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New rules simplify 401(k) auto-enrollment management

Posted On: Apr. 2, 2015 12:00 AM CST

The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service on Thursday issued new guidance designed to make it easier for employers to manage automatic enrollment and contribution increases in 401(k) and other types of retirement savings plans.

The guidance contains several changes to the IRS' self-correction program, which enables employers to correct administrative errors within their retirement plans without agency approval and without jeopardizing the plan's tax-preferred status, according to a statement from the Treasury Department.

The guidance “simplifies and reduces the cost and burden” of the correction process for 401(k) and 403(b) plans using automatic enrollment and/or automatic increases in employees' contributions.

“These simplified, safe harbor correction methods build on previous steps to encourage plan sponsors to adopt 'next generation' features and practices that help employees save for retirement,” J. Mark Iwry, a Treasury Department senior adviser for retirement and health policy, said in the agency's statement.

The Treasury Department said the new correction methods are effective immediately, and that the new correction safe harbor for plans using automatic contribution features applies to administrative errors made prior to 2021.