The Frugal Fiduciary Small Business 401(k) Blog
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On December 20, 2019, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was signed into law. The legislation made many significant retirement plan changes, including enhanced tax credits for small businesses that start a new 401(k) plan and/or add an automatic enrollment feature to any 401(k) plan. For most small businesses, these changes took effect January 1, 2020.
On December 20, 2019, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was signed into law. The legislation made many significant retirement plan changes, including later deadlines for adopting a new 401(k) plan or amending a traditional 401(k) into a safe harbor plan. For most small businesses, these changes took effect January 1, 2020.
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According to AARP, Americans are 15 times more likely to save for retirement when they can do so by payroll deduction through a workplace retirement plan. However, while most large businesses – companies with more than 100 employees – sponsor a retirement plan, 51 to 71 percent of small businesses don’t. In a Pew Charitable Trusts survey, small business owners cited “resources required to start and maintain a plan” as one of the top reasons they don’t sponsor a 401(k) plan. To help more Americans save for retirement, overcoming this concern is essential.
It’s impossible to complete annual 401(k) plan testing accurately without a clear understanding of the plan sponsor’s ownership structure. This information is used to determine the company’s controlled or affiliated service group status as well as the Highly Compensated Employee (HCE) and key employee status of plan participants. To make these determinations properly, certain “family attribution” rules must be applied correctly. These IRS rules exist to thwart ownership structures that would otherwise permit a 401(k) plan to discriminate in favor of business owners.
The day-to-day operation of all 401(k) plans must be governed by a written plan document that meets Internal Revenue Code requirements. Occasionally, 401(k) plan documents will require an amendment to reflect law changes or employer intentions. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has strict rules for plan amendments. It’s important for employers to understand them. Otherwise, they could miss the chance to make discretionary plan changes, accidentally cut back protected benefits, or face punishment for document non-compliance.
Safe harbor 401(k) plans are the most popular type of 401(k) used by small businesses today. Unlike a traditional 401(k) plan, they automatically pass the ADP/ACP and top heavy nondiscrimination tests when certain contribution and participant disclosure requirements are met. This trade-off is well worth the cost for many business owners, who often bear the brunt of the consequences when their 401(k) plan fails testing.