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Non qualified stock options 409a

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non qualified stock options 409a

This document contains final regulations regarding the application of section A to nonqualified deferred compensation plans. The final regulations are necessary to clarify and explain the rules governing the application of section A to nonqualified deferred compensation plans. The regulations affect service providers receiving amounts of deferred compensation and the service recipients for whom the service providers provide services. These regulations are effective April 17, Section A was added to the Internal Revenue Code Code by section of the American Jobs Creation Act ofPublic Law Stat. Section A generally provides that unless certain requirements are met, amounts deferred under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan for all taxable years are currently includible in gross income to the extent not subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture and not previously included in gross income. Section A also includes rules applicable to certain trusts or similar arrangements associated with a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, where such arrangements are located outside of the United States or are restricted to the provision of benefits in connection with a decline in the financial health of the sponsor. On December 20,the IRS issued Notice published as modified on January 6,in C. A notice of proposed rulemaking REG, C. A public hearing was conducted on January 25, In addition, the IRS received written and electronic comments responding to the notice of proposed rulemaking. After consideration of all the comments, the proposed regulations are adopted as amended by this Treasury decision. The amendments are discussed in this preamble. The Treasury Department and the IRS have also issued six additional notices providing transition guidance with respect to section A: For a discussion of the continued applicability of these notices, see the Effect on Other Documents section of this preamble. The final regulations generally adopt the structure and format of the proposed regulations. A table of contents has been included in the final regulations, as well as several additional sets of examples addressing various topics. The final regulations exclude the types of plans described in section A d 1 from the definition of a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, as well as certain other arrangements that were also set forth in the proposed regulations. Accordingly, the final regulations generally provide that a nonqualified deferred compensation plan for purposes of section A does not include a qualified plan, a bona fide sick leave or vacation plan, a disability plan, a death benefit plan, or certain medical expense reimbursement arrangements. The final regulations clarify that the exemption from coverage under section A for certain welfare plans does not apply to medical expense reimbursements that constitute taxable income to the service provider. The coverage exemption applies only to arrangements that provide benefits that are excludable from gross income under section or section Several commentators requested clarification of when a leave program will be treated as a bona fide sick leave or vacation leave plan for purposes of section A. Another commentator requested a clarification of the definition of a compensatory time plan. Because the definitions of these terms may raise issues and require coordination with the provisions of sectionsectionand, with respect to certain taxpayers, sectionthe final regulations do not address these issues. Until further guidance, such taxpayers may continue to rely on such definitions for purposes of section A. One commentator requested that a qualified employer plan for purposes of the exclusion from section A include certain plans covered by section d certain plans with a foreign-situs trust treated as qualified plans with respect to the taxation of the participants and beneficiaries and retirement plans described in section i 2 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ofas amended certain Puerto Rican retirement plans. The final regulations adopt this suggestion. The final regulations provide that section A is not applicable to an eligible deferred compensation plan under section bbut may be applicable to a deferred compensation plan that is subject to section f. Commentators requested clarification of the application of the exception in the proposed regulations from the definition of deferred compensation referred to as the short-term deferral rule described in section III. As discussed below, a right to deferred compensation generally refers to a legally binding right qualified one taxable year to compensation that is or may be payable in a subsequent taxable year. However, the final regulations provide that for purposes of the short-term deferral rule, an amount is treated as paid when it is included in income under section f whether or not an actual or constructive payment occurs. Accordingly, where the income inclusion under section f stems from the lapse of a substantial risk of forfeiture that is also treated as a substantial risk of forfeiture for purposes of section A, the amount included in income will be considered a short-term deferral for purposes of section A. However, the right to earnings on amounts that have previously been included under section f will be deferred compensation for purposes of section A unless the right to the earnings independently satisfies the requirements for an exclusion. The final regulations retain the safe harbor in the proposed regulations, under which a service provider is deemed to be providing significant services to two or more such service recipients for this purpose if the revenues generated from the services provided to any service recipient or group of related service recipients during such taxable year do not exceed 70 percent of the total revenues generated by the service provider from the trade or business of providing such services. Commentators expressed concern that the safe harbor did not permit independent contractors to know in advance whether the arrangements under which an independent contractor deferred compensation during a taxable year would be subject to section A. Commentators requested certain look-back periods, including the ability to use averaging over the previous three to five years, or to satisfy the 70 percent threshold over a certain portion of the previous three to five years. The Treasury Department and the IRS are concerned that the suggested rules would allow service providers to engage in strategic behavior to ensure that activity in certain years would be exempt from section A. Accordingly, the final regulations adopt an additional safe harbor that provides that a service provider that has actually met the 70 percent threshold in the three immediately previous years is deemed to meet the 70 percent threshold for the current year, but only if at the time the amount is deferred the service provider does not know or have reason to anticipate that the service provider will fail to meet the threshold in the current year. In response to comments, the final regulations provide that if an independent contractor qualifies for the safe harbor for exclusion from coverage under section A with respect to arrangements with unrelated service recipients, an arrangement between the independent contractor and a service recipient related to the independent contractor will not be subject to section A if the arrangement, and the practices under the arrangement, are bona fidearise in the ordinary course of business, and are substantially the same as the arrangements and practices such as billing and collection practices applicable to one or more unrelated service recipients to whom the independent contractor provides substantial services and that produce a majority of the total revenue that the independent contractor earns from the trade or business of providing such services during the year. The final regulations further clarify that if at the time the legally binding right to the payment arose, the arrangement was not subject to section A because the service provider was an independent contractor that was eligible for this exclusion from coverage under section A, the amount deferred under the arrangement during that taxable year and earnings credited to the deferred amount will not become subject to section A in a later year if the service provider becomes an employee, independent contractor, or other type of service provider subject to the rules of section A. Commentators also requested that a service recipient be permitted to rely upon a representation of an independent contractor that the independent contractor meets the exclusion requirements, so that a service recipient will know whether it is subject to the reporting requirements with respect to amounts deferred subject to section A. The Treasury Department and the IRS are continuing to study this issue. If a principal purpose of a plan is to achieve a result with respect to a deferral of compensation that is inconsistent with the purposes of section A, the Commissioner may treat the plan as a nonqualified deferred compensation plan for purposes of section A. The final regulations provide that a nonqualified deferred compensation plan is a plan that provides for the deferral of compensation. The final regulations further provide that a plan generally provides for the deferral of compensation if, under its terms and the relevant facts and circumstances, a service provider has a legally binding right during a taxable year to compensation that, pursuant to its terms, is or may be payable to or on behalf of the service provider in a later year. For this purpose, an amount generally is payable at the time the service provider has a right to currently receive a transfer of cash or property, including a transfer of property includible in income under section 83, the economic benefit doctrine or section b. Accordingly, a taxable transfer of an annuity contract is treated as a payment for purposes of section A. The definition of deferral of compensation in the final regulations excludes the condition that the amount not be actually or constructively received and included in income during the taxable year, because that language might cause confusion with respect to the applicable rules governing deferral elections and the prohibition on the acceleration of payments. For example, if a service provider has made an irrevocable election to defer an amount of his or her salary to a future year, that amount is treated as deferred compensation regardless of whether the service recipient actually pays such amount to the service provider during the year in which the services are performed. Any early payment of the deferred compensation or any right to receive such an early payment generally would constitute an impermissible acceleration of the payment of the deferred amount. For this purpose, a plan will be treated as providing for a payment to be made in a subsequent year whether the plan explicitly so provides including through a service provider election or the deferral condition is inherent in the terms of the contract. Where the parties have agreed that a payment will be made upon an event that could occur after the year in which the legally binding right to the payment arises, the plan generally will provide for a deferral of compensation unless otherwise excluded under a specific exception, such as the short-term deferral rule. For example, if a plan provides a service provider a right to a payment upon separation from service, the plan generally will result in a deferral of compensation regardless of whether the service provider separates from service and receives the payment in the same year as the grant, because under the plan the payment is conditioned upon an event that may occur after the year in which the legally binding right to the payment arises. Similarly, if an arrangement such as a stock option or stock appreciation right not otherwise excluded from coverage under section A provides a right to a payment for a term of years where the payment could be received during the short-term deferral period or a subsequent period but is not otherwise includible in income until paid, the arrangement will provide for deferred compensation even though the service provider could receive the payment during the short-term deferral period for example, by exercising the stock option or stock appreciation right. However, where a plan does not specify a payment date, payment event or term of years, or specifies a date or event certain to occur during the year in which the services are performedthe plan generally will not provide for the deferral of compensation if the service provider actually or constructively receives the payment within the short-term deferral period. The proposed regulations provided that earnings on deferred amounts are generally treated as deferred compensation for purposes of section A. A commentator requested clarification of whether a payment for a noncompetition agreement could be subject to section A. Because such a payment would occur in connection with the performance or nonperformance of services, and a covenant not to compete does not create a substantial risk of forfeiture for purposes of section A, a legally binding right obtained in one year to a payment in a subsequent year in connection with a noncompetition agreement generally would constitute deferred compensation. The regulations define deferral of compensation in the context of a legally binding right to a payment of compensation in a future taxable year. Commentators requested clarification of the standard that would be used to determine whether a service provider has a legally binding right. A legally binding right includes a contractual right that is enforceable under the applicable law or laws governing the contract. A legally binding right also includes an enforceable right created under other applicable law, such as a statute. One commentator suggested that no legally binding right exists where the payment is made only upon the realization of gain from a particular investment. For example, the commentator argued that a bonus payable based upon the amount that a service provider obtains in selling property should not be treated as granting the service provider a legally binding right to the payment until the property is sold. In such a situation, however, the requirement that the property be sold is a condition to the right to the payment, but the right to the payment is still a legally binding right. The service recipient could not simply revoke the promise, sell the property, and not pay the bonus. However, the condition that the property be sold before the service provider becomes entitled to payment may constitute a substantial risk of forfeiture, depending on the specific facts and circumstances. Subject to the modifications described in this section III. C of the preamble, the final regulations generally adopt the short-term deferral rule that was contained in the proposed regulations. Several commentators requested that additional flexibility be provided to allow payments to be short-term deferrals. By analogy to the rules in the proposed regulations concerning when payments of deferred compensation amounts are considered timely for purposes of the payment date rules, the commentators suggested that payments should qualify as short-term deferrals if made by the end of the year after the year in which a substantial risk of forfeiture lapses, rather than by the 15 th day of the third month of that year. The final regulations do not adopt this suggestion. The short-term deferral rule is based on the historical treatment of certain payments paid within a short period following the end of a taxable year as not constituting deferred compensation. That short period has been defined as ending on the 15 th day of the third month following the end of the year, subject to certain extensions for unforeseeable events. Extending the payment date by which a short-term deferral could be paid would be inconsistent with this approach and the legislative history of section A H. However, the final regulations liberalize the standard under which a payment can be a short-term deferral even if it is delayed due to unforeseeable events. By contrast, the final regulations provide generally that payment may be delayed where the payment would jeopardize the ability of the service recipient to continue as a going concern. Commentators asked how the short-term deferral rule applies to a series of payments scheduled to commence following the lapse of a substantial risk of forfeiture. Accordingly, where a payment has been designated as a separate payment, it may qualify as a short-term deferral and thus not deferred compensation even where the service provider has a right to subsequent payments under the same arrangement. In contrast, where a payment has not been designated as a separate payment such as, for example, a life annuity payment or a series of installment payments treated as a single paymentany initial payments in the series will not be treated as a short-term deferral even if paid within the short-term deferral period. Commentators suggested that a right to a reimbursement be treated as potentially subject to the short-term deferral rule, arguing that the right to the reimbursement payment is subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture that the service provider will not incur the expense. Commentators argued that the short-term deferral rule then could apply if the reimbursement payment were made within a short period following the occurrence of the expense. Generally, the risk that a service provider will fail to incur a reimbursable expense will not qualify as a substantial risk of forfeiture, so the short-term deferral rule will not be applicable. However, the final regulations provide considerable additional flexibility with regard to structuring reimbursement arrangements to meet the requirements of section A. For a discussion of these provisions, see section VII. Some commentators asked whether any payments based on a legally binding right arising in the year of a separation from service are excluded from coverage under section A, if paid by the end of the relevant short-term deferral period. For example, where an employee had accrued benefits under a defined benefit supplemental executive retirement plan SERP during his career that was payable immediately upon a separation from service, including an amount accrued in the year of separation from service, commentators asked whether the payment of the portion of the benefits accrued in that final year is excluded from coverage under section A if paid by March 15 of the year following the separation from service, because the amount is paid within a short period following the year the service provider obtains a vested legally binding right to the additional benefit accrual. This generally would be of most concern to specified employees subject to the requirement of a six-month delay in payment following a separation from service. The analysis that applies in this situation is similar to that applied to the general definition of deferral of compensation, discussed in section III. A of this preamble. The short-term deferral rule does not provide an exclusion from the requirements of section A for such current-year benefit accruals because the rule does not apply to amounts of compensation subject to a deferral election. For this purpose, an election to defer includes either an affirmative election on the part of the service provider or a deferral condition inherent in the terms of the contract. Where the parties have agreed that a payment will be made upon an event that does not necessarily coincide with the lapsing of the substantial risk of forfeiture, and could occur at a time beyond the short-term deferral period, the arrangement provides for a deferral election such that the short-term deferral rule does not apply. Accordingly, in this example, because the benefits accrued in the final year of the SERP could have been paid upon an event occurring after the short-term deferral period if, for example, the individual had not separated from service until a later yearthe payment of the benefit accrued in the final year is subject to section A and is not a short-term deferral, even if paid by March 15 of the year following the separation from service. Also, for example, if a plan that is not subject to section f provides that an amount is subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture until the completion of three years of service, and is payable upon a separation of service following the three years of service, the right to the amount is not a short-term deferral even if the service provider separates from service immediately after vesting in the right, because under the plan the payment is based upon an event other than the lapsing of the substantial risk of forfeiture and such event may occur in a year subsequent to the year in which the risk of forfeiture lapses. Conversely, where a plan specifies no payment date or payment event, or specifies only the date at which the substantial risk of forfeiture lapses, the plan may qualify for the short-term deferral rule if the payment is made within the applicable short-term deferral period. However, such a plan generally would violate section A if the payment were made after the short-term deferral period. As discussed in this preamble with respect to the general definition of deferred compensation, to implement the statutory scheme, including the applicable reporting and form requirements, taxpayers generally must be able to determine whether an arrangement provides for a deferral of compensation at the time the service provider obtains a legally binding right to the compensation. Although a plan need not specify a payment date to be a short-term deferral that is excluded from coverage under section A, the short-term deferral exclusion does not apply if the payment event or date is specified and will or may occur after the end of the short-term deferral period. The preamble to the proposed regulations explained that where a plan requires that a payment be made on a date within the short-term deferral period, but the payment is made after the specified date and after the end of the short-term deferral period, the arrangement will be treated as a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, but the payment date will be treated as a specified date. Thus, under such an arrangement, if the service provider receives the payment after the specified date, but not later than the end of the year in which the specified date occurs, the payment generally will comply with section A. However, taxpayers should note that a provision requiring only that a payment be made on or before the end of the short-term deferral period may not qualify as a permissible specified date for this purpose, if under the facts and circumstances the payment could have been made in more than one taxable year. For a discussion of the application of the definition of a specified payment date to this type of plan, see section VII. B of this preamble. For a discussion of when rights to compensation upon a separation from service for good reason may be treated as rights to compensation upon an involuntary termination, and the potential application of the short-term deferral exception to these arrangements, see section III. Subject to the modifications described in this preamble, the final regulations adopt the provisions of the proposed regulations excluding from coverage under section A statutory stock options and certain other stock rights. Generally under the regulations, nondiscounted stock options and nondiscounted stock appreciation rights issued on service recipient stock that do not include any additional deferral feature are excluded from section A. The final regulations adopt the exclusion from coverage under section A for statutory stock options, including incentive stock options described in section of the Code and options granted under an employee stock purchase plan described in section of the Code. This exclusion applies regardless of whether the statutory stock option would be excluded if the same option were not treated as a statutory stock option. For example, an employee stock purchase plan described in section offering a discounted purchase price is not a deferred compensation plan for purposes of section A. Commentators requested clarification, however, of the treatment of a statutory stock option that is modified, or otherwise becomes ineligible to be treated as a statutory stock option. The final regulations adopt the rule set forth in the proposed regulations, and provide that at the time of such modification or event, the modification or other event is treated as the grant of a new option, or causes the option to be treated as having had a deferral feature from the date of grant, as applicable, for purposes of section A only if such modification or other event would have been so treated had the option been a nonstatutory stock option immediately before such modification or other event. Commentators also requested that the exclusion from coverage under section A for certain stock rights issued under plans meeting the requirements of section employee stock non plans be extended to employee stock purchase plans offered by foreign employers that do not meet such requirements, where the shares are made available for purchase at a discount and substantially all of the participants are nonresident aliens. The legislative history does not provide a basis for extending the exception applicable to options meeting the requirements of section to grants of discounted stock options not meeting the requirements of section Accordingly, this suggestion is not adopted in the final regulations. The final regulations adopt the requirement in the proposed regulations that for the exclusion for certain stock rights to apply, the stock right must relate to service recipient stock. Commentators criticized the definition of service recipient stock contained in the proposed regulations as too restrictive. Generally such criticisms centered on two different aspects of the definition of service recipient stock in the proposed regulations - the classes of stock that may qualify as service recipient stock, and the issuer or issuers whose stock may constitute service recipient stock, where the service recipient is comprised of more than one entity. Commentators requested clarification and expansion of the classes of stock of a corporation that may constitute service recipient stock. Commentators generally focused on two issues. First, with respect to stock of a particular service recipient corporation, commentators requested that the stock right be permitted to relate to any class of common stock, regardless of whether another class of common stock of that corporation was publicly traded, and regardless of whether that class of common stock had the greatest aggregate value of all classes of common stock issued by that corporate entity. Subject to the restrictions governing certain preferences as to distributions, the final regulations generally provide that any class of common stock may be used, regardless of whether another class of common stock that could qualify as service recipient stock is publicly traded or has a higher aggregate value outstanding, and regardless of whether the class of stock is subject to transferability restrictions or buyback rights provided such buyback rights reflect the fair market value of the stock at the time of purchase. Second, commentators suggested narrowing the types of preferences on a class of common stock that would prohibit that class from being treated as service recipient stock. One commentator requested that the classes of stock permitted as service recipient stock include any class of stock that is widely held by non-service recipients. While it may be unlikely that a widely-held class of stock was created to facilitate an abusive avoidance of section A, it does not follow that service recipient stock rights issued on such stock necessarily would be consistent with the intended application of section A if, for example, holders of such class enjoyed preferences that would make such stock rights a suitable substitute for nonqualified deferred compensation. To be treated as service recipient stock under the final regulations, a class of stock must qualify as common stock under section of the Code. Accordingly, the final regulations provide that stock that is not common stock under section is not service recipient stock for purposes of section A. However, the mere classification of a class of stock as common stock under section is not sufficient for such stock to be treated as service recipient stock for purposes of section A. The Treasury Department and the IRS are concerned that classes of stock that are common stock under section may provide preferences that could permit stock rights with respect to such stock to resemble traditional nonqualified deferred compensation, such that exclusion of such stock rights would permit the avoidance of section A. Commentators suggested that a preference with respect to liquidation rights, without any other preferences such as a preferential right to dividends, should be permitted under the definition of service recipient stock. A holder of this class of stock would not be guaranteed any return, but rather would simply be guaranteed preferred distribution rights upon a complete liquidation of the service recipient. The final regulations generally adopt this suggestion. With respect to other preferential rights, commentators were unable to provide a workable standard under which permissible preferences could be distinguished from impermissible preferences. Accordingly, the final regulations do not treat any stock including such preferences as service recipient stock. However, the Treasury Department and the IRS continue to study this area, and the final regulations authorize the publication of other additional guidance, should a workable standard be developed. Stock also requested an expansion of the class of entities the stock of which can qualify as service recipient stock where the service recipient is comprised of multiple entities. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that the stock right exception under section A was intended to cover stock rights directly reflecting the enterprise value of the entity for which the service provider is providing services. Consistent with this approach, the final regulations provide that service recipient stock may include the stock of the corporation for which the service provider was providing services at the date of grant. In addition, the final regulations provide that service recipient stock may include stock of any corporation in a chain of organizations all of which have a controlling interest in another organization, beginning with the parent organization and ending with the organization for which the service provider was providing services at the date of grant of the stock right. In addition, where the use of such stock with respect to the grant of a stock right to such service provider is based upon legitimate business criteria, the final regulations generally require only a 20 percent interest. For example, under the final regulations, with respect to an employee of a subsidiary corporation, the common stock of the ultimate parent non, or of a subsidiary corporation anywhere in the chain of corporate ownership between the subsidiary that employed the employee and the ultimate parent corporation a higher tier subsidiarycould qualify as service recipient stock for purposes of determining whether a stock right issued to such employee with respect to such stock was excluded from coverage under section A, provided that the 50 percent or 20 percent ownership standard, as applicable, was satisfied by each corporation in the chain. The proposed regulations contained many requirements for using an ownership level of less than 50 percent. Commentators requested several simplifications of these requirements. In response, the final regulations no longer require a formal election by any corporation. Rather, each individual grant of a stock right is analyzed to determine whether the stock qualifies as service recipient stock with respect to a service provider at the time the stock right is granted. If a corporation owns at least 50 percent of the stock of one corporation and owns less than 50 percent of the stock of another corporation, and it intends to treat its stock as service recipient stock with respect to employees of both corporations, there is no requirement that a legitimate business criteria exist with respect to the issuance of stock rights on the parent corporation stock to service providers of the first such corporation. The legitimate business criteria standard applies only to stock rights issued to service providers of subsidiaries that are not majority-owned, because the test of legitimate business criteria relates to the actual issuance of a stock right to a particular service provider. Accordingly, a subsidiary may have more than one shareholder corporation the stock of which qualifies as service recipient stock with respect to a subsidiary employee such as, for example, where three entities each own a one-third interest in the subsidiary. However, with respect to each grant of a stock right on stock of a particular non-majority shareholder corporation to a service provider of a particular subsidiary, there must exist legitimate business criteria for issuing such a stock right. Even if legitimate business criteria exist with respect to the issuance of a stock right on stock of a particular shareholder corporation to a particular service provider, legitimate business criteria may or may not exist with respect to the issuance of a stock right to the same service provider on stock of another shareholder corporation. The legitimate business criteria requirement is a facts and circumstances test, focusing generally on whether there is sufficient nexus between a particular service provider and the entity, the stock of which underlies the stock right granted to the service provider, for the grant to serve a legitimate non-tax business purpose. As provided in the preamble to the proposed regulations, if a corporation issued a stock right on its stock to a current employee of a joint venture in which the corporation was a venturer, and the employee was a former employee of the corporate venturer, generally the issuance would be based on legitimate business criteria. Similarly, if the corporate venturer issued such a right to an employee of the joint venture who it reasonably expected would become an employee of the corporate venturer in the future, generally the legitimate business criteria requirement would be met. By contrast, where an employee has no real nexus with a corporate venturer, such as generally happens when the corporate venturer is a passive investor in the service recipient, the use of the investor corporation stock as the stock underlying a stock right grant to that employee generally would not be based upon legitimate business criteria. The Treasury Department and the IRS remain concerned that the manipulation of the structure of a related group of corporations may be used to allow stock options or stock appreciation rights to mimic the characteristics of nonqualified deferred compensation, by compensating holders based on predictable amounts and investment returns unrelated to the enterprise value of an operating entity. Accordingly, the exception contained in the proposed regulations under which the stock of a corporation serving as investment vehicle is not considered service recipient stock has been retained. In addition, an anti-abuse rule has been added to address corporate structures, transactions, or stock right grants, a principal purpose of which is the avoidance of the application of section A to an arrangement otherwise providing deferred compensation. These corporate structures, transactions, and stock right grants generally will occur where the structure, transaction, or grant is intended to provide enhanced security for the value of the stock right as a means of providing deferred compensation, rather than as compensation related to an increase in the true enterprise value of the service recipient. The regulations provide that if an entity becomes a member of a group of corporations or other entities treated as a single service recipient, and the primary source of income or value of such entity arises from the provision of management services to other members of the service recipient group, if any stock rights are issued with respect to such entity it is presumed that such structure was established for purposes of avoiding the application of section A. The final regulations permit certain equity interests in a non-stock mutual company to be treated analogously to equity interests in a corporation. Commentators requested that the definition of service recipient stock be expanded to cover interests in cooperatives and interests in the value of an Indian tribal enterprise. The regulations do not include such interests in the definition of service recipient stock, but provide the IRS authority to provide guidance expanding the definition of service recipient stock. For a discussion of the application of the exclusion for certain stock rights to rights issued on equity interests in entities taxed as partnerships, see section III. G of this preamble. The final regulations provide that for the exclusion for stock rights to apply, the stock right must specify an exercise price of the stock right that may never be less than the fair market value of the underlying stock on the date the stock right is granted. Several commentators expressed concerns regarding the determination of the fair market value of the underlying stock. Some commentators requested that the valuation rules applicable to incentive stock options be applied for purposes of the exclusion from section A. Under those rules, if the stock option would otherwise fail to be an incentive stock option solely because the exercise price was less than the fair market value of the underlying stock as of the date of grant, generally the option is treated as an incentive stock option if the issuer attempted in good faith to set the exercise price at fair market value. See section c 1. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that this is not the appropriate standard for determining whether stock rights are subject to section A. Incentive stock options are subject to strict limitations on the amount of such options that may be granted to a particular employee. See section d. In contrast, there are no such limits applicable to nonstatutory stock options, and grants of nonstatutory stock options often far exceed the limitation applicable to incentive stock options. In addition, section c 1 explicitly provides for the good faith standard with respect to incentive stock options, while no such provisions exist within section A or its legislative history. Commentators requested clarification of the consistency standard with respect to the use of a valuation method. Specifically, commentators asked whether one valuation method could be used for purposes of establishing the exercise price while another method could be used for purposes of determining the fair market value of the stock at the time of the payment for example, to determine the amount of payment in the case of a stock appreciation right or a stock option where the stock is subject to repurchase by the service recipient. The final regulations clarify that consistency is not required, provided that each valuation method used otherwise meets the requirements of the final regulations. Accordingly, a service recipient may use one valuation method for purposes of establishing an exercise price, but another valuation method for purposes of establishing the payment amount in the case of a stock appreciation right or the buyback amount in the case of a stock option where the underlying stock is subject to a buyback arrangement. However, once an exercise price has been established, the exercise price may not be changed through the retroactive use of another valuation method. In addition, where after the date of grant, but before the date of exercise, of the stock right, the service recipient stock to which the stock right relates becomes readily tradable on an established securities market, the service recipient must use a valuation method for stock readily tradable on an established securities market for purposes of determining the payment amount in the case of a stock appreciation right or the buyback amount in the case of a stock option where the underlying stock is subject to a buyback arrangement. The final regulations adopt the rules under the proposed regulations governing valuation of stock readily tradable on an established securities market, generally requiring that the valuation of such stock be based upon the contemporaneous prices established in the securities market, subject to the modifications discussed in this preamble. Some commentators requested additional guidance with respect to when a stock will be treated as readily tradable. With respect to the rules governing the valuation of stock that is readily tradable on an established securities market, commentators generally focused on the provision of the proposed regulations permitting the use of an average selling price during a specified period that is within 30 days before or 30 days after the date of grant. Specifically, comments concentrated on the requirement that the commitment to grant the stock right with an exercise price set using such an average selling price be irrevocable before the beginning of the specified period. Commentators questioned both the purpose of the requirement of the commitment to the valuation method, as well as the actions required to satisfy the rule if averaging were being used. The rule was intended to prohibit the use of an average price, set on a look-back basis, to ensure a discounted exercise price. For example, if a corporation decided to grant a stock option on July 1, and it could set the exercise price using an average selling price for any period falling within the prior 30 days without having had a prior commitment to a specific averaging period, the corporation could simply look for the lowest price that occurred during the prior June. Furthermore, if the corporation were not committed to grant the stock option on July 1, the corporation could wait until its stock price began to rise and then grant an option using the selling price on a given day during the previous 30 days to provide a particular discount. Accordingly, the final regulations require that the commitment to grant the stock right with an exercise price set using such an average selling price be irrevocable before the beginning of the specified period. To satisfy this requirement, the service recipient must designate the recipient of the stock option, the number of shares the stock option will permit the holder of the stock option to purchase, and the method for determining the exercise price including the period over which the averaging will occur, before the beginning of the specified averaging period. One commentator stated that the requirement of an irrevocable commitment to the averaging period could not be met under French law, because French law requires that the stock option exercise price be set based on the average trading price over the preceding 20 days and the commitment to the grant before the beginning of the period may be viewed as violating that requirement. The final regulations provide that where applicable foreign law requires that the compensatory stock right granted by the issuer must be priced based upon a specific price averaging method and period, a stock right granted in accordance with such applicable foreign law will be treated as meeting the requirement, provided that the averaging period may not exceed 30 days. The final regulations adopt the provisions in the proposed regulations relating to the valuation of stock not readily tradable on an established securities market, subject to the modifications discussed in this section III. Accordingly, a valuation of stock based upon a reasonable application of a reasonable valuation method is treated as reflecting the fair market value of the stock. To meet this standard, it is not necessary that a taxpayer demonstrate that the value was determined by an independent appraiser. Where the taxpayer can otherwise demonstrate that the valuation was determined by the reasonable application of a reasonable valuation method, the standard will be met. The final regulations continue to require that in the case of a stock right issued with respect to stock that was not publicly traded at the time the right was issued, but becomes publicly traded before the right is exercised, the stock value for purposes of calculating the payment amount in the case of a stock appreciation right or the buyback amount in the case of a stock option where the underlying stock is subject to a buyback agreement must be based upon the rules governing stock that is publicly traded. This does not mean that the initial exercise price determined under the rules governing stock that is not publicly traded 409a be reset. Rather, this means only that the value at the time of exercise used to determine the payment amount or the buyback amount must be determined under the rules governing stock that is publicly traded. The final regulations adopt a presumption in specified circumstances that, for purposes of section A, a valuation of stock reflects the fair market value of the stock, rebuttable only by a showing that the valuation is grossly unreasonable. The presumption applies where the valuation is based upon an independent appraisal, a generally applicable repurchase formula applicable for both compensatory and noncompensatory purposes that would be treated as fair market value under section 83, or, in the case of illiquid stock of a start-up corporation, a valuation by a qualified individual or individuals applied at a time that the corporation did not otherwise anticipate a change in control event or public offering of the stock. Many of the comments with respect to these presumptions related to the presumption applicable to illiquid stock of start-up corporations. As set forth in the proposed regulations, the start-up corporation presumption would not apply if the service recipient or service provider could reasonably anticipate, as of the time the valuation is applied, that the service recipient would undergo a change in control event or make a public offering of securities within the 12 months following the event to which the valuation is applied. Commentators suggested that a month period is too long, because changes occur so rapidly in the business world that it often is difficult or impossible to predict so far in advance whether such an event will occur. Commentators suggested that the service provider should retain the benefit of the presumption unless the issuing corporation entered into a definitive agreement or filed its registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission within a period of 15 or 30 days after issuing the stock right. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that a day or a day period is too short. Although there is always a risk that a public offering will fail or that a corporate transaction will not occur, the Treasury Department and the IRS also believe that a person should reasonably be able to anticipate whether such a transaction will occur during a reasonable period before the transaction. Accordingly, the final regulations provide that the start-up corporation presumption will not apply if at the time the valuation is made, the service recipient or service provider may reasonably anticipate that the service recipient will undergo a change in control event in the next 90 days or an initial public offering within the next days. As under the proposed regulations, the rule in the final regulations is concerned with what the parties may reasonably anticipate at the time the stock right is issued. Other comments requested examples of persons with sufficient knowledge, experience, and skill in valuing illiquid stock of a start-up corporation. Because knowledge, skill and training may be obtained in different ways, the final regulations do not provide specific examples. The final regulations also clarify that significant experience generally means at least five years of relevant experience in business valuation or appraisal, financial accounting, investment banking, private equity, secured lending, or other comparable experience in the line of business or industry in which the service recipient operates. With respect to the presumption based upon a generally applicable buyback formula, some commentators requested that the presumption apply where the formula is applicable to all compensatory stock transactions, but not also applicable to all noncompensatory stock transactions. The final regulations continue to apply certain rules addressing modifications, extensions and renewals of stock rights. Although these rules in many respects resemble the rules applicable to statutory stock options, the rules are not intended to incorporate the rules applicable to statutory stock options except where explicitly provided. The final regulations generally retain the rules in the proposed regulations that generally treat extensions of the exercise period of a stock right as an additional deferral feature as of the date of grant of the right, with an exception for certain limited extensions following a separation from service. Commentators characterized these rules as unnecessarily restrictive. Specifically, commentators argued that the extension of a stock option upon the occurrence of a separation from service often in connection with a program of layoffs or a corporate transaction is a common practice, and that often these extensions cover periods longer than the limited period provided in the proposed regulations. In addition, commentators argued that the same substantive results could be obtained by specifying a longer term for the stock right and providing the service recipient the discretion to shorten the term, rather than providing discretion to extend a shorter term, and that the former approach would be permissible under the proposed regulations. In response, the final regulations provide that the extension of an option exercise period generally is not treated as an additional deferral feature or a modification of the stock option for section A purposes if the exercise period is not extended beyond the earlier of the original maximum term of the option or 10 years from the original date of grant of the stock right. Because the issuance of an otherwise identical option with an exercise period ending after the end of the exercise period of the underwater option would be excluded from coverage under section A, the final regulations provide that such an extension does not constitute an additional deferral feature. The final regulations adopt the provisions in the proposed regulations regarding substitution or assumption of stock rights due to a corporate transaction, which are generally in accordance with the corresponding provisions governing incentive stock options. One commentator requested that the provision permitting substitutions of stock options be modified to reflect that a holder of a nonstatutory stock option is not required to be employed by the successor entity. The final regulations adopt this suggestion, so that a substituted nonstatutory stock option may be treated as a continuation of the initial option even where the holder of the option is not employed or otherwise providing services to the successor entity, provided the substitution otherwise meets the rules provided in the regulations. The final regulations adopt certain definitions from the regulations governing statutory stock options, modified as appropriate for purposes of applying the rules under section A. These definitions apply by analogy to stock appreciation rights. The final regulations adopt the rule that a right to a payment of accumulated dividend equivalents at the time of the exercise of a stock right generally will be treated as a reduction in the exercise price of the stock right, causing the stock right to be deferred compensation subject to the requirements of section A. The final regulations provide that an arrangement to accumulate and pay dividend equivalents the payment of which is not contingent upon the exercise of a stock right may be treated as a separate arrangement for purposes of section A. Such an arrangement generally will be required to comply with section A unless it independently qualifies for an exception from coverage under section Abut will not affect whether the related stock right qualifies for the exclusion from coverage under section A. The right to the dividend equivalents may be set forth within the stock right plan or the individual stock right grant, or in a separate document, as long as the payment of the dividend equivalents is not contingent upon the exercise of the stock right. Commentators also asked whether the exclusion of stock rights from coverage under section A would apply to tandem rights, meaning a stock right that combines a stock option right and a stock appreciation right, exercisable on an alternative basis. Similarly, commentators asked whether the substitution of a stock option for a stock appreciation right, or vice versawhere all the terms except the mode of payment upon exercise are similar, would be treated as a modification of a stock right. The application of section A generally is not affected by the medium of a taxable payment for example, cash or stock. Accordingly, whether a stock right is expressed as a tandem arrangement under which the exercise of one right terminates the other right, or there is a substitution of a stock appreciation right for a stock option identical in all respects except for the medium of payment, generally does not impact whether the arrangement is excluded from coverage under section A. Commentators requested further clarification of the application of section A to stock option gain deferrals. The ability to defer gain upon the exercise or exchange including a purported forfeiture of a stock right is incompatible with the exclusion of certain stock rights from the requirements of section A because such exclusion is predicated on the option not having any additional deferral feature. Accordingly, if an arrangement provides for a potential to defer the payment of cash or property upon the exercise or exchange of a stock right beyond the year the right is exercised or beyond the original term of the stock right, the arrangement provides for a deferral feature and must comply with the requirements of section A from the time the legally binding right granted by the award arises. Because a stock option with a deferral feature is subject to section A regardless of whether the deferral feature is actually utilized, an option that includes a provision permitting deferral of option gain generally will not satisfy the time and form of payment rules under section A if the service provider can exercise the option in more than one taxable year. If a deferral feature is added to a preexisting option, the option will be treated as having included a deferral feature as of the original date of grant, generally resulting in a violation of section A. However, the final 409a provide that a stock right will not be treated as having a deferral feature where the service recipient delays a payment because the making of the payment would violate applicable Federal, state, local, or foreign law or jeopardize the ability of the service recipient to continue as a going concern. Although these provisions permit the delay for purposes of section A, no inference should be drawn as to the Federal tax consequences of such a delay under any other section of the Code or Federal tax doctrine such as section 83, sectionthe constructive receipt doctrine, or the economic benefit doctrine. Commentators requested that the definition of service recipient stock be expanded to include the stock of a corporation for which a service recipient provides substantial services, at least with respect to a service provider of the service recipient that is providing services to the corporation. The legislative history does not support such a broad interpretation of service recipient stock, and the final regulations do not adopt this suggestion. The final regulations provide, as did the proposed regulations, that a grant of restricted property generally will not constitute a deferral of compensation for purposes of section A. Commentators requested that the regulations clarify that a vested right to receive nonvested property in a future year does not constitute deferred compensation. Commentators argued that a right to receive nonvested property is not truly vested. For example, commentators argued that a right to receive restricted stock that will be subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture until the service provider completes three years of future services cannot be a vested right. The final regulations adopt this suggestion, so long as the risk of forfeiture to which the stock is subject constitutes a substantial risk of forfeiture for purposes of section A. Commentators specifically requested clarification of the circumstances under which a service provider may elect to be paid a bonus or other payment in the form of restricted stock, rather than cash. Generally an election between compensation alternatives, none of which provides for a deferral of compensation within the meaning of section A, will not cause the election to be subject to the section A timing restrictions. Thus, a choice between an award of restricted stock or stock options that are not subject to section A will not be governed by the section A election timing rules. However, where any of the alternatives involves a deferral of compensation subject to section A, the election must comply with the provisions of section A. In addition, no inference should be drawn as to the Federal tax consequences of such an election provision under any other section of the Code or Federal tax doctrine such as section 83, sectionthe constructive receipt doctrine, or the economic benefit doctrine. The final regulations continue to except from coverage under section A transfers of a beneficial interest in a trust, or a transfer to or from a trust, to the extent such a transfer is subject to section b. The final regulations further clarify that a right to compensation required to be included in income under section b 4 A alternative taxation of highly compensated employees of a section b trust that fails to meet the requirements of section a 26 or section b also is not a deferral of compensation. However, a right to receive a benefit formulated as a right to a future contribution to a section b trust is similar to a right to receive property in a future taxable year, and generally would constitute deferred compensation. The proposed regulations did not address the application of section A to arrangements between partnerships and partners, and these final regulations also do not address such arrangements. The statute and the legislative history of section A do not specifically address arrangements between partnerships and partners providing services to a partnership and do not explicitly exclude such arrangements from the application of section A. Commentators raised a