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Proposed Rule

Hardship Distributions of Elective Contributions, Qualified Matching Contributions, Qualified Nonelective Contributions, and Earnings

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

This document contains proposed amendments to the regulations relating to hardship distributions from section 401(k) plans. The amendments reflect statutory changes affecting section 401(k) plans, including recent changes made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. These regulations would affect participants in, beneficiaries of, employers maintaining, and administrators of plans that contain cash or deferred arrangements or provide for employee or matching contributions.

DATES:

Comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by January 14, 2019.

ADDRESSES:

Send submissions to CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-107813-18) Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Submissions may be hand-delivered Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-107813-18), Courier's Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20224, or sent electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov/​ (indicate IRS and REG-107813-18).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Concerning the proposed regulations, Roger Kuehnle at (202) 317-6060 or; concerning submissions of comments, the hearing, or to be placed on the building access list to attend the hearing, Regina L. Johnson at (202) 317-6901 (not toll-free numbers).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Paperwork Reduction Act

The collection of information contained in this notice of proposed rulemaking will be submitted, under approval number 1545-1669, to the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)). Comments on the collection of information should be sent to the Office of Management and Budget, Attn: Desk Officer for the Department of the Treasury, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20503, with copies to the Internal Revenue Service, Attn: IRS Reports Clearance Officer, SE:W:CAR:MP:T:T:SP, Washington, DC 20224. Comments on the collection of information should be received by January 14, 2019. Comments are specifically requested concerning:

Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the IRS, including whether the information will have practical utility;

The accuracy of the estimated burden associated with the proposed collection of information;

How the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected may be enhanced;

How the burden of complying with the proposed collection of information may be minimized, including through the application of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and

Estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information.

The collection of information in this proposed regulation is in § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iii)(B). The collection of information relates to the certification by participants in section 401(k) plans that they have insufficient cash or other liquid assets to cover expenses resulting from a hardship and, thus, will need a distribution from the plan to meet the expenses. The collections of information are required to obtain a benefit.

The likely recordkeepers are individuals.

Estimated total annual reporting burden: 101,250 hours.

Estimated average annual burden per respondent: 45 minutes.

Estimated number of respondents: 135,000.

Estimated frequency of responses: On occasion.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid control number assigned by the Office of Management and Budget.

Background

Section 401(k)

Section 401(k)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) provides that a profit-sharing, stock bonus, pre-ERISA money purchase, or rural cooperative plan will not fail to qualify under section 401(a) merely because it contains a cash or deferred arrangement (CODA) that is a qualified CODA. Under section 401(k)(2), a CODA (generally, an arrangement providing for an election by an employee between contributions to a plan or payments directly in cash) constitutes a qualified CODA only if it satisfies certain requirements. Section 401(k)(2)(B) provides that contributions made pursuant to a qualified CODA (referred to as “elective contributions”) may be distributed only on or after the occurrence of certain events, including death, disability, severance from employment, termination of the plan, attainment of age 59-1/2, hardship, or, in the case of a qualified reservist distribution, the date a reservist is called to active duty. Section 401(k)(2)(C) requires that elective contributions be nonforfeitable at all times.

Section 401(k)(3)(A)(ii) requires that elective contributions satisfy the actual deferral percentage (ADP) test set forth in section 401(k)(3). Sections 401(k)(11), 401(k)(12), and 401(k)(13) each provide an alternative method of meeting the ADP test. Under section 401(k)(3)(D), qualified nonelective contributions (QNECs) and qualified matching contributions (QMACs), as described in Start Printed Page 56764sections 401(m)(4)(C) and 401(k)(3)(D)(ii)(I), respectively, are permitted to be taken into account under the ADP test. Among other requirements, QNECs and QMACs must satisfy the distribution limitations of section 401(k)(2)(B) and the nonforfeitability requirements of section 401(k)(2)(C). Similarly, employer contributions that are made pursuant to the safe harbor plan designs of section 401(k)(12) or (13) must meet the distribution limitations of section 401(k)(2)(B).

