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What Are The Advantages Of A 401k

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My wife and I are both 54 years old, and we each earn a six-figure salary. We are currently maximizing our contributions to our employers traditional 401 plans. Does it make sense for us to contribute to a Roth 401?

Yes. You are in an ideal situation to benefit from investing some or all of your future 401 contributions in a Roth 401 — if the option is offered by your employer — particularly because your income is too high to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Roth contributions dont reduce your tax bill now, but you can withdraw all of the money in the account tax-free after you reach age 59½ and have had the account for at least five years. Traditional 401 contributions, on the other hand, lower your taxable income now but are taxable when withdrawn. If most of your contributions so far have been to a traditional 401, contributing some money to a Roth 401 can be a great way to diversify your tax situation in retirement.

It gives most people more flexibility in retirement, says Stuart Ritter, a certified financial planner with T. Rowe Price. If you need to take a lump sum withdrawal — whether for travel, a retirement house or medical expenses — you can tap the Roth without any tax consequences. But if you take a lump sum from a traditional 401 or traditional IRA, says Ritter, youll have to take more than you actually need since youll pay part of the withdrawal in taxes.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A 401k

When it comes to saving for retirement, there are many different options that are available to you. One of the most popular and most used is a 401k retirement plan. It is only offered through employers, but can also be utilized if you are self employed. A percentage of your salary is deferred each month and put into the retirement savings account. Saving for retirement is an essential part of life, it ensures your financial stability in your old age. Understanding all of the options that you have to save for your old age can be extremely difficult, especially if you do not have prior knowledge of investment and savings plans. Lets examine the 401k plan from all angles so that you can determine if it is the correct choice for you and your life.

Top 401 Benefits For Employees

Saving for retirement is one of the most important things we must do during our working years. After all, nobody can work forever and living expenses dont stop after you stop earning a paycheck. The following 401 benefits can make it convenient and affordable for employees to achieve their retirement savings goal:

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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.

Covering Your Bases Through Tax Diversification

Employees Value 401K

If youre not sure where your tax rate, income, and spending will be in retirement, one strategy might be to contribute to both a Roth 401 and a traditional 401. The combination will provide you with both taxable and tax-free withdrawal options. As a retired individual or married couple with both Roth 401 and traditional 401 accounts, you could determine which account to tap based on your tax situation.

You cant really know what future tax rates will look like, so building in the flexibility to use multiple accounts to manage taxes is important and helpful, says Rob.

For example, you could take RMDs from your traditional account and withdraw what you need beyond that amount from the Roth account, tax-free. That would mean you could withdraw a large chunk of money from a Roth 401 one yearsay, to pay for a dream vacationwithout having to worry about taking a big tax hit.

Besides the added flexibility of being able to manage your marginal income tax bracket, reducing your taxable income in retirement may be advantageous for a number of reasons, including lowering the amount you pay in Medicare premiums, paring down the tax rate on your Social Security benefits, and maximizing the availability of other income-based deductions. Be sure to weigh all your available options to maintain your retirement goals.

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Contributions After Age 72

With some retirement accounts, you cannot contribute once you turn age 72, even if you’re still working. That means any money you might have contributed on a pre-tax basis is instead taxed at your current rate. And that’s likely to be higher than the rate you’ll pay once you retire.

Notably, 401s don’t have this drawback. You can continue to contribute to these for as long you’re still working. Even better, while you’re working, you’re spared from taking mandatory distributions from the plan, provided you own less than 5% of the business that employs you.

How Do You Get A 401

You get a 401 from your employer. Unfortunately, not all employers offer access to a 401 plan. Don’t despair if you fall into that camp. You can still reap the same tax benefits from the other big retirement savings vehicle, an individual retirement account.

All that may raise the inevitable question: What is an IRA? These accounts offer some attractive benefits , albeit with a few downsides . Heres how a 401 differs from an IRA and, if applicable, how to take advantage of both at the same time.

Interested in an IRA? Here’s a comparison of some of our top-rated IRA accounts. We have a full guide to opening an account here.

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Some Plans Now Offer Post

Your employer may also allow you to make after-tax “Roth” contributions to your 401 plan. Because your Roth contributions are after tax, they don’t reduce your current taxable income like pre-tax contributions. But because they’re after-tax, your Roth contributions are always tax-free when paid out to you. The main attraction of Roth 401 contributions is that the earnings on your contributions are also tax-free if your distribution is “qualified.” In general, a distribution is qualified if it is made more than five years after the year you make your first Roth 401 contribution, and you are either 59½ or disabled when you receive the payment.

