IRS Issues Proposed Rule Regarding Physical Presence Requirements for Retirement Plan Consents
The IRS has released a proposed rule titled Use of an Electronic Medium to Make Participant Elections and Spousal Consents. The proposed regulation provides an alternative to in-person witnessing of spousal consents required to be witnessed by a notary public or a plan representative and clarifies that certain special rules for the use of an electronic medium for participant elections also apply to spousal consents.
The regulation is proposed to apply beginning on the date that is six months after publication of the Treasury decision adopting these rules as a final regulation in the Federal Register. However, taxpayers may immediately rely on the proposed rule. This guidance comes as previous temporary relief from the physical presence requirements expires at the end of the year.
Under the proposal, a plan may accept a spousal consent witnessed remotely by a notary public provided that
- The signature of the person signing the spousal consent is witnessed by the notary public using live audio-video technology,
- Requirements related to access, authentication, review and confirmation are met,
- The remote witnessing is consistent with state law requirements that apply to the notary public
The proposed rule also sets forth remote witnessing rules for spousal consents witnessed by a plan representative. A plan may accept spousal consent witnessed remotely by a plan representative, provided that
- The signature of the person signing is witnessed using live audio-video technology
- Requirements related to access, authentication, review and confirmation are met, and
- The remote witnessing satisfies the following five requirements
- The person signing the spousal consent must present a valid photo ID
- The live audio-video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person signing and the plan representative
- The person signing must transmit by electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the plan representative on the same date that the spousal consent is signed
- The plan representative must acknowledge that the signature has been witnessed and transmit the consent and acknowledgement back to the person signing the consent
- A recording of the audio-video conference during which the spousal consent was signed remotely must be made and retained by the plan representative
The rule makes several other clarifications — including defining spousal consent and specifying that rules regarding use of an electronic medium for participant elections also applies to spousal consents — and modifies Example 3 in the regulation to demonstrate applicability of requirements with respect to spousal consent.
The proposal is set to be published on December 30, 2022. Comments must be made within 90 days of publication in the Federal Register.