26 CFR 31.3121(b)(7)-2 - Service by employees who are not members of a public retirement system.

Status message

There are 4 Updates appearing in the Federal Register for 26 CFR 31. View below or at eCFR (GPOAccess)
§ 31.3121(b)(7)-2 Service by employees who are not members of a public retirement system.
(a) Table of contents. This paragraph contains a listing of the major headings of this § 31.3121(b)(7)-2.
§ 31.3121(b)(7)-2Service by employees who are not members of a public retirement system.
(a) Table of contents.
(b) Introduction.
(c) General rule.
(1) Inclusion in employment of service by employees who are not members of a retirement system.
(2) Treatment of individuals employed in more than one position.
(d) Definition of qualified participant.
(1) General rule.
(2) Special rule for part time, seasonal and temporary employees.
(3) Alternative lookback rule.
(4) Treatment of former participants.
(e) Definition of retirement system.
(1) Requirement that system provide retirement-type benefits.
(2) Requirement that system provide minimum level of benefits.
(f) Transition rules.
(1) Application of qualified participant rules during 1991.
(2) Additional transition rules for plans in existence on November 5, 1990.
(b) Introduction. Under section 3121(b)(7)(F), wages of an employee of a State or local government are generally subject to tax under FlCA after July 1, 1991, unless the employee is a member of a retirement system maintained by the State or local government entity. This section 31.3121(b)(7)-2 provides rules for determining whether an employee is a “member of a retirement system”. These rules generally treat an employee as a member of a retirement system if he or she participates in a system that provides retirement benefits, and has an accrued benefit or receives an allocation under the system that is comparable to the benefits he or she would have or receive under Social Security. In the case of part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, this minimum retirement benefit is required to be nonforfeitable.
(c) General rule—
(1) Inclusion in employment of service by employees who are not members of a retirement system. Except in the case of service described in sections 3121(b)(7)(F) (i) through (v), the exception from employment under section 3121(b)(7) does not apply to service in the employ of a State or any political subdivision thereof, or of any instrumentality of one or more of the foregoing that is wholly owned thereby, after July 1, 1991, unless the employee is a member of a retirement system of such State, political subdivision or instrumentality at the time the service is performed. An employee is not a member of a retirement system at the time service is performed unless at that time he or she is a qualified participant (as defined in paragraph (d) of this section) in a retirement system that meets the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section with respect to that employee.
(2) Treatment of individuals employed in more than one position. Under section 3121(b)(7)(F), whether an employee is a member of a retirement system is determined on an entity-by-entity rather than a position-by-position basis. Thus, if an employee is a member of a retirement system with respect to service he or she performs in one position in the employ of a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof, the employee is generally treated as a member of a retirement system with respect to all service performed for the same State, political subdivision or instrumentality in any other positions. A State is a separate entity from its political subdivisions, and an instrumentality is a separate entity from the State or political subdivision by which it is owned for purposes of this rule. See paragraph (e)(2) of this section, however, for rules relating to service and compensation required to be taken into account in determining whether an employee is a member of a retirement system for purposes of this section. This rule is illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
An individual is employed full-time by a county and is a qualified participant (as defined in paragraph (d) of this section) in its retirement plan with regard to such employment. In addition to this full-time employment, the individual is employed part-time in another position with the same county. The part-time position is not covered by the county retirement plan, however, and neither the service nor the compensation in the part-time position is considered in determining the employee's retirement benefit under the county retirement plan. Nevertheless, if the retirement plan meets the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section with respect to the individual, the exclusion from employment under section 3121(b)(7) applies to both the employee's full-time and part-time service with the county.
Example 2.
An individual is employed full-time by a State and is a member of its retirement plan. The individual is also employed part-time by a city located in the State, but does not participate in the city's retirement plan. The services of the individual for the city are not excluded from employment under section 3121(b)(7), because the determination of whether services constitute employment for such purposes is made separately with respect to each political subdivision for which services are performed.
(d) Definition of qualified participant—
(1) General rule—
(i) Defined benefit retirement systems. Whether an employee is a qualified participant in a defined benefit retirement system is determined as services are performed. An employee is a qualified participant in a defined benefit retirement system (within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section) with respect to services performed on a given day if, on that day, he or she is or ever has been an actual participant in the retirement system and, on that day, he or she actually has a total accrued benefit under the retirement system that meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section. An employee may not be treated as an actual participant or as actually having an accrued benefit for this purpose to the extent that such participation or benefit is subject to any conditions (other than vesting), such as a requirement that the employee attain a minimum age, perform a minimum period of service, make an election in order to participate, or be present at the end of the plan year in order to be credited with an accrual, that have not been satisfied. The rules of this paragraph (d)(1)(i) are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
A State maintains a defined benefit plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. Under the terms of the plan, employees in positions covered by the plan must complete 6 months of service before becoming participants. The exception from employment in section 3121(b)(7) does not apply to services of an employee during the employee's 6 months of service prior to his or her initial entry into the plan. The same result occurs even if, upon the satisfaction of this service requirement, the employee is given credit under the plan for all service with the employer (i.e., if service is credited for the 6-month waiting period). This is true even if the employee makes a required contribution in order to gain the retroactive credit. The same result also occurs if the employee can elect to participate in the plan before the end of the 6-month waiting period, but does not elect to do so.