number of issues, relating both to the scope of the arrangements subject to section A and the coordination of the provisions of subchapter K and section A with respect to those arrangements that are subject to section A. The Treasury Department and the IRS are continuing to analyze the issues raised in this area. E of the preamble to the proposed regulations. For this purpose, taxpayers may apply the principles applicable to stock options or stock appreciation rights under these final regulations, as effective and applicable, to equivalent rights with respect to partnership interests. Taxpayers also may continue to rely upon the explanation in the preamble to the proposed regulations regarding the application of section A to guaranteed payments for services described in section c. As stated in that preamble, until further guidance is issued, section A will apply to guaranteed payments described in section c and rights to receive such guaranteed payments in the futureonly in cases where the guaranteed payment is for services and the partner providing services does not include the payment in income by the 15 th day of the third month following the end of the taxable year of the partner in which the partner obtained a legally binding right to the guaranteed payment or, if later, the taxable year in which the right to the guaranteed payment is first no longer subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture. Section a 10 provides for an exception from the Self-Employment Contributions Act SECA tax for payments to a retired partner, provided that certain conditions are met. Commentators questioned the appropriateness of the inclusion of such arrangements under section A, because neither the statute nor the legislative history refers to section a However, the Treasury Department and the IRS believe it is appropriate for such arrangements to be subject to section A because such arrangements are purposefully created to provide deferred compensation, and do not raise issues regarding the coordination of the provisions of section A with the provisions of sectionspecifically the rules governing the classification of payments to a retired partner under section a payments considered as distributive share or guaranteed payments and section b payments for interest in partnership. However, further clarification and relief is provided concerning the application of the deferral election timing rules to these payments. However, this interim relief does not apply a second time where an amount paid under an arrangement in one year has been excluded from SECA tax under section a 10and an amount paid in a subsequent year has not been excluded from SECA tax under section a 10 because, for example, the partner performed services in that subsequent year. The proposed regulations provided an exclusion from the definition of a nonqualified deferred compensation plan for any scheme, trust, or arrangement maintained with respect to an individual where contributions made by or on behalf of such individual to such scheme, trust or arrangement are excludable for Federal income tax purposes under an applicable income tax treaty. The final regulations retain that exclusion and clarify that the exclusion applies to the extent contributions made by or on behalf of such individual to such scheme, trust, arrangement or plan, or credited allocations, accrued benefits, or earnings or other amounts constituting income, of such individual under such scheme, trust, arrangement or plan, are excludable by such individual for Federal income tax purposes pursuant to any bilateral income tax convention to which the United States is a party. The proposed regulations contained an exclusion from coverage under section A for amounts deferred under a broad-based foreign retirement plan, subject to certain conditions, including that the service provider not be eligible to participate in a qualified employer plan, and that if the person is a U. Deferrals by participants that are nonresident aliens are not subject to the limitation based on section The final regulations adopt this provision, subject to certain modifications. Many of the commentators requested expansion of the exclusion for broad-based foreign retirement plans. One commentator requested that the exclusion apply to U. The Treasury Department and the IRS do not believe such an exception is justified. However, the exception for U. Accordingly, the exception may now cover certain participation by a U. The regulations have also been modified to address nonqualified deferred compensation plans covering bona fide residents of a U. Under the regulations a bona fide resident of a possession who participates in a broad-based foreign retirement plan is not subject to section A with respect to participation in such plan. In addition, a plan substantially all of the participants in which are bona fide residents of a possession is eligible to be treated as a broad-based foreign retirement plan, so that U. Another commentator requested that the exclusion apply to a plan that otherwise meets the requirements for the exclusion, regardless of whether the plan is sponsored by a foreign or U. This suggestion has been adopted in the final regulations. Other commentators requested further clarification and revision of certain of the requirements to qualify for the exclusion. One commentator requested a safe harbor treating any plan granted favorable tax treatment under the laws of a foreign jurisdiction as qualifying for the exclusion. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe this standard is both too broad and not administrable, and this suggestion has not been adopted in the final regulations. The final regulations do not adopt such a provision. For this purpose, active participants include individuals who, under the terms of the plan and without further amendment or action by the plan sponsor, are eligible to make or receive contributions or accrue benefits under the plan even if the individual has elected not to participate in the plan. A similar standard applies to the requirement that the individual not be eligible to participate in a qualified employer plan. The final regulations also clarify that the exclusion for United States citizens and lawful permanent residents applies to nonelective deferrals even if elective deferrals are permitted under the same plan, provided that the amounts deferred through nonelective deferrals and earnings on such amounts are distinguishable from amounts deferred through elective deferrals and earnings on such amounts, such as through the use of separate accounts. The proposed regulations excluded from coverage under section A certain arrangements, referred to as tax equalization arrangements, that provide for payments intended to compensate the service provider for the excess of taxes actually imposed by a foreign jurisdiction on the compensation paid over the taxes that would be imposed if the compensation were subject solely to United States Federal income tax, subject to certain requirements. The final regulations adopt these provisions, subject to modifications. Based upon the comments received, the final regulations generally expand the exclusion in two respects. First, the final regulations extend the tax equalization payments exception to cover reimbursements of U. Second, the final regulations provide that the payment must be made by the end of the second taxable year of the service provider following the latest of the deadline for filing a U. Federal tax return or the deadline for filing foreign tax returns or if a foreign return is not required to be filed, the due date for foreign tax payments reflecting the compensation for which the tax equalization payment is provided. Commentators also asked how such reimbursement agreements could address the potential for an audit or other tax controversy, both in the U. The same issue arises with respect to tax gross-up payments in general. For a discussion of the treatment of the right to such payments, see section VII. The final regulations adopt this provision, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. In response to comments, the final regulations clarify that the exception applies to amounts deferred in that taxable year up to the specified limit, regardless of whether additional amounts are deferred. In addition, the final regulations clarify that this exception applies to earnings on amounts deferred that were subject to the exception, provided that the taxpayer can identify both the deferred amounts excepted and the applicable earnings. Finally, in response to comments requesting that the limit be increased and indexed, the final regulations increase the limit for the small deferral exception to the limit provided for elective deferrals under section g. The small deferral exception is intended to provide relief to service providers that are not U. In such cases, the nonresident alien may inadvertently defer a relatively small amount of compensation that would otherwise be subject to U. This may occur where the service provider defers the compensation that the service provider would otherwise have been paid for a brief period of service in the United States, or where the service provider receives service or compensation credit for a brief period of service in the United States under a benefit formula of a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Some commentators requested that the exemption be extended to cover all amounts deferred by nonresident aliens under foreign plans to the extent the nonresident alien provides only temporary services in the U. Where the compensation earned by such a nonresident alien would be subject to U. The final regulations adopt the exclusion in the proposed regulations for deferrals of amounts that would be excluded as foreign earned income under section if the amounts had been paid out when earned. The final regulations clarify that the amount is limited to an amount equal to or less than the difference between the maximum section exclusion for the year and the amount actually excluded for the year. Commentators requested that the exception for the deferral of amounts that would be excluded under section be relaxed, so that U. This exception was not intended to address such plans. Rather, the provision was intended to provide relief from the section A requirements for U. Commentators pointed out, however, that earnings on deferred amounts, including increases in amounts deferred under a nonaccount balance plan solely due to the passage of time, may not be treated as earned income under section and argued that, nonetheless, such amounts should not lower the amount otherwise available to be deferred under the exception. Similarly, a right to liability insurance coverage providing for such payments in the event of such a suit also will not be treated as providing for a deferral of compensation. The final regulations generally adopt the provisions addressing separation pay plans set forth in the proposed regulations, subject to certain modifications. For example, the right to a gross-up payment for taxes payable due to the application of section G will constitute separation pay if a separation from service is required to obtain the payment. The final regulations also clarify that a separation pay plan for purposes of section A, including for purposes of the plan aggregation rules, refers only to plans providing for payments of amounts of deferred compensation disregarding the exceptions from the definition of deferred compensation for certain types of separation pay where one of the conditions to the right to the payment is a separation from service. A right to a payment upon a separation from service that is not deferred compensation does not become subject to section A under the plan aggregation rule. For example, the accelerated vesting due to a separation from service of stock options excluded from coverage under section A would not constitute a separation pay plan or otherwise become subject to section A under the plan aggregation rules. The final regulations generally retain and supplement the various exceptions from the definition of deferred compensation for certain types of separation pay, providing exceptions for 1 certain bona fide collectively bargained arrangements, 2 certain arrangements providing separation pay due solely to an involuntary separation from service or participation in a window program in limited amounts and for a limited period of time, 3 certain foreign separation pay arrangements, 4 certain reimbursement arrangements providing for expense reimbursements or in-kind benefits for a limited period of time following a separation from service, and 5 certain rights to limited amounts of separation pay. These exceptions from coverage under section A for specified separation pay plans may be used in combination. For example, the rights of an employee to the maximum amount available under the exception for separation payments made solely due to involuntary separation from service or participation in a window program, to reimbursements for reasonable moving expenses and outplacement expenses that meet the requirement for exclusion from coverage under section A, and to rights to payments that do not exceed the limit on elective deferrals under section g and accordingly qualify for the limited payment exception, may all be excluded from coverage under section A due to application of the various exceptions. The final regulations continue to provide that any amount, or entitlement to any amount, that acts as a substitute for, or replacement of, amounts deferred under a separate nonqualified deferred compensation plan constitutes a payment of deferred compensation or deferral of compensation under the separate nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Commentators asked how this would apply where the service provider would otherwise forfeit a payment upon separation from service but a payment is made anyway, in whole or in part. The regulations provide that if a separation from service is voluntary, it is presumed that the payment results from an acceleration of vesting followed by a payment of the deferred compensation that is subject to section A. Accordingly, any change in the payment schedule to accelerate or defer the payments would be subject to the rules of section A. Factors indicating that a right would have existed regardless of the forfeiture include that the amount to which the service provider obtains a right is materially less than the present value of the forfeited amount multiplied by a fraction, the numerator of which is the period of service the service provider actually completed, and the denominator of which is the full period of service the service provider would have been required to complete to receive the full amount of the payment. Another factor is that the payment consists of a type of payment customarily made to service providers who separate from service with that service recipient and do not forfeit nonvested rights to deferred compensation for example, a payment of accrued but unused leave or a payment for a release of potential claims. For a discussion of when a separation from service for good reason may be treated as an involuntary separation from service, see section III. Commentators requested that the exclusion continue to apply to payments up to the limit, even where the entire amount of the separation payments exceeds the limit. The final regulations adopt this rule. Accordingly, where a service provider is entitled to a payment that qualifies for the exception except that it exceeds the limit, only the excess over the limit will be subject to section A. The final regulations clarify that for purposes of applying the section a 17 limit, the statutory limit applicable for the year of the separation from service occurs applies. This suggestion has not been adopted in the final regulations. The proposed regulations provided an exclusion from coverage under section A that applied only to certain amounts paid solely because of an actual involuntary separation from service or participation in a window program. Many comments asked how to determine whether a separation from service is involuntary for this purpose. The final regulations contain a definition of involuntary separation from service and also apply this definition for purposes of the definition of a substantial risk of forfeiture, pursuant to which a payment that will not be made unless the service provider experiences an involuntary separation from service is subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture for purposes of section A. See section V of this preamble. The final regulations provide that whether a separation from service is involuntary is determined based on all the facts and circumstances. For this purpose, any characterization of the separation from service as voluntary or involuntary by the service provider and the service recipient in the documentation relating to the separation from service is rebuttably presumed to properly characterize the nature of the separation from service. Commentators requested that a separation from service for good reason be treated as an involuntary separation from service. To be treated as an involuntary separation for purposes of section A, the avoidance of the requirements of section A must not be a purpose of the inclusion of any good reason condition in the plan or of the actions by the service recipient in connection with the satisfaction of a condition. In addition, such good reason condition must require actions taken by the service recipient resulting in a material negative change in the employment relationship, such as a material negative change in the duties to be performed, the conditions under which such duties are to be performed, or the compensation to be received. Additional factors that may be relevant to whether a purported separation from service for good reason is the result of a bona fide good reason condition not having as a principal purpose the avoidance of section A include the extent to which the payments upon a separation from service for good reason are in the same amount and are made at the same time and in the same form as payments available upon an actual involuntary separation from service, and whether the service provider is required to give the service recipient notice of the existence of the good reason condition and a reasonable opportunity to remedy the condition. Where a good reason condition is sufficient to be treated for purposes of section A as a condition requiring an involuntary separation from service, an amount payable on account of a separation from service for good reason will be treated the same as an amount payable on account of an actual involuntary separation from service. The final regulations also provide a safe harbor under which a provision for a payment upon a voluntary separation from service for good reason will be treated for purposes of section A as providing for a payment upon an actual involuntary separation from service. Those conditions include that the amount be payable only if the service provider separates from service within a limited period of time not to exceed two years following the initial existence of the good reason condition, and that the amount, time and form of payment upon a voluntary separation from service for good reason be identical to the amount, time and form of payment upon an involuntary separation from service. In addition, the service provider must be required to provide notice of the existence of the good reason condition within a period not to exceed 90 days of its initial existence, and the service recipient must be provided a period of at least 30 days during which it may remedy the good reason condition. For these purposes, a good reason condition may consist of one or more of the following conditions arising without the consent of the service provider: Commentators requested an exception from coverage under section A to address certain plans providing for payments upon a voluntary separation from service, in the context of a collective bargaining agreement covering services performed for multiple employers. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe these issues are better addressed in the definition of separation from service. For purposes of the plan aggregation rules, the final regulations provide for separate treatment of plans providing for separation pay solely due to an involuntary separation from service or participation in a window program. This exception is intended to apply only where the amounts are payable solely due to an involuntary separation from service or participation in a window program, and not where the amounts may also become payable for some other reason, even where such payments actually are made due to an involuntary separation from service or participation in a window program. Accordingly, any amount that would be paid as a result of a voluntary separation from service will not be included in this category. An arrangement that does not provide for deferred compensation will not be aggregated with a deferred compensation plan under this rule, merely because the arrangement not providing for deferred compensation accelerates vesting or payment upon an involuntary separation from service for example, the acceleration of the vesting of a stock option or stock appreciation right that is excluded from coverage under section A. In response to questions from commentators, the final regulations clarify that a right to a benefit that is excludible from income will not be treated as a deferral of compensation for purposes of section A. Accordingly, for example, an arrangement to provide health coverage excludible from income under section generally would not be subject to section A. Many commentators requested increased flexibility to provide for reimbursement arrangements upon a separation from service, including certain requests to exempt broad categories of such arrangements, such as the continuation of any plan in which the service provider participated while performing services. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that an exemption from coverage under section A is not appropriate in such circumstances, because such plans may provide for rights to significant amounts of deferred compensation over lengthy periods of time. However, the final regulations extend the limited period during which taxable reimbursements of medical expenses may be provided, to cover the period during which the service provider would be entitled or would, but for such arrangement, be entitled to continuation coverage under a group health plan of the service recipient under section B COBRA if the service provider elected such coverage and paid the applicable premiums. In addition, the final regulations contain several provisions governing reimbursement plans including plans providing in-kind benefits that constitute nonqualified deferred compensation plans for purposes of section A, so that taxpayers will be able to design such arrangements to comply with the payment timing requirements of section A. The final regulations continue to exclude from coverage under section A the reimbursement of certain expenses such as reasonable outplacement expenses and reasonable moving expenses for a limited period of time due to a separation from service, whether the separation from service is voluntary or involuntary. The final regulations, like the proposed regulations, require that the eligible expense must be incurred by the service provider no later than the end of the second year following the year in which the separation from service occurs. In response to questions from commentators, the final regulations clarify that the exception applies to the qualifying reimbursements available during the limited period of time, even if the plan extends beyond the limited period of time. Several commentators requested that the limited period of time refer solely to the time the expense is incurred, and not the time the expense is reimbursed, to reflect the need for time to process the reimbursement request. Although the final regulations do not adopt this suggestion, the final regulations extend the period during which a service provider can receive a reimbursement payment by providing that such payments must be made not later than the end of the third year following the separation from service. This extension applies only to reimbursements of expenses incurred by the service provider. Where the service recipient provides in-kind benefits as defined in the regulationsor the service recipient pays a third party to provide in-kind benefits, such benefits must be provided by the end of the second year following the separation from service. Commentators also requested that the final regulations clarify the treatment of rights to a reimbursement of any loss incurred due to a sale of a residence. The regulations clarify that for this purpose, reasonable moving expenses include the reimbursement of an amount related to a loss incurred due to a sale of a primary residence, provided that the reimbursement does not exceed the loss actually incurred. The final regulations provide that, if not otherwise excluded, a taxpayer may treat a right or rights under a separation pay plan to a payment or payments of an aggregate amount not to exceed the applicable dollar amount under section g 1 B for the year of the separation from service as not providing for a deferral of compensation. Commentators raised questions concerning the calculation of the excluded amount, and requested an increase in the amount. The limited payment exception is intended to avoid the application of section A to incidental benefits often provided upon a separation from service, where the parties may not realize that the benefits are nonqualified deferred compensation. The exception is not intended to address extended or significant benefits. Accordingly, the final regulations do not substantially increase the amount of the exclusion. However, to permit the excluded amount to automatically reflect cost-of-living increases, the maximum exclusion now equals the maximum amount of an elective deferral permitted under section g for the year of the separation from service. The aggregate amount refers to the aggregate amount of payments to which the service provider has a right or rights. The exclusion may be applied to any type of separation pay plan, but may apply only once with respect to amounts paid by a service recipient to a service provider. So, for example, if a service provider treats a right to a payment of separation pay equal to the applicable limit under section g in the first year following a separation from service as an excluded right, the right to the amount is not treated as a deferral of compensation regardless of when the amount is actually paid though other provisions of the Code and the constructive receipt doctrine continue to apply. However, once the right is treated as excluded, the service provider may not treat any other right with respect to the service recipient, such as an additional right to a payment equal to the applicable limit under section g in the second year following the separation from service, as excluded under this exception. The final regulations clarify that a legally binding right to receive a nontaxable benefit does not provide for a deferral of compensation for purposes of section A, unless the service provider has received the right in exchange for, or has the right to exchange the right for, an amount that will be includible in income other than due to participation in a cafeteria plan described in section In addition, because such benefits do not provide for a deferral of compensation, the plan aggregation rules will not result in taxation of other benefit plans merely because the terms of such nontaxable benefit arrangements would not comply with section A if the arrangement were covered by section A. For a discussion of the requirements for a taxable reimbursement plan to satisfy the payment timing requirements of section A, see section VII. Commentators requested clarification of the application of section A to amounts paid pursuant to litigation between the service provider and service recipient, including both court awards and bona fide settlements, and including amounts characterized as wages or otherwise treated as replacing compensation. The final regulations generally treat such arrangements as not providing for deferred compensation for purposes of section A. However, the exception covers only rights arising from the bona fide claim, and is not intended to allow such settlements or awards to act as substitutes for, or to allow for the restructuring of, preexisting deferred compensation subject to section A. For example, a change to the timing of the payment of a pre-existing amount of deferred compensation as part of such a settlement would be subject to the rules governing accelerated payments and subsequent deferral elections. In addition, the payment of an amount upon the execution of a waiver of any or all of such claims does not necessarily indicate that the amounts are paid as an award or settlement of an actual bona fide claim. Rather, to qualify for the exception under this provision, the amounts must be paid with respect to an actual bona fide claim for damages under the applicable law. For a discussion of the treatment of settlements of bona fide disputes regarding the right to preexisting deferred compensation subject to stock A, see section VIII. Some commentators requested that split-dollar life insurance arrangements be excluded from coverage under section A. Split-dollar life insurance arrangements are often used as a method of providing deferred compensation and there is no indication in the statute or legislative history of any legislative intent that such arrangements be excluded from coverage under section A. In addition, like a promise to transfer property in the future, a promise to transfer an economic