Final guidance published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will impact the way certain hybrid defined benefit plans assess and
report the value of pension portfolios and unfunded liabilities.
Defined benefit plans impacted by the regulation include
those that use a lump sum-based benefit formula, including cash balance plans
and pension equity plans, as well as other plans that have formulas with an
effect similar to a lump sum-based benefit formula.
According to the IRS, these final regulations “relate to
previously issued final regulations that specify permitted interest crediting
rates for purposes of the requirement that an applicable defined benefit plan
not provide for interest credits (or equivalent amounts) at an effective rate
that is greater than a market rate of return.”
The final regulations permit a plan sponsor of an applicable
defined benefit plan that does not comply with the market rate of return
requirement to amend the plan in order to change to an interest crediting rate
that is permitted under the previously issued final hybrid plan regulations,
without violating the anti-cutback rules of section 411(d)(6). IRS says the regulations
will directly impact sponsors, administrators, participants and beneficiaries
of hybrid pension plans.
These regulations generally apply to plan amendments made on
or after September 18, 2014 (or an earlier date as elected by the plan), and they
cease to apply for amendments made on or after the first day of the first plan
year that begins on or after January 1, 2017 (or, for collectively bargained
plans, on or after a later date specified in the regulations).