IRS Issues Annual Update on Determination Letters and Private Letter Rulings

In January 2021, the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2021-4, which includes annual updates to certain procedures including determination letter requests, private letter rulings, and employee plan tax information. 

Key updates to 2020 procedures are as follows:

Form 5310. Form 5310, Application for Determination for a Terminating Plan, must be filed electronically starting August 1, 2021. Form 5310 may also be followed electronically beginning April 16, 2021.

Leased employees. Determination letter applicants that are also requesting a ruling on the status of leased employees must make a specific request for the ruling in a cover letter.

Preapproved plans. An adopting employer of a preapproved defined contribution plan may apply for an individual determination letter (if otherwise eligible) during the period beginning August 1, 2020, and ending July 31, 2022.  In addition, the adoption period for defined benefit preapproved plans with respect to the third six-year remedial amendment cycle will not occur in 2021.

Government plans. The update adds a new category for determination letter requests for preapproved government pension plans that does not satisfy any of the regulatory safe harbor definitions.

Multiple employer plans (MEPs). This section clarifies that a controlling member of a multiple-employer plan is also the adopting employer that submits the plan’s determination letter application.

Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). The update provides instructions for ESOP sponsors using Form 5307 to submit a determination letter request.

User fees. User fees for letter rulings and determination letter requests are updated as follows: 

Request type



Letter ruling request for five-year automatic extension of the amortization period



Form 5300, Application for Determination of Employee Benefit Plan



Form 5307, Application for Determination for Adopters of Modified Volume Submitter Plans



Form 5310, Application for Determination for Terminating Plan



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HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.
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