Example 2.
A political subdivision maintains a defined benefit plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. Under the terms of the plan, service during a plan year is not credited for accrual purposes unless a participant has at least 1,000 hours of service during the year. Benefits that accrue only upon satisfaction of this 1,000-hour requirement may not be taken into account in determining whether an employee is a qualified participant in the plan before the 1,000-hour requirement is satisfied.
(ii) Defined contribution retirement systems. Whether an employee is a qualified participant in a defined contribution retirement system is determined as services are performed. An employee is a qualified participant in a defined contribution or other individual account retirement system (within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section) with respect to services performed on a given day if, on that day, he or she has satisfied all conditions (other than vesting) for receiving an allocation to his or her account (exclusive of earnings) that meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section with respect to compensation during any period ending on that day and beginning on or after the beginning of the plan year of the retirement system. This is the case regardless of whether the allocations were made or accrued before the effective date of section 3121(b)(7)(F). This rule is illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
A State-owned hospital maintains a nonelective defined contribution plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. Under the terms of the plan, employees must be employed on the last day of a plan year in order to receive any allocation for the year. Employees may not be treated as qualified participants in the plan before the last day of the year.
Example 2.
Assume the same facts as in Example 1 except that, under the terms of the plan, an employee who terminates service before the end of a plan year receives a pro rata portion of the allocation he or she would have received at the end of the year, e.g., based on compensation earned since the beginning of the plan year. If the pro rata allocation available on a given day would meet the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section with respect to compensation from the beginning of the plan year through that day (or some later day), employees are treated as qualified participants in the plan on that day.
Example 3.
A political subdivision maintalns an elective defined contribution plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. The plan has a calendar year plan year and two open seasons—in December and June—when employees can change their contribution elections. In December, an employee elects not to contribute to the plan. In June, the employee elects (beginning July 1) to contribute a uniform percentage of compensation for each pay period to the plan for the remainder of the plan year. The employee is not a qualified participant in the plan during the period January-June, because no allocations are made to the employee's account with respect to compensation during that time, and it is not certain at that time that any allocations will be made. If the level of contributions during the period July-December meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section with respect to compensation during that period, however, the employee is treated as a qualified participant during that period.
Example 4.
Assume the same facts as in Example 3, except that the plan allows participants to cancel their elections in cases of economic hardship. In October, the employee suffers an economic hardship and cancels the election (effective November 1). If the contributions during the period July-October are high enough to meet the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section with respect to compensation during that period, the employee is treated as a qualified participant during that period. In addition, if the contributions during the period July-October are high enough to meet the requirements for the entire period July-December, the employee is treated as a qualified participant in the plan throughout the period July-December, even though no allocations are made to the employee's account in the last two months of the year. There is no requirement that the period used to determine whether an employee is a qualified participant on a given day remain the same from day to day, as long as the period begins on or after the beginning of the plan year and ends on the date the determination is being made.
(2) Special rule for part-time, seasonal and temporary employees—
(i) In general. A part-time, seasonal or temporary employee is generally not a qualified participant on a given day unless any benefit relied upon to meet the requirements of paragraph (d)(1) of this section is 100-percent nonforfeitable on that day. This requirement may be applied solely to the portion of an employee's benefit under the retirement system attributable to compensation and service while an employee is a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee, provided that such service is taken into account with respect to the remaining portion of the benefit for vesting purposes. Rules similar to the rules in section 411(a)(11) are applicable in determining whether a benefit is nonforfeitable. Thus, a benefit does not fail to be nonforfeitable solely because it can be immediately distributed upon separation of service without the consent of the employee, provided that the present value of the benefit does not exceed the cash-out limit in effect under § 1.411(a)-11(c)(3)(ii) of this chapter.
(ii) Treatment of employees entitled to certain distributions upon death or separation from service. A part-time, seasonal or temporary employee's benefit under a retirement system is considered nonforfeitable within the meaning of paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section on a given day if on that day the employee is unconditionally entitled under the retirement system to a single-sum distribution on account of death or separation from service of an amount that is at least equal to 7.5 percent of the participant's compensation (within the meaning of paragraph (e)(2)(iii)(B) of this section) for all periods of credited service taken into account in determining whether the employee's benefit under the retirement system meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section. An employee will be considered to be unconditionally entitled to a single-sum distribution notwithstanding the fact that the distribution may be forfeitable (in whole or in part) upon a finding of such employee's criminal misconduct. The participant must be entitled to interest on the distributable amount through the date of distribution, at a rate meeting the requirements of paragraph (e)(2)(iii)(C) of this section, as part of the single sum. See paragraph (f)(2)(i)(C) for a transition rule relating to this nonforfeitable benefit safe harbor. The rule of this paragraph (d)(2)(ii) is illustrated by the following example:
Example.