Section 401(m)(2)(A) requires that matching contributions and employee contributions satisfy the actual contribution percentage (ACP) test set forth in section 401(m)(2). Sections 401(m)(10), 401(m)(11), and 401(m)(12) each provide an alternative method of meeting the ACP test with respect to matching contributions. As with contributions made to section 401(k) plans pursuant to safe harbor plan designs, employer contributions made pursuant to the safe harbor plan designs of section 401(m)(11) or (12) must meet the distribution limitations of section 401(k)(2)(B).

The Department of the Treasury (Treasury Department) and the IRS issued comprehensive final regulations under sections 401(k) and 401(m) on December 29, 2004 (TD 9169, 69 FR 78143). Since that time, the regulations have been updated to reflect certain subsequent changes to the applicable statute (see TD 9237, 71 FR 6, and TD 9324, 72 FR 21103, providing guidance on designated Roth contributions under section 402A; and TD 9447, 74 FR 8200, providing guidance on section 401(k)(13)). However, the regulations have not been updated to reflect other statutory changes. The regulations have been amended to address other specific issues (see TD 9319, 72 FR 16878, relating to the definition of compensation; TD 9641, 78 FR 68735, relating to mid-year amendments to safe harbor plan designs; and TD 9835, 83 FR 34469, relating to whether QNECs and QMACs must be nonforfeitable when contributed to the plan).

Section 1.401(k)-1(d)(3) provides rules for determining whether a distribution is made on account of an employee's hardship. Under those rules, a distribution is made on account of hardship only if the distribution is made on account of an immediate and heavy financial need and the amount of the distribution is not in excess of the amount necessary to satisfy that need (plus any amounts necessary to pay any taxes or penalties reasonably anticipated to result from the distribution). These determinations must be made on the basis of all the relevant facts and circumstances and in accordance with nondiscriminatory and objective standards set forth in the plan.

Section 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(B) provides that a distribution is not treated as necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee to the extent the need may be relieved from other resources that are reasonably available to the employee. Under § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(C), in determining whether the need can be relieved from other resources that are reasonably available to an employee, the employer may rely on the employee's representation (unless the employer has actual knowledge to the contrary) that the need cannot reasonably be relieved from resources specified in § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(C).

To simplify administration, the regulations provide certain safe harbors that may be used to determine whether a distribution is made on account of an employee's hardship. Specifically, § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iii)(B) provides a safe harbor under which distributions for six types of expenses are deemed to be made on account of an immediate and heavy financial need. One of the six types is “expenses for the repair of damage to the employee's principal residence that would qualify for the casualty deduction under section 165 (determined without regard to whether the loss exceeds 10% of adjusted gross income).”

In addition, § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(E) provides a safe harbor under which a distribution is deemed necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need. Under that safe harbor, an employee must first obtain all currently available distributions (including distributions of employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) dividends under section 404(k), but not hardship distributions), and nontaxable plan loans from the plan and any other plan maintained by the employer. Under the safe harbor, an employee's ability to make elective contributions and employee contributions to the plan (and any other plan maintained by the employer) must be suspended for at least 6 months after receipt of the hardship distribution. Pursuant to § 1.401(k)-3(c)(6)(v)(B), in the case of a safe harbor plan described in section 401(k)(12) or (13), the suspension period may not exceed 6 months.

Under § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(ii), the maximum amount that may be distributed on account of hardship is the total of the employee's elective contributions that have not previously been distributed (plus earnings, QNECs, and QMACs credited before a specified grandfather date that generally is before 1989). Thus, the maximum amount that may be distributed on account of hardship does not include earnings, QNECs, or QMACs that are not grandfathered.

Section 403(b)

Section 403(b)(7)(A)(ii) provides distribution limitations on amounts contributed to a custodial account that is treated as a section 403(b) annuity contract. Section 403(b)(11) provides that contributions made pursuant to a salary reduction agreement (within the meaning of section 402(g)(3)(C)) (generally referred to in the regulations under section 403(b) as “section 403(b) elective deferrals”) may be distributed only on or after the occurrence of certain events, one of which is the employee's hardship. Section 403(b)(11) also provides that no income attributable to these contributions may be distributed on account of hardship.

