IRS Seeks Comments on Government Plan Retirement Age

April 18, 2012 ( - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department will issue guidance on the normal retirement age rules for governmental plans. 

Notice 2012-29 announces that in response to comments received about Notice 2007-69, the IRS and the Treasury Department intend to modify provisions of the 2007 NRA regulations, as applied to governmental plans, in two ways.

The first modification would clarify that if a governmental pension plan—that is not subject to § 411(a) through (d) and does not provide for the payment of in-service distributions before age 62—does not have a definition of normal retirement age or normal retirement age that satisfies the requirements of the 2007 NRA regulations, it nevertheless satisfies the requirement that the plan provide definitely determinable benefits to employees after retirement or attainment of normal retirement age.

Second, the IRS and the Treasury Department intend to modify the 2007 NRA regulations concerning the age-50 safe harbor rule for qualified public safety employees (within the meaning of § 72(t)(10)(B)). Under the 2007 NRA regulations, if a plan in which all of the participants are qualified public safety employees, a normal retirement age of 50 or later satisfies the requirement that a pension plan’s normal retirement age be no earlier than an age that is reasonably representative of the typical retirement age for the industry in which the covered workforce is employed.

The IRS and Treasury also intend to amend the 2007 NRA regulations, changing the effective date for governmental plans. The effective dates will change to annuity starting dates that occur in plan years beginning on or after the later of (1) January 1, 2015 or (2) the close of the first regular legislative session of the legislative body with the authority to amend the plan that begins on or after the date that is three months after the final regulations are published in the Federal Register. Governmental plan sponsors may rely on Notice 2012-29 for the extension until the 2007 NRA regulations are so amended.

The Notice also includes a request for public comment. Specifically, comments are being requested regarding whether—because qualified public safety employees generally tend to have career spans that commence at a young age and continue over a limited period of years—an additional rule should be provided under which retirement after 20 to 30 years of service may be a normal retirement that is reasonably representative for qualified public safety employees.

Comments are also requested on whether there is information indicating that other categories of governmental employees with career spans similar to qualified public safety employees would justify a similar rule. In addition, any information that governmental plans have about the overall retirement patterns of other employees in government service is requested, to assist the IRS and Treasury in determining the earliest age that is reasonably representative of the typical retirement ages.

Written comments should be submitted by July 30. Send submissions to CC:PA:LPD:PR, (Notice 2012-29), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, D.C. 20044. Comments may also be handdelivered Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to: Internal Revenue Service, CC:PA:LPD:PR, (Notice 2012-29), Courier’s Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. Alternatively, comments may also be submitted via email at

Click here to view Notice 2012-29