An employee is required to contribute 7.5 percent of his or her compensation to a State's defined benefit plan each year. The contribution is “picked up” by the employer in accordance with section 414(h). Under the plan, these amounts plus interest accrued since the date each amount was contributed are refundable to the employee in all cases upon the employee's death or separation from service with the employer. If the interest rate meets the requirements of paragraph (e)(2)(iii)(C) of this section, then the employee's benefits under the plan are considered nonforfeitable and thus meet the requirement of paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section. Of course, the benefit under the plan must still meet the minimum retirement benefit requirement for defined benefit plans of paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section.
(iii) Definitions of part-time, seasonal and temporary employee—
(A) Definition of part-time employee. For purposes of this section, a part-time employee is any employee who normally works 20 hours or less per week. A teacher employed by a post-secondary educational institution (e.g., a community or junior college, post-secondary vocational school, college, university or graduate school) is not considered a part-time employee for purposes of this section if he or she normally has classroom hours of one-half or more of the number of classroom hours designated by the educational institution as constituting full-time employment, provided that such designation is reasonable under all the facts and circumstances. In addition, elected officials and election workers (otherwise described in section 3121(b)(7)(F)(iv) but paid in excess of $100 annually) are not considered part-time, seasonal or temporary employees for purposes of this section. The rules of this paragraph (d)(2)(iii) are illustrated by the following example:
Example.
A community college treats a teacher as a full-time employee if the teacher is assigned to work 15 classroom hours per week. A new teacher is assigned to work 8 classroom hours per week. Because the assigned classroom hours of the teacher are at least one-half of the school's definition of full-time teacher, the teacher is not a part-time employee.
(B) Definition of seasonal employee. For purposes of this section, a seasonal employee is any employee who normally works on a full-time basis less than 5 months in a year. Thus, for example, individuals who are hired by a political subdivision during the tax return season in order to process incoming returns and work full-time over a 3-month period are seasonal employees.
(C) Definition of temporary employee. For purposes of this section, a temporary employee is any employee performing services under a contractual arrangement with the employer of 2 years or less duration. Possible contract extensions may be considered in determining the duration of a contractual arrangement, but only if, under the facts and circumstances, there is a significant likelihood that the employee's contract will be extended. Future contract extensions are considered significantly likely to occur for purposes of this rule if on average 80 percent of similarly situated employees (i.e., those in the same or a similar job classification with expiring employment contracts) have had bona fide offers to renew their contracts in the immediately preceding 2 academic or calendar years. In addition, future contract extensions are considered significantly likely to occur if the employee with respect to whom the determination is being made has a history of contract extensions with respect to his or her current position. An employee is not considered a temporary employee for purposes of this rule solely because he or she is included in a unit of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement of 2 years or less duration.
(D) Treatment of employees participating in certain systems. Whether an employee is a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee with respect to allocations or benefits under a retirement system is generally determined based on service in the position in which the allocations or benefits were earned, and does not take into account service in other positions with the same or different States, political subdivisions or instrumentalities thereof. All of an employee's service in other positions with the same or different States, political subdivisions or instrumentalities thereof may be taken into account for purposes of determining whether an employee is a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee with respect to benefits under the retirement system, however, Provided that: The employee's service in the other positions is or was covered by the retirement system; all service aggregated for purposes of determining whether an employee is a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee (and related compensation) is aggregated under the system for all purposes in determining benefits (including vesting); and the employee is treated at least as favorably as a full-time employee under the retirement system for benefit accrual purposes. The rule of this paragraph (d)(2)(iii)(D) is illustrated by the following example:
Example.
Assume that an employee works 15 hours per week for a county and 10 hours per week for a municipality, and that both of these political subdivisions contribute to the same state-wide public employee retirement system. Assume further that the employee's service in both positions is aggregated under the system for all purposes in determining benefits (including vesting). If the employee is covered under the retirement system with respect to both positions and is treated for benefit accrual purposes at least as favorably as full-time employees under the retirement system, then the employee is not considered a part-time employee of either the county or the municipality for purposes of the nonforfeitable benefit requirement of paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section.
