Choose A Plan For Your Employees
Once you’ve chosen a retirement services provider, it’s time to decide on a plan that fits both your business and your employees’ needs. Options available to employers regardless of size, including businesses with only one employee, include:
1. A traditional 401 plan, which is the most flexible option. Employers can make contributions for all participants, match employees’ deferrals, do both, or neither.
2. The safe harbor 401 plan, which has several variations and requires the company to make a mandatory contribution to the plan participants. The contributions benefit the company, the business owner, and highly compensated employees by giving them greater ability to maximize salary deferrals.
3. An automatic enrollment 401 plan, which allows you to automatically enroll employees and place deductions from their salaries in certain default investments, unless employees elect otherwise. This arrangement encourages workers to participate in the company 401 plan and increase their retirement savings, which also benefits business owners. Automatic enrollment plans may also contain a safe harbor provision.
What Are The Contribution Levels And Limits Of A Solo 401
To take full advantage of contributions to a Solo 401 plan you must understand your limits as an employee and employer, as well as contributions allowed on behalf of a spouse if applicable.
When contributing as the employee, you are allowed up to $19,500 or 100% of compensation in salary deferrals for tax years 2020 and 2021. If you are over 50, an additional $6,500 catch-up contribution is allowed for tax years 2020 and 2021. This is the type of contribution that can be made as pre-tax/tax-deferred or Roth deferral or a combination of both. Additionally, as the employer, you can make a profit-sharing contribution up to 25% of your compensation from the business up to $57,000 for tax year 2020 and $58,000 for tax year 2021. When adding the employee and employer contributions together for the year the maximum 2020 Solo 401 contribution limit is $57,000 and the maximum 2021 solo 401 contribution is $58,000. If you are age 50 and older and make catch-up contributions, the limit is increased by these catch-ups to be $63,500 for 2020 and $64,500 for 2021.
Compensation from your business can be a bit tricky. This is calculated as your business net profit minus half of your self-employment tax and the employer plan contributions you made for yourself plan). The limit on compensation that can be factored into your tax year contribution is $285,000 for 2020 and $290,000 for 2021.
Leave Your 401 With The Old Employer
In many cases, employers will permit a departing employee to keep a 401 account in their old plan indefinitely, although the employee can’t make any further contributions to it. This generally applies to accounts worth at least $5,000. In the case of smaller accounts, the employer may give the employee no choice but to move the money elsewhere.
Leaving 401 money where it is can make sense if the old employer’s plan is well managed and the employee is satisfied with the investment choices it offers. The danger is that employees who change jobs over the course of their careers can leave a trail of old 401 plans and may forget about one or more of them. Their heirs might also be unaware of the existence of the accounts.
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Calculate The Best Time To Start Social Security
If you are confused about when to start, you can use the Social Security Explorer part of the NewRetirement Retirement Planner to compare your monthly income and maximum lifetime payout at different ages.
Or, you might consider the following rules of thumb:
- Take Early: The only people who should consider taking their Social Security early are those who absolutely need the money immediately, or those who do not expect to live for very long, due to illness
- Take at Full Retirement Age: Should you have reason to believe that you will not live past the age of 80, then generally speaking you will maximize your social security benefits if you take them when you reach your Full Retirement Age.
- Wait as Long as Possible: On the other hand, if you are confident that you will live past the age of 80 or 85, then most experts recommend that you defer your social security for as long as you can , so as to maximize the benefits you receive from it.
- Other: If you have dependent children, the additional benefits you receive for them might make filing when you are younger worthwhile.
It can also be a very good idea to have an overall retirement plan before you decide when to start your Social Security benefits. The NewRetirement Retirement Planner can help you assess all of your sources of retirement income and whether or not you will have enough to cover your expenses. This tool was recently named a best retirement calculator by the American Association of Individual Investors .
Consider Your Personal Circumstances
There are many factors you should consider when deciding when to start receiving your CPP retirement pension. These include your health, your financial situation, and your plans for retirement.
For example, if youre healthy, expect to live a long life, or have access to other sources of income, you may choose to start receiving your CPP retirement pension later. This will result in a larger monthly pension, which could help protect you from outliving your savings.
However, if youd prefer to work less, or you want the money now to pay off debts or to fund your retirement plans, you may choose to start receiving your pension before age 65. This will result in a smaller monthly payment which can help meet immediate needs, especially if you have little or no other income.
The Canadian Retirement Income Calculator can also help you better understand your future financial security.