benefit in the future may provide for deferred compensation. Accordingly, a split-dollar life insurance arrangement may provide for deferred compensation, and whether a split-dollar life insurance arrangement provides for deferred compensation must be determined through application of the general rules defining deferred compensation and a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. In response to requests for additional guidance, the Treasury Department and the IRS anticipate issuing a notice addressing the application of section A to split-dollar life insurance arrangements. The notice will also address this issue. Commentators requested an exclusion from coverage under section A for promises to provide future taxable educational benefits to service providers. These benefits typically would be provided as an inducement to provide a period of services. The final regulations generally provide an exception from coverage under section A for rights to educational benefits, where the benefits consist solely of educational assistance as defined for purposes of section c provided solely for the education of the service provider. The proposed regulations generally provided that all amounts deferred with respect to a service provider under all plans of a service recipient falling within a particular category would be treated as deferred under a single plan. The enumerated categories included amounts deferred under account balance plans, amounts deferred under nonaccount balance plans, amounts deferred under separation pay plans providing payments due solely to an involuntary termination or participation in a window program, and amounts deferred under any other plan. The final regulations adopt these provisions, subject to certain modifications described in this preamble. Accordingly, a portion of a nonqualified deferred compensation plan is a separate account balance plan if that portion otherwise qualifies as an account balance plan and the amount payable to service providers under that portion is determined independently of the amount payable under the other portion of the plan. The final regulations also provide additional categories of plans for purposes of the aggregation rules. One category covers split-dollar life insurance arrangements. Another category is comprised of reimbursement plans, providing for the reimbursement of expenses incurred or the provision of in-kind benefits as defined in the regulationsto the extent the right to such benefits or reimbursements, separately or in the aggregate, does not constitute a substantial portion of the overall compensation earned by the service provider for performing services for the service recipient, or the overall compensation received due to a separation from service. Stock rights that constitute nonqualified deferred compensation for purposes of section A also comprise a separate category. The final regulations further provide for account balance plans to be subdivided into a category for elective plans and a category for nonelective plans. Plans will only be subdivided in this manner to the extent the amounts deferred under an elective deferral arrangement and earnings on such amounts may be separately identified. For this purpose, a right to a match on an elective deferral will not be treated as an elective deferral arrangement. In an additional category, any amounts deferred under a foreign plan may be treated as deferred under a separate plan from any amounts deferred under a domestic plan, provided that the deferrals under the plan are deferrals of amounts that would be treated as modified foreign earned income meaning foreign earned income as defined under section b 1 without regard to section b 1 B iv and without regard to the requirement that the income be attributable to services performed during the period described in section d 1 A or B if paid to the service provider at the time the amount is first deferred, and provided further that the foreign plan is not substantially identical to a domestic plan in which the service provider participates. For this purpose, a foreign plan is a plan that the service recipient provides primarily to nonresident aliens or resident aliens classified as resident aliens solely under section b 1 A ii and not section b 1 A i. Commentators requested clarification and simplification of the provisions required to be included in writing in plan documents to comply with section A. As a general rule, the final regulations provide that to satisfy the requirement that a plan be in writing, the document or documents constituting the plan must specify, at the time an amount is deferred, the amount to which the service provider has a right to be paid or, in the case of an amount determinable under an objective, nondiscretionary formula, the terms of such formulaand the payment schedule or payment triggering events that will result in a payment of the amount. A plan must provide for the six-month delay requirement applicable to payments to specified employees upon a separation from service no later than the time the provision may become applicable to a separation from service of the specified employee. Accordingly, the plan must contain the provision by the time at which the employee becomes a specified employee either because the stock of a component of the service recipient becomes publicly traded, or because the specified employee effective date has been reached for a list of specified employees that includes the employee. A provision applicable to a plan sponsored by a service recipient or a plan in which a specified employee participates is effective with respect to a specified employee only to the extent the provision is binding on the employee. With respect to a deferral election, whether an initial or subsequent deferral election, the plan must specify no later than the time by which that election is required to be irrevocable the conditions under which that election may be made. With respect to permitted accelerations of a payment, the plan need not specify the conditions under which the accelerated payment will be made except as explicitly required in these regulations. However, the taxpayer must demonstrate that the acceleration of the payment complies with the requirements of section A and these regulations. Commentators also requested clarification regarding whether the requirement that a plan be in writing also means that the plan must be contained in a single document. Accordingly, the terms of a plan document may be contained in more than one document including, for example, a deferral election document. Commentators asked whether a savings clause would be sufficient to ensure compliance with section A, where the savings clause provides that each provision of the plan will be interpreted to be consistent with the requirements of section A and that any provision of the plan that does not satisfy such requirements will be of no force or effect. The final regulations provide that for purposes of determining the terms of a plan, general provisions of the plan that purport to nullify noncompliant plan terms, or to supply required specific plan terms, are disregarded. Accordingly, if a plan contains terms that do not meet the requirements of section A and these regulations, or fails to contain a plan term necessary to meet the requirements of section A and these regulations, the plan will violate the requirements of section A and these regulations regardless of whether the plan contains such a savings clause. Several commentators requested that the Treasury Department and the IRS publish model amendments. Due to the complex and varied universe of deferred compensation plans, the Treasury Department and the IRS do not believe that it is feasible to publish model amendments at this time. The final regulations generally adopt the definition of substantial risk of forfeiture set forth in the proposed regulations. However, the definition of substantial risk of forfeiture for purposes of compensatory transfers of property under section 83 reflects different policy concerns from those involved in section A, and there are also practical differences between transfers of restricted property and promises to pay deferred compensation. This is reflected in the provisions of section A e 5directing the Secretary of the Treasury Department to issue regulations disregarding a substantial risk of forfeiture in cases where necessary to carry out the purposes of section A. Accordingly, the final regulations do not adopt this suggestion. A right to an amount deferred may be subject to the satisfaction of two or more different conditions that each independently would be a substantial risk of forfeiture. In that case, the substantial risk of forfeiture generally would continue until all of such conditions had been met. Alternatively, a right to an amount deferred may be subject to the satisfaction of any of two or more different conditions that each independently would constitute a substantial risk of forfeiture. In that case, the substantial risk of forfeiture generally would lapse as soon as one of the conditions had been met. The final regulations explicitly provide that a payment conditioned on an involuntary separation from service without cause may be treated as subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture if there is a substantial risk that the service provider will not be involuntarily separated from service without cause. Many of the comments relating to the definition of a substantial risk of forfeiture requested also that a benefit available only upon a separation from service for good reason be treated as subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture. Under the definition of an involuntary separation from service provided in the final regulations, the right to a payment upon a separation for service for good reason may, in certain circumstances, be treated as a right to a payment upon an involuntary separation from service. For a discussion of the definition of an involuntary separation from service, see section III. Commentators requested that a requirement that an employee sign a release of claims to receive a benefit be treated as a substantial risk of forfeiture. Generally, conditions under the discretionary control of the service provider other than the decision whether or not to continue providing services are not treated as creating a substantial risk of forfeiture. One commentator suggested that any right to a payment be treated as subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture until the amount of the payment is readily determinable, at least where the payment could be zero. The Treasury Department and the IRS do not believe that this standard is appropriate. The final regulations provide that an amount will not be considered subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture after the date or time at which the recipient otherwise could have elected to receive the amount of compensation, unless the present value of the amount purportedly subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture disregarding, in calculating the present value, the risk of forfeiture is materially greater than the present value of the vested amount the recipient otherwise could have elected to receive. For example, if a service provider can elect to receive, in lieu of a payment of current compensation, a bonus based upon a formula that would otherwise subject the bonus to a substantial risk of forfeiture, the bonus will be subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture for purposes of section A only if the present value of the amount of the bonus disregarding the risk of forfeiture is materially options than the present value of the current compensation amount. Some commentators asked whether this exception addressed the extension of a substantial risk of forfeiture as part of the negotiated extension of an employment contract. Commentators argued that rights a service provider obtains under a new or extended employment contract could be viewed as a right to an amount materially greater than the amount the service provider otherwise could have received. The final regulations clarify that for purposes of this rule, compensation the service provider would receive for continuing to perform services regardless of whether the service provider elected to receive the vested payment is not taken into account for purposes of determining whether the present value of the right to the nonvested payment is materially greater. The final regulations adopt the provisions contained in the proposed regulations relating to initial deferral elections, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. The proposed regulations generally provided that in a nonelective plan, a service recipient may designate the time and form of payment on or before the date the service provider obtains a legally binding right to the payment. If a service provider may make an initial deferral election, including an election as to the time and form of payment, the election must be irrevocable as of the date required under the rules governing such service provider elections. Many commentators requested a clarification of the rules with respect to a deferral of a discretionary bonus, where the legally binding right to the bonus does not arise until a year subsequent to the year in which services are performed. For example, an employer announces in that it will be awarding discretionary bonuses for services performed inand will decide which employees will receive bonuses and in what amounts at the beginning of The determination of the period of services for which compensation is earned is based on all the facts and circumstances, but may include periods of service before the date the service provider obtains a legally binding right to the compensation. Although not necessarily determinative, one of the factors taken into account in that determination is a designation by the service recipient of the period of services for which the compensation is earned. Commentators pointed out that under the proposed regulations, a service recipient might be required to designate a time and form of payment with respect to a nonelective deferral at an earlier date than the service provider would have to make such a designation if an election had been provided to the service provider. Commentators requested that the service recipient be provided the same flexibility as the service provider in such cases. The final regulations generally adopt this suggestion, so that if the service provider has no election as to the time and form of payment of an amount of deferred compensation, the service recipient may set the time and form of payment on any date on or before the later of the latest date the service provider would have been permitted under these regulations to elect such time and form of payment if an election had been provided to the service provider, or the date the service recipient grants the legally binding right to the compensation. So, for example, where compensation is performance-based compensation, and the service recipient retains the discretion to establish the time and form of the payment, the plan generally could permit the service recipient to establish the time and form of the payment on or before the date six months before the end of the relevant performance period. The final regulations generally adopt the definition of performance-based compensation contained in the proposed regulations, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. The final regulations clarify that where a portion of an award would qualify as performance-based compensation if the portion were the sole amount available under the plan, that portion of the award will not fail to qualify as performance-based compensation merely because another portion of the award does not qualify as performance-based compensation, if the portion that would qualify as performance-based compensation is designated separately or otherwise separately identifiable under the terms of the plan and each portion is determined independently of the other. Commentators asked whether in order to use the deferral rules regarding performance-based compensation, a service provider must be required to perform services during the entire performance period, or from the date the performance criteria are set through the end of the performance period. The final regulations require only that the service provider provide services from the later of the date the performance period starts or the date the performance criteria are established through the date the initial deferral election is made. Commentators suggested that a provision in a plan for automatic payment to occur upon death, disability, or a change in control event as defined for purposes of section A should not result in a failure of the arrangement to qualify as performance-based compensation. The final regulations adopt this suggestion, provided that where such an event occurs before a deferral election has been made, the right to the payment will no longer be treated as performance-based compensation so that a deferral election may not be effective unless made in accordance with another applicable deferral election rule. In response to comments, the requirement that a deferral election under the rule applicable to performance-based compensation be made before the compensation has become substantially certain to be paid has been modified, and now requires that the election be made before the amount is readily ascertainable. With respect to the right to an amount of compensation that varies based upon the level of performance, the payment, or any portion of the payment, is treated as readily ascertainable to the extent the amount or the payment is calculable and the performance requirement is substantially certain to be met. For this purpose, a right to a payment is bifurcated between the amount that is readily ascertainable and the amount that is not readily ascertainable. Accordingly, any minimum amount that is calculable and for which the performance requirement entitling the service provider to the payment is substantially certain to be met generally will be treated as readily ascertainable. At the end of the six months, widgets have been produced and no election to defer has been made. In addition, the performance-based compensation does not include any additional amount that the service provider is substantially certain to earn based on the number of additional widgets that the service provider is substantially certain to produce before the end of the year. However, the payment is bifurcated so that any additional amount that is not substantially certain to be paid may be treated as performance-based compensation such that an election to defer such compensation may be made. Commentators requested clarification of the circumstances under which compensation, the amount of which is determined by reference to the value of service recipient stock, may qualify as performance-based compensation. Accordingly, compensation payable for a service period that is equal to the value of a predetermined number of shares of stock, and is variable only to the extent that the value of such shares appreciates or depreciates, generally will not be performance-based compensation. However, if the right to such compensation is subject to a performance-based vesting requirement, such compensation may be performance-based compensation. Also, the attainment of a prescribed value for the service recipient or a portion thereofor a share of stock of the service recipient, may be used as a performance-based criterion, if it is a condition for receiving the compensation and the other requirements are met. Section A a 4 B ii provides that in the case of the first year in which a service provider becomes eligible to participate in the plan, an initial deferral election may be made within 30 days after the date the service provider becomes eligible to participate in the plan, with respect to compensation for services to be performed subsequent to the election. The final regulations adopt the provisions implementing the initial eligibility deferral election rules set forth in the proposed regulations, subject to the following modifications. Many of the commentators on the initial eligibility deferral election rule expressed concerns about the application of the plan aggregation rules. The proposed regulations provided that the plan aggregation rules would apply in determining whether a service provider was newly eligible for a plan, so that if a service provider was already participating in an arrangement that is required to be aggregated with the arrangement for which the service provider is initially eligible, the service provider would not be able to take advantage of the initial eligibility deferral election rule. Some commentators requested that the plan aggregation rules not apply for this purpose. However, the Treasury Department and the IRS believe that such a rule would result in the potential for the adoption of serial plans as a means to claim repeated initial eligibility and the ability thereby to make late deferral elections. In addition, such a rule would require difficult determinations of whether one plan was sufficiently dissimilar from another plan to qualify as a separate plan. Other commentators requested that the plan aggregation rules apply, but that plans allowing elections between current and deferred compensation, or the part of a plan allowing such elections, be treated separately from nonelective plans or nonelective benefits in each category. The final regulations generally adopt this rule through the modifications to the plan aggregation rules described in section IV. Other comments focused on the application of the initial eligibility deferral election rule in the case of a rehire or a change in position within a service recipient. Commentators pointed out that under the standard in the proposed regulations, if an employee had not received a distribution after the initial termination of employment, or had transferred to a position not participating in the plan without receiving a distribution and then transferred back to a position participating in the plan, the rehired or returning employee would still retain the right to benefits under the plan and thus would not be able to use the initial eligibility deferral election rules. The final regulations provide that the initial eligibility deferral election rules are applicable to a service provider provided that the service provider has not been an active participant in the plan applying the plan aggregation rules for at least 24 months. Commentators requested relief with respect to the timing rules for initial elections establishing the time and schedule of payments under nonelective excess benefit plans. Because determining whether a service provider is a participant requires calculations, commentators observed that both the service provider and the service recipient may be unaware that the service provider has become a participant in the plan for some time after the service provider actually first becomes eligible. The proposed regulations provided a rule for initial deferral elections with respect to certain forfeitable rights, generally intended to address ad hoc awards. The final regulations retain this rule, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. Commentators suggested that the requirement of at least a month service period following the deferral election during which the right could be forfeited due to a separation from service be shortened to 11 months, because the combination of the day election period plus the month service period requirement generally resulted in a requirement of at least a month performance period. The requirement of a month service period after an election is made ensures that the election occurs while at least an entire year 12 months of services is still required. This conforms in many respects to the general rule that the deferral election must be made in the year before the year in which the services are performed. Any shorter period would permit service providers to make deferral elections in the same taxable year in which all of the services are performed. The Treasury Department and the IRS do not believe that such a rule is consistent with the legislative intent. However, if death, disability, or a change in control event occurs and the condition lapses before the end of such month period, a deferral election may be given effect only if the deferral election is permitted under the regulations without regard to this rule. The final regulations retain the initial deferral election rule with respect to fiscal year compensation that was in the proposed regulations. Accordingly, where a service recipient with a calendar year taxable year is providing fiscal year compensation to a service provider based upon a calendar year, a service provider with a non-calendar year taxable year generally could take advantage of the rule to defer such fiscal year compensation on or before the December 31 preceding the calendar year upon which the fiscal year compensation is based. The final regulations continue to provide a special deferral election rule with respect to commission payments. These rules are intended to address concerns that, for many commission arrangements, it is difficult to determine when the services related to a particular commission payment began, so that it is difficult to apply the general rule that requires that a deferral election be made before the year in which any services are performed. This rule is not intended to address whether, absent such a deferral election, a particular commission arrangement would result in deferred compensation. Whether a commission arrangement otherwise provides for deferred compensation must be determined through the application of the general rules defining deferred compensation. However, where a commission arrangement requires that the service provider be providing services at the time of the payment to be entitled to the payment, the commission is paid in the normal course, and neither the service provider nor the service recipient has a right to specify a payment date, the arrangement generally will not provide for the deferral of compensation. The final regulations generally adopt the deferral election rule set forth in the proposed regulations treating the services related to a commission payment as performed in the year in which the customer remits payment to the service recipient. For this purpose, the proposed regulations provided that commissions include only compensation contingent upon the service recipient receiving payment from an unrelated customer for the product or services provided. Commentators asked that this rule be extended to cover arrangements under which the service recipient paid the commission based upon consummation of a transaction, regardless of whether the customer paid the service recipient for the service or good purchased from the service recipient. For example, commentators stated that in some industries the service recipient pays a salesperson commissions based on the amount of sales recorded, even though the customer is not obligated to pay the service recipient until a later date. The final regulations generally adopt this suggestion by permitting the taxable year in which the sale occurs to be substituted for the year in which the customer remits payment. However, to avoid manipulation of the deferral election timing rules, the taxable year of the sale may be used only if it is applied consistently to all similarly situated service providers. Commentators also asked that this rule be extended to commissions earned due to the increase in value, or maintenance of overall value, of a pool of assets or accounts. In response, the final regulations provide that, for purposes of the initial deferral election rules, the services with respect to investment commission compensation are deemed to be performed over the 12 months immediately preceding the date as of which the overall value of the assets or asset accounts is determined for purposes of the calculation of the investment commission compensation. For this purpose, investment commission compensation means compensation earned by a service provider if a substantial portion of the services provided by such service provider to a service recipient consists of sales of financial products or the provision of other direct customer services to an unrelated customer with respect to customer assets or customer asset accounts. For this purpose, amounts will only be treated as investment commission compensation if the customer retains the right to terminate the customer relationship and transfer or withdraw the assets or asset accounts without undue delay which may be subject to a reasonable notice periodthe compensation paid by the service recipient to the service provider consists of a portion of the value of the overall assets or asset account balance, an amount substantially all of which is calculated by reference to the increase in the value of the overall assets or account balance during a specified period, or both, and the value of the overall assets or account balance and investment commission compensation is determined at least annually. Commentators also requested that the exception for commissions be expanded to address arrangements involving customers related to either the service provider or the service recipient. The Treasury Department and the IRS are concerned that where arrangements involve related parties, there is the potential for manipulation of the timing of the payment and the commission, but also understand that many of such arrangements may not involve abuse. Therefore, the final regulations provide that the special rules with respect to commissions apply to arrangements involving a customer related to the service provider or the service recipient provided that substantial sales or substantial services occur between the service