(3) Alternative lookback rule—
(i) In general. An employee may be treated as a qualified participant in a retirement system throughout a calendar year if he or she was a qualified participant in such system (within the meaning of paragraphs (d) (1) and (2) of this section) at the end of the plan year of the system ending in the previous calendar year. This rule is illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
A political subdivision maintains a plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. An employee is a qualified participant within the meaning of paragraph (d)(1) of this section in the plan on the last day of the plan year ending on May 31, 1995. If the alternative lookback rule is used to determine FICA liability, no such liability exists with respect to the employee or employer for calendar year 1996 by reason of section 3121(b)(7)(F). The same result would apply if the determination is being made with respect to calendar year 1992 and the lookback year was the plan year ending May 31, 1991, even though that plan year ended before the effective date of section 3121(b)(7)(F).
Example 2.
A political subdivision maintains an elective defined contribution plan described in section 457(b) of the Code. An employee is eligible to participate in the plan but does not elect to contribute for a plan year. Under the general rule of paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the employee is not a qualified participant in the plan during the plan year because contributions sufficient to meet the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section are not being made. However, if an employee's status as a qualified participant is being determined under the alternative lookback rule, then the employee is a qualified participant for the calendar year in which the determination is being made if he of she was a qualified participant as of the end of the plan year that ended in the previous calendar year.
(ii) Application in first year of participation. If the alternative lookback rule is used, an employee who participates in the retirement system may be treated as a qualified participant on any given day during his or her first plan year of participation in a retirement system (within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section) if and only if it is reasonable on such day to believe that the employee will be a qualified participant (within the meaning of paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section) on the last day of such plan year. In the case of a defined contribution retirement system, the determination of whether the employee is actually (or is expected to be) a qualified participant at the end of the plan year must take into account all compensation since the commencement of participation. See paragraph (d)(3)(iv) of this section. If this reasonable belief is correct, and the employee is a qualified participant on the last day of his or her first plan year of participation, then the exception from employment in section 3121(b)(7) will apply without regard to section 3121(b)(7)(F) to services of the employee for the balance of the calendar year in which the plan year ends. For purposes of this paragraph (d)(3)(ii), it is not reasonable to assume the establishment of a new plan until such establishment actually occurs. In addition, the rule in this paragraph (d)(3)(ii) may not be used to treat an employee as a qualified participant until the employee actually becomes a participant in the retirement system. In the case of a retirement system that does not permit a new employee to participate until the first day of the first month beginning after the employee's commencement of service, or some earlier date, a new employee who is not a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee may be treated as a qualified participant until such date. This 1-month rule of administrative convenience applies without regard to whether the employer has a reasonable belief that the employee will be a qualified participant. The rules of this paragraph (d)(3)(ii) are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
A political subdivision maintains a plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section and uses the alternative lookback rule of this paragraph (d)(3). Under the terms of the plan, service during a plan year is not credited for accrual purposes unless a participant has at least 1,000 hours of service during the year. Assume that an employee becomes a participant. If it is reasonable to believe that the employee will be credited with 1,000 hours of service by the last day of his or her first year of participation and thereby become a qualified participant by reason of accruing a benefit that meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section, the services of the employee are not subject to FICA tax from the date of initial participation until the end of that plan year. If the employee is a qualified participant on the last day of his or her first plan year of participation, then the exception from employment for purposes of FICA will apply to services of the employee for the balance of the calendar year in which the plan year ended.
Example 2.
Assume the same facts as Example 1, except that the employee is a newly hired employee and the plan provides that an employee may not participate until the first day of his or her first full month of employment. Under the 1-month rule of convenience, the employee may be treated as a qualified participant until the first date on which he or she could participate in the plan.
(iii) Application in last year of participation. If the alternative lookback rule is used, an employee may be treated as a qualified participant on any given day during his or her last year of participation in a retirement system (within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section) if and only if it is reasonable to believe on such day that the employee, will be a qualified participant (within the meaning of paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section) on his or her last day of participation. For purposes of this paragraph (d)(3)(iii), an employee's last year of participation means the plan year that the employer reasonably ascertains is the final year of such employee's participation (e.g., where the employee has a scheduled retirement date or where the employer intends to terminate the plan).
(iv) Special rule for defined contribution retirement systems. An employee may not be treated as a qualified participant in a defined contribution retirement system under this paragraph (d)(3) if compensation for less than a full plan year or other 12-month period is regularly taken into account in determining allocations to the employee's account for the plan year unless, under all of the facts and circumstances, such arrangement is not a device to avoid the imposition of FICA taxes. For example, an arrangement under which compensation taken into account is limited to the contribution base described in section 3121(x)(1) is not considered a device to avoid FICA taxes by reason of such limitation. See paragraph (e)(2)(iii)(B) of this section for a rule permitting the use of such limitation. This rule is illustrated by the following example:
Example.
A political subdivision maintains a defined contribution plan that covers all of its full-time employees and is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. Under the plan, a portion of each participant's compensation in the final month of every plan year is allocated to the participant's account. Employees covered under the plan generally may not be treated as qualified participants under the alternative lookback rule for any portion of the calendar year following the year in which such allocation is made.
