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Notice

Required Interest Rate Assumption for Determining Variable-Rate Premium; Interest on Late Premium Payments; Interest on Underpayments and Overpayments of Single-Employer Plan Termination Liability and Multiemployer Withdrawal Liability; Interest Assumptions for Multiemployer Plan Valuations Following Mass Withdrawal

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Notice of interest rates and assumptions.

SUMMARY:

This notice informs the public of the interest rates and assumptions to be used under certain Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation regulations. These rates and assumptions are published elsewhere (or can be derived from rates published elsewhere), but are collected and published in this notice for the convenience of the public. Interest rates are also published on the PBGC's Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

The PBGC notes that the provisions of the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 that temporarily increased the required interest rate to be used to determine the PBGC's variable-rate premium to 100% (from 85%) of the annual yield on 30-year Treasury securities expired at the end of 2003. Thus, the required interest rate announced in this notice for plan years beginning in January 2004 has been determined under prior law, and represents a significant decrease from the rate for plan years beginning in December 2003. Legislation has been proposed that would further change the rules for determining the required interest rate. If such legislation is adopted, and the change affects the required interest rate for plan years beginning in January 2004, the PBGC will promptly publish a Federal Register notice with the new required interest rate and post the change on the PBGC's Web site.

DATES:

The required interest rate for determining the variable-rate premium under part 4006 applies to premium payment years beginning in January 2004. The interest assumptions for performing multiemployer plan valuations following mass withdrawal under part 4281 apply to valuation dates occurring in February 2004. The interest rates for late premium payments under part 4007 and for underpayments and overpayments of single-employer plan termination liability under part 4062 and multiemployer withdrawal liability under part 4219 apply to interest accruing during the first quarter (January through March) of 2004.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Harold J. Ashner, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005, 202-326-4024. (TTY/TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4024.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Variable-Rate Premiums

Section 4006(a)(3)(E)(iii)(II) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and § 4006.4(b)(1) of the PBGC's regulation on Premium Rates (29 CFR part 4006) prescribe use of an assumed interest rate (the “required interest rate”) in determining a single-employer plan's variable-rate premium. The required interest rate is the “applicable percentage” (currently 85 percent) of the annual yield on 30-year Treasury securities for the month preceding the beginning of the plan year for which premiums are being paid (the “premium payment year”). (Although the Treasury Department has ceased issuing 30-year securities, the Internal Revenue Service announces a surrogate yield figure each month—based on the 30-year Treasury bond maturing in February 2031—which the PBGC uses to determine the required interest rate.) The required interest rate to be used in determining variable-rate premiums for premium payment years beginning in January 2004 is 4.31 percent (i.e., 85 percent of the 5.07 percent yield figure for December 2003).

The PBGC notes that the provisions of the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 that temporarily increased the required interest rate to be used to determine the PBGC's variable-rate premium to 100% (from 85%) of the annual yield on 30-year Treasury securities expired at the end of 2003. Thus, the required interest rate announced in this notice for plan years beginning in January 2004 has been determined under prior law, and represents a significant decrease from the rate for plan years beginning in December 2003. Legislation has been proposed that would further change the rules for determining the required interest rate. If such legislation is adopted, and the change affects the required interest rate for plan years beginning in January 2004, the PBGC will promptly publish a Federal Register notice with the new required interest rate and post the change on the PBGC's Web site.

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The following table lists the required interest rates to be used in determining variable-rate premiums for premium payment years beginning between February 2003 and January 2004.

For premium payment years beginning in:The required interest rate is:
February 20034.94
March 20034.81
April 20034.80
May 20034.90
June 20034.53
July 20034.37
August 20034.93
September 20035.31
October 20035.14
November 20035.16
December 20035.12
January 20044.31

Late Premium Payments; Underpayments and Overpayments of Single-Employer Plan Termination Liability

Section 4007(b) of ERISA and § 4007.7(a) of the PBGC's regulation on Payment of Premiums (29 CFR part 4007) require the payment of interest on late premium payments at the rate established under section 6601 of the Internal Revenue Code. Similarly, § 4062.7 of the PBGC's regulation on Liability for Termination of Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR part 4062) requires that interest be charged or credited at the section 6601 rate on underpayments and overpayments of employer liability under section 4062 of ERISA. The section 6601 rate is established periodically (currently quarterly) by the Internal Revenue Service. The rate applicable to the first quarter (January through March) of 2004, as announced by the IRS, is 4 percent.

The following table lists the late payment interest rates for premiums and employer liability for the specified time periods:

FromThroughInterest rate (percent)
7/1/963/31/989
4/1/9812/31/988
1/1/993/31/997
4/1/993/31/008
4/1/003/31/019
4/1/016/30/018
7/1/0112/31/017
1/1/0212/31/026
1/1/039/30/035
10/1/033/31/044

Underpayments and Overpayments of Multiemployer Withdrawal Liability

Section 4219.32(b) of the PBGC's regulation on Notice, Collection, and Redetermination of Withdrawal Liability (29 CFR part 4219) specifies the rate at which a multiemployer plan is to charge or credit interest on underpayments and overpayments of withdrawal liability under section 4219 of ERISA unless an applicable plan provision provides otherwise. For interest accruing during any calendar quarter, the specified rate is the average quoted prime rate on short-term commercial loans for the fifteenth day (or the next business day if the fifteenth day is not a business day) of the month preceding the beginning of the quarter, as reported by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Statistical Release H.15 (“Selected Interest Rates”). The rate for the first quarter (January through March) of 2004 (i.e., the rate reported for December 15, 2003) is 4.00 percent.

The following table lists the withdrawal liability underpayment and overpayment interest rates for the specified time periods:

FromThroughInterest rate (percent)
7/1/9712/31/988.50
1/1/999/30/997.75
10/1/9912/31/998.25
1/1/003/31/008.50
4/1/006/30/008.75
7/1/003/31/019.50
4/1/016/30/018.50
7/1/019/30/017.00
10/1/0112/31/016.50
1/1/0212/31/024.75
1/1/039/30/034.25
10/1/033/31/044.00

Multiemployer Plan Valuations Following Mass Withdrawal

The PBGC's regulation on Duties of Plan Sponsor Following Mass Withdrawal (29 CFR part 4281) prescribes the use of interest assumptions under the PBGC's regulation on Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans (29 CFR part 4044). The interest assumptions applicable to valuation dates in February 2004 under part 4044 are contained in an amendment to part 4044 published elsewhere in today's Federal Register. Tables showing the assumptions applicable to prior periods are codified in appendix B to 29 CFR part 4044.

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Issued in Washington, DC, on this 12th day of January, 2004.

Joseph H. Grant,

Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

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[FR Doc. 04-874 Filed 1-14-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7708-01-P