Federal regulators have published guidance for financial services firms that administer large numbers of retirement plans.[@@]

The Internal Revenue Service guidance, Announcement 2005-37, affects “volume submitters” that will be helping many employer-sponsored retirement plans implement Revenue Procedure 2005-16.

The revenue procedure implements other statutes and regulations that will let employers roll some small retirement plan accounts left by departing employees into individual retirement arrangements.

The new announcement tells plan administrations how the revenue procedure really will work.

To adopt an amendment that will give the volume submitter the flexibility to update large numbers of plans at once, the volume submitter must send an authorization form and a copy of the proposed amendment to each adopting employer, IRS officials write in the announcement.

Each employer must return the completed form to the volume submitter, signed and dated, and volume submitters who are a waiting for a few very slow employers to send their forms can take advantage of a temporary relief provision.

However, “if the employer makes certain amendments causing [the plan] to be considered an individually designed plan, the practitioner’s authority to amend on behalf of that particular employer no longer applies,” officials warn in the announcement.

The IRS has posted the new announcement on the Web at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/a-05-37.pdf

Revenue Procedure 2005-16 is on the Web at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-05-16.pdf