(v) Consistency requirement. Beginning with calendar year 1992, if the alternative lookback rule is used to determine whether an employee is a qualified participant, it must be used consistently from year to year and with respect to all employees of the State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof making the determination. If a retirement system is sponsored by more than one State, political subdivision or instrumentality, this consistency requirement applies separately to each plan sponsor.
(4) Treatment of former participants—
(i) In general. In general, the rules of this paragraph (d) apply equally to former participants who continue to perform service for the same State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof or who return after a break in service. Thus, for example, a former employee of a political subdivision with a deferred benefit under a defined benefit retirement system maintained by the political subdivision who is reemployed by the political subdivision but does not resume participation in the retirement system, may continue to be a qualified participant in the system after becoming reemployed if his or her total accrued benefit under the system meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section (taking into account all periods of service (including current service) required to be taken into account under that paragraph). See also paragraph (e)(2)(v) of this section for situations in which benefits under a retirement system may be taken into account even though they relate to service for another employer.
(ii) Treatment of re-hired annuitants. An employee who is a former participant in a retirement system maintained by a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof, who has previously retired from service with the State, political subdivision or instrumentality, and who is either in pay status (i.e., is currently receiving retirement benefits) under the retirement system or has reached nomal retirement age under the retirement system, is deemed to be a qualified participant in the retirement system without regard to whether he or she continues to accrue a benefit or whether the distribution of benefits under the retirement system has been suspended pending cessation of services. This rule also applies in the case of an employee who has retired from service with another State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof that maintains the same retirement system as the current employer, provided the employee is a former participant in the system by reason of the employee's former employment. Thus, for example, if a teacher retires from service with a school district that participates in a state-wide teachers' retirement system, begins to receive benefits from the system, and later becomes a substitute teacher in another school district that participates in the same state-wide system, the employee is treated as a re-hired annuitant under this paragraph (d)(4)(ii).
(e) Definition of retirement system—
(1) Requirement that system provide retirement-type benefits. For purposes of section 3121(b)(7)(F), a retirement system includes any pension, annuity, retirement or similar fund or system within the meaning of section 218 of the Social Security Act that is maintained by a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof to provide retirement benefits to its employees who are participants. Whether a plan is maintained to provide retirement benefits with respect to an employee is determined under the facts and circumstances of each case. For example, a plan providing only retiree health insurance or other deferred welfare benefits is not considered a retirement system for this purpose. The legal form of the system is generally not relevant. Thus, for example, a retirement system may include a plan described in section 401(a), an annuity plan or contract under section 403 or a plan described in section 457(b) or (f) of the Internal Revenue Code. In addition, the Social Security system is not a retirement system for purposes of section 3121(b)(7)(F) and this section. These rules are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
Under an employment arrangement, a portion of an employee's compensation is regularly deferred for 5 years. Because a plan that defers the receipt of compensation for a short span of time rather than until retirement is not a plan that provides retirement benefits, this arrangement is not a retirement system for purposes of section 3121(b)(7)(F).
Example 2.
An individual holds two positions with the same political subdivision. The wages earned in one position are subject to FICA tax pursuant to an agreement (under section 218 of the Social Security Act) between the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the State in which the political subdivision is located. Because the Social Security system is not a retirement system for purposes of section 3121(b)(7)(F), the exception from employment in section 3121(b)(7) does not apply to service in the other position unless the employee is otherwise a member of a retirement system of such political subdivision.
(2) Requirement that system provide minimum level of benefits—
(i) In general. A pension, annuity, retirement or similar fund or system is not a retirement system with respect to an employee unless it provides a retirement benefit to the employee that is comparable to the benefit provided under the Old-Age portion of the Old-Age, Survivor and Disability Insurance program of Social Security. Whether a retirement system meets this requirement is generally determined on an individual-by-individual basis. Thus, for example, a pension plan that is not a retirement system with respect to an employee may nevertheless be a retirement system with respect to other employees covered by the system.
(ii) Defined benefit retirement systems. A defined benefit retirement system maintained by a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof meets the requirements of this paragraph (e)(2) with respect to an employee on a given day if and only if, on that day, the employee has an accrued benefit under the system that entitles the employee to an annual benefit commencing on or before his or her Social Security retirement age that is at least equal to the annual Primary Insurance Amount the employee would have under Social Security. For this purpose, the Primary Insurance Amount an individual would have under Social Security is determined as it would be under the Social Security Act if the employee had been covered under Social Security for all periods of service with the State, political subdivision or instrumentality, had never performed service for any other employer, and had been fully insured within the meaning of section 214(a) of the Social Security Act, except that all periods of service with the State, political subdivision or instrumentality must be taken into account (i.e., without reduction for low-earning years).
(iii) Defined contribution retirement systems—
(A) In general. A defined contribution retirement system maintained by a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof meets the requirements of paragraph (e)(2)(i) of this section with respect to an employee if and only if allocations to the employee's account (not including earnings) for a period are at least 7.5 percent of the employee's compensation for service for the State, political subdivision or instrumentality during the period. Matching contributions by the employer may be taken into account for this purpose.
