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October 2002 -- New SEPP Regulations.

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October 2002 -- New SEPP Regulations.


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This article was posted on October 3, 2002.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have released Revenue Ruling 2002-62 that will help taxpayers preserve their retirement savings when there is an unexpected drop in the value of their retirement portfolio. Here's a summary of the new ruling:

1)You can make a one time change to the new Minimum Distribution (i.e, Life Expectancy) method.

2) The interest rate used for the amortization or annuity methods may not exceed 120% of the Mid-Term AFR.

3)COLA indexes for the amortization or annuitization methods are no longer permitted.

4) Annual recalculations for the amortization or annuitization methods are also no longer permitted.

5) Guidance is provided for determining the date to set the Account Balance to be used for the calculations..

5) If you run out of assets (and you were following one of the three acceptable methods) the IRS won't impose the 10% penalty tax.

Here's a copy of the Press Release:


Media Relations Office Washington, D.C. Tel. 202.622.4000 For Release: October 3, 2002 Release No: IR-2002-104

IRS HELPS TAXPAYERS PRESERVE RETIREMENT SAVINGS
BY ALLOWING A CHANGE TO PENSION DISTRIBUTION AMOUNTS

WASHINGTON -The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have released Revenue Ruling 2002-62 that will help taxpayers preserve their retirement savings when there is an unexpected drop in the value of their retirement savings. Some taxpayers began receiving fixed payments from their IRA or retirement plan based on the value of their account at the time they started receiving payments. Those taxpayers may now switch without penalty -- to a method of determining the amount of their payments based on the value of their account as it changes from year to year.

"Taxpayers have worked hard to build their retirement savings. They shouldnt be penalized when the market is down," stated Pam Olson, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy. "This change will help many taxpayers to preserve their retirement savings by allowing those individuals to slow their distributions down in the event of unexpected market downturns."

Generally, taxpayers are subject to an extra 10% tax (in addition to regular income tax) on amounts withdrawn from their IRAs or employer-sponsored individual account plans prior to reaching 59. An exception to that tax is when a taxpayer takes distributions as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments over the taxpayers life expectancy or the joint life expectancies of taxpayer and beneficiary. The IRS issued guidance in 1989 (Q&A 12 of Notice 89-25) that provided three methods for satisfying the "substantially equal periodic payment" exception.

Two of the safe-harbor methods described in Notice 89-25 result in a fixed amount that is required to be distributed and could result in the premature depletion of the taxpayers account in the event that the value of the assets in the account suffers a decline in market value. Revenue Ruling 2002-62 provides relief to taxpayers who selected one of these two methods by permitting them to change from a method for determining the payments under which the amount is fixed to the third method under the safe-harbor where the amount changes from year to year based on the value in the account from which the distributions are being made.

In addition to permitting a one-time switch in method, the revenue ruling:

Clarifies how an individual can satisfy the permitted method that tracks the required minimum distribution rules of section 401(a)(9) in light of the recent finalization of regulations regarding those requirements;

Provides guidance on what constitutes a reasonable rate of interest for determining payments to satisfy the substantially equal periodic payment rule; and

Provides a choice of mortality tables that can be used in satisfying the permitted methods.

Revenue Ruling 2002-62

Part I

Section 72.--Annuities; Certain Proceeds of Endowment and Life Insurance Contracts

Rev. Rul. 2002-62

SECTION 1. PURPOSE AND BACKGROUND

.01 The purpose of this revenue ruling is to modify the provisions of Q&A-12 of Notice 89-25, 1989-1 C.B. 662, which provides guidance on what constitutes a series of substantially equal periodic payments within the meaning of 72(t)(2)(A)(iv) of the Internal Revenue Code from an individual account under a qualified retirement plan. Section 72(t) provides for an additional income tax on early withdrawals from qualified retirement plans (as defined in 4974(c)). Section 4974(c) provides, in part, that the term "qualified retirement plan" means (1) a plan described in 401 (including a trust exempt from tax under 501(a)), (2) an annuity plan described in 403(a), (3) a tax-sheltered annuity arrangement described in 403(b), (4) an individual retirement account described in 408(a), or (5) an individual retirement annuity described in 408(b).

