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John Feldt

Tax-exempt Sponsor Has A 457(b)

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A tax-exempt entity sponsors a 457(b). The plan allows the participant to make an election regarding the form of payment. The participant elects 4 annual installments. The participant left employment in December 2002, but before that, in July 2002, an election was made to delay the distribution until March 1, 2007. The employee is now at another tax-exempt and they are discussing doing a direct 457(b) transfer.

 

Since March 1, 2007 has already gone by, the first installment (of the 4) is "considered to be made available" and is thus taxable in 2007. However, the participant has never utilized their additional election option to further delay distribution. With regard to their remaining 3 installment payments that are due, could the participant make such an election now to delay those distributions?

 

I looked under 1.457-10(b)(6)(ii), "in the case of a transfer between eligible plans of tax-exempt entities ... the transferred amount is subject to §1.457-7©(2) (relating to when amounts are considered to be made available under an eligible plan of a tax-exempt entity) in the same manner as if the elections made by the participant ... under the transferor plan had been made under the receiving plan."

 

Does this section of the regulation lock the 4 installment option into place in such a way that the next 3 installments cannot be delayed?

 

Also, was it ok that the participant made the election to delay payments even before they left their old employer?

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A tax-exempt entity sponsors a 457(b). The plan allows the participant to make an election regarding the form of payment. The participant elects 4 annual installments. The participant left employment in December 2002, but before that, in July 2002, an election was made to delay the distribution until March 1, 2007. The employee is now at another tax-exempt and they are discussing doing a direct 457(b) transfer.

 

Since March 1, 2007 has already gone by, the first installment (of the 4) is "considered to be made available" and is thus taxable in 2007. However, the participant has never utilized their additional election option to further delay distribution. With regard to their remaining 3 installment payments that are due, could the participant make such an election now to delay those distributions?

 

I looked under 1.457-10(b)(6)(ii), "in the case of a transfer between eligible plans of tax-exempt entities ... the transferred amount is subject to §1.457-7©(2) (relating to when amounts are considered to be made available under an eligible plan of a tax-exempt entity) in the same manner as if the elections made by the participant ... under the transferor plan had been made under the receiving plan."

 

Does this section of the regulation lock the 4 installment option into place in such a way that the next 3 installments cannot be delayed?

 

Also, was it ok that the participant made the election to delay payments even before they left their old employer?

Not the way I read the regs. 1.457-7©(2)(iv) should still be available to change the method of payment. I would limit that change to the number and frequency of installments, to be safe, given the last setennce below.

 

(iv) Election as to method of payment. An eligible plan of a tax-exempt entity may provide that an election as to the method of payment under the plan may be made at any time prior to the time the amounts are distributed in accordance with the participant or beneficiary's initial or additional election to defer commencement of distributions under paragraph ©(2)(ii) or (iii) of this section. Where no method of payment is elected, the entire amount deferred will be includible in the gross income of the participant or beneficiary when the amounts first become made available in accordance with a participant's initial or additional elections to defer under paragraphs ©(2)(ii) and (iii) of this section, unless the eligible plan provides for a default method of payment (in which case amounts are considered made available and taxable when paid under the terms of the default payment schedule). A method of payment means a distribution or a series of periodic distributions commencing on a date determined in accordance with paragraph ©(2)(ii) or (iii) of this section.

 

Tom Geer

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