Perhaps channeling the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the IRS recently released Notice 2022-27 extending through December 31, 2022 its temporary relief from the requirement that spousal consent for plan distributions or loans be witnessed in person.

As discussed in greater detail in our earlier posts (here and here), in response to the COVID-19 National Emergency, the IRS issued guidance temporarily allowing a notary or plan representative to witness spousal consent electronically via live video, provided certain conditions are met.  This relief was originally issued in June 2020 and due to expire on December 31, 2020, but then was extended twice under the same conditions.

Following those two extensions, the relief was scheduled to expire at the end of this month.  Notice 2022-27 now further extends the relief through the end of 2022.  The conditions for obtaining relief (described in our first post) remain unchanged.

Although the IRS stated that it does not expect a further temporary extension (due to easing public health precautions in connection with the pandemic), the IRS is currently reviewing comments it previously received from stakeholders regarding whether to make the relief permanent.  The Notice reiterates that the IRS will use the formal regulatory process (including an additional notice and comment period) if it proposes permanent changes to the physical presence requirement.

Plan administrators should be aware of this guidance and should continue to ensure that electronic witnessing meets all of the conditions set forth in the temporary relief.

Photo of Robert Projansky Robert Projansky

Robert M. Projansky is a partner in Proskauer’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group, head of the Health Care Reform Task Force and co-head of the Hiring & Terminations Group.

Rob has a broad practice advising both multiemployer and single employer clients on…

Robert M. Projansky is a partner in Proskauer’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group, head of the Health Care Reform Task Force and co-head of the Hiring & Terminations Group.

Rob has a broad practice advising both multiemployer and single employer clients on all issues related to the legal compliance and tax-qualification of ERISA-covered pension and welfare plans. Rob’s clients include the largest and highest-profile U.S. media and entertainment industry clients, as well as a broad range of Fortune 500 companies.

Photo of Katrina McCann Katrina McCann

Katrina E. McCann is a senior counsel  in the Tax Department and a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group.

Katrina advises a diverse group of clients on a broad spectrum of employee benefits matters, including:

  • counseling clients with respect to

Katrina E. McCann is a senior counsel  in the Tax Department and a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group.

Katrina advises a diverse group of clients on a broad spectrum of employee benefits matters, including:

  • counseling clients with respect to the design, drafting, implementation and ongoing qualification of their qualified plans in both the single and multi-employer context, including profit sharing, money purchase, 401(k), ESOP, and defined benefit plans;
  • providing counsel on the establishment, administration and continued legal compliance of health & welfare plans and programs;
  • advising tax-exempt organizations regarding their 403(b) plans and 457 arrangements;
  • creating and advising on non-qualified plans, including deferred compensation and supplemental employee retirement plans;
  • providing technical and practical advice on compliance with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, the Affordable Care Act, COBRA, HIPAA, and other laws affecting employee benefit plans, as well as issues concerning plan administration, qualification requirements, correction of plan document failures, fiduciary issues and prohibited transaction issues;
  • routinely working with clients and their service providers, advising on the RFP process, reviewing provider arrangements and collaborating to develop effective and compliant disclosures, government reporting forms and participant communications;
  • analyzing the employee benefits and executive compensation issues in connection with corporate transactions, advising on withdrawal liability matters and structuring benefit plans following a transaction and providing counsel with respect to all aspects of benefit plan mergers; and
  • advising both employers and senior executives in connection with various executive compensation matters, including the negotiation and drafting of equity plans and awards, employment agreements, severance agreements and other compensation arrangements.

Katrina is a member and former co-chair of Proskauer Women’s Alliance Steering Committee. She is also a Board member of Playwrights Horizons, an off-Broadway theater dedicated to the development of contemporary American playwrights and the production of innovative new work, and is the co-chair of their Generation PH Leadership Committee.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Katrina served as Special Assistant to the Mayor’s Office of Pension and Investments and was Special Assistant Corporation Counsel, Pensions Division, New York City Law Department. While in law school, Katrina was the Robert M. LaFollette/Keenan Peck Legal Fellow, serving in the offices of Senator Herb Kohl & the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.