Section 1.403(b)-6 provides rules for applying these distribution limitations. Section 1.403(b)-6(b) applies to distributions of amounts that are neither attributable to section 403(b) elective deferrals nor made from custodial accounts, § 1.403(b)-6(c) applies to distributions from custodial accounts that are not attributable to section 403(b) elective deferrals, and § 1.403(b)-6(d) applies to distributions of amounts attributable to section 403(b) elective deferrals. Section 1.403(b)-6(d)(2) provides that a hardship distribution of section 403(b) elective deferrals is subject to the rules and restrictions set forth in § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3) and is limited to the aggregate dollar amount of a participant's section 403(b) elective deferrals, without earnings thereon.

Statutory Changes Relating to Section 401(k)

Section 41113 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, Public Law 115-123 (BBA 2018), directs the Secretary of the Treasury to modify § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(E) to (1) delete the 6-month prohibition on contributions following a hardship distribution, and (2) make any other modifications necessary to carry out the purposes of section 401(k)(2)(B)(i)(IV). Section 41114 of BBA 2018 modifies the hardship distribution rules under section 401(k)(2)(B) by adding section 401(k)(14)(A) to the Code, which states that the maximum amount available for distribution upon hardship includes (i) contributions to a profit-sharing or stock bonus plan to which section 402(e)(3) applies, (ii) QNECs, (iii) QMACs, and (iv) earnings on these contributions. Section 41114 of BBA 2018 also adds Start Printed Page 56765section 401(k)(14)(B) to the Code, which provides that a distribution is not treated as failing to be made upon the hardship of an employee solely because the employee does not take any available loan under the plan.

Section 11044 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Public Law 115-97 (TCJA), added section 165(h)(5) to the Code. Section 165(h)(5) provides that, for taxable years 2018 through 2025, the deduction for a personal casualty loss generally is available only to the extent the loss is attributable to a federally declared disaster (as defined in section 165(i)(5)).

Section 826 of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, Public Law 109-280 (PPA ‘06), directs the Secretary of the Treasury to modify the rules relating to hardship distributions to permit a section 401(k) plan to treat a participant's beneficiary under the plan the same as the participant's spouse or dependent in determining whether the participant has incurred a hardship. Notice 2007-07, 2007-5 I.R.B. 395, provides guidance for applying this provision.

Section 827(a) of PPA ‘06 added to the Code section 72(t)(2)(G), which exempts certain distributions from the application of the section 72(t) additional income tax on early distributions. These distributions, referred to as “qualified reservist distributions,” include distributions attributable to elective contributions that are made during the period that a reservist has been called to active duty. Section 827(b)(1) of PPA ‘06 added section 401(k)(2)(B)(i)(V) to the Code, which permits qualified reservist distributions to be made from a section 401(k) plan.[1]

Section 105(b)(1)(A) of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008, Public Law 110-245 (HEART Act), added section 414(u)(12) to the Code. Section 414(u)(12)(B)(ii) provides for a 6-month suspension of elective contributions and employee contributions after certain distributions to individuals performing service in the uniformed services.

Explanation of Provisions

Overview

These proposed regulations update the section 401(k) and (m) regulations to reflect: (1) The enactment of (a) sections 41113 and 41114 of BBA 2018, (b) sections 826 and 827 of PPA '06, and (c) section 105(b)(1)(A) of the HEART Act; and (2) the application of the hardship distribution rules in light of the modification to the casualty loss deduction rules made by section 11044 of the TCJA.

Deemed Immediate and Heavy Financial Need

The proposed regulations modify the safe harbor list of expenses in current § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iii)(B) for which distributions are deemed to be made on account of an immediate and heavy financial need by: (1) Adding “primary beneficiary under the plan” as an individual for whom qualifying medical, educational, and funeral expenses may be incurred; (2) modifying the expense listed in § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iii)(B)(6) (relating to damage to a principal residence that would qualify for a casualty deduction under section 165) to provide that for this purpose the new limitations in section 165(h)(5) (added by section 11044 of the TCJA) do not apply; and (3) adding a new type of expense to the list, relating to expenses incurred as a result of certain disasters. This new safe harbor expense is similar to relief given by the IRS after certain major federally declared disasters, such as the relief relating to Hurricane Maria and California wildfires provided in Announcement 2017-15, 2017-47 I.R.B. 534, and is intended to eliminate any delay or uncertainty concerning access to plan funds following a disaster that occurs in an area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for individual assistance.

