IRS Highlights Ways to Avoid Most Common 401(k) Mistakes

October 8, 2007 ( - The Internal Revenue Services has released a list of the 11 most common mistakes made in the administration of 401(k) plans and how plan sponsors can correct or avoid those errors.

The agency first uses a table to summarize the potential mistake, how to identify that mistake, how to correct that mistake, and how to avoid the mistake altogether. Each component of the table is linked to a more detailed explanation.

The 11 questions that plan sponsors should ask:

  • Has your plan document been updated within the past few years to reflect recent law changes?
  • Are the plan’s operations based on the terms of the plan document?
  • Is the plan’s definition of compensation for all deferrals and allocations used correctly?
  • Were employer matching contributions made to all appropriate employees under the terms of the plan?
  • Has your plan satisfied the nondiscrimination tests?
  • Were all eligible employees identified and given the opportunity to make an elective deferral election?
  • Are elective deferrals limited to the amounts under Internal Revenue Code section 402(g) for the calendar year? Have any excess deferrals been distributed?
  • Have you timely deposited employee elective deferrals?
  • If the plan was top-heavy, were the required minimum contributions made to the plan?
  • Were hardship distributions made properly?
  • Have you filed a Form 5500 series return and have you distributed a Summary Annual Report to all plan participants this year?

For the full 43-page checklist and explanation from the IRS go here .