Requesting Original or Corrected Determination Letters from the IRS

Valuable Information on 401ks, Pensions, ESOPs, Form 5500 Preparation + More

As a plan fiduciary, there is a very important letter that should be on file with your plan documents.  This letter is known as the determination letter.  The determination letter is a letter the IRS sends to you letting you know the tax status of your 401k plan.  This letter lets you as the plan fiduciary know that your plan complies with all of the requirements set forth by the IRS to be tax-exempt.

However the following limitations should be understood as it relates to IRS determination letters.  First, the letters do not cover any subsequent amendments made to the plan.  Additionally, the letters do not protect the plan from failures to administer the plan in accordance with the plan document.

To request a determination letter, the plan sponsor must request that the IRS review the plan document and issue a favorable determination letter on the plan’s qualified status. Usually, the plan sponsor works with the third party administrator to submit for this letter.

If you already have a determination letter, but would like to request a copy, you can receive an original determination letter in writing by mail or by fax from the IRS.  At this time, the IRS does not accept requests via email or telephone. To request an original copy of the determination letter, provide the name of the plan sponsor, plan sponsor’s EIN, plan number, plan name, year the letter was issued (not required, but helpful), and the fax number to which the reprinted letter should be sent.  This information can be faxed to the IRS at (513) 263-4330 or mail at Internal Revenue Service, PO Box 2508, Rm 5-120, Cincinnati, OH 45201 Attn: Manager, EP Correspondence.

Once you have received the original determination letter, be sure to review for any errors.  The process for requesting an error to be corrected is to submit a copy of the letter that needs correction, your fax number (if no fax is given, the corrected letter will be mailed to the address on file), your phone number, and a detailed explanation of the error in the original determination letter.  This information can be submitted to the same address or fax noted above.

You should expect to receive a copy of your original determination letter after approximately three weeks.  The corrected determination letters should be received within 45 days.  For more information on the various types of determination letters which are given to plans, see our blog post “Determination, Opinion, or Advisory Letters for Retirement Plans”.

Kim Lubbers, CPA


  1. admin says:

    As part of every plan’s Form 5500 filing is a form that goes to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) to notify them of any participant accounts that they have for terminated employees. So the SSA will have this information. I believe that they send you this information when you apply for Social Security. I do not know if you can get the information prior to then, but I would think that there should be a way. I do not have any specifics on how to make the inquiry. You should probably start with the SSA website.


    Dont know if you guys can help but I am seeing if I have any past 401 k plans with past employers.Thank You