[UPDATED] Employers will want to take note that on September 26, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2022-451, which in combination with Notice 2022-33, now extends all 401k calendar year plan amendments under both the CARES and SECURE Act until December 31, 2025. Prior to this Notice 2022-45 extension, the IRS required that most CARES Act amendments (such as COVID-related distribution and loan amendments) be adopted no later than December 31, 2022, for 401k calendar year plans.
On August 3, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2022-332, providing 401k plan sponsors an extension until December 31, 2025 to adopt formal plan amendments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act). This extension applies to mandatory and optional plan amendments under both acts.
Previously, both acts required 401k plan sponsors to adopt mandatory amendments, in addition to any discretionary amendments, by the last day of the plan year on or after January 1, 2022. For calendar year 401k plan years, this previous deadline would have fallen on December 31, 2022.
Importantly, this amendment extension does not apply to COVID-related distributions and loans3 as permitted under the CARES Act. If a plan sponsor chose to include these provisions in their 401k plan, then those plan amendments are still due no later than December 31, 2022 for calendar year 401k plans.
This extension gives the IRS additional time to publish further guidance on additional aspects of the CARES and SECURE Acts, including post-death required minimum distribution rules and the inclusion of long-term part-time employees in 401k plans. Further, the extension gives the IRS additional time to issue sample plan language, which will help plan sponsors to draft appropriate plan amendments.
Plan sponsors should keep in mind that they must still operationally comply with the mandatory provisions of the CARES Act and SECURE Act, even if they postpone formally amending their 401k plan until the extended deadline of December 31, 2025. To avoid confusion, it may be best for an employer to work on finalizing and executing CARES Act and SECURE Act plan amendments so their 401k plan documents reflect these required legal changes, despite the three-year extension.
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