Distribution Necessary To Satisfy Financial Need

Pursuant to BBA 2018 sections 41113 and 41114, the proposed regulations modify the rules for determining whether a distribution is necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need by eliminating (1) any requirement that an employee be prohibited from making elective contributions and employee contributions after receipt of a hardship distribution, and (2) any requirement to take plan loans prior to obtaining a hardship distribution. In particular, the proposed regulations eliminate the safe harbor in current § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(E), under which a distribution is deemed necessary to satisfy the financial need only if elective contributions and employee contributions are suspended for at least 6 months after a hardship distribution is made and, if available, nontaxable plan loans are taken.

In addition, the proposed regulations eliminate the rules in current § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(B) (under which the determination of whether a distribution is necessary to satisfy a financial need is based on all the relevant facts and circumstances) and provide one general standard for determining whether a distribution is necessary. Under this general standard, a hardship distribution may not exceed the amount of an employee's need (including any amounts necessary to pay any federal, state, or local income taxes or penalties reasonably anticipated to result from the distribution), the employee must have obtained other available distributions under the employer's plans, and the employee must represent that he or she has insufficient cash or other liquid assets to satisfy the financial need. A plan administrator may rely on such a representation unless the plan administrator has actual knowledge to the contrary. In light of the timing of the publication of these proposed regulations, the requirement to obtain this representation would only apply for a distribution that is made on or after January 1, 2020.

The proposed regulations clarify that a plan generally may provide for additional conditions, such as those described in 26 CFR 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(B) and (C) (revised as of April 1, 2018) or, for distributions made before January 1, 2020, the representation described in the preceding paragraph, to demonstrate that a distribution is necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee. To implement Congress' purpose in enacting section 41113 of BBA 2018 (for example, Congress' concern that a suspension impedes an employee's ability to replace distributed funds), the proposed regulations do not permit a plan to provide for a suspension of elective contributions or employee contributions as a condition of obtaining a hardship distribution. However, in light of the timing of the publication of these proposed regulations, this prohibition would only apply for a distribution that is made on or after January 1, 2020.

Expanded Sources for Hardship Distributions

Pursuant to section 41114 of BBA 2018, the proposed regulations modify § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3) to permit hardship distributions from section 401(k) plans of elective contributions, QNECs, QMACs, and earnings on these amounts, regardless of when contributed or earned. However, plans may limit the type of contributions available for Start Printed Page 56766hardship distributions and whether earnings on those contributions are included. Safe harbor contributions made to a plan described in section 401(k)(13) may also be distributed on account of an employee's hardship (because these contributions are subject to the same distribution limitations applicable to QNECs and QMACs). See § 1.401(k)-3(k)(3)(i).

Section 403(b) Plans

Section 1.403(b)-6(d)(2) provides that a hardship distribution of section 403(b) elective deferrals is subject to the rules and restrictions set forth in § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3); thus, the proposed new rules relating to a hardship distribution of elective contributions from a section 401(k) plan generally apply to section 403(b) plans. However, Code section 403(b)(11) was not amended by section 41114 of BBA 2018; therefore, income attributable to section 403(b) elective deferrals continues to be ineligible for distribution on account of hardship.

Amounts attributable to QNECs and QMACs may be distributed from a section 403(b) plan on account of hardship only to the extent that, under § 1.403(b)-6(b) and (c), hardship is a permitted distributable event for amounts that are not attributable to section 403(b) elective deferrals. Thus, QNECs and QMACs in a section 403(b) plan that are not in a custodial account may be distributed on account of hardship, but QNECs and QMACs in a section 403(b) plan that are in a custodial account continue to be ineligible for distribution on account of hardship.

Relief for Victims of Hurricanes Florence and Michael

The Treasury Department and the IRS realize that employees adversely affected by Hurricane Florence or Hurricane Michael may need expedited access to plan funds. Accordingly, the relief provided under Announcement 2017-15 is extended to similarly situated victims of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, except that the “Incident Dates” (as defined in that announcement) are as specified by FEMA for these 2018 hurricanes, relief is provided through March 15, 2019, and any necessary amendments must be made no later than the deadline for plan amendments set forth in this preamble under Plan Amendments.

