Posts by Steve Renner, QKA:
- He was hired March 17, 2016
- His birthday is Oct. 25, 1995
When it comes to saving for retirement, your employees trust you to help them get their finances in order. Don’t undermine their trust by making mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Instead, take a proactive approach to the administrative responsibilities you are expected to manage. Keep reading to discover three areas retirement plan auditors are checking for mistakes and what you can do to avoid future issues.
Pay close attention to your plan’s eligibility requirements. The enrollment dates for some employees can get confusing. Consider the following example.
According to your plan document, in order for an employee to enroll in your company’s retirement plan, they must be at least 21-years-old and have had worked for you for at least six consecutive months. Once they have met these requirements, they can enroll during the plan’s entry dates, which fall on the first day of each quarter.
Considering this scenario, on what day will you be able to enroll “John” into your company’s retirement plan if:
While it’s true that John will meet the 6-month employment requirement on Sept. 17, he’s unable to meet the age requirement. When he turns 21 on Oct. 25, he will still have to wait until the first day of the next quarter – Jan. 1, 2017.
If an employee misses the opportunity to participate as a result of an error made by the plan sponsor, the employer is required to correct the mistake by making a corrective contribution.
This common mistake can easily be avoided as long as your business has solid processes in place to determine the appropriate for all new employees who are choosing to enter into the plan.
Even data entry gurus aren’t immune to making mistakes and, as many of us are already aware, it only takes a minor slipup to cause major havoc – especially where your plan contribution records are concerned.
When you manually enter your employee’s retirement plan contributions, you become vulnerable to data entry errors. It’s not uncommon for a wrong keystroke to lead to deposits being made into the wrong employee’s account, for example.
Fortunately, this mistake is easily avoidable if you take steps toward automation. Ask your payroll company if they can create a file that can be easily uploaded to your retirement plan’s record keeper in an automated format and save yourself any future data entry headaches.
It’s very important to be clear about what your plan document considers to be compensation. For example, if your plan document makes a point to reference “W-2 compensation,” you are required to withhold retirement plan funds from all regular wages, bonuses, commission, overtime, etc. This means, that if you pass out performance bonuses and neglect to withhold their 401(k) contribution, your document has failed and your business is opened to unpleasant consequences.
Fortunately, it’s not too late. Your plan document most likely offers the flexibility to make a separate plan election on bonuses. If your employee does decide to elect a portion of their bonus to the plan, ask them to document the election request for your records as well as their own.
Mistakes happen, but you can minimize the chance of making some pretty major mistakes simply by adopting a more proactive management style. The tips above will certainly help you get started. But for even more, email Rea & Associates today.
By Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)
Get more retirement plan advice for your business. Check out these articles:
Time’s Running Out to Establish, Alter Your Plan
Your SIMPLE IRA or Safe Harbor 401(k) plan isn’t going to establish or change itself and if you want yours to be effective in 2015, you need to know that an Oct. 1 deadline is looming – as though you really needed something else to worry about. Fortunately, a retirement plan expert will not only help you meet your deadline, they can make sure your plan is optimized to ensure maximum results.
If you’ve never taken the time to really understand how valuable your retirement plan can be for your business, this is your chance. Read on to learn six other reasons why you might want to pick up the phone and schedule a meeting with a retirement plan expert today.
Six Reasons To Call Your Retirement Plan Administrator
- You have no retirement plan at all. Offering your employees a retirement plan is more than just a great recruitment tool; it’s an excellent way to make your company’s profits go further. Read Retirement Plan Design: One Size Does Not Fit All to learn more about how a retirement plan might help bolster your business’s growth strategy.
- You have a SEP Plan with more than two employees. If you haven’t made time to speak with a retirement plan specialist recently to make sure that your retirement plan still addresses your company’s unique needs, there’s a chance you are missing out on a more cost-effective solution. Your retirement plan team can quickly run some illustrative numbers to compare your SEP against a 401(k) plan to reveal whether a better option exists for your business.
- You are a business owner who is able to maximize deferrals every year with a SIMPLE IRA. If so, it may be time to consider a Safe Harbor 401(k) plan in 2016 for additional tax deferral. For more insight into how this option can work for you, read Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans Provide Smooth Sailing.
- You have a 401(k) but receive corrective distributions every year. You may be missing out on a retirement plan design that can not only alleviate this problem, but can help you maximize the benefits your business receives for being active participants in your employees’ retirement strategy. Access Safe Harbor FAQ here.
- You maximize deferrals every year under your Safe Harbor 401(k) plan but offer no profit sharing option. A better plan design for business owners in this situation might be to maximize profit sharing contributions while limiting the amount that has to be provided to employees. For example, cross-tested profit sharing plans may save you money if your company’s staff consists primarily of younger employees. A retirement plan expert can help you identify a plan that helps address the uniqueness of your business.
- You are maxing out your profit sharing plan every year. It’s time to add a cash balance option to your existing retirement plan. This is a great option for business owners in this position, because it allows for much higher employer contribution deductibles for owners. Click here to learn more about how these plans can help your business.
Take control of your retirement plan today. Email a Rea & Associates retirement plan expert to find out what you have been missing.
Check out these articles for more helpful retirement plan advice specifically for small and midsize businesses.
