The IRS has updated the model notice (sometimes referred to as the “402(f) Notice” or “Special Tax Notice”) that is required to be provided to participants before they receive an “eligible rollover distribution” from a qualified 401(a) plan, a 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity, or a governmental 457(b) plan. Notice 2018-74, which was published on September 18, 2018, modifies the prior safe-harbor explanations (model notices) that were published in 2014. Like the 2014 guidance, the 2018 Notice includes two separate “model” notices that are deemed to satisfy the requirements of Code Section 402(f): one for distributions that are not from a designated Roth account, and one for distributions from a designated Roth account. The 2018 Notice also includes an appendix that can be used to modify (rather than replace) existing safe-harbor 402(f) notices.
The model notices were updated to take into consideration certain legislation that has been enacted, and other IRS guidance that has been published, since 2014, including:
- changes related to qualified plan loan offsets under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017;
- changes in the rules for phased retirement under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (“MAP-21”);
- changes in the exceptions to the 10% penalty for early distributions from governmental plans under the Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act; and
- IRS guidance (in Revenue Procedure 2016-47) regarding a self-certification procedure for waivers of the 60-day rollover deadline.
The model notices also make some “clarifying” changes to the 2014 notices, including:
- clarification that the 10% additional tax on early distributions applies only to amounts includible in income;
- an explanation of how the rollover rules apply to governmental 457(b) plans that include designated Roth accounts;
- clarification that certain exceptions to the 10% tax on early distributions do not apply to IRAs; and
- recognizing that taxpayers affected by federally declared disasters and other events may have an extended deadline for making rollovers.
The updated model 402(f) notices should be particularly useful in communicating to participants the extension, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, of the time to roll over a “qualified plan loan offset amount.” By way of background, Notice 2018-74 reminds us that distribution of a “plan loan offset amount” is an eligible rollover distribution, and that a “plan loan offset” occurs when, under the plan terms governing a plan loan, the participant’s accrued benefit is reduced, or offset, in order to repay the loan. According to the Notice, this can occur when, for example, the terms of the plan loan require that, in the event of an employee’s termination of employment or request for a distribution, the loan is to be repaid immediately or treated as in default. The Notice also indicates that a plan loan offset may occur when, under the terms of the plan loan, the loan is canceled, accelerated, or treated as if it were in default (for example, when the plan treats a loan as in default upon an employee’s termination of employment or within a specified period thereafter). The Notice also reminds us, however, that a plan loan offset cannot occur prior to a distributable event.
This is helpful guidance for distinguishing between a “deemed distribution” of a defaulted loan (a taxable event which is not eligible for rollover) and a “plan loan offset amount” (which is an eligible rollover distribution). Generally, if a default occurs before the participant has a distributable event (such as termination of employment, or attainment of age 59 ½), and the default is not cured by the last day of the cure period, it must be treated as a “deemed distribution” and reported on Form 1099. Such defaulted amounts are not eligible for rollover. However, if the default occurs at or after a distribution event, and the plan terms require that the participant’s account be offset to pay off the loan, then the reduction of the account may be treated as a plan loan offset, which is an eligible rollover distribution.
Notice 2018-74 (and the new model notices) also reflect that, prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, participants who incurred a “plan loan offset” only had 60 days to “roll” an equivalent amount of money to an IRA or another employer plan (to avoid the offset being treated as a taxable distribution). However, for plan loan offsets that occur after December 31, 2017, if the plan loan offset is a “qualified plan loan offset” (meaning it occurs in connection with termination of employment or termination of the plan), then the participant has significantly more time (until the extended due date of the participant’s tax return for the year of the offset) in which to roll an amount equal to the loan offset amount to an IRA or another employer plan.
If you have any questions about the extended time period to roll over qualified plan loan offset amounts, or the requirement to provide the Special Tax Notice 30-180 days prior to distribution of any “eligible rollover distribution,” please do not hesitate to contact any of the attorneys in the Spencer Fane Employee Benefits practice group.