29 CFR 2510.3-102 - Definition of

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§ 2510.3-102 Definition of “plan assets”—participant contributions.
(a)
(1) General rule. For purposes of subtitle A and parts 1 and 4 of subtitle B of title I of ERISA and section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code only (but without any implication for and may not be relied upon to bar criminal prosecutions under 18 U.S.C. 664), the assets of the plan include amounts (other than union dues) that a participant or beneficiary pays to an employer, or amounts that a participant has withheld from his wages by an employer, for contribution or repayment of a participant loan to the plan, as of the earliest date on which such contributions or repayments can reasonably be segregated from the employer's general assets.
(2) Safe harbor.
(i) For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, in the case of a plan with fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year, any amount deposited with such plan not later than the 7th business day following the day on which such amount is received by the employer (in the case of amounts that a participant or beneficiary pays to an employer), or the 7th business day following the day on which such amount would otherwise have been payable to the participant in cash (in the case of amounts withheld by an employer from a participant's wages), shall be deemed to be contributed or repaid to such plan on the earliest date on which such contributions or participant loan repayments can reasonably be segregated from the employer's general assets.
(ii) This paragraph (a)(2) sets forth an optional alternative method of compliance with the rule set forth in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. This paragraph (a)(2) does not establish the exclusive means by which participant contribution or participant loan repayment amounts shall be considered to be contributed or repaid to a plan by the earliest date on which such contributions or repayments can reasonably be segregated from the employer's general assets.
(b) Maximum time period for pension benefit plans.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, with respect to an employee pension benefit plan as defined in section 3(2) of ERISA, in no event shall the date determined pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section occur later than the 15th business day of the month following the month in which the participant contribution or participant loan repayment amounts are received by the employer (in the case of amounts that a participant or beneficiary pays to an employer) or the 15th business day of the month following the month in which such amounts would otherwise have been payable to the participant in cash (in the case of amounts withheld by an employer from a participant's wages).
(2) With respect to a SIMPLE plan that involves SIMPLE IRAs (i.e., Simple Retirement Accounts, as described in section 408(p) of the Internal Revenue Code), in no event shall the date determined pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section occur later than the 30th calendar day following the month in which the participant contribution amounts would otherwise have been payable to the participant in cash.
(c) Maximum time period for welfare benefit plans. With respect to an employee welfare benefit plan as defined in section 3(1) of ERISA, in no event shall the date determined pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section occur later than 90 days from the date on which the participant contribution amounts are received by the employer (in the case of amounts that a participant or beneficiary pays to an employer) or the date on which such amounts would otherwise have been payable to the participant in cash (in the case of amounts withheld by an employer from a participant's wages).
(d) Extension of maximum time period for pension plans.
(1) With respect to participant contributions received or withheld by the employer in a single month, the maximum time period provided under paragraph (b) of this section shall be extended for an additional 10 business days for an employer who—
(i) Provides a true and accurate written notice, distributed in a manner reasonably designed to reach all the plan participants within 5 business days after the end of such extension period, stating—
(A) That the employer elected to take such extension for that month;
(B) That the affected contributions have been transmitted to the plan; and
(C) With particularity, the reasons why the employer cannot reasonably segregate the participant contributions within the time period described in paragraph (b) of this section;
(ii) Prior to such extension period, obtains a performance bond or irrevocable letter of credit in favor of the plan and in an amount of not less than the total amount of participant contributions received or withheld by the employer in the previous month; and
(iii) Within 5 business days after the end of such extension period, provides a copy of the notice required under paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section to the Secretary, along with a certification that such notice was provided to the participants and that the bond or letter of credit required under paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section was obtained.
(2) The performance bond or irrevocable letter of credit required in paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section shall be guaranteed by a bank or similar institution that is supervised by the Federal government or a State government and shall remain in effect for 3 months after the month in which the extension expires.
(3)
(i) An employer may not elect an extension under this paragraph (d) more than twice in any plan year unless the employer pays to the plan an amount representing interest on the participant contributions that were subject to all the extensions within such plan year.
(ii) The amount representing interest in paragraph (d)(3)(i) of this section shall be the greater of—
(A) The amount that otherwise would have been earned on the participant contributions from the date on which such contributions were paid to, or withheld by, the employer until such money is transmitted to the plan had such contributions been invested during such period in the investment alternative available under plan which had the highest rate of return; or
(B) Interest at a rate equal to the underpayment rate defined in section 6621(a)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code from the date on which such contributions were paid to, or withheld by, the employer until such money is fully restored to the plan.
(e) Definition. For purposes of this section, the term business day means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or any day designated as a holiday by the Federal Government.
