COLLECTED WISDOM™ on 403b Plans
A 403b tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) plan is a retirement plan, similar to a 401k plan, offered by public schools and certain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. The following are some resources to help manage and administer your 403b.
This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.
If you find a broken link or an items that you feel is outdate, irrelevant or no longer appropriate, please let us know.
Experts from Groom Law Group and CAPTRUST answer the question, "How does the new Long-Term Part-Time employee rule under the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 affect 403b plans since we already have a universal availability requirement?"
Source: Plansponsor.com, December 2023
The IRS has released a draft of the updated version of Publication 571. This publication is intended to help taxpayers better understand the tax rules that apply to 403b tax-sheltered annuity plans. It covers maximum contribution amounts, excess contributions, the retirement savings contributions credit, and basic rules for distributions and rollovers.
Source: Napa-net.org, December 2023
The article answers this question, "Our 403b plan currently allows for hardship distributions, but the number of such distributions has been on the uptick in recent years. We don't wish to eliminate hardship distributions, but is there any way we can restrict their availability?"
Source: Plansponsor.com, November 2023
The IRS in Revenue Procedure 2023-37 has issued fresh guidance on qualified pre-approved plans and 403b pre-approved plans which combines, conforms, clarifies, and updates rules for those plans set forth in prior revenue procedures.
Source: Asppa.org, November 2023
Another university 403b plan has won yet another victory in staving off an excessive fee suit by the Schlichter law firm. The case involved Cornell University, which had already successfully fended off most of the claims in 2019. In this most recent ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge P. Kevin Castel ruled that the plaintiffs had plausibly argued that it was imprudent to pay annual recordkeeping fees of more than $115 per participant but presented no evidence that this caused the plan to suffer losses.
Source: Napa-net.org, November 2023
A panel at the Oct. 22 opening session of the 2023 ASPPA Annual Conference noted that there is legislation that would allow 403b plans to offer CITs and separate account insurance contracts as investment options. Brian Graff, American Retirement Association CEO, highlighted the significance of the matter, noting that 15 million participants in 403bs would benefit. This is "a top priority for us," he added.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, October 2023
Over the years, through regulation changes and plan design mandates, the three predominant types of defined contribution retirement plans have grown more similar. Still, understanding the nuances of employer-sponsored retirement plans can be daunting. This article explores the most significant distinctions of 403b, 401k, and 457b plans and their impact on the availability, benefits, and limitations of these plan types.
Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, October 2023
What are some considerations for a school system that is thinking about putting in place a student loan matching contribution program? Here is an answer to that question.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, October 2023
While many provisions of SECURE 2.0 apply to various types of retirement plans, including 403b plans, this article focuses on those provisions of the Act that apply only to 403b plans.
Source: Graydon.law, September 2023
Death by a thousand cuts. That's what initial 401k and 403b audit clients fear their first financial statement audit will feel like. Fear of the unknown leads the human mind to worst-case scenarios. Could I fail the audit? Sure, anything is possible. Will I fail my first audit? Not likely. Here is a summary of the most typical audit findings encountered.
Source: Belfint.com, September 2023
Taking action in advance to protect vital documents can be helpful when a disaster strikes, a principle that applies to retirement plans and administration as well as other records and functions. The IRS issued a reminder in Tax Tip 2023-107 about the importance of such steps on the heels of Hurricane Idalia's travels through Florida and other parts of the southeast.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, September 2023
Certain 401k and 403b plans must be amended to allow part-time employees to participate under new rules in the 2019 SECURE 1.0 Act and the revised rules in SECURE 2.0. Plan sponsors should consider adopting an amendment to remove a 1,000-hour requirement and/or a part-time employee exclusion so that it is clear how the plan complies.
Source: Frostbrowntodd.com, August 2023
Question: "I work for a 403b plan sponsor, and we recently received a notice from the IRS that a levy has been placed on a participant's 403b account balance. I thought that creditors could not claim a participant's 403b account balance, can the Experts explain?"
