2021 Compliance Reminders

To download our printable 2021 Compliance Calendar, click here.

Deadline Compliance Task
January 1 Update your retirement plan Compliance Processing systems for the 2021 cost of living adjusted contribution and benefit limits, such as the increase in the amount of “recognized” compensation for retirement plan purposes from $285,000 in 2020 to $290,000 in 2021.
January 1 Plan sponsors need to start tracking the eligibility service of nonunion, long-term, part-time employees who have attained the plan’s minimum age requirement and have three consecutive 12-month periods of 500 hours of service must be eligible to make elective deferrals to their employer’s 401(k) plan. Plan sponsors can choose to apply the new eligibility rules to employer contributions that are subject to vesting requirements. But then for vesting purposes, the plan sponsor must generally consider each 12-month period for which the employee has at least 500 hours of service starting from the employee’s date of hire—including years beginning prior to January 1, 2021.
January 4 The CARES Act, as supplemented by IRS Notice 2020-82, provides that the due date for any minimum required contribution that would ordinarily have been due in 2020 (including required quarterly contributions) is extended to January 4, 2021. Please note, the extended due date does not change the timing rules for deduction of employer contributions.
January 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit plan years ended April 30, 2020 must be met by January 15, 2021 in order to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed, or a check mailed, by this date.
January 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed January 15, 2021.
January 15 Deadline for DB plans that have a funding shortfall for the preceding plan year to make their last required quarterly contribution for 2020 to the plan trust – i.e., due 15 days after the last plan year quarter-end.
January 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ended March 31, 2020.
January 31 Under IRS Notice 2020-86, if the plan sponsor wants to preserve the right to reduce or suspend safe harbor contributions during the plan year, it must give employee/participants a notice about the potential suspension (i.e., a “maybe not” notice), even if a full safe harbor notice is not required.  The maybe not notice for 2021 can be given as a standalone notice as late as January 31, 2021 for the plan year ended December 31, 2020.
February 1 Deadline to revise a defined benefit pension plan’s PBGC premium filing, regarding variable rate premiums, to expedite any available refund on otherwise overpaid PBGC premiums. Such a refund could be generated by prior year pension contributions made after the usual deadline.
February 1 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ended June 30, 2020 that aren’t on extension.
February 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit pension plan years ended May 31, 2020 must be met by February 15, 2021 in order to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed, or a check mailed, by this date.
February 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed February 15, 2021.
February 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending April 30, 2020.
March 1 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ending July 31, 2020 that aren’t on extension.
March 1 Paper Form 1099R regarding retirement plan distributions in 2020 due to the IRS. The due date is March 31, 2021, if this information is filed electronically.
March 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit pension plan years ended June 30, 2020 must be met by March 15, 2021 to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed, or a check mailed, by this date.
March 15 Calendar year 401(k) plans must process corrective distributions for failed nondiscrimination tests to avoid a 10% penalty tax. Certain automatic enrollment plans have until June 30, 2021.
March 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed March 15, 2021.
March 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending May 31, 2020.
March 15 Deadline to apply to the IRS for a waiver of the minimum funding standard for defined benefit pension plans and money purchase pension plans. This application to the IRS is due no later than 2 ½ months after the end of the applicable plan year, i.e., no later than the 15th day of the third month after the close of the plan year for which the waiver is requested.
March 15 Deadline for retroactive plan document amendment to increase pension plan retirement benefits and related employer contributions for the immediately preceding calendar plan year, under IRC Section 412(d)(2).
March 31 Deadline for the pension plan’s enrolled actuary to prepare the funding adequacy related AFTAP calculation to avoid a presumed 10% funding adjustment.
March 31 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ending August 31, 2020 that aren’t on extension.
March 31 Relief from Partial Terminations - Under the traditional rules, a partial plan termination generally occurs when there is a workforce reduction of more than 20 percent. This results in 100 percent vesting for the affected workers. To avoid treating all such temporary workforce reductions as partial plan terminations, the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) changes the rules to give employers additional time to rehire workers. If the active participant count as of March 31, 2021, is at least 80 percent of the active participant count at the time the coronavirus national emergency was declared (March 13, 2020), a plan will not be treated as having a partial plan termination.
April 1 Initial required minimum distribution (RMD) for those terminated participants or 5% owners who have attained age 72 or older during 2020.