Applicability Dates and Reliance

The changes to the hardship distribution rules made by BBA 2018 are effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2018, and the proposed regulations provide that they generally would apply to distributions made in plan years beginning after December 31, 2018. However, the prohibition on suspending an employee's elective contributions and employee contributions as a condition of obtaining a hardship distribution may be applied as of the first day of the first plan year beginning after December 31, 2018, even if the distribution was made in the prior plan year. Thus, for example, a calendar-year plan that provides for hardship distributions under the pre-2019 safe harbor standards may be amended to provide that an employee who receives a hardship distribution in the second half of the 2018 plan year will be prohibited from making contributions only until January 1, 2019 (or may continue to provide that contributions will be suspended for the originally scheduled 6 months).

In addition, the revised list of safe harbor expenses may be applied to distributions made on or after a date that is as early as January 1, 2018. Thus, for example, a plan that made hardship distributions relating to casualty losses deductible under section 165 without regard to the changes made to section 165 by the TCJA (which, effective in 2018, require that, to be deductible, losses must result from a federally declared disaster) may be amended to apply the revised safe harbor expense relating to casualty losses to distributions made in 2018 so that plan provisions will conform to the plan's operation. Similarly, a plan may be amended to apply the revised safe harbor expense relating to losses (including loss of income) incurred by an employee on account of a disaster that occurs in 2018 (such as Hurricane Florence or Hurricane Michael), provided that the employee's principal residence or principal place of employment at the time of the disaster was located in an area designated by FEMA for individual assistance with respect to the disaster.

Plan Amendments

The Treasury Department and the IRS expect that, if these regulations are finalized as they have been proposed, plan sponsors will need to amend their plans' hardship distribution provisions. The deadline for amending a disqualifying provision is set forth in Rev. Proc. 2016-37, 2016-29 I.R.B. 136. For example, with respect to an individually designed plan that is not a governmental plan, the deadline for amending the plan to reflect a change in qualification requirements is the end of the second calendar year that begins after the issuance of the Required Amendments List described in section 9 of Rev. Proc. 2016-37 that includes the change. A plan provision that is not a disqualifying provision, but is integrally related to a plan provision that is a disqualifying provision, may be amended by the same deadline applicable to a disqualifying provision.

A plan amendment that is related to the final regulations, but does not correct a disqualifying provision, including a plan amendment reflecting (1) the change to section 165 (relating to casualty losses) or (2) the addition of the new safe harbor expense (relating to expenses incurred as a result of certain federally declared disasters), will be treated as integrally related to a disqualifying provision. Therefore all amendments that relate to the final regulations will have the same amendment deadline. This deadline will also apply to an amendment reflecting the extension of the relief under Announcement 2017-15 to victims of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, as provided in this preamble.

Special Analyses

The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Office of Management and Budget, has waived review of this proposed rule in accordance with section 6(a)(3)(A) of Executive Order 12866. OIRA will subsequently make a significance determination of the final rule, pursuant to section 3(f) of Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 and the April 11, 2018, Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of the Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Because these regulations do not impose a collection of information on small entities, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) does not apply. Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Code, these regulations have been submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on their impact on small business.

Comments and Requests for Public Hearing

Before these proposed regulations are adopted as final regulations, consideration will be given to any comments that are submitted timely to the IRS as prescribed in this preamble under the ADDRESSES heading. The Treasury Department and the IRS request comments on all aspects of the proposed rules. All comments will be available at www.regulations.gov or upon request. A public hearing will be scheduled if requested in writing by any person that timely submits written Start Printed Page 56767comments. If a public hearing is scheduled, notice of the date, time, and place for the public hearing will be published in the Federal Register.

Drafting Information

The principal author of these regulations is Roger Kuehnle of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities). However, other personnel from the IRS and Treasury Department participated in their development.

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List of Subjects in 26 CFR Part 1

  • Income taxes
  • Reporting and recordkeeping requirements
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Proposed Amendments to the Regulations

Accordingly, 26 CFR part 1 is proposed to be amended as follows:

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PART 1—INCOME TAXES

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Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 1 continues to read in part as follows:

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Authority: 26 U.S.C. 401(m)(9) and 26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

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Par. 2. Section 1.401(k)-1 is amended by:

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1. Revising paragraphs (d)(1)(ii) and (iii) and adding new paragraph (d)(1)(iv).