Source: Plansponsor.com, August 2023
This article focuses on the three specific changes for 403b tax-sheltered annuity plans that did not affect 401k plans. Plan amendments made according to SECURE 2.0 are to be made by the end of 2025 (2027 in the case of governmental plans) as long as the plan operates under such amendments as of the effective date of a bill requirement or amendment.
Source: Consultrms.com, August 2023
The U.S. Government Accountability Office called out the Department of Labor Monday for a lack of 403b guidance. 403b plans allow for participants to make investment decisions, GAO said. Because DOL oversees such plans, which are common among teachers and non-profit workers, the GAO encouraged the Labor Department to improve its educational offerings.
Source: Hrdive.com, July 2023
The Government Accountability Office recently reviewed the DOL's 403b plan oversight efforts and concluded better educational material is needed to inform plan sponsors and participants. "The DOL's website does not contain targeted educational materials that could help participants understand 403b plan fees," GAO wrote. "Updated DOL information on 403b plans could help participants make more informed decisions."
Source: Napa-net.org, July 2023
One of the stated objectives of the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 is to expand the coverage of retirement plans and to increase retirement savings. Among the many provisions passed to achieve that goal is section 125 of the Act, "Improving Coverage for Part-Time Worker."
Source: Boutwellfay.com, July 2023
The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the 403b managers for Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, previously known as the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, have reached a tentative settlement for $3.8 million, according to a U.S. District Court filing.
Source: Planadviser.com, July 2023
The authors of this article suggest that "Yale should never have been sued in the first place, because the plan fiduciaries were at the forefront in pushing TIAA and other investment providers for lower fees to benefit plan participants." The article is an analysis of three key issues on the Yale 403b plan defense verdict.
Source: Euclidspecialty.com, July 2023
One of the first excessive fee suits filed against a university 403b plans has concluded with a jury verdict in favor of the fiduciary defendants, with an odd twist or two. The suit against Yale University was one of the first to be filed in this area by Schlicther Bogard LLP in August 2016.
Source: Napa-net.org, July 2023
Until now, 403b plans have been able to exclude participants expected to work less than 20 hours a week in their first year of employment and who work fewer than 1,000 hours in subsequent eligibility computation periods. It seems that this exclusion will only be available on the first year of service and be overridden by the new LTPT rules on the second year of the participant's employment.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, June 2023
A new bill introduced in Congress would allow 403b plans maintained by tax-exempt organizations to make use of collective investment trust investments, an alternative to mutual funds that may provide significant cost savings for 403b plans and their participants.
Source: Mwe.com, June 2023
Because the Tax Code did not make any provision for the 403b MEP, each of the employers participating in these arrangements is treated (for tax code compliance purposes) as each sponsoring their own 403b plans. This has worked quite well for several years, except for a couple of issues. This is where SECURE 2.0 obliquely provided significant relief in a couple of nice "gems."
Source: Businessofbenefits.com, June 2023
SECURE 2.0 enhanced the Long-Term Part-Time rules of Secure 1.0 by making them applicable to 403b plans. Since employees are more likely to contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement arrangement than an Individual Retirement Account, and more Americans are working part-time since the pandemic, SECURE 2.0 requires that employees who work between 500 and 999 hours for two consecutive years be permitted to defer into their 403b plans effective plan years beginning in 2025.
Source: Belfint.com, June 2023
The SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 continues the trend by making a handful of changes specifically for 403b plans. SECURE 2.0 also makes changes for defined contribution plans, in general, apply to 403b plans. This article gives a high-level overview of the SECURE 2.0 provisions affecting 403b plans and their sponsors.
Source: Mercer.com, May 2023
The parties in a two-year-old 403b excessive fee suit against a $2.3 billion plan have come to terms. The suit against the fiduciaries of the $2.3 billion Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center 403b Retirement Savings Plan -- the Medical Center, the Board of Directors of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and the Retirement Benefits Committee of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center -- for breaches of their fiduciary duties to the 19,000 participants of that plan.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, May 2023
Legislation that would allow 403b plans to invest in collective investment trusts has taken a significant step forward in the House of Representatives.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, May 2023
It seems like 403b plans are going through the process of becoming more like a 401k plan. Recent regulations in SECURE Act 2.0 are making this more so. This article examines this process.
