NU Online News Service, Aug. 21, 6:15 p.m. – The Internal Revenue Service has issued final regulations that let employers notify employees and other parties about proposed changes to retirement plans through electronic mail.
The regulations, described in Treasury Decision 9006, update Section 7476(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, which deals with “advance determinations.”
Employers ask for advance determinations from the IRS when they make major changes to retirement plans, or the IRS makes major changes in the regulations governing the plans, to make sure that the plans still qualify for the tax breaks normally available to retirement plans.
An employer has to send notices to all employees, former employees, beneficiaries and other interested parties to let them know about the application for the advance determination and inform them of their legal rights.
Whether employers could send a notice through electronic mail was unclear under the old rules.
Under the new rules, “the notice may be provided by any method reasonably calculated to ensure that each interested party is notified,” according to the regulation text.
Employers can now use electronic mail to notify employees who have “reasonable access to computers” at work.
Employers can also use electronic mail to notify other parties, such as union representatives, if they have those representatives?f e-mail addresses.
But employers still have to use worksite bulletin boards, regular mail and other methods to reach workers who lack access to e-mail and parties whose e-mail addresses are unavailable, the IRS says.