Official Says K Plan Contribution Safe Harbor Could be Coming

June 6, 2005 ( - A top federal regulator told a recent conference that the US Department of Labor (DoL) is considering creating a safe harbor provision in rules governing how quickly K plan contributions have to be deposited into separate trust accounts.

>Addressing the Mid-Atlantic Benefits Conference in Philadelphia, Ian Dingwall, chief accountant of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), warned that the failure to make timely deposits can be considered a prohibited transaction and is the focus of many field audits, according to a report.

>Under current rules, employers should deposit participant contributions on the earliest date that they can be “reasonably segregated” from general assets. In no event is this to occur more than 15 business days following the last day of the month in which the contributions would otherwise have been paid to the employee or received by the employer, the report said.

>Dingwall told the benefits conference that many employers wrongly view the 15-day requirement as a “safe harbor” in and of itself.  Noting the difficulty in writing a safe harbor rule, Dingwall urged employers not to wait for the rule but instead to correct any violations through the DoL voluntary fiduciary correction program.