There are many reasons for plan sponsors to do everything possible to avoid a Department of Labor 401(k) audit. They can be costly, time consuming and generally unpleasant.

The DOL, in its fact sheet for fiscal year 2016, indicates that the Employee Benefits Security Administration closed 2,002 civil investigations with 1,356 of those cases (67.7%) resulting in monetary penalties/additional contributions. The total amount EBSA recovered for Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan participants last year was $777.5 million.

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