(b) plan the employer has adopted. A § 401(a) volume submitter plan may provide that the volume submitter practitioner can amend the plan on behalf of adopting employers, but the plan is not required to include such a provision. Under this revenue procedure, a § 403(b) volume submitter plan must provide that the volume submitter practitioner can amend the plan on behalf of adopting employers so that changes in the Code, regulations, revenue rulings, or other guidance published by the IRS, or corrections of prior approved plans, may be applied to all eligible employers that have adopted the plan.   

A § 403(b) prototype plan is a two-part plan document intended to satisfy the requirements of § 403(b) that a vendor or other entity (referred to as “the prototype sponsor”) provides to eligible employers that wish to adopt a written § 403(b) plan. The prototype sponsor submits the document to the IRS for approval that the form of the document meets the requirements of § 403(b). Approval is provided in the form of an opinion letter issued to the sponsor by the agency.  

The second type of § 403(b) pre-approved plan is a § 403(b) volume submitter plan. Under this component of the pre-approved plan program, a § 403(b) volume submitter practitioner may apply for an advisory letter that a § 403(b) volume submitter specimen plan (that is, a sample plan of the practitioner rather than an employer’s plan) satisfies the requirements of § 403(b).  

Revenue Procedure 2013-22 is here  

The IRS has also issued Section 403(b) Pre-Approved Plans Sample Plan Provisions and Information Package. It is at