26 CFR § 1.401(k)-4 - SIMPLE 401(k) plan requirements.

§ 1.401(k)-4 SIMPLE 401(k) plan requirements.

(a) General rule. A cash or deferred arrangement satisfies the SIMPLE 401(k) plan provision of section 401(k)(11) for a plan year if the arrangement satisfies the requirements of paragraphs (b) through (i) of this section for that year. A plan that contains a cash or deferred arrangement that satisfies this section is referred to as a SIMPLE 401(k) plan. Pursuant to section 401(k)(11), a SIMPLE 401(k) plan is treated as satisfying the ADP test of section 401(k)(3)(A)(ii) for that year.

(b) Eligible employer -

(1) General rule. A SIMPLE 401(k) plan must be established by an eligible employer. Eligible employer for purposes of this section means, with respect to any plan year, an employer that had no more than 100 employees who each received at least $5,000 of SIMPLE compensation, as defined in paragraph (e)(5) of this section, from the employer for the prior calendar year.

(2) Special rule. An eligible employer that establishes a SIMPLE 401(k) plan for a plan year and that fails to be an eligible employer for any subsequent plan year, is treated as an eligible employer for the 2 plan years following the last plan year the employer was an eligible employer. If the failure is due to any acquisition, disposition, or similar transaction involving an eligible employer, the preceding sentence applies only if the provisions of section 410(b)(6)(C)(i) are satisfied.

(c) Exclusive plan -

(1) General rule. The SIMPLE 401(k) plan must be the exclusive plan for each SIMPLE 401(k) plan participant for the plan year. This requirement is satisfied if there are no contributions made, or benefits accrued, for services during the plan year on behalf of any SIMPLE 401(k) plan participant under any other qualified plan maintained by the employer. Other qualified plan for purposes of this section means any plan, contract, pension, or trust described in section 219(g)(5)(A) or (B).

(2) Special rule. A SIMPLE 401(k) plan will not be treated as failing the requirements of this paragraph (c) merely because any SIMPLE 401(k) plan participant receives an allocation of forfeitures under another plan of the employer.

(d) Election and notice -

(1) General rule. An eligible employer establishing or maintaining a SIMPLE 401(k) plan must satisfy the election and notice requirements in paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) of this section.

(2) Employee elections -

(i) Initial plan year of participation. For the plan year in which an employee first becomes eligible under the SIMPLE 401(k) plan, the employee must be permitted to make a cash or deferred election under the plan during a 60-day period that includes either the day the employee becomes eligible or the day before.

(ii) Subsequent plan years. For each subsequent plan year, each eligible employee must be permitted to make or modify his cash or deferred election during the 60-day period immediately preceding such plan year.

(iii) Election to terminate. An eligible employee must be permitted to terminate his cash or deferred election at any time. If an employee does terminate his cash or deferred election, the plan is permitted to provide that such employee cannot have elective contributions made under the plan for the remainder of the plan year.

(3) Employee notices. The employer must notify each eligible employee within a reasonable time prior to each 60-day election period, or on the day the election period starts, that he or she can make a cash or deferred election, or modify a prior election, if applicable, during that period. The notice must state whether the eligible employer will make the matching contributions described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section or the nonelective contributions described in paragraph (e)(4) of this section.

(e) Contributions -

(1) General rule. A SIMPLE 401(k) plan satisfies the contribution requirements of this paragraph (e) for a plan year only if no contributions may be made to the SIMPLE 401(k) plan during such year, other than contributions described in this paragraph (e) and rollover contributions described in § 1.402(c)-2, Q&A-1(a).

(2) Elective contributions. Subject to the limitations on annual additions under section 415, each eligible employee must be permitted to make an election to have up to $10,000 of elective contributions made on the employee's behalf under the SIMPLE 401(k) plan for a plan year. The $10,000 limit is increased beginning in 2006 in the same manner as the $160,000 amount is adjusted under section 415(d), except that pursuant to section 408(p)(2)(E)(ii) the base period shall be the calendar quarter beginning July 1, 2004 and any increase which is not a multiple of $500 is rounded to the next lower multiple of $500.

(3) Matching contributions. Each plan year, the eligible employer must contribute a matching contribution to the account of each eligible employee on whose behalf elective contributions were made for the plan year. The amount of the matching contribution must equal the lesser of the eligible employee's elective contributions for the plan year or 3% of the eligible employee's SIMPLE compensation for the entire plan year.

(4) Nonelective contributions. For any plan year, in lieu of contributing matching contributions described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section, an eligible employer may, in accordance with plan terms, contribute a nonelective contribution to the account of each eligible employee in an amount equal to 2% of the eligible employee's SIMPLE compensation for the entire plan year. The eligible employer may limit the nonelective contributions to those eligible employees who received at least $5,000 of SIMPLE compensation from the employer for the entire plan year.

(5) SIMPLE compensation. Except as otherwise provided, the term SIMPLE compensation for purposes of this section means the sum of wages, tips, and other compensation from the eligible employer subject to federal income tax withholding (as described in section 6051(a)(3)) and the employee's elective contributions made under any other plan, and if applicable, elective deferrals under a section 408(p) SIMPLE IRA plan, a section 408(k)(6) SARSEP, or a plan or contract that satisfies the requirements of section 403(b), and compensation deferred under a section 457 plan, required to be reported by the employer on Form W-2 (as described in section 6051(a)(8)). For self-employed individuals, SIMPLE compensation means net earnings from self-employment determined under section 1402(a) prior to subtracting any contributions made under the SIMPLE 401(k) plan on behalf of the individual.

(f) Vesting. All benefits attributable to contributions described in paragraph (e) of this section must be nonforfeitable at all times.

(g) Plan year. The plan year of a SIMPLE 401(k) plan must be the whole calendar year. Thus, in general, a SIMPLE 401(k) plan can be established only on January 1 and can be terminated only on December 31. However, in the case of an employer that did not previously maintain a SIMPLE 401(k) plan, the establishment date can be as late as October 1 (or later in the case of an employer that comes into existence after October 1 and establishes the SIMPLE 401(k) plan as soon as administratively feasible after the employer comes into existence).

(h) Other rules. A SIMPLE 401(k) plan is not treated as a top-heavy plan under section 416. See section 416(g)(4)(G).

[T.D. 9169, 69 FR 78154, Dec. 29, 2004]