Termination or partial termination; discontinuance of contributions.
(a) General rule—(1) Required nonforfeitability. A plan is not a qualified plan (and a trust forming a part of such plan is not a qualified trust) unless the plan provides that—
(i) Upon the termination or partial termination of the plan, or
(ii) In addition, in the case of a plan to which section 412 (relating to minimum funding standards) does not apply, upon the complete discontinuance of contributions under the plan,
the rights of each affected employee to benefits accrued to the date of such termination or partial termination (or, in the case of a plan to which section 412 does not apply, discontinuance), to the extent funded, or the rights of each employee to the amounts credited to
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his account at such time, are nonforfeitable (within the meaning of § 1.411(a)-4.
(2) Required allocation.(i) A plan is not a qualified plan (and a trust forming a part of such plan is not a qualified trust) unless the plan provides for the allocation of any previously unallocated funds to the employes covered by the plan upon the termination or partial termination of the plan (or, in the case of a plan to which section 412 does not apply, upon the complete discontinuance of contributions under the plan). Such provision may be incorporated in the plan at its inception or by an amendment made prior to the termination or partial termination of the plan for the discontinuance of contributions thereunder. In the case of a defined contribution plan under which unallocated forfeitures are held in a suspense account in order to satisfy the requirements of section 415, this subdivision shall not require such plan to provide for allocations from the suspense account to the extent that such allocations would result in annual additions to participants' accounts in excess of amounts permitted under section 415 for the year for which such allocations would be made.
(ii) Any provision for the allocation of unallocated funds which is found by the Secretary of Labor or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (whichever is appropriate) to satisfy the requirements of section 4044 or section 403(d)(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 is acceptable if it specifies the method to be used and does not conflict with the provisions of section 401(a)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and the regulations thereunder. Any allocation of funds required by paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4)(A) of section 4044(a) of such Act shall be deemed not to result in discrimination prohibited by section 401(a)(4) of the Code (see, however, paragraph (e) of this section). Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, in the case of a plan which establishes subclasses or categories pursuant to section 4044(b)(6) of such Act, the allocation of funds by the use of such subclasses or categories shall not be deemed not to result in discrimination prohibited by the Code. The allocation of unallocated funds may be in cash or in the form of other benefits provided under the plan. However, the allocation of the funds contributed by the employer among the employees need not necessarily benefit all the employees covered by the plan.
(iii) Paragraphs (a)(2) (i) and (ii) of this section do not require the allocation of amounts to the account of any employee if such amounts are not required to be used to satisfy the liabilities with respect to employees and their beneficiaries under the plan (see section 401(a)(2) ).
(b) Partial termination—(1) General rule. Whether or not a partial termination of a qualified plan occurs (and the time of such event) shall be determined by the Commissioner with regard to all the facts and circumstances in a particular case. Such facts and circumstances include: the exclusion, by reason of a plan amendment or severance by the employer, of a group of employees who have previously been covered by the plan; and plan amendments which adversely affect the rights of employees to vest in benefits under the plan.
(2) Special rule. If a defined benefit plan ceases or decreases future benefit accruals under the plan, a partial termination shall be deemed to occur if, as a result of such cessation or decrease, a potential reversion to the employer, or employers, maintaining the plan (determined as of the date such cessation or decrease is adopted) is created or increased. If no such reversion is created or increased, a partial termination shall be deemed not to occur by reason of such cessation or decrease. However, the Commissioner may determine that a partial termination of such a plan occurs pursuant to subparagraph (1) of this paragraph for reasons other than such cessation or decrease.
(3) Effect of partial termination. If a termination of a qualified plan occurs, the provisions of section 411(d)(3) apply only to the part of the plan that is terminated.
(c) Termination—(1) Application. This paragraph applies to a plan other than a plan described in section 411(e)(1) (relating to governmental, certain church plans, etc.).
(2) Plans subject to termination insurance. For purposes of this section, a plan to which title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 applies is considered terminated on a particular date if, as of that date—
(i) The plan is voluntarily terminated by the plan administrator under section 4041 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or
(ii) The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation terminates the plan under section 4042 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
For purposes of this subparagraph, the particular date of termination shall be the date of termination determined under section 4048 of such Act.
(3) Other plans. In the case of a plan not described in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, a plan is considered terminated on a particular date if, as of that date, the plan is voluntarily terminated by the employer, or employers, maintaining the plan.
(d) Complete discontinuance—(1) General rule. For purposes of this section, a complete discontiuance of contributions under the plan is contrasted with a suspension of contributions under the plan which is merely a temporary cessation of contributions by the employer. A complete discontinuance of contributions may occur although some amounts are contributed by the employer under the plan if such amounts are not substantial enough to reflect the intent on the part of the employer to continue to maintain the plan. The determination of whether a complete discontinuance of contributions under the plan has occurred will be made with regard to all the facts and circumstances in the particular case, and without regard to the amount of any contributions made under the plan by employees. Among the factors to be considered in determining whether a suspension constitutes a discontinuance are:
(i) Whether the employer may merely be calling an actual discontinuance of contributions a suspension of such contributions in order to avoid the requirement of full vesting as in the case of a discontinuance, or for any other reason;
(ii) Whether contributions are recurring and substantial; and
(iii) Whether there is any reasonable probability that the lack of contributions will continue indefinitely.
(2) Time of discontinuance. In any case in which a suspension of a profit-sharing plan maintained by a single employer is considered a discontinuance, the discontinuance becomes effective not later than the last day of the taxable year of the employer following the last taxable year of such employer for which a substantial contribution was made under the profit-sharing plan. In the case of a profit-sharing plan maintained by more than one employer, the discontinuance becomes effective not later than the last day of the plan year following the plan year within which any employer made a substantial contribution under the plan.
(e) Contributions or benefits which remain forfeitable. Under section 411 (d) (2) and (3), section 411(a) and this section do not apply to plan benefits which may not be provided for designated employees in the event of early termination of the plan under provisions of the plan adopted pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary or his delegate to preclude the discrimination prohibited by section 401(a)(4). Accordingly, in such a case, plan benefits may be required to be reallocated without regard to this section. See § 1.401-4(c).
(Sec. 411 (88 Stat. 901; 26 U.S.C. 411))
[T.D. 7501, 42 FR 42339, Aug. 23, 1977]
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