(B) Definition of compensation. The definition of compensation used in determining whether a defined contribution retirement system meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement must generally be no less inclusive than the definition of the employee's base pay as designated by the employer or the retirement system, provided such designation is reasonable under all the facts and circumstances. Thus, for example, a defined contribution retirement system will not fail to meet this requirement merely because it disregards for all purposes one or more of the following: overtime pay, bonuses, or single-sum amounts received on account of death or separation from service under a bona fide vacation, compensatory time or sick pay plan, or under severance pay plans. Furthermore, any compensation remaining after such amounts are disregarded that is in excess of the contribution base described in section 3121(x)(1) at the beginning of the plan year may also be disregarded. The rules of this paragraph are illustrated by the following example:
Example.
A political subdivision maintains an elective defined contribution plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section. The plan has a calendar year plan year. In 1995, an employee contributes to the plan at a rate of 7.5 percent of base pay. Assume that the employee will reach the maximum contribution base described in section 3121(x)(1) in October of 1995. The employee is a qualified participant in the plan for all of the 1995 plan year without regard to whether the employee ceases to participate at any time after reaching the maximum contribution base.
(C) Reasonable interest rate requirement. A defined contribution retirement system does not satisfy this paragraph (e)(2) with respect to an employee unless the employee's account is credited with earnings at a rate that is reasonable under all the facts and circumstances, or employees' accounts are held in a separate trust that is subject to general fiduciary standards and are credited with actual earnings on the trust fund. Whether the interest rate with which an employee's account is credited is reasonable is determined after reducing the rate to adjust for the payment of any administrative expenses. The rule of this paragraph (e)(2)(iii)(C) is illustrated by the following example:
Example.
A political subdivision maintains a defined contribution plan described in section 457(b). Under the plan, the accounts of participants are credited annually on the basis of a variable interest rate formula determined as of the beginning of the plan year. The formula requires an interest rate (after adjustment for administrative expense payments) equal to 100 percent of the Applicable Federal Rate for long-term debt instruments. This interest rate constitutes a reasonable rate of interest.
(iv) Treatment of emloyees employed in more than one position with the same entity. All service and compensation of an employee with respect to his or her employment with a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof must generally be considered in determining whether a benefit meets the requirement of this paragraph (e)(2). However, for individuals employed simultaneously in multiple positions with the same entity, this determination may (but is not required to) be made solely by reference to the service and compensation related to a single position of the employee with the State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof making the determination, provided that the position is not a part-time, seasonal or temporary position.
(v) Treatment of employees participating in certain systems. In general, only compensation from and service for the State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof that employs the employee (and the allocations or benefits related to such compensation or service) on a given day are considered in determining whether the employee's benefit under the retirement system on that day meets the requirements of this paragraph (e)(2), even if the employee has other allocations or benefits under the same retirement system from service with another State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof. However, an employee's total allocations or benefits under a retirement system maintained by multiple States, political subdivisions or instrumentalities thereof (including the current employer) may be taken into account if:
(A) The compensation and service on which the additional allocations or benefits are based are also taken into account in determining whether the employee's allocations or benefits satisfy the minimum retirement benefit requirement;
(B) The retirement system takes all service and compensation of the employee in all positions covered by the system into account for all benefit determination purposes; and
(C) If the employee is a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee, he or she is treated under the plan for benefit accrual purposes in as favorable a manner as a full-time employee participating in the system.
(vi) Additional testing methods. Additional testing methods may be designated by the Commissioner in revenue procedures, revenue rulings, notices or other documents of general applicability.
(f) Transition rules—
(1) Application of qualified participant rules during 1991—
(i) In general. An employee may be treated as a qualified participant in a retirement system (within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section) on a given day during the period July 1 through December 31, 1991, if it is reasonable on that day to believe that he or she will be a qualified participant under the general rule in paragraphs (d) (1) and (2) of this section by January 1, 1992 (taking into account only service and compensation on or after such date). For purposes of this paragraph (f)(1)(i), given the facts and circumstances of a particular case, it may be reasonable to assume that the terms of a plan will be changed or that a new retirement system will be established by the end of calendar year 1991, as long as affirmative steps have been taken to accomplish this result.
