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New Determination Letter Process for Tax-Qualified Employee Benefit Plans: Preparing for Massive Changes

Amending Plans in the Absence of Determination Letters, Elimination of the Five-Year Cycle, and ECPRS Transition Guidance

Recording of a 110-minute CPE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This course will provide employee benefits professionals and auditors with a critical first look at the new IRS guidelines that virtually eliminate the Determination Letter Program for retirement plans. The panel will also detail the specific changes contained in Rev. Proc. 2016-51, and offer useful guidance in helping plan professionals to prepare for the new rules, effective Jan. 1, 2017.


In July 2016, the Internal Revenue Service issued Rev. Proc. 2016-37, announcing major changes to its determination letter program for tax-qualified retirement plans. Under the new program, determination letters will be significantly scaled back for both individually designed plans and pre-approved plans. The new program is scheduled to commence in 2017 and represents a significant challenge to benefits practitioners, as well as to CPAs who perform audits of plans.

The scope of the changes is massive. Due to resource restrictions, the Service is ending the familiar five-year remedial cycle for plan administrators to submit the plan for review. Plans assigned to the current cycle must be submitted to the IRS by Jan. 31, 2017, to receive a determination letter under the current program, and amendments to plans operating under a current favorable letter may not be relied upon as to the compliance of the amended provision.

The IRS just issued new EPCRS rules in response to the reduction of the determination letter program, with additional guidance to address questions such as whether a successor to another plan is deemed a “new” plan, when can form amendments be adopted, and other key concerns. Plan professionals and auditors dealing with employee plans need to fully grasp the new determination letter regulations in evaluating plan compliance.

Listen as our experienced panel provides a critical and thorough look at the new determination letter program for tax-qualified employee benefit plans.



  1. Specific changes to employee benefit plan determination letter program
  2. Elimination of determination letters for amendments to existing plans
  3. Elimination of five-year amendment cycle after Jan. 31, 2017
  4. ECPRS changes in conjunction with scaling-back of determination letter program
  5. Impact of tax return due dates on plan contribution deadlines
  6. Additional guidance


The panel will discuss these and other critical questions:

  • How does the elimination of the five-year amendment cycle under the new regulations impact plan administrators in making amendments to existing plans?
  • Under the new rules, what plans may submit determination letter applications?
  • For plans covered by current five-year remedial plan Cycle A, what is the deadline for submitting a request for a determination letter?
  • What transition steps and provisions has the Service established during the program transition?
  • What additional guidance and changes to ECPRS has the Service made to assist plan professionals?
  • What is the impact of the change in return due dates on employers who make their plan contributions by the due date?


Bailey, Luke
Luke D. Bailey

Clark Hill

Mr. Bailey specializes in employee benefits law and executive compensation. He has extensive experience in the tax...  |  Read More

Peirce, Susan
Susan J. Peirce, CPA, MTax

Apple Growth Partners

Ms. Peirce leads the firm’s employee benefits audit and specialty services team. In addition to her audit work,...  |  Read More

Henry Talavera
Henry Talavera


Mr. Talavera has extensive experience representing clients before the IRS and U.S. Department of Labor. His...  |  Read More

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