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2. Removing paragraph (d)(3)(ii) and redesignating paragraphs (d)(3)(iii), (iv) and (v) as paragraphs (d)(3)(ii), (iii) and (iv).

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3. Revising newly redesignated paragraph (d)(3)(ii)(B) and adding new paragraph (d)(3)(ii)(C).

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4. Revising newly redesignated paragraphs (d)(3)(iii) and (iv) and adding new paragraph (d)(3)(v).

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5. In paragraph (d)(6), removing examples 3, 4, and 5 and redesignating example 6 as example 3.

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The additions and revisions read as follows:

Certain cash or deferred arrangements.
* * * * *

(d) * * *

(1) * * *

(ii) In the case of a profit-sharing, stock bonus or rural cooperative plan—

(A) The employee's attainment of age 59 1/2; or

(B) In accordance with section 401(k)(14), the employee's hardship;

(iii) In accordance with section 401(k)(10), the termination of the plan; or

(iv) In the case of a qualified reservist distribution defined in section 72(t)(2)(G)(iii), the date the reservist was ordered or called to active duty.

* * * * *

(3) * * *

(ii) * * *

(B) Deemed immediate and heavy financial need. A distribution is deemed to be made on account of an immediate and heavy financial need of the employee if the distribution is for—

(1) Expenses for (or necessary to obtain) medical care that would be deductible under section 213(d), determined without regard to the limitations in section 213(a) (relating to the applicable percentage of adjusted gross income and the recipients of the medical care) provided that, if the recipient of the medical care is not listed in section 213(a), the recipient is a primary beneficiary under the plan;

(2) Costs directly related to the purchase of a principal residence for the employee (excluding mortgage payments);

(3) Payment of tuition, related educational fees, and room and board expenses, for up to the next 12 months of post-secondary education for the employee, for the employee's spouse, child or dependent (as defined in section 152 without regard to section 152(b)(1), (b)(2) and (d)(1)(B)), or for a primary beneficiary under the plan;

(4) Payments necessary to prevent the eviction of the employee from the employee's principal residence or foreclosure on the mortgage on that residence;

(5) Payments for burial or funeral expenses for the employee's deceased parent, spouse, child or dependent (as defined in section 152 without regard to section 152(d)(1)(B)) or for a deceased primary beneficiary under the plan;

(6) Expenses for the repair of damage to the employee's principal residence that would qualify for the casualty deduction under section 165 (determined without regard to section 165(h)(5) and whether the loss exceeds 10% of adjusted gross income); or

(7) Expenses and losses (including loss of income) incurred by the employee on account of a disaster declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100-707, provided that the employee's principal residence or principal place of employment at the time of the disaster was located in an area designated by FEMA for individual assistance with respect to the disaster.

(C) Primary beneficiary under the plan. For purposes of paragraph (d)(3)(ii)(B) of this section, a “primary beneficiary under the plan” is an individual who is named as a beneficiary under the plan and has an unconditional right, upon the death of the employee, to all or a portion of the employee's account balance under the plan.

(iii) Distribution necessary to satisfy financial need—(A) Distribution may not exceed amount of need. A distribution is treated as necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee only to the extent the amount of the distribution is not in excess of the amount required to satisfy the financial need (including any amounts necessary to pay any federal, state, or local income taxes or penalties reasonably anticipated to result from the distribution).

(B) No alternative means reasonably available. A distribution is not treated as necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee unless the employee has obtained all other currently available distributions (including distributions of ESOP dividends under section 404(k), but not hardship distributions) under the plan and all other plans of deferred compensation, whether qualified or nonqualified, maintained by the employer. In addition, for a distribution that is made on or after January 1, 2020, the employee must represent (in writing, by an electronic medium, or in such other form as may be prescribed by the Commissioner) that he or she has insufficient cash or other liquid assets to satisfy the need. The plan administrator may rely on the employee's representation unless the plan administrator has actual knowledge to the contrary.