Source: Orba.com, May 2023
The bill, titled "The Retirement Fairness for Charities and Educational Institutions Act of 2023" and backed by House Financial Services Committee Member Rep. Frank D. Lucas would amend federal securities laws to enhance 403b annuity plans in part by adding a CIT option.
Source: Napa-net.org, May 2023
Starting in June 2023, the IRS will start accepting determination letter applications for individually designed 403b plans. As announced in Revenue Procedure 2022-40, plan sponsors of such plans will have the limited opportunity to receive favorable determination letters from the IRS in the case of an initial plan determination, upon plan termination, and in certain other circumstances identified by the IRS in published guidance.
Source: Truckerhuss.com, May 2023
SECURE 2.0 made an important change to the rules regarding catch-up contributions. Under the new rules, catch-up contributions must be made as after-tax Roth contributions if the participant contributing earned more than $145,000 in FICA wages from the employer sponsoring the plan in the prior calendar year. Moreover, if the Roth requirement applies to any participant, participants making under $145,000 must be permitted to make catch-up contributions as Roth contributions as well.
Source: Frostbrowntodd.com, May 2023
A bill that would allow 403bs to invest in collective investment trusts could be headed for Congressional markup in the next few weeks.
Source: Napa-net.org, April 2023
The BrightScope/ICI Defined Contribution Plan Profile is a collaborative research effort between BrightScope and the Investment Company Institute that analyzes plan-level data gathered from audited Form 5500 filings of private-sector defined contribution plans, providing unique, new insights into private-sector DC plan design. The report is 68 pages.
Source: Ici.org, April 2023
The report found that the wide array of nonprofits that sponsor 403b plans design their plans to engage participants and promote retirement savings. Many large 403b plans subject to ERISA automatically enrolled employees into the plan. Four-fifths of large ERISA 403b plans had employer contributions and three-quarters of large ERISA 403b plan participants were in plans that offered employer contributions in 2019. And a majority of large ERISA 403b plans offered the flexibility of plan loans.
Source: Ici.org, April 2023
Many practitioners will point to the 2007 403b regs as being a real seminal moment in the market. However, an even more fundamental development occurred some 7 or 8 years earlier, which still has deep reverberations in the way these plans operate: the quirky 403b master custodial arrangement.
Source: Businessofbenefits.com, April 2023
Northwestern University's Alternative Explanations Not Strong Enough to Defeat ERISA Excessive Fee Claims
On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit issued its opinion in Hughes v. Northwestern University, concluding that participants in two Northwestern 403b plans plausibly pled fiduciary-breach claims based on allegations of excessive recordkeeping and investment management fees, but dismissed their claim that too many investment options caused them "decision paralysis."
Source: Erisapracticecenter.com, April 2023
SECURE 2.0 was signed into law in December 2022 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. Effective for plan years beginning after 2023, certain types of plans containing elective deferral features may choose to treat student loan payments as elective deferrals and make matching contributions on those amounts. These optional provisions are available to 401k plans, 403b plans, SIMPLE IRAs, and governmental 457b plans.
Source: Boutwellfay.com, March 2023
The parties in one of the first university 403b excessive fee suits -- by participant-plaintiffs represented by the Schlichter law firm -- have unveiled the terms of a big settlement. The suit involved two plans sponsored by the University of Southern California.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, March 2023
SECURE 2.0 reduced this eligibility period to only 2 consecutive years of service, starting in 2025. SECURE 2.0 also included language to subject ERISA 403b plans to the LTPT fun, starting in 2025. Questions have arisen as to whether the LTPT rules will override a class exclusion in a 403b for employees working fewer than 20 hours and/or student employees. Some practitioners have opined that the LTPT requirements will not override the exclusion rules.
