Hardship Distribution Changes – Tax Reform May Have Unintended Consequences

When tax reform proposals were floating around in the fall of 2017, several early proposals to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) included changes to the hardship distribution rules for qualified retirement plans. However, the final version of the Act did not make any direct changes to hardship distributions.  Nevertheless, the Act, perhaps unintentionally, made a significant change to the circumstances under which a participant can request a hardship for a personal casualty loss.

Personal Casualty Loss

The Act changed to the definition of a “personal casualty loss” under Section 165 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). Under the revised definition of 165, a personal casualty loss is only deductible if it is attributable to a federally declared disaster (i.e. Read More ›

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Did Hardship Distributions Just Get Easier?

In a previous blog, we addressed an issue of Employee Plans News in which the IRS took the position that 401(k) plan administrators must maintain hardship distribution records and should not rely on electronic participant self-certification for hardship distributions.

On February 23, 2017, the IRS issued a memorandum to its Employee Plans Examiners that sets forth substantiation guidelines for the examination of 401(k) hardship distributions.  The memorandum provides that a plan administrator may maintain either of the following to establish a participant’s need for a hardship distribution: (1) source documents that support the need for the hardship distribution or (2) a summary of the information contained in the source documents. Read More ›

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Electronic Self-Certification for Hardship Distributions is Not Sufficient

In its April 1, 2015 Employee Plans News, the IRS stated that defined contribution plan sponsors must maintain hardship distribution records and that plan sponsors cannot rely on electronic participant self-certification for hardship distributions.

The IRS indicated that plan sponsors should keep the following:

  • Documentation of the hardship request, review and approval;
  • Financial information that substantiates the employee’s immediate and heavy financial need;
  • Documentation to support the hardship distribution was properly made; and
  • Proof of the actual distribution made and the related Form 1099-R.

In recent years, a number of third party administrators have started offering an electronic self-certification in which participants may certify their own hardships and are required to maintain their own records of the hardship distribution.  Read More ›

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