(C) Additional conditions. A plan generally may provide for additional conditions, such as those described in 26 CFR 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(B) and (C) (revised as of April 1, 2018) or, for distributions made before January 1, 2020, the representation described in paragraph (d)(3)(iii)(B) of this section, to demonstrate that a distribution is necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee. For example, a plan may provide that, before a hardship distribution may be made, an employee must obtain all nontaxable loans (determined at the time a loan is made) available under the plan and all other plans maintained by the employer. However, for a distribution that is made on or after January 1, 2020, a plan may not provide for a suspension of an employee's elective contributions or employee contributions as a condition of obtaining a hardship distribution.

(iv) Commissioner may expand standards. The Commissioner may prescribe additional guidance of general applicability, published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (see § 601.601(d)(2) of Start Printed Page 56768this chapter), expanding the list of distributions deemed to be made on account of immediate and heavy financial needs and setting forth additional methods to demonstrate that a distribution is necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need.

(v) Effective/applicability date—(A) General rule. This paragraph (d)(3) applies to distributions made in plan years beginning after December 31, 2018. Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph (d)(3)(v), the rules in 26 CFR 1.401(k)-1(d)(3) (revised as of April 1, 2018) apply to distributions made in plan years beginning before January 1, 2019.

(B) Options for earlier application. The last sentence of paragraph (d)(3)(iii)(C) of this section (prohibiting the suspension of contributions as a condition of obtaining a hardship distribution) may be applied as of the first day of the first plan year beginning after December 31, 2018, even if the distribution was made in the prior plan year. Thus, for example, a calendar-year plan that provides for hardship distributions under the rules in 26 CFR 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(E) (revised as of April 1, 2018) may be amended to provide that an employee who receives a hardship distribution in the second half of the 2018 plan year will be prohibited from making contributions only until January 1, 2019 (or may continue to provide that contributions will be suspended for the originally scheduled 6 months). In addition, paragraph (d)(3)(ii)(B) of this section may be applied to distributions made on or after a date that is as early as January 1, 2018.

* * * * *
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Par. 3. Section 1.401(k)-3 is amended by:

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1. Revising paragraph (c)(6)(v).

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2. Removing the language “, and, in the case of a hardship distribution, suspends an employee's ability to make elective contributions for 6 months in accordance with § 1.401(k)-1(d)(3)(iv)(E)” in the fifth sentence in paragraph (c)(7), Example 1.

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3. Removing the second sentence in paragraph (j)(2)(iv).

End Amendment Part

The revision reads as follows:

Safe harbor requirements.
* * * * *

(c) * * *

(6) * * *

(v) Restrictions due to limitations under the Internal Revenue Code. A plan may limit the amount of elective contributions made by an eligible employee under a plan—

(A) Because of the limitations of section 402(g) or 415;

(B) Due to a suspension under section 414(u)(12)(B)(ii); or

(C) Because, on account of a hardship distribution made before January 1, 2020, an employee's ability to make elective contributions has been suspended for 6 months.

* * * * *
[Amended]
Start Amendment Part

Par. 4. Section 1.401(k)-6 is amended by:

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

1. Removing the fourth sentence in paragraph (2) of the definition of Eligible employee.

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2. Removing the language “, except as provided otherwise in § 1.401(k)-1(c) and (d),” in the definitions of Qualified matching contributions (QMACs) and Qualified nonelective contributions (QNECs).

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

Par. 5. Section 1.401(m)-3 is amended by revising paragraph (d)(6)(v) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
Safe harbor requirements.
* * * * *

(d) * * *

(6) * * *

(v) Restrictions due to limitations under the Internal Revenue Code. A plan may limit the amount of contributions made by an eligible employee under a plan—

(A) Because of the limitations of section 402(g) or section 415;

(B) Due to a suspension under section 414(u)(12)(B)(ii); or

(C) Because, on account of a hardship distribution made before January 1, 2020, an employee's ability to make contributions has been suspended for 6 months.

* * * * *
Start Signature

Kirsten Wielobob,

Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  While section 827(b)(2) and (3) of PPA ‘06 amended sections 403(b)(7)(A)(ii) and 403(b)(11) to permit qualified reservist distributions to be made from a section 403(b) plan, the regulations under section 403(b) have not yet been updated to reflect these statutory amendments.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. 2018-24812 Filed 11-9-18; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 4830-01-P