IRS Offers Relief on Interest Crediting Rate Amendment

November 10, 2009 ( - The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have announced relief for sponsors of statutory hybrid plans that must amend the interest crediting rate in those plans.

The IRS said plan sponsors may rely on announcement 2009-82 pending publication of anticipated additional guidance. Anticipated guidance includes rules interpreting the requirement in § 411(b)(5)(B)(i) of the Internal Revenue Code that hybrid plans not have an interest crediting rate in excess of a market rate of return. The rules specifying permissible market rates of return are not expected to go into effect before the first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2011.

Until the guidance is issued, the IRS said, an amendment to a statutory hybrid plan with an interest crediting rate that is in excess of a market rate of return under those final regulations that is adopted prior to the effective date of those final regulations will not violate § 411(d)(6) merely because it reduces the future interest crediting rate on participants’ account balances to the extent necessary to constitute a permissible rate under those final regulations. Section 1107 of the Pension Protection Act (PPA) provides, in general, that a plan will not fail to satisfy § 411(d)(6) as a result of amendments that are adopted pursuant to PPA or regulations thereunder by the last day of the first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2009.

The notice said this relief will apply to an amendment only if the amendment is effective not later than the first day of the first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2010.

In addition, any required section 204(h) notice relating to such an amendment will be permitted to be provided as late as 30 days after the effective date of the amendment.

The IRS announcement is here .