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Eligibility For A Hardship Withdrawal
The Internal Revenue Service ‘s immediate and heavy financial need stipulation for a hardship withdrawal applies not only to the employee’s situation. Such a withdrawal can also be made to accommodate the need of a spouse, dependent, or beneficiary.
Immediate and heavy expenses include the following:
- Certain medical expenses
- Home-buying expenses for a principal residence
- Up to 12 months worth of tuition and fees
- Expenses to prevent being foreclosed on or evicted
- Burial or funeral expenses
- Certain expenses to repair casualty losses to a principal residence
You wont qualify for a hardship withdrawal if you have other assets that you could draw on to meet the need or insurance that will cover the need. However, you needn’t necessarily have taken a loan from your plan before you can file for a hardship withdrawal. That requirement was eliminated in the reforms, which were part of the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in 2018.
The $2-trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus bill signed into law on March 27, 2020, allows those affected by the coronavirus situation a hardship distribution to $100,000 without the 10% penalty those younger than 59½ normally owe account owners have three years to pay the tax owed on withdrawals, instead of owing it in the current year.
Choose An Account Type
Traditional 401s are standard at workplaces, but more employers are adding the Roth 401 option, too.
As with Roth IRAs versus traditional IRAs, the main difference between the two types of plans is when you get your tax break:
The regular 401 offers it upfront since the money is automatically taken out of your paycheck before the IRS takes its cut . Youll pay income taxes down the road when you start making withdrawals in retirement.
Contributions to a Roth 401 are made with post-tax dollars , but qualified withdrawals are tax-free
Investment earnings within both types of 401s are not taxed
Another upside to the Roth 401 is that, unlike a Roth IRA, there are no income restrictions to limit how much you can contribute.
The IRS allows you to stash savings in both a traditional 401 and Roth 401, which can add tax diversification to your portfolio, as long as you dont exceed the annual maximum contribution limits .
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Should You Get A 401 Loan
Whether a 401 loan is the right for you depends on your situation. For some borrowers, especially those with poor credit, a 401 loan can help you avoid high-interest debt. As long as you can afford to repay the loan, its generally better to be paying interest to yourself than to someone else.
But 401 loans arent without risks, the greatest being that if you cant afford to repay the loan or leave your job early, you may have your loan converted to an early withdrawal. These carry the same possible 10% penalty and tax consequences as any other early withdrawal from a 401.
Youre also potentially missing out on up to five years of investment gains, depending on the length of your 401 loan. Remember that over the long term, the S& P 500 has gained an average of about 10% every year. While you could get lucky and make your 401 loan during an extended dip or recession, the longer your money is out, the more growth you may miss.
Before taking a loan from your 401, be sure to consider all other options, like emergency funds, taxable investment accounts, low-cost loans from personal lenders, HELOCs if you have home equity or any 0% APR credit cards you may be eligible for. While a 401 loan can make sense in some circumstances, its not the best choice for everyone.
Applying For Retirement Faqs
There are many decisions to make and things to consider on your path to retirement, so give yourself plenty of time and take full advantage of all the resources TCDRS provides.
Some of the decisions you make about your retirement options cannot be changed after you retire, so dont rush the process. We are here for you. If you have any questions or need assistance, please call TCDRS Member Services at 800-823-7782 or sign up for an online counseling session.
Once you are ready to retire, you can apply for benefits online. Applying online is secure and lets you to track the progress of your application.
Here are the most common questions about applying for retirement:
Q) How do I know if Im eligible to retire?
A) TCDRS will contact you by mail or email when you reach retirement eligibility. You may also sign into your online account and check the Account Summary page to see the earliest date you are eligible to retire.
Q) Does TCDRS offer retiree health care?
A) No. However, your employer may offer retiree health-care coverage. It is important to talk to your employer prior to applying for retirement, as they may have different eligibility requirements for healthcare vs. retirement.
Q) When can I apply for retirement online?
A) If you are eligible to retire, or within six months of becoming eligible, youll have the option to apply for retirement when you sign into your TCDRS online account.
Q) Which benefit payment option is the best?
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Contributions Or Benefits Must Not Discriminate
Under the plan, contributions or benefits must not discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees. Generally, employees with compensation of $135,000 or more from the employer in the prior year are considered highly compensated for 2022 . In order to satisfy this requirement with regard to elective deferrals and employer matching contributions, 401 plans may provide minimum employer contributions or meet the Actual Deferral Percentage and Actual Contribution Percentage tests.