January may be flying by, but the New Year is still fresh. This is still a great time to make sure that the qualified 401k plan you offer your employees helps them effectively save for retirement and remains qualified. Not sure where to start? Here are six ways to get the most out of your 401k plan:
1. Review Your Match Formula
An employer match can be critical to helping your employees meet their retirement goals and stretching the match formula is a great way to entice employees to save more. Instead of matching 100 percent on the first 2 percent of deferrals, consider changing your contribution formula to 50 percent on the first 4 percent of deferrals, or 25 percent on the first 8 percent of deferrals instead. Each one of these formulas will result in a 2 percent wage cost to you, the employer, but changing the formula may encourage additional employee saving. Instead of saving 4 percent of their income (2 percent employee income plus 2 percent employer match), the employee may be motivated to increase contributions to their retirement plan to 10 percent (8 percent employee income plus 2 percent employer match). Contact your TPA to discuss different strategies.
2. Check Your Contribution Limits
Did you know that the 401(k) and 403(b) plan deferral limits have increased to $18,000? Employees older than 50, now have the option to defer an additional $6,000 of their wages toward retirement. Encourage your employees to review their payroll deduction to ensure that they are on target to meet their personal savings goals.
3. Offer Your 401(k) Plan To All Eligible Employees
If your 401(k) plan has an entry date of Jan. 1, be sure all newly eligible employees were provided the opportunity to participate in the plan. Even if you have an employee who doesn’t want to participate, I recommend that you obtain a signed election form that indicates a 401(k) election of “0 percent.” By doing this, you have documentation that they employee was offered the chance to participate, even though they decided not to.
4. Provide Employee Census To Your TPA
Your third party administrator (TPA) needs yearly plan census information to conduct compliance testing, verify 401(k) and to calculate matching contributions and profit sharing allocations. The deadline for most compliance tests is March 15.
5. Check Your Fidelity Bond
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires a fidelity bond for every plan fiduciary and for those who handle the funds or property of a plan. The bond must be at least 10 percent of the company’s plan assets. It’s a good idea to ensure that your bond is still meeting the 10 percent minimum requirement.
6. Restate Your Plan Document
Prototype documents for 401(k) plans currently are in a restatement window; therefore, if your plan uses a prototype document, it must be updated to meet new IRS standards. This document restatement period is a great time to examine your plan provisions. For example, do you want to change eligibility requirements or add a loan provision that you have contemplated adding in the past? This is a good time to make those changes. The deadline for restating 401(k) prototype documents is April 30, 2016. Managing your company’s retirement plan can be confusing or overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be. Email Rea & Associates today to learn more. By Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)
Got a 401(k) plan? Have you ever withdrawn money from your 401(k) account? If so, you’re part of the growing number of Americans using their 401(k) accounts to fund other areas of their lives. A recent Bloomberg article explains that more and more Americans are turning to their 401(k) accounts rather than to other means, such as a loan, to help cover any unexpected financial needs that come up.
Historically, Americans have used their homes as a source of additional money. According to the article, when home values rose, homeowners refinanced or took out second mortgages. But due to the housing collapse back in 2008, many homeowners don’t have these options anymore – so they turned to their 401(k) accounts. What many people don’t realize is that depending on their 401(k) plan, they could be penalized for either taking an early withdrawal and/or not putting that money back into their account in the appropriate amount of time.
Shocking 401(k) Withdrawal Statistics
The Bloomberg article cites an IRS report that states the agency collected $5.7 billion in withdrawal penalties in 2011. In other words, Americans withdrew nearly $57 billion from their retirement accounts. That’s $5.7 billion that the IRS would otherwise not have banked on receiving. And what’s the federal government doing with this “extra” income? Funding federal agencies and projects.
Think Before You Dip
Before you turn to your retirement plan for help, you should be aware of some things. It may seem like an easy option, but the IRS actually has some rules that you have to meet before taking money from your 401(k). One of the following conditions must occur before you can take money out without being penalized:
- You lose your job
- You claim disability
- You or your spouse dies
- You turn 59 ½ years old
401(k) Withdrawal Based on Financial Hardship
If you don’t meet the criteria listed above, but are facing a financial hardship, you may also be able to take an early withdrawal from your retirement account. The IRS’ hardship rules require you have one of the following needs to qualify for a hardship withdrawal:
- Medical expenses for you or your immediate family
- Financial assistance in the purchase of your primary residence (this excludes mortgage payments)
- Tuition or other educational fees (maximum of 12 months) for you or your immediate family
- Prevent the eviction of you from your primary place of residence
- Burial or funeral expenses for deceased parent, spouse or other immediate family member
- Expenses for the repair of damage to your principal residence
The amount of money you take can’t be more than the amount you actually need to cover your hardship. It’s important to note that your early withdrawal due to a financial hardship is subject to state and federal taxes, and is also subject to a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if you are under age 59 ½. So keep all of these considerations in mind when deciding whether to dip into your retirement account.
401(k) Withdrawal Help
If you’re not sure if a retirement withdrawal is the best route to go, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio retirement plan services professionals can help you determine if you’re eligible and what you need to do to minimize your tax liability from a withdrawal.
Author: Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)
Looking for more information related to 401(k) or retirement plan withdrawals? Check out these blog posts:
Like many business owners, running your business every day is a top priority for you. But as a sponsor of a 401(k) plan, you have an obligation to your employees to make your plan a priority as well. The truth is, most business owners are not 401(k) experts. Therefore, working with a quality 401(k) investment advisor should also be a priority. As a plan sponsor, there are questions you should be asking your advisor to ensure they are helping your meet your fiduciary obligations as the plan sponsor. Read the rest of this entry “