(ii) Extension of reliance period if legislative action required. If a plan amendment or other action is necessary in order to treat an employee as a member of a retirement system for purposes of this section, such amendment or other action may only be taken by a legislative body that does not convene during the period July 1, 1991, through December 31, 1991, and the other requirements of paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section are met, the end of the reasonable reliance period (including the rule that service and compensation prior to that date may be disregarded) provided under paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section is extended from December 31, 1991, to the date that is the last day of the first legislative session commencing after December 31, 1991. These rules are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
A State maintains a defined benefit plan that meets the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section. The plan does not cover a particular class of full-time employees as of July 1, 1991. However, in light of the enactment of section 3121(b)(7)(F), State officials administering the plan for the State intend to request that the legislature amend the State statute to include that class of employees in the existing plan and otherwise to modify the terms of the plan to meet the requirements of section 3121(b)(7)(F) and this section. The State legislature meets from January through March each year, and legislative action is required to expand coverage under the plan. State officials administering the plan have publicized the proposed amendment providing for the addition of these employees to the plan. Under the transition rule for 1991, if it is reasonable to believe that the legislature will pass this bill in the 1992 session, service by the employees who will be covered under the plan by reason of the amendment is not treated as employment by reason of section 3121(b)(7)(F) during the period prior to April 1, 1992. This is true regardless of whether the plan provides retroactive coverage for the period July 1, 1991 through March 31, 1992.
Example 2.
Assume the same facts as in Example 1, except that legislative action is not required in order to expand coverage under the plan, and that publication of the proposed change to the plan occurs in 1991. Assume further that coverage is expanded under the plan to include the new class of full-time employees as of April 1, 1992. Despite this action, in this situation the service by those employees during the period January 1, 1992 through March 31, 1992 is not excluded from “employment” under section 3121(b)(7)(F), and wages for that period are generally subject to FICA taxes even if the plan provides retroactive coverage for any portion of the period July 1, 1991 to March 31, 1992.
(2) Additional transition rules for plans in existence on November 5, 1990—
(i) Application of minimum retirement benefit requirement to defined benefit retirement systems in plan years beginning before 1993—
(A) In general. A defined benefit retirement system maintained by a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof on November 5, 1990, is not subject to the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section for any plan year beginning before January 1, 1993, with respect to individuals who were actually covered under the system on November 5, 1990. Such a retirement system is also not subject to the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section with respect to an employee who becomes a participant after November 5, 1990, if he or she is employed in a position that was covered under the retirement system on November 5, 1990, without regard to whether such coverage was mandatory or elective. A retirement system is not described in this paragraph (f)(2)(i)(A) if there has been a material decrease in the level of retirement benefits under the retirement system pursuant to an amendment adopted subsequent to November 5, 1990. Whether such a material decrease in benefits has occurred is determined under the facts and circumstances of each case. A decrease in benefits is not material to the extent that it does not decrease the benefit payable at normal retirement age. These rules are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
The retirement formula under a retirement plan that was in existence on November 5, 1990, is amended to use career average compensation instead of a high 3-year average, without any increase in the benefit formula. This amendment constitutes a material decrease in the level of benefit under the retirement plan. Therefore, the retirement plan is subject to the minimum retirement benefit requirement for the plan year for which the amendment is effective and for all succeeding plan years.
Example 2.
A defined benefit retirement plan that was in existence on November 5, 1990, is subsequently amended to include part-time employees. Previously, this class of employees was not covered under the plan either on a mandatory or on an elective basis. The plan is subject to the minimum retirement benefit requirement with respect to the part-time employees because this class of employees was previously excluded from coverage under the retirement plan. Of course, the nonforfeitable benefit rule applies to the benefit relied upon to meet the minimum retirement benefit requirement with respect to any part-time, seasonal or temporary employee covered during this period.
(B) Treatment in plan years beginning after 1992 of benefits accrued during previous plan years. The general rule that a defined benefit retirement system meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement on the basis of total benefits and service accrued to date is modified for plans in existence on November 5, 1990. If a defined benefit retirement system in existence on November 5, 1990, does not meet the minimum retirement benefit requirement solely because the benefits accrued for an employee (with respect to whom the system is entitled to relief under paragraph (f)(2)(i)(A) of this section) as of the last day of the last plan year beginning before January 1, 1993, do not meet the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section with respect to service and compensation before that time, then the retirement system will be deemed to comply with the requirements of paragraph (e)(2) of this section if the future service accruals would comply with the requirement of paragraph (e)(2) of this section. If retirement benefits under a retirement system in existence on November 5, 1990 are materially decreased within the meaning of paragraph (f)(2)(i)(A) of this section, then the date the decrease is effective is substituted for January 1, 1993 for purposes of this paragraph. The rule of this paragraph (f)(2)(i)(B) is illustrated by the following example:
Example.
A defined benefit plan maintained by a State was in existence on November 5, 1990. It provides a retirement benefit on the last day of the 1992 plan year that is insufficient to meet the requirements of paragraph (e)(2) of this section based on employees' total service and compensation with the State at that time. The plan will nevertheless meet the requirements of paragraph (e)(2) of this section if it is amended to provide benefits sufficient to meet the requirements of paragraph (e)(2) of this section based on employees' service and compensation in plan years beginning after December 31, 1992.