.02 (a) Section 72(t)(1) provides that if an employee or IRA owner receives any amount from a qualified retirement plan before attaining age 59, the employee's or IRA owner's income tax is increased by an amount equal to 10-percent of the amount that is includible in the gross income unless one of the exceptions in 72(t)(2) applies.

(b) Section 72(t)(2)(A)(iv) provides, in part, that if distributions are part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments (not less frequently than annually) made for the life (or life expectancy) of the employee or the joint lives (or joint life expectancy) of the employee and beneficiary, the tax described in 72(t)(1) will not be applicable. Pursuant to 72(t)(5), in the case of distributions from an IRA, the IRA owner is substituted for the employee for purposes of applying this exception.

(c) Section 72(t)(4) provides that if the series of substantially equal periodic payments that is otherwise excepted from the 10-percent tax is subsequently modified (other than by reason of death or disability) within a 5-year period beginning on the date of the first payment, or, if later, age 59, the exception to the 10-percent tax does not apply, and the taxpayer's tax for the year of modification shall be increased by an amount which, but for the exception, would have been imposed, plus interest for the deferral period.

(d) Q&A-12 of Notice 89-25 sets forth three methods for determining whether payments to individuals from their IRAs or, if they have separated from service, from their qualified retirement plans constitute a series of substantially equal periodic payments for purposes of 72(t)(2)(A)(iv). (e) Final Income Tax Regulations that were published in the April 17, 2002, issue of the Federal Register under 401(a)(9) provide new life expectancy tables for determining required minimum distributions.

SECTION 2. METHODS

.01 General rule. Payments are considered to be substantially equal periodic payments within the meaning of 72(t)(2)(A)(iv) if they are made in accordance with one of the three calculations described in paragraphs (a) - (c) of this subsection (which is comprised of the three methods described in Q&A-12 of Notice 89-25).

(a) The required minimum distribution method. The annual payment for each year is determined by dividing the account balance for that year by the number from the chosen life expectancy table for that year. Under this method, the account balance, the number from the chosen life expectancy table and the resulting annual payments are redetermined for each year. If this method is chosen, there will not be deemed to be a modification in the series of substantially equal periodic payments, even if the amount of payments changes from year to year, provided there is not a change to another method of determining the payments.

(b) The fixed amortization method. The annual payment for each year is determined by amortizing in level amounts the account balance over a specified number of years determined using the chosen life expectancy table and the chosen interest rate. Under this method, the account balance, the number from the chosen life expectancy table and the resulting annual payment are determined once for the first distribution year and the annual payment is the same amount in each succeeding year.

(c) The fixed annuitization method. The annual payment for each year is determined by dividing the account balance by an annuity factor that is the present value of an annuity of $1 per year beginning at the taxpayer's age and continuing for the life of the taxpayer (or the joint lives of the individual and beneficiary). The annuity factor is derived using the mortality table in Appendix B and using the chosen interest rate. Under this method, the account balance, the annuity factor, the chosen interest rate and the resulting annual payment are determined once for the first distribution year and the annual payment is the same amount in each succeeding year.

.02 Other rules. The following rules apply for purposes of this section.

(a) Life expectancy tables. The life expectancy tables that can be used to determine distribution periods are: (1) the uniform lifetime table in Appendix A, or (2) the single life expectancy table in 1.401(a)(9)-9, Q&A-1 of the Income Tax Regulations or (3) the joint and last survivor table in 1.401(a)(9)-9, Q&A-3. The number that is used for a distribution year is the number shown from the table for the employee's (or IRA owner's) age on his or her birthday in that year. If the joint and survivor table is being used, the age of the beneficiary on the beneficiary's birthday in the year is also used. In the case of the required minimum distribution method, the same life expectancy table that is used for the first distribution year must be used in each following year. Thus, if the taxpayer uses the single life expectancy table for the required minimum distribution method in the first distribution year, the same table must be used in subsequent distribution years.

