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Spring is finally here and that means it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. Perhaps. According to Quarles & Brady partners Marla Anderson and Amy Ciepluch and associate Alyssa Dowse, spring is also the time when “self-audits” of retirement and health plans should be done to ensure compliance with Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor rules.

The attorneys say self-audits give a company the chance to find and fix compliance issues in advance, generally resulting in less intensive audits by the agencies, as well as more forgiving and less expensive correction programs.

While the actual retirement or health plan documents and records are very important, they say the IRS and DOL are expanding their focus to the people behind the plans by looking closely at internal controls in plan operations on the IRS side and fiduciary training on the DOL side.

The agencies generally pursue a more thorough audit or examination of plans with weak or unclear internal control and fiduciary structures, they say. They advise taking a look at whether and how long ago plan fiduciaries received training. They add that regular instruction is key since the DOL may request information on fiduciary education undergone prior to the audit, interview fiduciaries during the audit, or order schooling following the audit.

The other item they suggest paying close attention to is the accuracy of government filings, such as Form 5500. Both agencies provide free online resources for companies seeking guidance.