recipient and a significant number of unrelated customers, and the sales or service arrangement and the commission arrangement with respect to a customer related to either the service recipient or the service provider are bona fide and arise in the ordinary course of business, and both the terms and practices are substantially the same as the terms and practices applicable to customers to whom the service provider and service recipient are not related, and to whom, either individually or in the aggregate, the service recipient has made substantial sales or provided substantial services. The final regulations expand this rule to include voluntary separations from service as well as involuntary separations, as long as all of the other conditions in the previous sentence are met. The exception addresses both a choice between a current and a deferred payment, and the establishment of the time and form of payment of deferred compensation. The exception is intended to address legally binding rights to deferred compensation arising as part of the process of separating from service and not based upon previously existing legally binding rights. The exception is intended to alleviate concern that where such rights are expressed or calculated based on prior compensation or service, any election by the service provider as to the timing of the payment during the negotiation process could be viewed as a late initial deferral election made during or after the year in which the services were performed, and to avoid the potential for the plan aggregation rules to eliminate the ability to make an initial eligibility deferral election. The Treasury Department and the IRS have become aware that certain taxpayers have attempted to apply this provision to existing deferred compensation plans, believing that the exception allows new elections provided that the separation pay was the subject of bona fide negotiations. This application is inconsistent with the explicit provision of the proposed regulations and these final regulations. The provision does not address preexisting legally binding rights to deferred compensation, including legally binding rights that are subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture. Any change in the time and form of payments under those arrangements would be required to meet the rules governing subsequent deferral elections and accelerated payments including any applicable relief provided during the transition period. For a discussion of the treatment of benefits forfeitable upon the separation from service, see section III. Commentators asked how the deferral election rules would apply to an election by certain employees providing services over less than a month period to receive payments for services on an annualized basis. For example, teachers performing services during a school year running from September of one year through June of the next year often are provided an election to receive the compensation on an annualized basis over 12 months instead of during only the school year. This raises issues under the general initial deferral election rules under section A because the teacher is permitted to elect after the beginning of the calendar year to defer some of the compensation that would be paid in September through December of that year to a period in the subsequent year. The final regulations provide that with respect to recurring part-year compensation, an election to defer all or a portion of the compensation to be earned during a particular period of service may be made at any time before the period of service begins, provided that no amounts are deferred under the election to a date after the last day of the 13 th month following the first day of the performance period. For this purpose, recurring part-year compensation is defined as compensation paid for services rendered in a capacity that the service recipient reasonably anticipates will continue in subsequent years on similar terms and conditions, and will require services to be provided over successive service periods of less than 12 months, each of which begins in one taxable year of the service provider and ends in the next such taxable year. For example, a teacher earning compensation from September 15 of one year through June 30 of the subsequent year could elect to defer compensation earned during such period on any date on or before September 15 of the first year, provided that no amount deferred in accordance with this rule is deferred beyond October 31 of the following year. This exception may be applied to a particular amount of compensation only once, so that an amount deferred under this exception may not be deferred a second time through treatment of the amount as earned in a subsequent service period. The final regulations provide that the initial deferral election rules are deemed satisfied to the extent that a deferral election provided to a service provider is necessary to satisfy the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ofas amended, 38 U. Similar relief has been provided with respect to changes in the time and form of payment and accelerations of payments. The final regulations clarify that except as explicitly provided otherwise, a single time and form of payment must be designated with respect to each payment that is payable upon a payment event. For example, a plan must designate how an amount will be paid upon a change in control event, and generally cannot provide one time and form of payment upon a particular type of change in control event, and another time and form of payment upon another type of change in control event. The final regulations retain the rule, however, that permits a plan to provide for a different time and form of payment, depending upon whether the permissible payment event occurs before or after a specified date. The proposed regulations provide that for purposes of applying the payment rules, a payment will be treated as made on a fixed date or on a fixed schedule if the payment or payments are made by the end of the calendar year in which a specified fixed payment date, or due date of a payment under a fixed schedule, occurs or, if later, the 15th day of the third month following such fixed date or due date. The final regulations clarify that the same flexibility applies to making a payment on account of a payment event. So, for example, where a payment is scheduled to be made upon the death of a service provider whose taxable year is the calendar year, the payment is timely if made on or before the later of December 31 of the calendar year in which the death occurs, or the 15th day of the third month following the date of death. Commentators also requested that where a payment is scheduled to be made on a fixed date, a service recipient be permitted to pay at any preceding date within the same calendar year. Commentators argued that if the regulations permitted a payment to be made later within the same calendar year because the amount would be reflected on the same income tax return in the case of an individual service provider, then the same rationale should permit payments to be made earlier in the same calendar year. Because the adoption of this provision would conflict with the administration of the rules governing subsequent deferrals, the final regulations do not adopt this suggestion. The subsequent deferral rules require that any election to extend the deferral period must not be effective for at least one year after the date the payment is due. If a payment due on a specified date during a calendar year could always be made on January 1 or any subsequent date during the calendar year, then the one-year waiting period would have to begin to run on the previous January 1, regardless of the actual payment date the plan specified. For example, if a plan specified December 31 as the payment date, but the payment could be made on January 1, then any subsequent deferral election would need to be made on or before January 1 of the preceding calendar year, making the deadline for a subsequent deferral election almost two years before the actual specified payment date. Such a rule would unduly burden service providers who cannot actually receive a payment before the date specified in the plan. However, to lower the potential for unintentional violations, the final regulations provide that a payment will be deemed made at the scheduled time of payment if made not earlier than 30 days before the scheduled date, provided that the service provider is not permitted, directly or indirectly, to designate the taxable year of the payment. In addition, the final regulations continue to provide that a plan may designate an entire taxable year of the service provider, rather than a specific date, as the specified date of payment. If a plan provides only for the taxable year of payment, the payment may be made at any time during such year. Commentators also requested clarification of the treatment of deadlines for payment, where the plan does not designate a specific payment date or taxable year of the service provider. For example, commentators asked whether a provision requiring payment as soon as administratively feasible but in no event later than the 15 th day of the third month following the end of the year would be treated as having a fixed date of payment. The final regulations provide that such a provision will be a specified payment date only if the period during which such payment may be made is restricted either to a specified taxable year of the service provider or a period of not more than 90 days and the service provider is not provided an election as to the taxable year of the payment. If a specific payment date is not established, the first possible date on which a payment could be made under the plan is the specified payment date for purposes of the rules relating to subsequent deferral elections. For example, a payment scheduled to be made at any time on or after January 1,and on or before July 1,to a service provider whose taxable year is the calendar year will be deemed to have a fixed payment date. For purposes of the subsequent deferral rules, January 1,is the specified payment date. By contrast, a payment scheduled to be made to such a service provider at any time on or before July 1,would not be deemed to have a fixed payment date, because the payment could be made before January 1, In addition, a payment scheduled to be made options a service provider, for example, within days of a separation from service generally will not provide for a specified time and form of payment under the final regulations, because it specifies neither the taxable year of the service provider in which the payment must be made following the separation from service, nor a period of 90 days or less following the separation from service in which the payment must be made. Because such a payment schedule would not provide an objective payment date based upon the separation from service event, the payment also would not be eligible for the relief provided for payments made by the later of the end of the taxable year of the service provider or the 15th day of the third month following the specified payment date. However, a plan provision providing that the payment will be made within 90 days of a separation from service generally will be treated as a specified payment date, and for purposes of the subsequent deferral rules the date of the separation from service will be treated as the scheduled payment date. Many commentators requested additional guidance regarding ways in which rights to taxable reimbursements or in-kind benefits might be structured to meet the definition of a fixed schedule of payments. In response, the final regulations provide that a right to reimbursements or in-kind benefits will meet the requirement of a fixed time and form of payment if certain requirements are satisfied. Such reimbursement or in-kind benefit rights may not be subject to liquidation or exchange for another benefit. For example, a right to a reimbursement of membership fees incurred for each of three specified and consecutive calendar years by a former employee, where the former employee is entitled to reimbursement of the expenses incurred each year without regard to the expenses incurred in a different year, and where the former employee cannot exchange the right for cash or any other benefit, generally will be treated as providing for a fixed time and form of payment if the plan requires that the reimbursement payment be made by no later than the end of the calendar year following the year in which the expense is incurred. This rule applies similarly to the provision of in-kind benefits, such as a right to use a corporate vehicle or aircraft. The final regulations also provide a special rule for arrangements reimbursing medical expenses to permit certain aggregate limits on the benefits provided, such as lifetime maximums. Commentators asked whether payment schedules with fixed or objective formula limitations on the amount that may be paid during any particular period would meet the requirement of a fixed schedule or time and form of payment. Where the fixed or formula limitation is established on or before the date the time and form of payment is otherwise required to be set, the fixed or formula limitation is based on a fixed or nondiscretionary, objectively determinable formula limitation on the amount that may be paid in a particular period where all the factors relevant to the determination of such limit are beyond the control of the service provider and not subject to any exercise of discretion by the service recipient, and the plan specifies the time and form of payment of any additional amount due in excess of the fixed or formula limitation amount, the schedule will be deemed to be a fixed schedule of payments because it is not subject to manipulation. However, a change in the limits or a change in the allocation method for the payment of the unpaid excess amounts that will be paid after the original due dates due to application of the limit may constitute a subsequent deferral election or the acceleration of a payment. Similarly, where the total amount payable under a plan with multiple participants is limited, the time and form of payment requirement may be met if the plan specifies, from the date the time and form of payment is otherwise required to be set, the following: However, a change in the limits or a change in the allocation method may constitute a subsequent deferral election or an acceleration of a payment. Commentators also asked whether the same analysis would apply where the limit on a payment is calculated pursuant to a formula related to business performance, such as a specified percentage of cash flow for the period. A payment schedule may be conditioned on a formula limitation if the formula limitation is specified at the time the schedule of payments is otherwise required to be set, the limitation is nondiscretionary and objectively determinable based on the business performance of the service recipient, and the service provider retains no control over the determination or application of the formula limitation. For this purpose, a formula limitation based on profits or other indicia of general business performance is not treated as discretionary or in the control of the service recipient. However, a change in the formula limitation may constitute a subsequent deferral election or an acceleration of a payment. For a discussion of schedules of payments based upon the timing of payments received by the service recipient, see section VII. Nothing in the provisions relating to tax gross-up payments modifies the application of section A to any underlying compensation arrangement that results in the taxes that are subject to the tax gross-up arrangement. Commentators requested guidance on payment schedules contingent on the receipt of certain payments by the service recipient. For example, commentators requested clarification whether a plan requiring an annual payment equal to a percentage of certain accounts receivable collected during the prior month period would qualify as a fixed time and form of payment. In addition, these arrangements raise issues regarding the ability of the service recipient or service provider to control the timing of the payment of deferred compensation through an ability to influence the timing of the payment by the customer. Accordingly, the final regulations generally provide that a schedule based upon the timing of payments to the service recipient is not a fixed schedule of payments. However, the final regulations also provide certain parameters under which such a plan may qualify as having a fixed time and form of payment. First, if the service recipient is comprised of more than one entity, the payments must be due from a person that is not one of such entities for example, not a payment due from a subsidiary corporation to a parent corporation. Second, the payments must stem from bona fide and routine transactions in the ordinary course of business of the service recipient, and the service provider must not at the time such payments are due retain effective control over the service recipient, the person from whom the payments to the service recipient are due, or the collection of the payments. Third, the payment schedule must provide for a nondiscretionary, objective method of identifying the customer payments to the service recipient from which the amount of the payment is determined, and a nondiscretionary, objective schedule under which payments of the nonqualified deferred compensation will be made for example, a payment every March 1 of 10 percent of the accounts receivable collected during the previous calendar year. Finally, the sales to which the payment relates must be of a type that the service recipient is in the trade or business of making and makes frequently, and either all such sales must be taken into account or there must be a legitimate, nontax business purpose for limiting the sales taken into account. The final regulations generally adopt the provisions in the proposed regulations defining the circumstances under which a separation from service is deemed to occur, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. Some commentators requested that the parties to a nonqualified deferred compensation plan be permitted to define when a separation from service occurs, at least if they apply the definition consistently. The Treasury Department and IRS believe that a definition of separation from service that is objectively determinable, nondiscretionary and predictable, and not subject to negotiations between the parties is necessary to properly implement the legislative intent behind section A. The definitions of separation from service suggested by the commentators do not meet this standard. The Treasury Department and the IRS continue to believe that the definition of separation from service should be based upon an objective determination of whether the service provider continues to provide significant services to the service recipient. The proposed regulations provided that an employee separated from service with the employer if the employee died, retired, or otherwise had a termination of employment with the employer. Whether a termination of employment had occurred would be determined based on the facts and circumstances. The proposed regulations provided that where the facts and circumstances indicated that the employer and the employee did not intend for the employee to provide more than insignificant future services, the employee would be treated as having a separation from service. For this purpose, an employer and employee would not be presumed to have intended only insignificant services be provided if the employee continued providing services at a rate equal to at least 20 percent of the rate of the previous three years. Where an employee continued providing services in another capacity for example, as an independent contractorthe employee would be deemed not to have a separation from service if the service provider continued providing services at a rate equal to at least 50 percent of the services provided during the previous three years. Different rules were provided for service providers who were not employees. Commentators criticized this standard in various respects. The proposed regulations applied one presumption where an employee continued providing services as an independent contractor, and another where an employee continued providing services as an employee. Commentators asked why the same presumptions did not apply regardless of whether the employee purports to continue service or separate from service as an employee or purports to continue service or separate from service as an independent contractor. Commentators also suggested that the presumptions should be based on the intent of the employer and employee at the time of the purported separation from service or purported continuation of servicesrather than the actual subsequent conduct. Commentators also argued that the employer and employee could be found to have violated section A based on subsequent actual conduct, even where the parties had a bona fide belief that a separation from service had or had not occurred, but circumstances changed. In response to these comments, the final regulations provide a simplified standard, applicable whether an employee continues to provide services as an employee or as an independent contractor. The general standard for determining whether the employee has terminated employment is based on whether the facts and circumstances indicate that the service recipient and employee reasonably anticipated either that no further services would be performed after a certain date or that the level of bona fide services the employee would perform after such date whether as an employee or as an independent contractor would permanently decrease to no more than 20 percent of the average level of bona fide services performed over the immediately preceding month period or the full period in which the employee provided services to the employer whether as an employee or as an independent contractor if the employee has been providing services for less than 36 months. For this purpose, periods during which the employee is on an unpaid bona fide leave of absence are disregarded including for purposes of determining the relevant month periodand periods during which the employee is on a paid bona fide leave of absence are treated as periods during which the employee provided services at the level at which the employee would have been required to perform services to receive the compensation if not on a bona fide leave of absence. To assist in applying this standard, certain rebuttable presumptions are provided. An employee generally will be presumed to have separated from service where the level of bona fide services performed whether as an employee or an independent contractor changes to a level equal to 20 percent or less of the average level of services provided during the previous 36 months whether as an employee or an independent contractor. An employee will be presumed not to have separated from service where the level of bona fide services rendered continues at a level that is 50 percent or more of the average level of services provided during the previous 36 months. No presumption applies to a change to a level of services between 20 percent and 50 percent of the average level of services provided during the previous 36 months. For purposes of the presumption, the entire period during which the employee has provided services to the employer is substituted for 36 months if the employee has been providing services to the employer for less than 36 months, and periods during which the employee is on a bona fide leave of absence are treated in the same manner as such periods are treated for the general rule. The presumptions are rebuttable, by demonstrating that the employer and the employee reasonably anticipated that as of a certain date the level of bona fide services would be reduced permanently to a level less than or equal to 20 percent of the average level of services provided during the immediately preceding month period or full period in which the employee has provided services if the employee has been providing services to the employer for a period of less than 36 months or that the level of bona fide services would not be so reduced. Similarly, where the loss of a business client of the employer results in a permanent reduction in the level of bona fide services performed by the employee of more than 80 percent, so that the employee would be presumed to have separated from service, the taxpayer may rebut the presumption that a separation from service occurred by showing that the employer and employee reasonably anticipated that the level of services would not be so reduced. The separation from service would then be deemed to occur at the time that the employer and employee reasonably anticipated that such reduction would continue. Commentators requested additional flexibility to treat certain employees as having experienced a separation from service, even where the employee continues to provide services in a reduced capacity. This is often referred to as a phased retirement, in which an employee obtains retirement benefits despite continuing to provide services on a part-time or reduced basis. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that providing flexibility to alter the definition of a separation from service after an amount has been deferred is inconsistent with the statute and legislative intent, and could be subject to manipulation. However, the final regulations permit certain flexibility for a plan to define a separation from service as including a change to a reduced level of bona fide services, if the definition is specified no later than the time and form of payment are elected or otherwise specified. Specifically, the final regulations provide that rather than treating a separation from service as requiring an anticipated permanent reduction in the level of bona fide services to 20 percent or less of the average level of bona fide services provided in the immediately preceding 36 months, a plan may treat another level of anticipated permanent reduction in the level of bona fide services as a separation from service, provided that the level of permanent reduction required must be set forth in the plan as a specific percentage, and the anticipated permanently reduced level of bona fide services must be greater than 20 percent but less than 50 percent of the average level of bona fide services provided in the immediately preceding 36 months. The plan must specify the definition of separation from service on or before the date at which a separation from service is designated as a time of payment of an amount deferred, and once designated, any change to the definition of separation from service with respect to such amount deferred will be subject to the rules regarding subsequent deferrals and the acceleration of payments. For example, on or before the time at which a plan must designate a time and form of payment for a deferred amount, the plan may specify that a separation from service will be deemed to occur at any time that the employee and employer reasonably anticipate that the bona fide level of services the employee will perform whether as an employee or an independent contractor will be permanently reduced to a level that is less than 50 percent of the average level of bona fide services the employee performed during the immediately preceding 36 months or the entire period the employee has provided services if the employee has been providing services to the employer less than 36 months. Commentators requested that the definition of the term service recipient be expanded for purposes of determining whether a separation from service has occurred. The final regulations generally adopt this suggestion, so that for purposes of determining whether a service provider has separated from service with an employer or other service recipient, the service recipient is defined as including all entities that would be treated as part of the group of entities comprising the service recipient under section b and c and the accompanying regulations, but substituting a 50 percent ownership level for the 80 percent ownership level in section b and c and the accompanying regulations. A plan may specify that a higher or lower percentage ownership level will be used, provided that the ownership level may not be higher than 80 percent or lower than 20 percent, and provided further that an ownership level of less than 50 percent may be used only where such use is based on legitimate business criteria. As discussed, the plan must specify the percentage on or before the date at which a separation from service is designated as a time of payment of the amount deferred, and where a plan changes the definition of separation from service with respect to amounts previously deferred, such a change will be subject to the rules governing changes to the time and form of payment, including the anti-acceleration provisions. Commentators also requested special treatment with respect to the identification of the service recipient in instances where an amount is deferred pursuant to a bona fide collective bargaining agreement covering service with multiple employers, and the employee may be expected to perform services covered by the bona fide collective bargaining agreement for a number of different employers. Specifically, commentators expressed concern that an employee not be treated as having separated from service when a particular period of service with an employer is completed, if the employee has made herself available to perform services covered by the bona fide collective bargaining agreement for another employer. The final regulations generally provide that where the amount is deferred pursuant to a plan provided under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement covering services with multiple employers, and where service providers may reasonably anticipate providing services for more than one of the participating employers, the plan may define a separation from service in a manner that treats the service provider as not having separated from service when the service provider stops performing services for one employer covered by the agreement and provides services for another employer covered by the agreement. The final regulations also provide that the plan may not treat a service provider as having separated from service during periods where the service provider is not providing services but has made herself available to perform services for a participating employer, provided that the definition requires that the service provider be deemed to have separated from service no later than the end of any month period in which the service provider has not provided services covered by the bona fide collective bargaining agreement to any employer. Many of the comments with respect to the definition of separation from service for an employee concerned the treatment of bona fide leaves of absence. For purposes of determining whether a service provider has separated from service and not for purposes of determining whether a vacation or sick leave plan is a bona fide vacation or sick leave plana bona fide leave of absence refers to a leave of absence where there is a reasonable expectation the service provider will return to service with the service recipient. The final regulations provide that an employment relationship is treated as continuing while the individual is on sick leave, or other bona fide leave of absence, if the period of such leave does not exceed six months, or if longer, so long as the individual retains a right to reemployment with the service recipient under an applicable statute or by contract. If the period of leave exceeds six months and the individual does not retain a right to reemployment under an applicable statute or by contract, the employment relationship is deemed to terminate on the first date immediately following such six-month period. However, the final regulations modify the provisions in the proposed regulations with respect to disability leave. With respect to disability leave, the employment relationship will be treated as continuing for a period of up to 29 months, unless otherwise terminated by the employer or the employee, regardless of whether the employee retains a contractual right to reemployment. Commentators requested that salary continuation programs be permitted to delay the occurrence of a separation from service, where an employee continues to receive salary and benefits and is otherwise treated as an employee, although not required to perform any further meaningful services. Some commentators also requested this treatment for terminal leave, or leave intended to bridge a service provider to a separation from service date that would permit continuation of benefits or accrual of additional benefits under, for example, a qualified plan. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that these types of actions are subject to manipulation and should not delay the time when a service provider is treated as having separated from service for purposes of section A. Accordingly, the final regulations do not recognize extensions of leave or salary and benefits as a means of delaying the date of separation from service for purposes of section A. In addition, terminal leave with no intent to return generally would not be treated as bona fide leave for purposes of the rule for employees addressing bona fide leave. Commentators expressed concern that the service recipient may wish to continue providing certain employee benefits, including in-kind benefits and reimbursement plans, during a salary continuation or terminal leave period. With respect to the application of section A, such plans generally may be structured to avoid providing for the deferral of compensation, or to provide deferred compensation in compliance with the requirements of section A. The definition of separation from service for purposes of section A is not applicable for purposes of other Code provisions, such as those provisions governing qualified retirement plans or non-taxable benefits. Commentators also requested that the regulations address rehires, and specifically whether payments of deferred compensation could be suspended during a subsequent period of employment or other service until a subsequent separation from service. Such a suspension generally would violate the rules governing changes in the time and form of payment because payments would be delayed in a manner that does not satisfy the rules applicable to subsequent deferral elections. Neither the statutory language of section A nor the legislative history indicates any intent to permit such additional flexibility. Moreover, the Treasury Department and the IRS believe that suspension of benefits rules would add significant complexity to the administration of the Code section. However, many of the desired results of a suspension of benefits provision often may be obtained through deferrals of future compensation after rehire. Comments with respect to the application of the separation from service standard in the case of a merger or acquisition generally focused on two areas. For this purpose, a sale of assets refers to a transfer of substantial assets, such as a plant or division or substantially all of the assets of a trade or business. Second, commentators requested clarification whether a spin-off of a subsidiary could result in a separation from service of an employee of the subsidiary, where the nonqualified deferred compensation plan defines a separation from service as including any action resulting in the employee no longer being an employee of the controlled group of corporations including the parent corporation. Generally such a transaction would not result in a termination of employment for an employee of the subsidiary, because the employee is continuing employment with the same employer both before and after the transaction. However, the rules that provide a service recipient discretion to terminate and liquidate a plan following a change in control transaction afford taxpayers the flexibility to pay out their deferred compensation liabilities in particular circumstances. The final regulations provide generally that where a service provider provides services to a service recipient both as an employee and as an independent contractor, the service provider must separate from service both as an employee and as an independent contractor to be treated as having separated from service. But where a service provider provides services both as an employee and a member of the board of directors of a corporate service recipient, the services provided as a director are not taken into account for purposes of determining whether the service provider has a separation from service as an employee for purposes of a nonqualified deferred compensation plan in which the service provider participates in his or her capacity as an employee that is not aggregated with any plan in which the service provider participates as a director. Accordingly, where an employee-director participates in a separate plan as an employee, his or her termination of services as an employee will constitute a separation from service for purposes of the employee plan, regardless of whether he or she continues providing services as a director and vice versa. However, if a non-employee director is also providing additional services as an independent contractor, he or she cannot have a separation from service for purposes of section A until he or she has separated from service both as a director and as an independent contractor. Section A a 2 B provides that with respect to a specified employee, a payment of nonqualified deferred compensation on account of separation from service may not occur before the date that is six months after the date of separation from service or, if earlier, the date of death of the employee. For this purpose, a specified employee is a key employee of a corporation any stock of which is publicly traded on an established securities market or otherwise. With respect to identifying specified employees, the final regulations generally adopt the provisions set forth in the proposed regulations, subject to the modifications and clarifications described in this preamble. Several commentators asked whether an employee may be subject to the six-month delay requirement if the service recipient stock is publicly traded only on a foreign exchange or is traded on a U. Accordingly, the six-month delay may apply to an employee of a service recipient the stock of which is publicly traded solely on a foreign exchange, or is traded on a U. In the case of a service recipient comprised of multiple entities, this rule would apply if one of the entities had stock that was publicly traded on a foreign exchange. Some commentators requested that the final regulations provide that specified employees are limited to common law employees, and do not include other individuals. Section A a 2 B defines a specified employee as a key employee as defined in section i without regard to section i 5. Accordingly, where an individual is treated as a key employee for purposes of section ithat individual generally is a specified employee for purposes of section A. Commentators requested clarification of how the definition of compensation under section applies for purposes of identifying the key employees that may ultimately be specified employees. However, the final regulations also provide that a service recipient may use any available definition of compensation under section and the accompanying regulations, including any available safe harbor and any available election under the timing rules or special rules, provided that the definition is applied consistently to all employees of the service recipient for purposes of identifying specified employees. A service recipient may elect to use such a definition of compensation regardless of whether another definition of compensation is being used for purposes of a qualified plan sponsored by the service recipient. However, once a list of specified employees has become effective, the service recipient cannot change the definition of compensation for purposes of identifying specified employees for the period with respect to which such list is effective. For a discussion of the methods for making an election regarding the definition of compensation, see section VII. Commentators requested clarification of the treatment of the compensation of certain nonresident alien employees. Commentators expressed concern that an attempt to identify key employees could result in an underinclusive list. Rather than risk a violation, commentators suggested that service recipients be permitted to use an alternative method for determining employees subject to the six-month delay requirement, even where such alternative method may result in an over-inclusive list. A nonqualified deferred compensation plan may provide that all payments upon separation from service will commence six months after the separation from service, regardless of whether the service provider is a specified employee. In addition, the final regulations provide that a plan may use an alternative method identifying the service providers whose distributions will be subject to a six-month delay, provided that the alternative method is reasonably designed to include all specified employees, the alternative method is an objectively determinable standard providing no direct or indirect election to any service provider regarding the application of the rule, and the alternative method results in no more than service providers being identified in the class as of any date. Use of such an alternative method to delay a payment in accordance with the rules governing the delay of payments to a specified employee will not be treated as a change in the time and form of payment for purposes of the subsequent deferral rules even if the service provider is not a specified employee when the payment is delayed. However, if the list fails to include any individual who is a specified employee and that individual has a right to a payment of deferred compensation upon a separation from service without the required six-month delay, the plan providing such right to such individual will not be in compliance with section A. For a discussion of the method of initiating an alternative method designation, see section VII. Under the proposed regulations, the employees identified as of an identification date would become specified employees effective as of the first day of the fourth month following the identification date. Commentators stated that service recipients who could compile the list of specified employees more quickly should be permitted to make the list effective at an earlier date. The final regulations provide that the first day of the fourth month will be the specified employee effective date if the service recipient does not specify another date. However, the final regulations permit a service recipient to specify a specified employee effective date following the specified employee identification date upon which the new list of specified employees will become effective, provided that the specified employee effective date may not be later than the first day of the fourth month following the specified employee identification date. For example, an employer that designates December 31 as a specified employee identification date for purposes of identifying key employees for purposes of the six-month delay rule, may specify any subsequent date on or before the following April 1 as the first date of the month period during which such list of key employees will be treated as specified employees. To prevent manipulation, any change to the specified employee effective date may not become applicable until 12 months following the change in such specified employee effective date. The final regulations also clarify that the six-month delay requirement applies only where the service provider is a specified employee as of the date of separation from service, and does not become applicable if the service provider is not a specified employee as of the date of separation from service even if the service provider subsequently would have become a specified employee if the separation had not occurred. In response to comments, the final regulations significantly alter the proposed rules governing the identification of specified employees following a corporate transaction, such as a merger or spin-off. Commentators requested clarification of the determination of the next applicable specified employee identification date following the corporate transaction. In addition, commentators generally objected to any rule that resulted in the treatment of more than 50 employees as specified employees due to a corporate transaction in addition to 1-percent and 5-percent owners treated as specified employees. The final regulations generally permit service recipients to avoid this result, but also permit service recipients to simply combine the pre-transaction separate lists of specified employees where it is determined that such treatment would be administratively less burdensome. Service recipients can determine whether to combine such lists on a case-by-case basis, if there are multiple transactions during the same year. With respect to mergers and acquisitions, the final regulations address combinations of two non corporations, and combinations of a public and a closely-held corporation. For purposes of the discussion of the rules regarding the treatment of the identification of specified employees following such a transaction, references to specified employees include specified employees determined under any permissible method that the entities participating in the transaction used immediately before the transaction. Alternatively, however, the resulting service recipient may use any other reasonable method to determine its specified employees immediately after the transaction, provided that such method is adopted not later than 90 days after the merger and applied prospectively from the date of adoption. For a discussion of the procedures for adopting such a method, see section VII. For the time period after the transaction and before the next specified employee effective date, the specified employees of the pre-transaction public service recipient immediately before the transaction will continue to be the specified employees of the resulting service recipient, and service providers of the pre-merger private service recipient will not become specified employees until the next specified employee effective date. Consequently, the nonqualified deferred compensation plans in which service providers of the formerly private service recipient participate will not be required to contain a plan term delaying a payment upon separation from service of such service providers, or to delay such a payment, until the next specified employee effective date. The final regulations also address spin-off transactions. Where as part of a corporate transaction, a public service recipient becomes two separate public service recipients, the final regulations provide that the next specified employee identification date and specified employee effective date of each of the post-transaction service recipients is the specified employee identification date and specified employee effective date that the pre-transaction service recipient would have been required to use absent such transaction. For the period after the date of the transaction and before the next specified employee effective date, the specified employees of the pre-transaction service recipient immediately before the transaction continue to be the specified employees of the post-transaction service recipients. The final regulations provide guidance on initial public offerings and other corporate transactions where all or part of a private service recipient becomes one or more public service recipients. In that case, except as discussed in this paragraph, each post-transaction public service recipient will have a December 31 specified employee identification date and an April 1 specified employee date. Alternatively, the new public service recipient may establish a different specified employee identification date and specified employee effective date, provided that the specified employee identification date and specified employee effective date must be established on or before the date of the initial public offering or other corporate transaction. For the period between the date of the initial public offering or other corporate transaction and the first specified employee effective date, the list of specified employees of each post-transaction public service recipient is comprised of the service providers that at the time of the corporate transaction or public offering would have been classified as specified employees of the former private service recipient, had such service recipient adopted the same specified employee identification date and specified employee effective date as selected by such post-transaction public service recipient, and had such former private service recipient been a public service recipient as of such specified employee identification date. As discussed in this preamble, the final regulations provide certain default definitions for purposes of identifying specified employees, where the service recipient has not adopted another definition. These default rules include the following provisions: Alternatively, the final regulations also provide that the service recipient may use other permissible rules and definitions, provided that such alternatives become effective only in accordance with the rules and deadlines set forth in the final regulations. For purposes of these rules, a service recipient may use one of these alternatives when all necessary corporate action has been taken to make such alternative binding for purposes of all affected deferred compensation plans in which service providers of the service recipient participate. Accordingly, as a practical matter, the service recipient may find it expedient either to specify the definition of specified employee in all of its nonqualified deferred compensation plans or to retain the discretion in all such plans to make such determinations and take any necessary corporate action in accordance with each such plan. A commentator requested similar treatment for the occurrence of a disability, unforeseeable emergency, or change in control event during the six months following the separation from service. The Treasury Department and the IRS do not believe that the statute permits such flexibility, but rather categorically prohibits any distribution due to a separation from service during the six months following the separation from service except where the service provider dies. Accordingly, where a payment on account of a separation from service has been delayed because the service provider is a specified employee, the payment may not be accelerated due to disability, a change in control event, or an unforeseeable emergency. However, where a payment is made to a specified employee on account of disability, a change in control event, or an unforeseeable emergency as defined for purposes of section Athe payment need not be delayed merely because the specified employee separates from service after incurring the disability or unforeseeable emergency, or after the change in control event. Commentators further requested that various types of periodic benefit payments be excluded from the six-month delay requirement, even if such payments constitute a payment of deferred compensation. Commentators argued that the requirement to delay such payments would be excessively burdensome and impracticable, given the nature and amount of benefits generally available under such arrangements. The Treasury Department and the IRS are not convinced that periodic payment or reimbursement plans should be excluded from the six-month delay rule; otherwise, deferred compensation could simply be converted to such programs to avoid the delay. However, as clarified in the final regulations, certain plans that provide for reimbursements or in-kind benefits during the six months following a separation from service will not be treated as nonqualified deferred compensation plans under the rules governing separation pay plans. The final regulations also provide that the required delay of a payment to a specified employee upon a separation of service is not violated where the payment is made before the end of the six-month period due to an acceleration of a payment in compliance with the provisions of the regulations permitting accelerated distributions due to a domestic relations order, to satisfy a Federal, state, local, or foreign ethics law, or to pay certain employment taxes see section VIII of this preamble. The final regulations continue to provide that a time and form of payment must be specified with respect to each permissible payment event. Under the proposed regulations, a second time and form of payment could be established for a payment due to a permissible payment event where the distinction was based upon the event occurring before or after a certain date, such as the service provider reaching a certain age. Commentators requested that different times and forms of payment be permitted if based upon different types of separations from service. The final regulations generally provide that the time and form of payment upon a separation from service may vary depending upon either or both of the following: The addition or deletion of such a different time and form of payment applicable to an existing deferral is subject to the subsequent deferral election rules and the anti-acceleration rules. The final regulations generally adopt the definition of disability and other provisions related to the payment of an amount upon a service provider becoming disabled contained in the proposed regulations, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. The determination of whether a service provider is disabled may be made by any person, including the administrator of a disability insurance program, and the plan need not specify who will make the determination. However, the plan will be treated as complying with section A only if the disability required for a payment complies with the definition of disability under the regulations, and a payment due to a disability will be deemed to comply with section A only if the service provider has actually suffered a qualifying disability. The final regulations also provide that a plan may provide that a service provider will be deemed disabled if the service provider is determined to be totally disabled by the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board. Commentators raised questions concerning the ability to pay upon the occurrence of a disability that does not qualify as a disability under the statute, where as a result of the disability the service provider has a separation from service. Such a payment would not constitute a payment due to a disability that complied with section A. Most of the comments with respect to amounts that are payable due to the death of a service provider related to whether a beneficiary of the service provider could be given the opportunity to elect a time and form of payment under a plan without violating section A. The final regulations clarify that elections with respect to the time and form of payment to a beneficiary are subject to the general rules governing subsequent deferrals and accelerated payments, including elections by either the service provider or the beneficiary with an exception for amounts payable under a domestic relations order. However, a change in a beneficiary will not be treated as a change in the time and form of payment, if the change in the time of payment stems solely from the different life expectancy of the new beneficiary, such as in the case of a joint and survivor annuity. Commentators requested that beneficiaries be permitted a limited period of time in which to change the time and form of payment without being subject to the subsequent deferral and anti-acceleration provisions. The Treasury Department and the IRS do not believe that the statutory language supports this type of late deferral election or payment acceleration. Accordingly, these suggestions are not adopted in the final regulations. The final regulations generally adopt the provisions contained in the proposed regulations with respect to the definition of a change in control event, as well as certain special rules with respect to payments upon a change in control event, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. One commentator requested that the threshold for a change in the effective control of a corporation be lowered from 35 percent to 20 percent, especially for a public corporation. The legislative history of section A indicates that the definition of a change in control event is to be based upon, but more restrictive than, the definition provided in section G. However, the final regulations lower the threshold to 30 percent. One commentator requested guidance with respect to the application of the change in control provisions to non-stock, non-profit corporations. The Treasury Department and the IRS are considering whether such guidance is appropriate, and if so what types of changes could be treated as analogous to a change in control event involving a stock corporation. The final regulations continue to require that such amounts be paid no later than five years after the change in control event. However, the final regulations also provide that where such compensation is made subject to a condition on payment that constitutes a substantial risk of forfeiture under section A without regard to the prohibition on additions or extensions of forfeiture conditionsand such compensation is payable under the same terms and conditions as apply to payments made to shareholders generally with respect to stock of the service recipient, or to the service recipient itself, pursuant to the change in control event, for purposes of determining whether such compensation is a short-term deferral the requirements of the short-term deferral rule are applied as if the legally binding right to such compensation arose on the date that it became subject to the substantial risk of forfeiture. The regulations also provide rules under which certain pre-existing forfeiture conditions may be extended or modified in connection with such a change in control event. The final regulations apply the provisions set forth in section A a 2 B ii regarding payments upon an unforeseeable emergency. The final regulations clarify that for these purposes, the availability of payments under any qualified plan including any assets available by obtaining a loan under a qualified planor under any other nonqualified deferred compensation plan due to the unforeseeable emergency, including plans that would be nonqualified deferred compensation plans for purposes of section A except due to the effective date of the statute, need not be considered in determining whether an emergency is or may be relieved through other means. Accordingly, a payment due to an unforeseeable emergency may be made pursuant to a nonqualified deferred compensation plan that is subject to section A even though the financial need could be satisfied through an available distribution or loan from a qualified plan, or from another nonqualified deferred compensation plan including a grandfathered plan due to the unforeseeable emergency. Section of the Pension Protection Act ofPublic Law Stat. The final regulations reflect this modification. The final regulations provide that a plan may provide for a payment based upon the earlier of, or the later of, a