(C) Treatment of part-time, seasonal or temporary employees. A defined benefit retirement system is not exempt from the minimum retirement benefit requirement with respect to a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee during the transition period provided in paragraph (f)(2)(i)(A) of this section unless any retirement benefit provided to the employee is 100-percent nonforfeitable within the meaning of paragraph (d)(2) of this section. In determining whether the benefit is nonforfeitable, the special rule in paragraph (d)(2)(ii) of this section is modified in two respects during the transition period: first, the percentage of compensation required to be available for distribution is reduced from 7.5 percent to 6 percent; and second, the period of service with respect to which compensation must be determined is modified to include all periods of participation by the employee in the system since July 1, 1991.
(ii) Application of minimum retirement benefit requirement to defined contribution retirement systems in plan years beginning before 1993. A defined contribution retirement system maintained by a State, political subdivision or instrumentality thereof on November 5, 1990, meets the minimum retirement benefit requirement of paragraph (e) (2) of this section with respect to an employee for any plan year beginning before January 1, 1993, if mandatory allocations to the employee's account (not including earnings) for a period are at least 6 percent (rather than 7.5 percent) of the employee's compensation for service to the State, political subdivision or instrumentality during the period, and the plan otherwise meets the requirements of paragraph (e)(2)(iii) of this section. This transition rule is only available with respect to an employee who is actually covered under the system on November 5, 1990, and to an employee who becomes a participant after November 5, 1990, if he or she is employed in a position that was covered under the retirement system on November 5, 1990, without regard to whether such coverage was mandatory or elective. In addition, this transition rule is not available with respect to a part-time, seasonal or temporary employee unless the mandatory allocation required under this paragraph (f)(2)(ii) is 100-percent nonforfeitable within the meaning of paragraph (d)(2) of this section. A retirement system is not described in this paragraph (f)(2)(ii) if there has been a material decrease in the level of retirement benefits under the retirement system pursuant to an amendment adopted subsequent to November 5, 1990. Whether such a material decrease in benefits has occurred is determined under all the facts and circumstances.
(iii) Application of qualified participant rules. A participant with respect to whom relief is granted under paragraph (f)(2)(i)(A) of this section may be treated as a qualified participant in the defined benefit retirement system on a given day if, on that day, he or she is actually a participant in the retirement system, and, on that day, it is reasonable to believe that the participant will actually accrue a benefit before the end of the plan year of such retirement system in which the determination is made. A participant is not treated as accruing a benefit for purposes of this rule if his or her accrued benefits increase solely as a result of an increase in compensation. However, an employee is treated as a qualified participant for a plan year if the employee meets all of the applicable conditions for accruing the maximum current benefit for such year but fails to accrue a benefit solely because of a uniformly applicable benefit limit under the plan. In addition, an employee may be treated as a qualified participant in the system on a given day if the employee is a re-hired annuitant within the meaning of paragraph (d)(4)(ii) of this section. This rule is illustrated by the following example:
Example.
A political subdivision maintains a defined benefit plan that is a retirement system within the meaning of paragraph (e)(1) of this section but does not meet the requirements of paragraph (e)(2) of this section. If the plan is not subject to the minimum retirement benefit requirement, an employee who is a participant in the retirement plan as of the end of a plan year beginning before January 1, 1993, and may reasonably be expected to accrue a benefit under the plan by the end of such plan year may be treated as a qualified participant in the plan throughout the plan year regardless of the actual amount of the accrual.
[T.D. 8354, 56 FR 29570, June 28, 1991; 56 FR 40246, Aug. 14, 1991, as amended by T.D. 8794, 63 FR 70338, Dec. 21, 1998; T.D. 8891, 65 FR 44682, July 19, 2000]

Title 26 published on 2014-04-01

The following are only the Rules published in the Federal Register after the published date of Title 26.

For a complete list of all Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices view the Rulemaking tab.

  • 2014-09-16; vol. 79 # 179 - Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    1. 79 FR 55362 - Authority for Voluntary Withholding on Other Payments
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, Internal Revenue Service
      Final regulations and removal of temporary regulations.
      Effective Date: These regulations are effective on September 16, 2014. Applicability Date: For date of applicability, see § 31.3402(p)-1(d).
      26 CFR Part 31

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

This list is taken from the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules provided by GPO [Government Printing Office].

It is not guaranteed to be accurate or up-to-date, though we do refresh the database weekly. More limitations on accuracy are described at the GPO site.


United States Code
Statutes at Large

Title 26 published on 2014-04-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 26 CFR 31 after this date.

  • 2014-09-16; vol. 79 # 179 - Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    1. 79 FR 55362 - Authority for Voluntary Withholding on Other Payments
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, Internal Revenue Service
      Final regulations and removal of temporary regulations.
      Effective Date: These regulations are effective on September 16, 2014. Applicability Date: For date of applicability, see § 31.3402(p)-1(d).
      26 CFR Part 31