§ 2509.75-6 Interpretive bulletin relating to section 408(c)(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
The Department of Labor today announced guidelines for determining when a party in interest with respect to an employee benefit plan may receive an advance for expenses to be incurred on behalf of the plan without engaging in a transaction prohibited by section 406 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. That section prohibits, among other things, any lending of money from a plan to a party in interest, or transfer to, or use by or for the benefit of, a party in interest of any assets of the plan, as well as any act whereby a fiduciary deals with the assets of a plan in his own interest or for his own account.
However, section 408(c)(2) of the Act provides that nothing in section 406 of the Act shall be construed to prohibit the reimbursement by a plan of expenses properly and actually incurred by a fiduciary in the performance of his duties with the plan. Questions have arisen under section 408(c)(2) of the Act as to whether a plan may reimburse a party in interest in the performance of his duties with the plan and as to whether a plan might make an advance to a fiduciary or other party in interest for expenses to be incurred in the future.
The Department of Labor views the relevant provisions of section 408(c)(2) as clarifying the scope of section 406 so as to permit reimbursement of fiduciaries for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties with a plan. Similarly, consistent with section 408(c)(2), section 406 is construed to permit the reimbursement by the plan of expenses properly and actually incurred by a party in interest in the performance of his duties with the plan.
If a plan makes an advance to a fiduciary or other party in interest to cover expenses to be properly and actually incurred by such person in the performance of his duties with the plan, a prohibited transaction within the meaning of section 406 shall not occur when the plan makes the advance if -
(a) The amount of such advance is reasonable with respect to the amount of the expense which is likely to be properly and actually incurred in the immediate future (such as during the next month), and
(b) The party in interest accounts to the plan at the end of the period covered by the advance for the expenses actually incurred (whether computed on the basis of actual expenses incurred or on the basis of actual transportation costs plus a reasonable per diem allowance, where appropriate).
It should be noted, however, that despite the reasonableness of the amount of the advance and of the expenses underlying it, the question of whether incurring such expenses was prudent, and thus whether the advance was for reasonable expenses, is to be judged pursuant to section 404 of the Act (relating to fiduciary responsibilities).