Employee Benefits Year-End Checklist 2013

November 7, 2013


Planning Ahead for 2014

With the end of the calendar year drawing near, this is a good time for employers to conduct a year-end review to make sure their benefit plans are up-to-date and operating in compliance with the law. In addition, the end of the year brings a number of important deadlines. To assist you with your year-end projects, this newsletter provides a summary of some important dates and new developments.


  • The IRS has increased some of the limits applicable to qualified plans for 2014. A table showing the new limits appears at the end of this newsletter.
  • If you have participant-directed investments and utilize a “Qualified Default Investment Alternative” (“QDIA”) for “default” investments, you should provide your default investment informational notice by December 1, 2013* if you have a calendar year plan year. Your plan recordkeeper generally will assist you in preparing the notice and coordinating its distribution.
  • If you have a “safe harbor” 401(k) or 403(b) plan or want to adopt a safe harbor structure for 2014, you must provide your annual notice by December 1, 2013* if you have a calendar year plan year. This applies regardless of whether you are using a traditional safe harbor or an automatic enrollment safe harbor.
  • If you have an automatic enrollment 401(k) or 403(b) plan, regardless of whether it is a “safe harbor” plan, you must provide your automatic enrollment annual notice by December 1, 2013* if you have a calendar year plan year.
  • If you have a denied benefit plan, you must amend the plan document by the end of the 2013 plan year to reflect the funding-based benefit restrictions imposed by Section 436 of the Internal Revenue Code, if you have not already done so. The IRS has issued model amendments.
  • If you want to make any amendments to your plan, you may need to adopt them before the end of the current plan year. Generally, an amendment to a qualified retirement plan that takes effect during a plan year must be adopted before the end of the plan year, unless Congress or the IRS has granted an extension. Some amendments must be made before the desired effective date (for example, if you are changing your contribution structure, an advance amendment may be required). Changing a 401(k) or 403(b) plan to or from a “safe harbor” structure usually requires an amendment in advance of the start of the plan year, and current IRS guidance indicates that a sponsor’s ability to amend a safe harbor plan during a plan year is quite limited. Adding an automatic enrollment feature to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan may also require an amendment before the start of the plan year.

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