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An annual checkup of qualified retirement plan documents is a good preventative measure to ensure compliance with the myriad of rules and regulations governing such plans. As 2014 draws to a close, the next few weeks is the perfect time to run qualified plans through a quick self-check to find and correct language and/or administrative issues before they impact the upcoming plan year. Issues or mistakes found and corrected in 2014 allow the plan(s) to begin the 2015 plan year in clean compliance.

To aid in this endeavor, the IRS issues helpful compliance checklists that plan sponsors or administrators can use to spot check issues. The checklists help keep plans in compliance with many important rules. While a perfect score on a self-check is not determinative of a 100% compliant plan, the self-checks are extremely useful in finding issues or errors that can be self-corrected much easier (and less costly) than if the IRS finds it without plan or administrator assistance.

IRS Publication 4531 is a PDF document that contains 12 general compliance questions specifically geared towards Code Section 401(k) plans. Each question has a clickable link to assist the user in answering the self-check question and providing further information.

IRS Publication 4546 is a similar PDF document specifically geared towards Code Section 403(b) plans. The publication contains 10 general compliance questions, again with clickable links with information on each area reviewed.

The IRS provides additional compliance resources on its website ( including a very detailed Plan Fix It Guide. The Guide offers additional information and examples on how to find, fix and avoid each of the mistakes outlined in the plan checklists.