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Monday, December 5, 2016

4 Questions Plan Sponsors Should Ask to Understand the Similarities and Differences Between 401(k) and 403(b) Plans

1. Which employers can offer a 403(b) plan?

  • Public education organizations such as public elementary and high schools, state colleges and universities, and boards of education.
  • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations such as private schools, research facilities, private hospitals, charities, social welfare agencies, healthcare organizations, and religious institutions.
  • Grandfathered Indian tribal governments.
  • Certain religious ministers of a church or related religious organizations.

2. Which employers can offer a 401(k) plan?

Almost any type of company may offer a 401(k) plan. Most private, for-profit companies are eligible. Many tax-exempt, non-profit organizations have a choice between sponsoring a 401(k), a 403(b), or both.

Monday, November 28, 2016

6 Questions Plan Sponsors Should Ask About Safe Harbor Plans

1. What are safe harbor plans?

Safe harbor plans are retirement plans that generally satisfy the non-discrimination rules for elective deferrals and employer matching contributions and therefore are appealing to organizations that are at risk of failing the ADP and ACP tests (see below). Safe harbor plans can be offered with the same flexible features as traditional retirement plans, including eligibility, participant loans, and distributions. However, employers must satisfy certain contribution, vesting, and notice requirements and employers may not apply allocation conditions to safe harbor contributions (e.g., last day of employment requirement, 1,000 hours in the year requirement, etc.).

2. What is non-discrimination testing?

Generally, the U.S. Government wants to ensure that plans do not favor highly compensated

Monday, November 14, 2016

7 Questions Plan Fiduciaries Should Ask About Target Date Fund Strategies

1. What is a Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA)?

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) encouraged employers to adopt automatic enrollment features for their participant‐directed plans by providing a new type of fiduciary liability relief for “default investments,” or Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIAs). A QDIA is used when a participant fails to make his or her own election. An investment must have specific qualifications to be considered a QDIA. Importantly, a QDIA’s asset allocation strategy need only take into account participant age, and does not need to consider an individual participant’s risk tolerance or other investment assets. One of four types of allowable QDIA’s, Target Date Funds (TDFs) were the QDIA in 95% of retirement plans in 2015 (Source: Vanguard, 2016).

2. What due diligence should plan fiduciaries perform when choosing a TDF?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

12 Questions Retirement Plan Sponsors Should Ask about Adding An Automatic Enrollment Arrangement

1. What is an Automatic Enrollment Arrangement?

Traditionally, defined contribution retirement plans have required employees to affirmatively choose to save money in the plan through salary deferral. Today’s plans that adopt Automatic Enrollment are encouraging employees to save by making salary deferral the default, requiring them to opt-out or choose not to contribute to the plan.

2. What are the different types of Automatic Enrollment Arrangements?

Monday, November 7, 2016

8 Questions Plan Sponsors Should Ask About Adding a Roth Feature

1. What is a Roth?

According to the 2015 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution Survey, 62% of all defined contribution plans, across multiple industries now offer a Roth feature. Among 403(b) plans, 54.7% have adopted this popular design feature. A Roth is not a separate retirement plan, but simply an additional source of contributions accepted by the plan and record-kept separately so the rules applicable to Roth contributions can be followed. Once adopted, plan sponsors must give participants an opportunity at least once per plan year to make designated Roth contributions.

The basic difference between a traditional 401(k) or 403(b) and a Roth is when a participant pays taxes. Within a traditional 401(k) or 403(b), participants make contributions with pre-tax dollars, and receive a tax break up front, effectively lowering their current income tax bill. Their contributions and earnings grow tax-deferred until they take a distribution. At that time, withdrawals are considered to be ordinary income and participants pay taxes based upon their effective tax rate at the time of the distribution. They’ll also be required to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty unless they’re over 59 ½ years of age.