series of events, provided that each payment event would otherwise satisfy the requirements of section A. The final regulations also provide that for purposes of the subsequent deferral and acceleration rules, each payment event will be viewed separately for purposes of analyzing the effect of a change in the time and form of payment. For a discussion of the effect of the addition or deletion of a permissible payment event from such a list, see section IX. C of this preamble. Commentators requested that a service recipient be permitted to delay a payment, where the delay is due to bona fide business concerns such as cash flow considerations. Where a payment is delayed due to the operation of a pre-specified objective, nondiscretionary formula related to the business performance of the service recipient, the payment generally may be delayed for example, where payments in any given year are limited to a certain percentage of cash flow provided that the time for later payment is governed by the objective, nondiscretionary formula. In addition, the final regulations provide that if at the time of a specified payment date the making of the payment would jeopardize the ability of the service recipient to continue as a going concern, the payment will be treated as made upon the specified payment date if the payment is made during the first taxable year of the service provider in which the making of the payment would not have such effect. This provision is not required to be explicitly provided in the plan. Because this provision permits the service recipient to delay any payment the making of which would jeopardize the ability of the service recipient to continue as a going concern, the provision in the proposed regulations permitting a delay in payment required to avoid a violation of a loan covenant or similar contractual obligation, where such violation would cause material harm to the service recipient, has not been adopted in the final regulations. Rather, where the payment would result in a violation of a loan covenant or similar contractual obligation, and the violation would jeopardize the ability of the service recipient to continue as a going concern, the payment can be delayed under the general provision. The final regulations adopt the provision of the proposed regulations that permits a delay in payment necessary to avoid the application of the deduction limitation under section msubject to the following modifications. First, a plan is not required to provide explicitly for such a delay. Although commentators argued that the six-month delay rule should not apply because the original payment would not have been subject to the rule, this same argument could be made with respect to any deferral election to have current compensation paid instead at a separation from service, and accordingly is not adopted in the final regulations. The final regulations adopt the provisions in the proposed regulations with respect to disputed payments and refusals to pay, subject to certain modifications. This provision is intended to address not only intentional refusals to pay, but also inadvertent delays but, in either case, only if there is no collusion between the service provider and service recipient. For example, where through oversight a service recipient fails to make a payment on the required payment date, the payment will be treated as made on the specified date if the service provider makes reasonable, good faith efforts to collect the payment, generally through providing timely notice to the service recipient that the payment is due and unpaid. For this purpose, efforts to collect the payment will be presumed not to be reasonable, good faith efforts if notice is not given to the service recipient within 90 days of the latest date upon which the payment could have been timely made in accordance with the terms of the plan and the regulations and, if not paid, further measures to enforce the payment are not taken within days after such date. The proposed regulations addressed certain arrangements under which an entity the intermediate service recipient receives services from a service provider and provides services to a client the ultimate service recipientand the time the intermediate service recipient is entitled to receive a payment for services rendered to the ultimate service recipient is controlled by the date on which the intermediate service recipient is obligated to make a payment of deferred compensation to the service provider. For example, assume an intermediate service recipient provides investment management services for a group of investors. Pursuant to a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, the intermediate service recipient has agreed to pay its employee a sum certain when the employee terminates employment. The proposed regulations referred to these types of arrangements as back-to-back arrangements. The final regulations adopt the proposed provisions that addressed back-to-back nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, subject to the modifications described in this section. The final regulations clarify that the rules addressing back-to-back arrangements apply regardless of whether the arrangement between the service provider and the intermediate service recipient is actually subject to section A, as long as each arrangement that is part of the overall back-to-back scheme complies with the requirements of section A without regard to whether such arrangement is actually subject to section A. Accordingly, the accommodations afforded to back-to-back arrangements are only applicable to the extent that each arrangement satisfies the requirements of section A as if those requirements applied to each such arrangement modified in accordance with the back-to-back rules. Commentators also requested that, with respect to taxpayers providing management services that are not eligible for the exception from coverage for independent contractors with multiple unrelated customers, the exception from the general payment timing rules permitting certain back-to-back arrangements be expanded to include not only arrangements where the payment from an ultimate service recipient to the intermediate service recipient is based upon the timing of a required payment under a section A compliant plan from the intermediate service recipient to a service provider a forward back-to-back arrangementbut also where the payment to the service provider is based upon a required payment under a section A compliant arrangement from the ultimate service recipient to the intermediate service recipient a reverse back-to-back arrangement. For example, a service recipient that provides investment management services to an investor group may have an arrangement whereby the investors are required to pay all amounts due to the investment manager service recipient if the investor group terminates the client relationship, and the investment manager service recipient in turn has an agreement with an employee to pay the employee a certain percentage of the amount the investor group pays to the investment manager service recipient, following termination of the client relationship. The final regulations do not provide an exception from the requirements of section A for reverse back-to-back arrangements, but the Treasury Department and the IRS will continue to study the matter. Section A a 3 provides that a plan may not permit the acceleration of the time or schedule of any payment under the plan, except as provided in regulations by the Secretary. The final regulations retain the provisions in the proposed regulations relating to accelerated payments, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. The final regulations generally provide that a payment of an amount as a substitute for a payment of deferred compensation will be treated as a payment of the deferred compensation, including for purposes of the prohibition on accelerated payments. Where a payment of an amount results in an actual or potential reduction of, or an actual or potential current or future offset to, an amount of deferred compensation, or the service provider receives a loan the repayment of which is secured by or may be accomplished through an offset of a nonqualified deferred compensation benefit, then the payment or loan is a substitute for the deferred compensation and is treated as a payment of the deferred compensation itself. The receipt of a payment of compensation, or right to a payment of compensation, proximate to the purported forfeiture or voluntary relinquishment of a right to deferred compensation generally is treated as a substituted payment for the payment of the deferred compensation. For example, where the right to an amount of deferred compensation is purportedly relinquished or forfeited, and concurrently or subsequently the service provider receives a current bonus payment, the bonus payment will be presumed to be a substitute payment for the amount of deferred compensation. The presumption is rebuttable by a showing that the compensation paid would have been paid regardless of the relinquishment or forfeiture of the right to the deferred compensation. For a discussion of the application of this provision to amounts forfeitable upon a separation from service, see section III. A plan may not provide discretion to a service provider regarding whether a payment will be accelerated under one of the rules permitting the acceleration of payments under specified circumstances for example, to comply with a domestic relations orderincluding through the provision of an election. However, where a plan provides a service recipient discretion to accelerate payments under one of the rules permitting the acceleration of a payment, the failure to accelerate such a payment will not constitute a subsequent deferral election. The proposed regulations contained provisions permitting a service recipient to terminate and liquidate a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, including when the service recipient has declared bankruptcy, when the service recipient has participated in certain change in control events, or at the discretion of the service recipient, all subject to certain restrictions and limitations. Commentators expressed concern over the restrictions and limitations. Some comments reflected confusion as to the meaning of these terms in the context of section A. The termination and liquidation of a nonqualified deferred compensation plan involves both the amendment of the plan to cease deferrals under the plan and provide for payment of all benefits accrued under the plan, and the accelerated payment of benefits accrued under the plan. Several comments suggested that the final regulations expand the circumstances under which a service recipient may terminate and liquidate a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. The final regulations expand the circumstances under which a sale of assets of a corporation will result in a separation from service. In addition, the final regulations continue to allow the service recipient to terminate and liquidate a plan during a defined period following a change in control event. Outside of these particular business events, the comments failed to provide an objective standard or category of changes in business conditions or circumstances that would provide a safeguard against the use of plan termination and liquidation provisions to circumvent the prohibition on accelerations. Accordingly, the final regulations do not expand the ability of a service recipient to exercise its discretion to terminate and liquidate a deferred compensation plan. However, the period of time during which a service recipient may not commence a new plan after terminating and liquidating a nonqualified deferred compensation plan has been shortened from five years to three years. Also, the final regulations provide that a discretionary plan termination and liquidation will not qualify for this exception if it is proximate to a downturn in the financial health of the service recipient. The final regulations clarify the rules under which a deferred compensation plan may be terminated and liquidated upon a change in control event. Under the final regulations, the service recipient must, within the 30 days preceding or the 12 months following the change in control event, take all necessary action to terminate and liquidate the plan and such action must be irrevocable. In addition, for the plan to be treated as terminated and liquidated, all other arrangements that would be classified with the plan as a single plan if the same service provider participated in the plan and all the other arrangements must be terminated and liquidated, so that all service providers who are participants in the plan and all such other arrangements required to be terminated and liquidated must receive all amounts of compensation deferred under the terminated and liquidated plan and other arrangements within 12 months of the date the service recipient takes such irrevocable action to terminate and liquidate the arrangements. For purposes of the rule, the entities comprising the service recipient are determined immediately following the change in control event, and the rule only applies with respect to service providers for whom a change in control has occurred. For example, where the change in control event consists of a sale of a subsidiary corporation such that the subsidiary corporation is no longer treated as a single service recipient with the former parent corporation, the requirement to terminate and liquidate substantially similar arrangements applies only to the purchaser service recipient group of corporations that now owns the subsidiary corporation. In addition, the rule would apply only to the service providers that had experienced a change in control, generally consisting only of the service providers of the subsidiary corporation. Where the change in control event consists of an asset purchase, the applicable service recipient with discretion to terminate and liquidate the plan is deemed to be the entity retaining the deferred compensation liability after the transaction. Some commentators asked whether the plan termination and liquidation rules apply if a plan is terminated and liquidated when the service provider has no vested right to a payment, and all payments are forfeited. Where the service recipient retained the unfettered discretion to terminate such a plan without paying benefits, the service provider may not have obtained a legally binding right to a payment. In addition, if a service provider forfeits benefits under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan in exchange for other taxable benefits, those benefits may be treated as a payment of amounts under the nonqualified deferred compensation plan. The proposed regulations contained a special accelerated payment rule to permit accelerated payments required to be made by a certificate of divestiture. NoticeI. Several commentators requested an expansion of these rules. The final regulations provide that a payment may be accelerated where necessary for a Federal officer or employee in the executive branch to comply with an ethics agreement with the Federal government. The final regulations also provide that a payment may be accelerated where reasonably necessary to avoid the violation of a Federal, state, local, or foreign conflict of interest law or ethics law including where such payment is reasonably necessary to permit the service provider to participate in activities in the normal course of his or her position in which the service provider would otherwise not be able to participate under an applicable law. For this purpose, a payment will be reasonably necessary to avoid such a violation if the making of the payment is a necessary part of a combination of actions resulting in compliance with the applicable law. A payment may be considered necessary to avoid such a violation even though actions other than making the payment could also result in compliance with the applicable law. For example, as requested by several commentators, this provision would provide a public accounting firm the ability to accelerate payments where reasonably necessary to satisfy conflict of interest rules prescribed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. This paragraph is intended to address payments to service providers, as well as payments to a spouse or minor children where such payments are reasonably necessary to comply with the applicable law. For this purpose, foreign law is considered to be applicable only to foreign earned income from sources within the foreign country that promulgated such law. Commentators stated that certain state and local jurisdictions tax nonqualified deferred compensation plans under a different set of rules than the Federal income tax rules, typically by reference to the rules applicable to FICA taxes. Commentators also requested that accelerations be permitted to cover applicable RRTA taxes. Finally, commentators requested that accelerated payments be permitted to account for the tax laws of foreign jurisdictions that may not be consistent with the Federal income tax rules. The final regulations adopt the suggestions with respect to state and local taxes, RRTA taxes, and foreign taxes. One commentator suggested that acceleration be permitted to allow a personal service corporation to make minimum distributions to avoid taxation under section H d. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that such a provision would give taxpayers excessive control over the payment of deferred amounts that would be inconsistent with the purposes of section A. Therefore, this suggestion was not adopted. Some commentators requested that the final regulations permit a service recipient to accelerate payments or cancel deferral elections with respect to a service provider who is not part of a select group of management or highly compensated employees for purposes of the exclusion from coverage under certain provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of relating to top hat plans. See, for example, 29 U. Given the current lack of clarity with respect to the scope of coverage of the top hat plan rules, and the actions required when a plan participant no longer satisfies the requirement to qualify for the top hat plan rules, the Treasury Department and the IRS are not confident that an exception to the anti-acceleration provisions based upon these rules is feasible. The provision does not apply to disputes that relate only to when and not whether a payment is due. Whether a payment qualifies for the exception is based on the particular facts and circumstances. For this purpose, a reduction that is less than 25 percent of the present value of the deferred amount in dispute generally is not a substantial reduction. In addition, a payment will be presumed not to meet this exception if the payment is made proximate to a downturn in the financial health of the service recipient. For this purpose, the plan aggregation rules apply, so a service recipient may not use this rule to cash out an amount under one arrangement but not another arrangement where the two arrangements would be treated as one plan. The final regulations, unlike the proposed regulations, do not require that a service provider have separated from service for the service recipient to cash out the amount deferred. In addition, the plan does not need to be amended to provide this discretion to the service recipient. First, commentators asked that such a cancellation be allowed when the service provider is transferred to a position that is not eligible to participate in the plan. The Treasury Department and the IRS are not confident that a standard can be established that would clearly distinguish a bona fide transfer to an ineligible position from a pro forma transfer designed to avoid the prohibition on accelerated payments, especially when the underlying plan is specific to the service provider, as in the case of an individual employment agreement, and accordingly the final regulations do not adopt this suggestion. The final regulations clarify that the rules governing changes in the time and form of payment apply both to service providers and service recipients. Accordingly, a service provider, a service recipient, or both a service provider and a service recipient may have and exercise discretion to defer a deferred compensation payment after the time and form of payment have been specified, provided that such discretion is limited to changes that comply with the requirements of these regulations addressing subsequent changes in the time and form of payment. Many commentators requested clarification and expansion of the rules that allow taxpayers to treat actuarially equivalent life annuities as one form of payment, thereby allowing elections among such annuity forms at any time before the initial annuity payment without regard to the rules on subsequent deferral elections. The final regulations clarify the circumstances under which two actuarially equivalent life annuities may be treated as one form qualified payment. The final regulations generally provide that certain specified features are ignored for purposes of determining whether a particular annuity is treated as a life annuity for purposes of the form of payment rules but not for purposes of determining whether a life annuity with such a feature is actuarially equivalent to a life annuity without such a feature. The specified features include: Accordingly, a life annuity with any of the specified features may be treated as a life annuity without regard to the fact that the features cause the annuity to fail to satisfy the general definition for life annuities, for example, because the periodic payments are not substantially equal. However, the life annuity with such a feature may only be treated as the same form of payment as a life annuity without such a feature if the two life annuities are actuarially equivalent taking into account the feature and have the same initial payment date. Commentators also raised issues concerning the availability of subsidized joint and survivor annuities. The final regulations provide that for purposes of the definition of a time and form of payment, a subsidized joint and survivor annuity is treated as actuarially equivalent to a single life annuity provided that, neither the annual lifetime annuity benefit nor the annual survivor benefit available under the joint and survivor annuity is greater than the annual lifetime annuity benefit available under the single life annuity. Commentators asked whether the actuarial assumptions and methods used to determine actuarial equivalency must be applied consistently. The final regulations clarify that in determining whether two life annuities are actuarially equivalent, the same actuarial assumptions and methods must be used in valuing each life annuity. Accordingly, the plan may change the actuarial assumptions and methods used to determine the life annuity payments, provided that all of the actuarial assumptions and methods are reasonable. In addition, there is no requirement that the actuarial assumptions and methods used under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan be the same as those used in a qualified plan sponsored by the service recipient. The final regulations continue to provide that the subsequent deferral and anti-acceleration rules generally will apply to the addition or deletion of a permissible payment event. Commentators asked for clarification of how these rules apply. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that a failure to provide for a payment event at death, disability or an unforeseeable emergency generally will result from oversight, and that the addition of such a provision generally would not be abusive. Accordingly, the final regulations provide that the addition of death, disability, or an unforeseeable emergency as a potentially earlier payment event is a permissible acceleration. This provision does not apply to the addition of death, disability, or an unforeseeable emergency as a potentially later payment event, such as through the addition of death as a payment event to a plan providing for a payment of deferred compensation on a fixed date, so that after the change the payment would be due on the later of the fixed date or death. In those cases, the rules governing subsequent deferral elections apply. In addition, the substitution of death as a payment event for an amount that is deferred compensation will not cause the plan to be treated as a death benefit plan not subject to section A, but the substitution or addition of a payment event other than death as a payment event in a death benefit plan may result in the plan being treated as providing for deferred compensation. The anti-acceleration provisions apply to the addition of a specified date or fixed schedule, a change in control event, or separation from service as a potentially earlier payment event, including the substitution of one of these payment events for another payment event. In addition, the anti-acceleration provisions apply where a payment event is removed from a plan term requiring payment upon the latest of two or more payment events. The provisions governing subsequent deferral elections apply to all changes in the time and form of payment, whether resulting from the addition, deletion or substitution of another payment event. Commentators requested clarification of how this provision would apply where the events were not specified dates, such as the substitution of a change in control payment event for a separation from service event. In such a situation, to satisfy the rules governing subsequent deferrals, this substitution would only be permissible if the change were not effective for one year, and provided that the payment would only occur upon the later of a change in control event or at least five years following a separation from service. The final regulations provide that the rules governing changes in the time and form of payment do not apply to changes in the time and form of payment under the terms of a domestic relations order, to the extent the change in the time and form of payment applies to a payment that will be made to the alternate payee and not the service provider. Accordingly, for example, a domestic relations order generally may provide for a new time and form of payment to a spouse or former spouse of the service provider, or provide such spouse or former spouse discretion to determine the time and form of payment to such spouse or former spouse. The final regulations generally adopt the relief provided in the proposed regulations with respect to the election-timing and the anti-acceleration rules for changes in the amount of benefits under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan that result from an election or failure to elect by a service provider, or an amendment by a service recipient, in respect of a subsidized or ancillary benefit under a qualified plan. In response to comments, this relief is similarly extended to certain broad-based foreign retirement plans. In response to comments, the final regulations also clarify that the linked plan relief provided for elective deferrals including designated Roth contributions and matching type contributions stock subject to two separate, additive limits and not a single, coordinated limit. In addition, the final regulations clarify that the section g dollar limits are increased by the limit on catch-up contributions under section v for any year in which the service provider qualifies for such increase. Commentators raised issues concerning other types of plans under which a service provider must participate in a qualified plan to receive nonqualified deferred compensation. Specifically, commentators asked whether a plan could comply with section A if it provided that an employee must defer the maximum amount permissible under a qualified plan in order to defer any amount under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. The final regulations generally do not provide any additional relief with respect to this type of plan. However, where the additional amounts deferred under the nonqualified deferred compensation plan reflect only matching contributions that would be available under the qualified plan absent the restrictions in the qualified plan intended to reflect limits on qualified plan contributions under sections m and a 17the final regulations provide relief but solely with respect to the matching amount that could have been contributed to the qualified plan absent such limits. Commentators also stated that the rules in the proposed regulations did not adequately address the impact of after-tax contributions. Specifically, commentators requested relief for service providers who change their after-tax contributions other than designated Roth contributions under a qualified plan during a year where such decrease causes a corresponding change in nonqualified plan elective deferrals. The final regulations provide some additional relief concerning matching or other contributions contingent upon the making of an after-tax contribution. However, other suggestions were not adopted in the final regulations, because the Treasury Department and the IRS are concerned that such plans may give the service provider excessive control over amounts deferred under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, contrary to the statutory intent. Commentators expressed concern that changes to elections under a section cafeteria plan could change the amount of eligible compensation used for purposes of a benefit formula under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan and thereby create an impermissible deferral election or acceleration of payment under the nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Some commentators requested clarification whether an arrangement under which a specified amount paid by a service recipient