(f) Examples. The requirements of this section are illustrated by the following examples:
(1) Employer A sponsors a 401(k) plan. There are 30 participants in the 401(k) plan. A has one payroll period for its employees and uses an outside payroll processing service to pay employee wages and process deductions. A has established a system under which the payroll processing service provides payroll deduction information to A within 1 business day after the issuance of paychecks. A checks this information for accuracy within 5 business days and then forwards the withheld employee contributions to the plan. The amount of the total withheld employee contributions is deposited with the trust that is maintained under the plan on the 7th business day following the date on which the employees are paid. Under the safe harbor in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, when the participant contributions are deposited with the plan on the 7th business day following a pay date, the participant contributions are deemed to be contributed to the plan on the earliest date on which such contributions can reasonably be segregated from A's general assets.
(2) Employer B is a large national corporation which sponsors a 401(k) plan with 600 participants. B has several payroll centers and uses an outside payroll processing service to pay employee wages and process deductions. Each payroll center has a different pay period. Each center maintains separate accounts on its books for purposes of accounting for that center's payroll deductions and provides the outside payroll processor the data necessary to prepare employee paychecks and process deductions. The payroll processing service issues the employees' paychecks and deducts all payroll taxes and elective employee deductions. The payroll processing service forwards the employee payroll deduction data to B on the date of issuance of paychecks. B checks this data for accuracy and transmits this data along with the employee 401(k) deferral funds to the plan's investment firm within 3 business days. The plan's investment firm deposits the employee 401(k) deferral funds into the plan on the day received from B. The assets of B's 401(k) plan would include the participant contributions no later than 3 business days after the issuance of paychecks.
(3) Employer C sponsors a self-insured contributory group health plan with 90 participants. Several former employees have elected, pursuant to the provisions of ERISA section 602, 29 U.S.C. 1162, to pay C for continuation of their coverage under the plan. These checks arrive at various times during the month and are deposited in the employer's general account at bank Z. Under paragraphs (a) and (c) of this section, the assets of the plan include the former employees' payments as soon after the checks have cleared the bank as C could reasonably be expected to segregate the payments from its general assets, but in no event later than 90 days after the date on which the former employees' participant contributions are received by C. If, however, C deposits the former employees' payments with the plan no later than the 7th business day following the day on which they are received by C, the former employees' participant contributions will be deemed to be contributed to the plan on the earliest date on which such contributions can reasonably be segregated from C's general assets.
(g) Effective date. This section is effective February 3, 1997.
(h) Applicability date for collectively-bargained plans.
(1) Paragraph (b) of this section applies to collectively bargained plans no sooner than the later of—
(i) February 3, 1997; or
(ii) The first day of the plan year that begins after the expiration of the last to expire of any applicable bargaining agreement in effect on August 7, 1996.
(2) Until paragraph (b) of this section applies to a collectively bargained plan, paragraph (c) of this section shall apply to such plan as if such plan were an employee welfare benefit plan.
(i) Optional postponement of applicability.
(1) The application of paragraph (b) of this section shall be postponed for up to an additional 90 days beyond the effective date described in paragraph (g) of this section for an employer who, prior to February 3, 1997—
(i) Provides a true and accurate written notice, distributed in a manner designed to reach all the plan participants before the end of February 3, 1997, stating—
(A) That the employer elected to postpone such applicability;
(B) The date that the postponement will expire; and
(C) With particularity the reasons why the employer cannot reasonably segregate the participant contributions within the time period described in paragraph (b) of this section, by February 3, 1997;
(ii) Obtains a performance bond or irrevocable letter of credit in favor of the plan and in an amount of not less than the total amount of participant contributions received or withheld by the employer in the previous 3 months;
(iii) Provides a copy of the notice required under paragraph (i)(1)(i) of this section to the Secretary, along with a certification that such notice was provided to the participants and that the bond or letter of credit required under paragraph (i)(1)(ii) of this section was obtained; and
(iv) For each month during which such postponement is in effect, provides a true and accurate written notice to the plan participants indicating the date on which the participant contributions received or withheld by the employer during such month were transmitted to the plan.
(2) The notice required in paragraph (i)(1)(iv) of this section shall be distributed in a manner reasonably designed to reach all the plan participants within 10 days after transmission of the affected participant contributions.
(3) The bond or letter of credit required under paragraph (i)(1)(ii) shall be guaranteed by a bank or similar institution that is supervised by the Federal government or a State government and shall remain in effect for 3 months after the month in which the postponement expires.
(4) During the period of any postponement of applicability with respect to a plan under this paragraph (i), paragraph (c) of this section shall apply to such plan as if such plan were an employee welfare benefit plan.
[61 FR 41233, Aug. 7, 1996, as amended at 62 FR 62936, Nov. 25, 1997; 75 FR 2076, Jan. 14, 2010]

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