Withdrawal Timing To Save Taxes
Using a tax-deferred 401 does not mean you never pay taxes, however. Participants pay Uncle Sam when they withdraw their earnings and contributions.
As a retiree, your income often drops, putting you into a lower tax bracket than you had as an employee. Money you take from a tax-deferred 401 during retirement years therefore, gets taxed at a rate lower than what you pay while fully employed.
- Withdraw money early, though, and you pay taxes and a 10% penalty.
- The IRS lets you begin to withdraw without a penalty at age 59 1/2, and requires you to begin withdrawing by April 1 the year after you turn 72 or after age 70 1/2 if you attained this age prior January 1, 2020. However, required minimum distributions from 401s and IRAs were suspended for 2020.
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Traditional 401 Vs Roth 401
When 401 plans became available in 1978, companies and their employees had just one choice: the traditional 401. Then, in 2006, Roth 401s arrived. Roths are named for former U.S. Senator William Roth of Delaware, the primary sponsor of the 1997 legislation that made the Roth IRA possible.
While Roth 401s were a little slow to catch on, many employers now offer them. So the first decision employees often have to make is between Roth and traditional.
As a general rule, employees who expect to be in a lower after they retire might want to opt for a traditional 401 and take advantage of the immediate tax break.
On the other hand, employees who expect to be in a higher bracket after retiring might opt for the Roth so that they can avoid taxes on their savings later. Also importantespecially if the Roth has years to growis that there is no tax on withdrawals, which means that all the money the contributions earn over decades of being in the account is tax-free.
As a practical matter, the Roth reduces your immediate spending power more than a traditional 401 plan. That matters if your budget is tight.
Since no one can predict what tax rates will be decades from now, neither type of 401 is a sure thing. For that reason, many financial advisors suggest that people hedge their bets, putting some of their money into each.
Contributions And Allocations Are Limited
Contributions to a 401 plan must not exceed certain limits described in the Internal Revenue Code. The limits apply to the total amount of employer contributions, employee elective deferrals and forfeitures credited to the participant’s account during the year. See 401 and Profit-Sharing Plan Contribution Limits.
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Managing 401 Plans For A Small Business
Setting up a 401 can be complicated, but you don’t have to do it alone. Look for a provider with an excellent track record that can help you get started, manage your plan, and even share ideas and guidance to maximize the value to you and your employees. Doing so can go a long way in ensuring an ongoing, positive benefit for years to come.
What Is A 401 Loan
A 401 loan is a loan you take out from your own 401 account. They work like normal loansyou pay origination fees and interestonly youre borrowing money from yourself. According to Vanguard, 78% of 401 plans permit participants to take out 401 loans, and about 13% of plan participants have an outstanding 401 loan.
If you need money, you might consider taking a loan from your 401 if:
You want a lower interest rate. 401 loans still charge interest. But the amount you pay may be less than on a loan you take out with someone else. 401 loan interest rates are based on the prime rate, an interest rate adapted from Federal Reserve loaning guidelines. 401 loans will normally be a percentage point or two above this rate, which may be lower than the rate you could get at a bank.
Youd prefer to pay interest to yourself. No one likes paying banks and credit card companies interest. While youre still on the hook for interest payments with a 401 loan, you get to pay it back to yourself instead of someone else.
You want looser credit requirements. If your credit score prevents you from getting the best rates on loans, you may opt for a 401 loan. Depending on your employer, you may not even need a credit check to borrow from your 401.
You might want to avoid a 401 loan if:
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Employee Participation Standards Must Be Met
In general, an employee must be allowed to participate in a qualified retirement plan if he or she meets both of the following requirements:
- Has reached age 21
- Has at least 1 year of service
- plan may require 2 years of service for eligibility to receive an employer contribution if the plan provides that after not more than 2 years of service the participant is 100% vested in all plan account balances. However, the plan must allow the employee to participate by making elective deferral contributions after no more than 1 year of service.)
A plan cannot exclude an employee because he or she has reached a specified age.
Leased employee. A leased employee is treated as an employee of the employer for whom the leased employee is providing services for certain plan qualification rules. These rules apply to:
- Nondiscrimination requirements related to plan coverage, contributions, and benefits.
- Minimum age and service requirements.
- Vesting requirements.
- Limits on contributions and benefits.
- Top-heavy plan requirements.
Certain contributions or benefits provided by the leasing organization for services performed for the employer are treated as provided by the employer.
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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.
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