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Qualified plans must perform annual testing to be sure that the plan doesn’t unfairly discriminate in favor of "highly compensated employees" (HCEs) or exceed the contribution limits set forth by the IRS. Depending on your plan provisions, it isn’t just one calculation, but a series of tests that show that your plan is not discriminatory. If your plan is audited, the auditor is looking for proof of this compliance.
Since most retirement plans operate on a calendar year basis, testing season is now! If a testing failure occurs, correcting the failure by March 15th can save the plan sponsor excise taxes and additional filings. Getting year-end data in early, including complete census information, is paramount. Though (company name) does all the heavy lifting to ensure your plan passes the appropriate testing, all plan sponsors should understand the basics of testing so that they can confirm all tests and any appropriate corrections are completed each year. The following are some helpful definitions to get you through the basics of compliance testing.
Is an HCE the same as a Key Employee?
An HCE and a Key employee are two separate definitions used to test different aspects of a retirement plan. Who qualifies as an HCE is determined on an annual basis. An employee is an HCE if:
An employee is a “Key” employee if they meet any of the following criteria:
What do the different compliance tests mean?
Plan sponsors should be aware that sometimes other companies or plans must be aggregated to satisfy the tests listed above. If you have any questions about the tests, be sure to contact (company name) for further information.