Qualified plans have a requirement to not carry forward any unallocated assets from year-to-year.
Unfortunately, this rule is frequently neglected by plan sponsors, much to their chagrin when the failure is discovered on audit by the IRS or Department of Labor (DOL). Thus, it is important to remember that forfeitures must be allocated on an annual basis. The process is typically determined per the provisions in your plan document, or by plan procedures. Forfeitures should not be held over from year-to-year; if they remain accidentally unallocated, complications can result. On audit it is not uncommon for the regulatory agencies to require a plan sponsor to retroactively determine who should have received allocations on a year-by-year basis. Once those retroactive allocations have been made, the regulatory agencies typically require the plan sponsor come out of corporate pocket for earnings on all retroactively allocated amounts. This is not only a monetary burden, but an administrative burden as well due to the fact that fiduciaries must find participants who may have terminated, because they were due these allocations (and earnings) as well as participants who remain active. For questions on this topic, contact your plan consultant.