Retirement Plan Determination Letters Toolkit

Resources to assist an employer in applying for an IRS determination letter for its qualified retirement plans.

Practical Law Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

Employers that adopt individually designed qualified retirement plans ( typically apply for an Internal Revenue Service ( (IRS) determination letter. A favorable IRS determination letter ensures that the qualified plan is entitled to favorable tax treatment and indicates that the plan document, as written, complies with the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements set out by the IRS (see Practice Note, Requirements for Qualified Plans).

The application for an IRS determination letter, which can be complicated and time sensitive, is a combination of IRS forms and documents that are sent to the IRS on behalf of the plan.

The IRS determination letter application allows the IRS to:

  • Review the plan document for compliance with regulatory requirements.

  • Identify defects in the document that must be corrected so the plan can maintain its tax-qualified status.

On June 29, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2016-37 which significantly changes the IRS determination letter program. Effective January 1, 2017, the IRS will no longer accept determination letter applications for individually designed plans except for new plans, terminating plans and in certain other limited circumstances (see Practice Note, Revised IRS Determination Letter Program for Qualified Retirement Plans ( ).

The Retirement Plan Determination Letters Toolkit provides several continuously maintained resources designed to assist an employer in applying for an IRS determination letter for its individually designed qualified plans.


Practice Notes


Standard Documents and Clauses





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