Social Security Retirement Benefits And Taxes

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You may have to pay federal income taxes on these benefits. The IRS limits taxation up to 85 percent of Social Security benefits. Most people who must pay income taxes on their benefits also have other taxable income. This includes wages, self-employment income, interest income and dividends.

If you file singly, and your income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay tax on up to 50 percent of your Social Security retirement benefits. Above that amount, and you may have to pay tax on 85 percent of Social Security earnings.

If you are married and filing jointly, the range is $32,000 to $44,000 for paying taxes on 50 percent of Social Security income. Above $44,000, and it jumps to 85 percent.

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How Much Does It Cost To Open A Solo 401

There is no cost to open a 401 account but watch out for those fees later on. While you’re researching your options, check for account maintenance fees, transaction fees and commissions, mutual fund expense ratios, and sales loads.

A fractionally higher fee can mean a big hit to a retirement portfolio. If you make the right choices you can minimize the fees you pay.

Provisions For Changing Jobs

Most 401 plans permit the employee who terminates employment the options of receiving the 401 balance in a lump sum or to receive periodic payments or to roll over the proceeds to an IRA or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. Additionally, some 401 plans permit the terminated employee to retain their 401 balance in their former employer’s plan. Amounts that are retained in a former employer’s 401 plan or transferred to another employer’s plan or IRA postpone the taxation until amounts are subsequently distributed from the plan or IRA the money was rolled into.

When receiving funds from a 401 with the intention to roll the amount to an IRA:

  • The rollover must be completed in 60 days.
  • Employers must withhold 20% of the proceeds as a withholding tax. It is up to the participant to make up this 20%, or it will be treated as a distribution. The money withheld will be used as a credit against any income tax liability.
  • Neither the 60-day rule nor the 20% withholding apply to amounts directly transferred to an IRA or other qualified plan.

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Contributing To Your Mit 401 Account

You contribute to your 401 account through deductions from your MIT paycheck. You can contribute pre-tax dollars, Roth post-tax dollars, or a combination of both. You may change your contribution preferences any time through Fidelity NetBenefits.

Your contributions are sent to Fidelity Investments at the end of each pay period. You may contribute as little as 1% and as much as 95% of your salary after amounts for Social Security and Medicare taxes and health and dental insurance have been subtracted. You may start, stop, or change your deferral or investment elections at any time.

Federal law limits the amount of your pay each year that may be recognized for determining your allowable contribution. In 2021, MIT can consider only the first $290,000 of pay for calculating your allowable contributions. This means that if your annual compensation exceeds $290,000, MIT Payroll will take 401 deductions from your pay until your pay for the year reaches $290,000, or one of the other 401 program limits has been reached .

Contribution limits

What MIT contributes to your 401 Plan

  • MIT matches your 401 contributions dollar-for-dollar up to the first 5% of your MIT pay .
  • MIT only contributes a match during months in which you have made a contribution
  • The MIT match is provided pre-tax, and therefore is fully taxable when you withdraw your matching contributions from the plan, along with associated investment earnings.

When contributions are invested in your 401 account

The Tax Benefits Of Your 401 Plan

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OVERVIEW

Your contributions to a qualified 401 may lower your tax bill and help you build financial security.

For information on the third coronavirus relief package, please visit our American Rescue Plan: What Does it Mean for You and a Third Stimulus Check blog post.

Congress created the 401 plan in 1986 to encourage employees of for-profit businesses to save for retirement. Two versions exist:

  • The tax-deferred 401
  • And the Roth 401 introduced in 2006

Both retirement savings plans offer tax benefits and can help you build financial security for your retirement expenses, such as bills, food, and emergencies.

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Its Easier To Set Up A Roth With An Ira

Both the 401 and the IRA have a variation called a Roth, which provides special tax advantages. The key advantage of either Roth account is that participants will not have to pay any tax on withdrawals at retirement. In exchange, their contributions are made with after-tax money, so they dont receive a tax break on todays taxes as they do with traditional plans.

However, not all employers offered a Roth 401 just 75 percent in 2019. If your company doesnt offer the Roth version, you dont have that alternative.

But anyone who can open an IRA can open the Roth variant. While the Roth IRA technically has an income limit that prevents participants from opening it, theres a legal way to do so anyway called a backdoor Roth IRA.Here are the details on the backdoor Roth.

Continued Contributions For Employed Participants

If you have a traditional IRA or some other retirement account, you arent allowed to contribute after you reach 70 1/2 years old even if youre still employed. Therefore, you have to pay taxes on the money youve contributed on a pre-tax basis at your current tax rate, which is typically higher than the rate that applies to you after retirement.