(b) Beneficiary under joint tables. If the joint life and last survivor table in 1.401(a)(9)-9, Q&A-3, is used, the survivor must be the actual beneficiary of the employee with respect to the account for the year of the distribution. If there is more than one beneficiary, the identity and age of the beneficiary used for purposes of each of the methods described in section 2.01 are determined under the rules for determining the designated beneficiary for purposes of 401(a)(9). The beneficiary is determined for a year as of January 1 of the year, without regard to changes in the beneficiary in that year or beneficiary determinations in prior years. For example, if a taxpayer starts distributions from an IRA in 2003 at age 50 and a 25-year-old and 55-year-old are beneficiaries on January 1, the 55-year-old is the designated beneficiary and the number for the taxpayer from the joint and last survivor tables (age 50 and age 55) would be 38.3, even though later in 2003 the 55-year-old is eliminated as a beneficiary. However, if that beneficiary is eliminated or dies in 2003, under the required minimum distribution method, that individual would not be taken into account in future years. If, in any year there is no beneficiary, the single life expectancy table is used for that year.

(c) Interest rates. The interest rate that may be used is any interest rate that is not more than 120 percent of the federal mid-term rate (determined in accordance with 1274(d) for either of the two months immediately preceding the month in which the distribution begins). The revenue rulings that contain the 1274(d) federal mid-term rates may be found at www.irs.gov\tax_regs\fedrates.html.

(d) Account balance. The account balance that is used to determine payments must be determined in a reasonable manner based on the facts and circumstances. For example, for an IRA with daily valuations that made its first distribution on July 15, 2003, it would be reasonable to determine the yearly account balance when using the required minimum distribution method based on the value of the IRA from December 31, 2002 to July 15, 2003. For subsequent years, under the required minimum distribution method, it would be reasonable to use the value either on the December 31 of the prior year or on a date within a reasonable period before that year's distribution.

(e) Changes to account balance. Under all three methods, substantially equal periodic payments are calculated with respect to an account balance as of the first valuation date selected in paragraph (d) above. Thus, a modification to the series of payments will occur if, after such date, there is (i) any addition to the account balance other than gains or losses, (ii) any nontaxable transfer of a portion of the account balance to another retirement plan, or (iii) a rollover by the taxpayer of the amount received resulting in such amount not being taxable.

.03 Special rules. The special rules described below may be applicable.

(a) Complete depletion of assets. If, as a result of following an acceptable method of determining substantially equal periodic payments, an individual's assets in an individual account plan or an IRA are exhausted, the individual will not be subject to additional income tax under 72(t)(1) as a result of not receiving substantially equal periodic payments and the resulting cessation of payments will not be treated as a modification of the series of payments.

(b) One-time change to required minimum distribution method. An individual who begins distributions in a year using either the fixed amortization method or the fixed annuitization method may in any subsequent year switch to the required minimum distribution method to determine the payment for the year of the switch and all subsequent years and the change in method will not be treated as a modification within the meaning of 72(t)(4). Once a change is made under this paragraph, the required minimum distribution method must be followed in all subsequent years. Any subsequent change will be a modification for purposes of 72(t)(4).

SECTION 3. EFFECTIVE DATE AND TRANSITIONAL RULES

The guidance in this revenue ruling replaces the guidance in Q&A-12 of Notice 89-25 for any series of payments commencing on or after January 1, 2003, and may be used for distributions commencing in 2002. If a series of payments commenced in a year prior to 2003 that satisfied 72(t)(2)(A)(iv), the method of calculating the payments in the series is permitted to be changed at any time to the required minimum distribution method described in section 2.01(a) of this guidance, including use of a different life expectancy table.

SECTION 4. EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS

Q&A-12 of Notice 89-25 is modified.

SECTION 5. REQUEST FOR COMMENTS

The Service and Treasury invite comments with respect to the guidance provided in this revenue ruling. Comments should reference Rev. Rul. 2002-62. Comments may be submitted to CC:ITA:RU (Rev. Rul. 2002-62, room 5226, Internal Revenue Service, POB 7604 Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Comments may be hand delivered between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday to: CC:ITA:RU (Rev. Rul. 2002-62), Courier's Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, D.C. Alternatively, comments may be submitted via the Internet at Notice.Comments@irscounsel.treas.gov. All comments will be available for public inspection and copying.

Drafting Information

The principal author of this revenue ruling is Michael Rubin of the Employee Plans, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division. For further information regarding this revenue ruling, please contact Mr. Rubin at 1-202-283-9888 (not a toll-free number).

END...


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