Answering retirement plan fiduciary questions

Una Morabito

By Una Morabito
Una Morabito is Head of Client Management for the Workplace Solutions unit of MassMutual.
Posted on Mar 2, 2019

If your company sponsors a 401(k) or other defined contribution retirement plan, can you answer the following questions correctly?

What is the deadline for asking the IRS for a waiver if your plan fails to meet minimum funding requirements?

A. April 15

B. The CEO’s birthday

C. By the 15th day of the 3rd month following the close of the plan year

What must be filed with the Department of Labor no later than the last day of the seventh calendar month after the close of the plan year?

A. Form 5500

B. My retirement papers

C. Excess distributions from a deferred compensation plan

If you make a discretionary plan amendment, what is the last day you can execute it?

A. First day of a full moon

B. Discretionary filings are discretionary

C. End of the plan year

This pop quiz is sponsored by the MassMutual Fiduciary Calendar, a user-friendly guide that includes key dates fiduciaries should be aware of related to retirement plan filings, notices, distributions, testing and reporting requirements (the answers to the questions above are C, A, C). The calendar, which can be found online and in print, helps employers track key dates for both defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) plans.

MassMutual publishes the calendar annually to address the many questions we receive from employers that sponsor retirement savings and/or pension plans. Sponsoring a retirement plan comes with many responsibilities and commitments on the part of employers, including fiduciary duties.

While most employers stay on top of their obligations, the requirements are not always clear cut or necessarily understood by all. For instance, deadlines and requirements may vary by plan type such as multiple employer plans (MEPs), Taft-Hartley plans, certain union plans, governmental and tax-exempt plans.

Several key dates that relate to retirement plan regulatory filings and other plan action items are sprinkled throughout the calendar year (and, as applicable, the plan year). Some items such as notifications about Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIAs), Safe Harbors, deposit of employee contributions and other activities recur annually or more often. The calendar provides a separate list of such activities for quick reference.

If you’ve ever navigated the geography or customs of a foreign country, you know that understanding the local language can make your trip considerably easier and more fulfilling. It’s the same for retirement plans. For instance, could you define “excess aggregate contribution”? When is it OK to have an “excludable employee” or when should you issue a “Notice of Universal Availability”? The Fiduciary calendar includes a glossary of such terms to help sponsors better understand the retirement plan regulatory terrain.

If you’re uncertain about any regulatory requirements, help is available. Employers that sponsor retirement plans – both DC and DB varieties – may look to their financial advisors as a resource to help them stay on top of these key dates and required tasks.

You can always reach out to your MassMutual relationship manager or client engagement manager with questions about regulatory requirements, filing dates or other obligations. No matter where you’re located, help is just a phone call away.

It’s imperative to consult your own tax and legal advisors about your fiduciary requirements. The information contained in MassMutual’s Fiduciary Calendar is not intended or written as specific legal or tax advice and should not be deemed, relied upon or considered for the purposes of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Neither MassMutual nor any of its employees or representatives is authorized to give tax or legal advice.

But the MassMutual Fiduciary Calendar is a good starting point for information about your regulatory filing obligations. MassMutual publishes the calendar with the intent of helping plan sponsors get on and stay on the right path.

And the calendar may even help you pass my next pop quiz.

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The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to seek advice from your own tax or legal counsel. Opinions expressed by those interviewed are their own, and do not necessarily represent the views of MassMutual.