With a 401 plan, you can continue to make contributions as long as youre still employed. Additionally, you arent required to take mandatory distributions from your plan while youre employed if you dont own 5% or more of the company that employs you.

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Choosing Investments Within A Plan

Generally, 401 plans offer several options in which to invest contributions. Such options generally include mutual funds that may invest in stocks for growth, bonds for income, or money market investments for protection of principal. This flexibility may help lower investment risk by diversifying a portfolio amongst different types of classes, manager styles, investment styles, and economic sectors.

Difference Between 401k Plan And Pension Plan

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  • Pension plans are being funded by the employers, and they ensure regular income to members. Also, the investments in the fund are handled by the investment managers.
  • On the other hand, these are funded by the employees. The amounts in the fund depend on deposits made the income arising from the investment therein. Also, the investments are managed by the employees themselves.

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You Can Take A Loan On A 401

Generally if you take out cash from an IRA or a 401, youll likely be charged taxes and penalties. But the 401 may allow you to take out a loan, depending on how your employers plan is structured.

Another clear advantage is that you can take loans from a 401 and continue to contribute to your 401, says Lackwood.

Like a normal loan, youll have to pay interest, and youll have a repayment period, not more than five years. But the rules differ from plan to plan, says Lackwood, so youll have to check on your specific 401 rules to see what youll need to do.

You can also take cash from a 401 for a hardship withdrawal, and you can do so from an IRA, too. But the terms in each case are strict.

401s allow for emergency withdrawals, but most plans offered through employers are very rigid and dont have much flexibility, says David Wilson, CFP and founder of Planning to Wealth.

But taking a non-retirement withdrawal can drastically set back your retirement plans.

Pros Of A 401 Retirement Plan

Although not perfect, there are benefits of utilizing this type of investment:

  • High contribution limits
  • Income tax benefits include investing with pretax dollars and tax deferred growth on the account until time of distribution
  • Possible employer matching
  • Loans in the event of an emergency or financial crisis
  • Contributions reduce current taxable income

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Plan Allows You To Take Loans From 401 Accounts

401 participants have the option of taking 401 loans, but 401 plan loans must be paid back within a set time period.

401 plan loan terms vary from plan to plan, and plan participants may borrow money from their accounts to use for almost any purpose. Plan participants can also pay loans back with 401 money.

Potentially Easier And More Affordable Investment Options

Individual 401(K)

As a participant in a retirement plan, youll likely have the option to purchase institutional shares of mutual funds. These shares are generally more affordable than retail shares. In addition, having a 401 account makes investing simpler. Many plans come with fully diversified one-stop-shop features such as target-date funds and balanced funds. A target-date fund automatically becomes more conservative as your target retirement date gets closer, so you dont have to do anything after you set it.

If you want to know more about 401 plan benefits, dont hesitate to get in touch with the knowledgeable and helpful team at Human Interest.

Article By

The Human Interest Team

We believe that everyone deserves access to a secure financial future, which is why we make it easy to provide a 401 to your employees. Human Interest offers a low-cost 401 with automated administration, built-in investment advising, and integration with leading payroll providers.

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Terminating A 401 Plan

401 plans must be established with the intention of being continued indefinitely. However, business needs may require that employers terminate their 401 plans. For example, you may want to establish another type of retirement plan instead of the 401 plan.

Typically, the process of terminating a 401 plan includes amending the plan document, distributing all assets, and filing a final Form 5500. You must also notify your employees that the plan will be discontinued. Check with your plans financial institution or a retirement plan professional to see what further action is necessary to terminate your 401 plan.

What Are The Advantages Of A 401 Plan

Financial planners often speak of there being a three-legged stool for funding retirement: government-provided benefits, employer-provided benefits and personal savings. But with Social Security’s future in doubt and pension plans going the way of the dodo bird, it’s a good idea to depend on your own resources as much as possible.

One of the best ways for you to save toward your own retirement and ensure your future security is through an employer-sponsored 401 plan. If you don’t participate, you’re missing a golden opportunity to save for retirement while lowering your tax burden on those savings.

Some of the features offered by many 401 plans include:

Matching Contributions Many employers will match a portion of your savings. It’s like passing up free money if you don’t participate. A common match might be 50 percent of the first 6 percent of pay you save. Under that scenario, someone whose annual salary is $35,000 and who contributes 6 percent to the plan would receive an additional $1,050 in matching employer contributions. It’s pretty hard to find a 50 percent return on any investment. Even if your employer doesn’t offer matching contributions, the tax advantages of a 401 still make this one of the best ways to save money for retirement.

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