Source: Ferenczylaw.com, March 2023
Over the years, 403b plans have been becoming more like their qualified plan cousin, the 401k plan. Despite this trend toward uniformity, legal, investment, and administrative differences have persisted. The SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 includes several provisions that eliminate some of these remaining differences.
Source: Mcdonaldhopkins.com, March 2023
Among other things, SECURE 2.0 strengthens and expands the special 401k plan eligibility requirements for long-term part-time workers by shortening the eligibility service period for such workers and extending the application of the special rules to most 403b plans. Although these changes are effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2024, plan sponsors must start tracking the service of long-term part-time workers much sooner than that to support compliance with the new rules.
Source: Verrill-law.com, February 2023
On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, of 2023," which included a major package of retirement savings provisions known as the SECURE 2.0 Act. As expected, the final package contained many of the same provisions included in the U.S. House and Senate bills that were previously considered. This is a 6-page summary with the effective dates of key provisions applicable to workplace plans.
Source: Troweprice.com, February 2023
The parties in an excessive fee suit have struck a deal mere months after the suit was filed. The plan fiduciaries here are Springfield, Massachusetts-based Baystate Health Inc. They were sued last Nov. 17 by participant-plaintiffs Michael Chechile and Sonia Lopez. They claimed that the $910 million, 15,000 participant plan paid, on average, $70/participant for recordkeeping fees, compared to those in similarly sized plans that allegedly paid $31/participant for what were said to be comparable services.
Source: Napa-net.org, February 2023
The reach of SECURE 2.0 is extensive. Its general provisions affect all types of retirement plans, but SECURE 2.0 also has some provisions targeted at plans subject to their own set of statutory and regulatory requirements. Sponsors of 403b plans, ESOPs, and employers participating in or considering joining multiple employer plans should keep these changes on their radar.
Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, February 2023
Former employees have filed a class-action complaint against the 403b retirement plan at the Nemours Foundation -- a nonprofit operator of children's hospitals -- in U.S. District Court. The suit, Jeanna Cannarozzo et. al. v The Nemours Foundation, alleges plan participants were charged excessive fees by recordkeeper Transamerica.
Source: Plansponsor.com, February 2023
The IRS has updated the operational compliance list relevant to 403b requirements effective during the calendar year. The update adds a discussion of provisions that became effective in 2022. The IRS intends the list to help plan sponsors and practitioners achieve operational compliance by identifying changes in qualification requirements.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, February 2023
Whether you are a school business official or a human resources employee of a nonprofit organization, chances are that you are juggling so many responsibilities that your time is at a premium. Knowing deadlines for amending your employer's 403b plan document helps keeps that plan compliant.
Source: Voya.com, February 2023
SECURE 2.0 Act: Optional Treatment of Employer Matching or Non-elective Contributions as Roth Contributions
Historically, employers were not permitted to provide employer matching or nonelective contributions in their 401k, 403b, and governmental 457b plans on a Roth basis. These types of employer contributions were allowed only on a pre-tax basis. Under a new provision of the SECURE 2.0 Act, effective immediately, plans may now allow participants to elect to receive matching and nonelective contributions on a post-tax basis.
Source: Schneiderdowns.com, January 2023
The parties in one of the first university 403b excessive fee suits -- by participant-plaintiffs represented by the Schlichter law firm -- have come to terms on the eve of going to trial. The suit, filed in August 2016, involved two plans sponsored by the University of Southern California.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, January 2023
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit appeared receptive to reviving an ERISA class action suit against Northwestern University, claiming mismanagement of the workers' 403b plan, albeit on a limited scale. The employees alleged that Northwestern breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA by allowing too many investment options, causing them to pay excessive fees. In addition, they claimed that including the more expensive share classes of mutual funds precluded their access to lower-fee institutional share classes of mutual funds.
Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, January 2023
On December 27, 2022, the IRS issued proposed regulations permitting remote witnessing, in the presence of either a notary public or plan administrator, as an acceptable alternative to the physical presence requirement if certain conditions are satisfied.
Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, January 2023
Article response to this question, "I work in employee benefits for a health care entity, and I noticed that our 403b plan is named the XYZ Hospital Tax Deferred Annuity Plan, even in the plan document. Our plan hasn't even had annuities for several years (we converted to an all-mutual-fund platform a decade ago) and we also now have Roth 403b account in addition to traditional tax-deferred accounts. Is there any reason that we should continue to refer to our plan by a name that is so outdated and potentially confusing to participants?"
Source: Plansponsor.com, January 2023
One of the more curious circumstances under SECURE 2.0 arises from the Acts Section 128, which purports to permit 403b plan custodial accounts to invest in interests in Collective Investment Trusts, referred to as "81-100" group trusts in the Act. But, as the Senate Finance Committee noted in its own Committee Report to the EARN Act, "In order to permit 403b plans to participate in a group trust, certain revisions to the securities laws will be required." Those necessary revisions, however, never made it into SECURE 2.0.
Source: Businessofbenefits.com, January 2023
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas filed a partial order on December 29, 2022, ruling on summary judgment motions from both defendants. District Judge Brantley Starr ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to bring the suit, but Legacy Counseling Center is exempt from the ERISA requirements in this case. Peveto Financial Group, on the other hand, cannot be held liable for IRS corrective damages, yet can still be held liable for not permitting wider plan participation if they are found to be a fiduciary.
Source: Planadviser.com, January 2023
Disregard any coverage to the contrary: SECURE 2.0, as passed, does not permit 403b plans to invest in collective investment trusts. House Financial Services had "consumer protections" concerns. The required amendments to securities laws did not make it into the final SECURE 2.0 Act.
Source: Planadviser.com, January 2023
As part of its mammoth 2022 year-end spending bill, Congress passed Secure 2.0, which makes dozens of modifications to the laws governing retirement savings. These revisions, almost all of which were driven by concerns that Americans are failing to accumulate sufficient resources to fund their retirement, build on changes Congress made in 2019 in the SECURE Act. This is a list of key provisions in Secure 2.0 that employers with existing 401k and 403b plans need to pay attention to.
Source: Blankrome.com, January 2023
The SECURE 2.0 Act makes several changes to 403b plans, aiming to standardize them with 401k plans to give 403b plan sponsors and participants broader retirement saving options. Experts weigh in on how SECURE 2.0 may make 403b plans operate more like 401ks, including being able to participate in PEPs.
Source: Planadviser.com, December 2022
The SECURE 2.0 Act passed Congress and would allow employers to offer matching 401k, 403b, 457b, and SIMPLE IRA contributions if the participant elects to pay down student loans instead of contributing to a retirement plan. This option would be available starting after December 31, 2023. How should plan sponsors go about implementing this provision, if they choose to?
Source: Planadviser.com, December 2022
IRS is expanding its determination letter program for individually designed plans to include many 403b plans. Rev. Proc. 2022-40 provides the first opportunity for 403b plan sponsors to get a determination letter, which gives assurance that their plan documents comply with all applicable IRC and regulatory requirements. IRS is also updating the program to incorporate changes for qualified plans made since the program's overhaul in 2016.
Source: Mercer.com, December 2022
The IRS recently issued Revenue Procedure 2022-40, which permits the submission of determination letter applications for individually designed 403b plans used by certain public schools, churches, and charities. Beginning June 1, 2023, plan sponsors maintaining individually designed 403b plans will be able to request a determination letter for initial plan qualification, upon plan termination, or for other limited circumstances to be announced by the IRS.
Source: Buck.com, November 2022
Whether you are a school business official or a human resources employee of a nonprofit organization, chances are that you are juggling so many responsibilities that your time is at a premium. Knowing deadlines for amending your employer's 403b plan document helps keeps that plan compliant. Here is a good review.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, November 2022
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