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When it comes to operating your retirement plan, determining the compensation that should be used for each participant can be really confusing. It seems like it should be simple, but the reality is quite different. In fact, the rules can be so confusing that using an incorrect definition of compensation is on the top ten list of mistakes the IRS sees in voluntary correction filings. Since compensation is used not only to calculate contributions but also to apply limits, conduct nondiscrimination testing and determine tax deductions, the IRS is especially concerned that it be correct. While an exhaustive discussion of all the rules and exceptions would take up far more space than we have here, this article will cover some of the more common points of confusion.