to a service provider reduces or offsets an amount that is payable to the service provider under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan will be treated as providing for an acceleration of a payment under the nonqualified deferred compensation plan. As an example, one commentator stated that a plan may require that any payout at separation from service of accrued leave that is determined to be in excess of the correct amount of such payment will be deducted from the amount due under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, rather than repaid separately by the service provider. One commentator suggested that offsets be permitted for all service provider debts of a kind and in amounts customarily incurred in the ordinary course of the business relationship between the service provider and the service recipient. The Treasury Department and the IRS believe that the unfettered discretion to settle debts between a service recipient and a service provider through offsets from payments of nonqualified deferred compensation is not consistent with the intent of the statute, because it creates opportunities to disguise accelerated payments of deferred compensation. Accordingly, amounts that currently or in the future may be offset against nonqualified deferred compensation are treated as payments of deferred compensation and may violate the anti-acceleration rules under section A. However, the Treasury Department and the IRS agree that the ability to offset small routine debts against amounts payable under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan is useful so that service recipients can avoid the administrative burden involved in paying deferred compensation amounts to a service provider while at the same time attempting to collect small amounts owed by the same service provider. Commentators requested clarification of the treatment of nonqualified deferred compensation plans that offset benefits with payments received as Social Security benefits and disability benefits. A plan provision providing for a direct, dollar-for-dollar reduction of payments due under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan by the amount of payments received or receivable as Social Security benefits will not fail to provide for a fixed schedule of payments. A reduction in a nonqualified deferred compensation plan benefit equal to the amount receivable under a service recipient sponsored disability plan generally will be treated similarly, provided that a substantial number of service providers participate in the disability plan. However, to allow the payment schedule to qualify as a fixed schedule, the disability plan must be established before the date the service provider becomes disabled. In addition, any subsequent amendment to the disability plan or other change in the benefit payable under the disability plan may result in an acceleration of a payment or a subsequent deferral under the nonqualified deferred compensation plan unless the facts and circumstances establish otherwise for example, because the amendment or change results from actions taken by an independent third party, such as an unrelated insurer that issued a disability insurance policy for such disability plan, over which the service recipient and service provider have no control, or an action of the service recipient with respect to the disability plan that is generally applicable to a substantial number of other service providers who participate in such disability plan and has a material effect on the disability benefits of such other service providers. As provided in section d of the American Jobs Creation Act ofsection A generally is effective for amounts deferred after December 31, The final regulations adopt the definition set forth in the proposed regulations of an amount deferred on or before December 31,for purposes of the effective date, subject to the modifications described in this preamble. The final regulations clarify that the grandfathered amount includes any account balance that is earned and vested, as well as the present value of any earned and vested right to future account credits, even if such amounts had not been credited to the account as of December 31, One commentator requested that the grandfathered amount in a nonaccount balance plan be expressed in terms of the form of benefit under the plan. So, for example, where the normal benefit was expressed in the form of an annuity payable at a certain age, that is how the amount of the grandfathered benefit would also be expressed. The final regulations do not adopt this suggestion, but reach a similar result by providing that any actuarial assumptions and methods that were reasonable to use as of December 31,may continue to be used in subsequent years for purposes of determining the grandfathered amount. Section d 2 of the American Jobs Creation Act of provides generally that amounts deferred in taxable years beginning before January 1,are treated as amounts deferred in a taxable year beginning on or after such date if the plan under which the deferral is made is materially modified after October 3, The final regulations adopt the definition set forth in the proposed regulations of a material modification for these purposes, subject to the changes described in this preamble. For purposes of the definition of a material modification under the effective date rules, the final regulations incorporate the exclusions from the definition of a modification for purposes of the rules governing stock rights. For example, a change to a discounted grandfathered stock right that could be covered by section A if materially modified under the effective date rules, will not be treated as materially modified and subject to section A if the change would not be treated under the rules governing stock rights as a modification resulting in treatment as a new grant of a stock right or an extension resulting in treatment of the stock right as having had a deferral feature from the date of grant. The final regulations provide that neither the amendment of a plan to include a provision allowing for a payment to a person other than the service provider due to the application of a domestic relations order, nor the making of a payment in compliance with a domestic relations order where a plan did not address the ability to make such a payment, is treated as a material modification for purposes of the grandfathering rules. Commentators also requested that a grandfathered plan be permitted to remove a provision requiring a cancellation of deferrals for a prescribed period of time under all nonqualified deferred compensation plans to receive a distribution from the grandfathered plan, without resulting in a material modification. Commentators argued that because the enforcement of such a provision by cancelling a current deferral election generally would result in an immediate violation of section A, the inability to remove the requirement that the deferral election be cancelled effectively nullifies the grandfathered right. Under the final regulations, an amendment to a grandfathered plan that changes such a provision to require a cancellation of deferrals for the equivalent period of time beginning with the first possible date that such a cancellation would not result in a prohibited accelerated payment generally the beginning of the subsequent calendar year for a service provider with a calendar year taxable year will not constitute a material modification. Commentators requested clarification of the effect of a material modification of a plan. The specific consequences of a material modification of a plan are being considered as part of the anticipated guidance related to income inclusion and calculation. However, the final regulations provide that for amounts deferred in taxable years beginning before January 1,under a plan that is materially modified after October 3,whether the plan complies with the requirements of section A is determined by reference to the terms of the plan in effect, and any actions taken under the plan, on and after the date of the material modification. Accordingly, where the materially modified plan is compliant with section A and these regulations immediately following the material modification, the material modification generally will not itself result in a violation. Nothing in this preamble or the final regulations is intended to restrict the otherwise applicable transition relief. For a description of the applicable transition relief, see NoticeI. The final regulations are generally applicable January 1, For periods before January 1,the standards and transition rules set forth in Notice continue to apply. For further information regarding the transition relief for periods before the applicability date of the final regulations, see Notice and section XI of the preamble to the proposed regulations. Commentators requested clarification of the impact of the final regulations becoming applicable January 1,on plans that continue to defer compensation on or after January 1, Specifically, commentators asked whether actions taken with respect to nonqualified deferred compensation plans that would not have resulted in income inclusion under section A before because such actions were consistent with applicable guidance, but would not be consistent with the final regulations, would need to be modified to avoid income inclusion under section A in and later years. The following sections discuss the effect of the final regulations with respect to the requirements necessary to comply with section A, including the various requirements necessary for a plan to be excluded from coverage under section A. Many of the comments related to stock options and stock appreciation rights. Some commentators requested that section A not apply to any stock rights issued before the applicability date of the final regulations. Neither the statute nor the legislative history indicates an intent for such a broad exception. The Treasury Department and the IRS understand that certain aspects of the guidance on stock rights have changed. However, the final regulations generally expand the exclusion from coverage under section A for certain stock rights to eliminate many issues raised by the proposed regulations. In addition, with respect to certain types of stock rights, such as discounted stock options, the guidance has explicitly and consistently indicated that either rights that would be excluded from coverage under section A must be substituted for such rights or such rights must be modified to comply with section A. Accordingly, the final regulations do not adopt a categorical exclusion from coverage under section A of all stock rights issued before the issuance of the final regulations. Commentators also asked whether a stock option must be repriced to avoid coverage under section A if the exercise price would be treated as having been set at fair market value under section A under the applicable guidance, but would not be treated as having been set at fair market value if the standard of the final regulations had been applicable. For this purpose, the guidance provided in NoticeI. Notice provided certain standards applicable to stock rights issued before January 1,for determining whether the exercise price of such stock right would be treated as having been set at fair market value for purposes of the exclusion from coverage under section A for certain stock rights. As provided in Noticefor stock rights issued before January 1,the standards applicable to incentive stock options under section are applicable. Generally this means that where the sole reason the stock right would fail to qualify for the exclusion from coverage under section A is due to the exercise price not being set at or above fair market value, the exercise price will be treated as set at or above fair market value if based upon a good faith attempt by the issuer to set the exercise price at or above fair market value. As further explained in Noticefor stock rights issued on or after January 1,but before January 1,the provisions of Notice will apply, generally requiring that fair market value for purposes of setting the exercise price of a stock right must be determined using a reasonable valuation method. In addition, for stock rights issued on any date before January 1,taxpayers may rely upon the provisions of the proposed or final regulations with regard to the determination of the fair market value of the underlying stock. Commentators requested that taxpayers not be required to bring stock rights granted before January 1,into compliance with section A if such rights were properly treated as not being subject to section A under the applicable guidance, but instead be permitted to keep such rights outstanding and unmodified. The final regulations significantly expand the permissible classes of stock and the permissible issuers of stock under the service recipient stock rule, and taxpayers may rely on the final regulations for periods before the options date of the final regulations. In addition, with respect to stock rights issued before April 10,on stock that would have constituted service recipient stock under a reasonable good faith interpretation of the statute and applicable guidance, but would not constitute service recipient stock under the final regulations, such stock will continue to constitute service recipient stock for purposes of applying section A to such stock right until the exercise or termination of such right, or until the stock right is modified in a manner that is treated as the qualified of a new right. However, for a stock right issued on or after April 10,stock subject to such stock right will not be treated as service recipient stock after December 31,unless such stock satisfies the requirements of the final regulations, and if the stock does not satisfy these requirements, such stock right will be required to be modified either to be excluded from coverage under section A, or to comply with the requirements of section A and these regulations. Commentators also expressed concerns about modifications and extensions of stock rights that occur before January 1, Different concerns and arguments arise depending upon whether these modifications and extensions occurred on or before the enactment of the statute October 23,on or before the issuance of Notice December 20,on or before the issuance of the proposed regulations September 30, or on or before the applicability date of the final regulations January 1, The final regulations significantly expand the permissible types of modifications and extensions that will not result in treatment of the stock right as a new grant or as having had a deferral feature from the date of grant, and taxpayers may rely on these regulations for periods before the applicability date of the regulations. In addition, any modifications or extensions occurring before the enactment of the statute October 23, will not be considered in determining whether the right is excluded from coverage under section A. Finally, any extension granted before April 10,solely in order to give the holder of a stock right an additional period of time within which to exercise the stock right beyond the time originally prescribed is disregarded for purposes of the rules treating certain extensions as deferral features from the time of grant. Commentators asked whether and to what extent the final regulations would impact initial deferral elections made before the applicability date of the final regulations. If a deferral election made before January 1,was consistent with the proposed regulations or the applicable transition guidance, the initial deferral election will be deemed to comply with the provisions of section A, regardless of whether the period of deferral extends beyond December 31, In addition, commentators asked whether and to what extent the final regulations would impact programs established before the applicability date of the final regulations, where initial deferral elections have not been made by January 1, For example, commentators asked how section A would apply if a service recipient has interpreted a program as providing for performance-based compensation and permitted deferral elections to occur in or later in accordance with the rules governing deferrals of performance-based compensation, but such compensation does not qualify as performance-based compensation under the final regulations. For a program established before April 10,that under a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the statute and applicable guidance would have permitted an initial deferral election to be made after December 31,and on or before December 31,an initial deferral election will be deemed to comply with the initial deferral election rules if made by the deadline established in the plan. For a program established before April 10,that under a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the statute and applicable guidance would have permitted an initial deferral election be made after December 31,an initial deferral election will be deemed to comply with the initial deferral election rules if made by December 31, Notice and the preamble to the proposed regulations consistently provide that elections as to the time and form of payment of deferred compensation would need to be compliant with the final regulations by the time such regulations were applicable. Both Notice and the preamble to the proposed regulations provide detailed transition guidance, generally permitting service providers and service recipients to change the time and form of payment at any time through the end of the transition period. Accordingly, a payment scheme that violates the provisions of the final regulations will need to be brought into compliance with the final regulations in accordance with the transition relief. Commentators asked how the final regulations apply to service providers that are already in pay status, where the payment trigger is based upon a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the statute and applicable guidance but is not in compliance with the final regulations. This may occur where the service provider has already begun receiving payments before January 1,or where all events necessary to receive the payment have occurred before January 1, For example, a service provider may have been treated as having separated from service before January 1,under a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the statute, but would not be treated as having separated from service under the final regulations. Where payments have commenced before January 1,the plan may continue to make such payments consistent with the application of the plan terms at the time the payments commenced, or may halt such payments on or before December 31,and amend the time and form of any remaining payments to comply with the final regulations in accordance with the transition guidance provided. Where payments have not commenced by January 1,but all the events necessary to receive the payment have occurred, the plan may make payments in accordance with the application of the plan terms on December 31,or may amend the time and form of payments to comply with section A in accordance with the transition guidance provided. Similarly, where payments have not commenced on or before December 31,because the service provider was treated as not having separated from service under a reasonable, good faith interpretation, but under the final regulations the service provider would be treated as having separated from service on or before December 31,the plan must treat the service provider as having separated from service on a date on or after April 10,and on or before December 31, Nothing in this paragraph is to be construed to permit the continuation of any payment schedule based upon an application of section A on or before December 31,that failed to meet the requirements of the applicable transition guidance. In addition, nothing in this paragraph is intended to waive the application of the constructive receipt doctrine or section with respect to any discretion provided to the service provider or former service provider with respect to the application of these provisions. In addition, commentators asked how the final regulations would apply in the case of the six-month delay for specified employees of public corporations. Where a separation from service occurs on or before December 31,under circumstances that under a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the statute and applicable guidance would not result in application of the six-month delay requirement for a payment to a specified employee, the beginning or continuation of payments of deferred compensation on or after January 1,will not result in a violation of the six-month delay requirement for a payment to a specified employee. With respect to amounts deferred under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan maintained pursuant to one or more collective bargaining agreements in effect on October 3,the plan may provide, or be amended to provide, for new payment elections with respect to both the time and form of payment of such amounts, and the election or amendment will not be treated as a change in the time or form of payment under section A a 4 or an acceleration of a payment under section A a 3provided that the plan is so amended and elections are made before the date on which section A first applies to such plan. Where there have been deferrals of compensation under a plan as of January 1, but the deferred compensation has not been paid, the plan must be made compliant with section A on or before December 31,with respect to such deferred compensation. For example, if a plan contains a haircut provision permitting an immediate distribution contingent on the forfeiture of a certain portion of a deferred amount, the haircut provision need not be removed retroactively for periods before January 1,where the plan has been operated in compliance with the applicable transition guidance and thus no payment pursuant to the haircut provision has been made after December 31, In addition, a plan need not be amended to be made compliant with section A with respect to amounts deferred under the plan that were paid on or before December 31,in compliance with the transition guidance. However, the taxpayer must be able to demonstrate that the plan was operated in compliance with the transition guidance, including demonstrating that amounts were deferred or paid in compliance with the transition rules. For example, where payments were made in conjunction with elections of payment dates by either the service recipient or service provider during the transition period, the taxpayer must be able to demonstrate that the elections were provided and made in accordance with the transition rules. These regulations do not address the calculation and timing of amounts required to be included in income under section A a. Nor do these regulations address the reporting and withholding requirements applicable to service recipients providing nonqualified deferred compensation covered by section A. The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to issue further guidance, including such transition guidance as may be appropriate with respect to the reporting and withholding requirements. See NoticeI. Commentators on the proposed regulations and Notice asked whether a service provider whose nonqualified deferred compensation plan violated section A in operation before January 1,would be required to include an amount in income under section A only in the taxable year of the service provider in which the operational failure occurred assuming this was the only year of an operational failureor in such year and all prior years beginning after December 31, Commentators argued that for years before the operational violation, the taxpayer could be treated as operating the plan in reasonable, good faith compliance with the statute and Noticeand therefore should be required to include an amount in income under section A only for the year in which the operational violation occurred. For example, where a taxpayer exercised a discounted stock option covered by section A incommentators argued that the taxpayer should be treated as operating the plan in reasonable, good faith compliance with section A duringso that the taxpayer would be required to include an amount in income as a result of the section A violation only to Where an operational failure occurs in orand no operational failures occurred in any prior year, the taxpayer including the service recipient may report the amounts required to be included in income under section A as taxable income only in the year of the operational failure. In addition, where the violation results from a payment, a taxpayer may include the required amount in income only for the year in which such violation occurs, regardless of whether the portion of the deferred compensation plan under which such payment was made is ever amended to comply with the requirements of section A for periods before such payment. For example, where a taxpayer exercises a discounted stock option subject to section A inand there was no operational violation inthe taxpayer may include an amount in income under section A forand the taxpayer will not be required to include an amount in income with respect to such stock option foreven if the taxpayer does not amend the stock option to comply with section A for However, where all or part of the total amount deferred in the year of the violation was also an amount deferred in one or more prior years that was not subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture in such year, taxpayers are also required to calculate and pay any applicable tax under section A a 1 B i I based on the amount of interest determined under section A a 1 B ii. For purposes of this paragraph, the service recipient should treat the application of section A in the same manner for purposes of income tax withholding and reporting obligations. Notice provides that where there is a required income inclusion under section A inthe plan aggregation rules apply in determining the amount includible in income. Commentators asked whether the plan aggregation rules would apply where the taxpayer violates section A in with respect to one arrangement the first arrangementbut retains the right to modify another arrangement the second arrangement to exclude a right to an amount provided under the second arrangement from coverage under section A, where the second arrangement would otherwise be aggregated with the first arrangement. For this purpose, if the legally binding right to the amount under the second arrangement ultimately is modified including, where permitted by applicable guidance, by the substitution of another right for such rightso that the right to the amount is excluded from coverage under section A, then the right to the amount is treated as always having been excluded from coverage under section A. Accordingly, the amount payable under the second arrangement would not be required to be aggregated with the first arrangement for purposes of determining the amount includible in income under section A. However, if the right to the amount under the second arrangement is not timely modified to be excluded from coverage under section A, the right to the amount under the second arrangement will remain subject to the plan aggregation rules regardless of whether the second arrangement is, or is amended to be, compliant with the requirements of section A. In such a case, because the right to the amount under the second arrangement could have been modified to be excluded from coverage under section A, and would not have been subject to the plan aggregation rules, the violation with respect to the second arrangement is not treated as occurring until the first taxable year of the service provider during which the arrangement could not have been so modified. If the unexercised stock right was not so modified by December 31,it would violate section A on January 1, If the second taxpayer failed to timely modify such unexercised stock right, the unexercised stock right would violate section A on January 1, Commentators asked how section A and these regulations would apply to a plan that was operated in compliance with the transition guidance through December 31,but is not amended to become compliant with section A and these regulations by December 31, For these purposes, the plan will be treated as failing to comply with the requirements of 409a A and these regulations as of January 1,so that no amounts will be required to be included in income under section A with respect to such a violation for any taxable year ending before January 1, However, this does not affect the application of the tax imposed by section A a 1 B i I to amounts that were deferred in taxable years ending before January 1,to the extent that such amounts were not subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture in one or more of such earlier taxable years. These regulations do not address the application of section A bgenerally prohibiting the use of offshore trusts associated with nonqualified deferred compensation plans, and the use of triggers whereby amounts held in a trust or other arrangement become restricted to the use for payment of nonqualified deferred compensation upon an event related to the financial health of the service recipient. For transition guidance related to the application of section A b to certain outstanding arrangements, see NoticeI.

What is a nonqualified stock option? Segment 4

What is a nonqualified stock option? Segment 4 non qualified stock options 409a

5 thoughts on “Non qualified stock options 409a”

  1. alexar7 says:

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    The governor has talked about the choice she and her pregnant teenage daughter have made, but would deny other women the right to make their.

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