The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2016-16 which provides guidance about mid-year changes to a safe harbor plan under Sections 401(k) and 401(m) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The notice provides that a mid-year change either to a safe harbor plan or to a plan’s safe harbor notice does not violate the safe harbor rules merely because it is a mid-year change, provided that applicable notice and election opportunity conditions are satisfied and the mid-year change is not a prohibited change, as described in the notice.
In addition, the notice requests comments about additional guidance that may be needed, in particular with respect to mid-year changes to safe harbor plans in cases in which a plan sponsor is involved in a merger or acquisition.
For purposes of this notice, a “mid-year change” is (i) a change that is first effective during a plan year, but not effective as of the beginning of the plan year, or (ii) a change that is effective as of the beginning of the plan year, but adopted after the beginning of the plan year. Also, for purposes of this notice, “required safe harbor notice content” refers to the information that is required by the safe harbor plan regulations to be provided in a plan’s safe harbor notice.
The notice sets out special conditions that must be satisfied for a mid-year change that alters the plan’s required safe harbor notice content. The IRS notes that not every change alters information required to be provided in a plan’s safe harbor notice (for example, information about a plan’s entry date). Similarly, information required to be included in a plan’s safe harbor notice can change mid-year even if no change is made to the safe harbor plan (for example, a change in contact information).Text of the notice is at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-16-16.pdf.