April 1 Actuary Certification of 2021 Adjusted Funding Target Attainment Percentage (AFTAP) to avoid presumption that such a pension funding sufficiency calculation, the AFTAP, is 10% less than the corresponding AFTAP for the 2020 calendar year. Such a decrease in the presumed 2021 AFTAP could cause benefit payment and other restrictions.
April 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit plan years ended July 31, 2020, must be met by April 15 in order to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed or a check mailed by this date.
April 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed April 15, 2021. Entities that are calendar-year sole proprietors have an extension to May 17, 2021. See your tax advisor for more information.
April 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ended June 30, 2020.
April 15 Distribute excess deferrals for participant retirement plan deferrals over $19,500 in 2020 by April 15, 2021. Amounts timely distributed are taxable in the calendar year deferred, while the associated earnings on these excess deferrals, are taxable in the year distributed. This timely distribution is exempt from the 10% early distribution penalty tax, and the 20% federal income tax withholding.
April 15 Deadline for defined benefit pension plans, with a funding deficiency for the preceding plan year, to make their first quarterly funding contribution for the 2021 calendar plan year.
April 30 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ended September 30, 2020, that aren’t on extension.
May 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit pension plan years ended August 31, 2020 must be met by May 15 in order to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed or a check mailed by this date.
May 15 Section 401(k), and other participant investment directed retirement plan accounts, should provide benefit statements to participants within 45 days after the end of the preceding quarter.
May 17 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed May 17, 2021.
May 17 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending July 31, 2020.
June 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit pension plan years ended September 30, 2020, must be met by June 15 to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed or a check mailed by this date.
June 15 March 31 plan year 401(k) plans must process corrective distributions for failed nondiscrimination tests to avoid a 10% penalty tax.
June 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed June 15, 2021.
June 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending August 31, 2020.
June 24 Hardship distribution relief (Disaster Relief)- The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) provides relief for those who have experienced an economic loss because of a “qualified disaster” and whose principal residence is located in a presidentially declared disaster area. Although this provision does not apply to any disaster declarations that are made only because of COVID-19, this relief closely mirrors the coronavirus-related distribution (CRD) rules found in the CARES Act.
Individuals can distribute up to $100,000 for disasters that begin on or after December 28, 2019 and that end on or before December 27, 2020 (the date the CAA was signed into law). The disaster distribution must be taken within 180 days of December 27, 2020, which is June 24, 2021.
June 24 Loan Relief under CAA (Disaster Relief)- Loans may be taken for up to $100,000 or the participant’s vested account balance, whichever is less. This increased limit is available to eligible participants who take a loan within 180 days following December 27, 2020.
Loan repayments may generally be delayed for a year (or if later, 180 days after December 27, 2020). But subsequent payments must reflect any interest accrued during the delay. This extended deadline applies to loan repayments that are due within the period beginning on the first day of the disaster and ending 180 days following December 27, 2020.
These new disaster distributions or loans must be processed carefully because the CAA was enacted so late in the year, but these provisions may provide relief for qualified individuals who have already taken distribution or loans in 2020.
June 29 Comply with Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) related diversification requirements for certain ESOP participants.
June 30 Deadline for the pension plan’s enrolled actuary to prepare the funding adequacy related AFTAP calculation for a March 31 plan year end to avoid a presumed 10% funding adjustment.
June 30 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ending November 30, 2020, that aren’t on extension.
July 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit plan years ended October 31, 2020 must be met by July 15 in order to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed or a check mailed by this date.
July 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed July 15, 2021.
July 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ended September 30, 2020.
July 15 Deadline for defined benefit pension plans, with a funding deficiency for the preceding plan year, to make their second quarterly funding contribution for the 2021 calendar plan year.
August 2 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the 2020 calendar plan year that aren’t on extension.
August 2 Form 5558 – IRS Extension form for the Form 5500 series for 2020 calendar plan years, which will extend their Form 5500 series return until October 15, 2021.
August 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit pension plan years ended November 30, 2020 must be met by August 15 in order to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed or a check mailed by this date.
August 15 Section 401(k), and other participant investment directed retirement plan accounts, should provide benefit statements to participants within 45 days after the end of the preceding quarter.
August 16 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed August 16, 2021.
August 16 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending October 31, 2020.
August 31 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ending January 31, 2021, that aren’t on extension.
September 15 Minimum funding requirements for defined benefit, money purchase, and target benefit pension plan years ended December 31, 2020, must be met by September 15 to avoid excise taxes. An electronic transfer must be completed or a check mailed by this date.
September 15 June 30, 2019, plan year 401(k) plans must process corrective distributions for failed nondiscrimination tests to avoid a 10% penalty tax.
September 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed September 15, 2021.
September 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending November 30, 2020.
September 15 Under the Secure Act, certain calendar year employers (S-Corporations and partnerships) now have until the due date of their income tax return, as extended, to establish a stock bonus, pension, profit sharing or annuity plan for the prior year. Please note, one cannot retroactively establish a 401(k) feature of a profit sharing plan. Thus, a 401(k) feature must be established before the first elective 401(k) deferral is made. Other employer entity types have their own deadlines to retroactively establish a qualified retirement plan. Please contact your FuturePlan Consultant.
September 18 Under the SECURE ACT, retirement plan benefit statements furnished to Defined Contribution (Profit Sharing, 401(k), etc.) participants after September 18, 2021 must include specified Lifetime Income Disclosures. There is an exception for one participant defined contribution plans.
September 30 Deadline for the pension plan’s enrolled actuary to prepare the funding adequacy related 2021 Adjusted Funding Target Attainment Percentage (AFTAP) calculation for a calendar year end to avoid certain plan level restrictions.
September 30 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ending February 28, 2020 that aren’t on extension.
October 1 Imposition of defined benefit pension plan benefit restrictions if the Adjusted Funding Target Percentage (AFTAP) hasn’t been certified for the current calendar plan year. This assumes that the plan administrator hasn’t elected to use the prior plan year’s AFTAP percentage.
October 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed October 15, 2021.
October 15 Deadline for defined benefit pension plans, with a funding deficiency, to make their third quarterly funding contribution for the 2021 calendar plan year.
October 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ended December 31, 2020.
October 15 Deadline for payment of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insurance premiums for defined benefit plans with a calendar year end.
October 15 Deadline for a corrective (11-g) amendment to the plan document to cure certain coverage, participation, and non-discrimination requirements on behalf of the prior 2020 calendar year end.
October 15 Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Comprehensive Premium Filing due date for the 2021 calendar plan year.
November 1 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the March 31, 2021 plan year that are not on extension.
November 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due in order to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed November 15, 2021.
November 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending January 31, 2021.
November 15 Section 401(k), and other participant investment directed retirement plan accounts, should provide benefit statements to participants within 45 days after the end of the preceding quarter.
November 30 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the April 30, 2021 plan year that are not on extension.
December 1 Safe harbor notices for calendar 2021 Section 401(k)/403(b) safe harbor plans, using the employer match design, are required to be distributed to plan participants in order to satisfy the timing requirement in federal regulations.
December 15 September plan year 401(k) plans must process corrective distributions for failed nondiscrimination tests to avoid a 10% excise tax.
December 15 Retirement plan employer contributions are due to be deducted on employer tax returns due to be filed December 15, 2021.
December 15 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms that are on extension are due for the plan year ending February 28, 2021.
December 31 Form 5500 Series/8955-SSA – Forms are due for the plan year ending May 31, 2021 that are not on extension.
December 31 Deadline for pension plan’s enrolled actuary to calculate a specific funding adequacy calculation/AFTAP, if a range AFTAP was previously issued.
December 31 Recommended deadline to draft and execute discretionary amendments to the controlling retirement plan document on behalf of the 2021 calendar plan year.
December 31 Deadline for certain Required Minimum Distributions (“RMDs”) for retirement plan participants who attain age 70 ½ (under prior law) in prior years. Please contact your FuturePlan Consultant.
December 31 Deadline to make corrective distributions relating to 2020 calendar year failed ADP/ACP tests. Please note, a 10% excise tax may apply to such corrective distributions. 
December 31 Deadline for correcting a prior year (2019) calendar year end ADP/ACP test failure with an Employer Qualified Non-Elective Contribution (QNEC).
December 31 Deadline for electing to be a Safe Harbor 401(k) plan for the prior calendar year end, assuming the Plan Sponsor agrees to at least a 4% non-elective Safe Harbor contribution.
December 31 Section 420 Transfer of Pension Plan excess assets - The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) provides relief for certain defined benefit plan excess assets transferred to health benefit accounts. This relief allows employers to make an election to end an existing transfer period if the election is made by December 31, 2021. Qualified future transfers allow excess pension assets to be transferred to health benefit accounts to pay for health or life insurance costs if certain requirements are met—including a minimum funding requirement. Please contact your FuturePlan Consultant well in advance if your plan would like to explore the use of this value-added strategy.