July 17, 2024

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Big changes are coming for your 401(k). Here’s what you need to know

Now, Congress is looking to help Americans save by promoting 401(k) programs — tax-deferred, company-sponsored retirement accounts to which employees can contribute income, and employers can match their contributions.

A new bill, expected to reach President Joe Biden’s office by the end of the year, would require most employer-sponsored retirement plans to automatically register their workers, making it easier for student loan borrowers to save, and for older workers to fish. – contributions. It will also cut costs for small businesses.

Retirement savings in the United States has long been viewed as a three-legged chair. Americans had pension plans, Social Security benefits, and defined contribution plans like 401(k). Not anymore.

Pension plans are on the verge of extinction. About half of the workers in the private sector Covered by so-called defined benefit plans in the mid-1980s, but by 2021 Only 15% of workers in the private sector had them.
Social Security payments still provide about 90% of income for a quarter of seniors, according to Social Security Agency Surveys. But the Social Security Trust has been running a deficit for 75 years without intervention It will be exhausted by mid 2030. Legislators have It faced decades of political deadlock over how to fix it.
What remains is a 401(k), which is 68% of workers in the private sector They have access, but only 50% is used.

Jonathan Barber, Head of Compensation and Benefits Policy Research at Ayco Personal Financial Management, one of the units Goldman Sachs provides investment services to hundreds of US companies and more than one million corporate employees.

In fact, the 401(k) was never designed to be the primary retirement tool for Americans when it was introduced into the US tax code in 1978. “When it works, it works really well,” said Sri Reddy, senior vice president of retirement and income solutions for the financial group. Main.

The 401(k) is naturally appealing as a savings method for Americans who bring in more money, say critics. Under the current plan, the employee in the highest tax bracket saves 37%. But the employee in the lowest tax bracket will get a pre-tax benefit by saving only 10% of deferred income.

Tax credits for retirement savings are expected to cost the government Nearly $200 billion this yearwith most of those benefits reaching the top 20% of earners, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Less than 40% of low-paid workers have retirement accounts, compared to 80% of middle- and high-income families, According to Vanguard. Making it easier to access a 401(k) plan doesn’t help Americans who don’t have the money to save in the first place.

However, Congress believes there is a solution.

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In late 2019, one of the most important retirement legislation of the past 15 years was signed into law by President Donald Trump, the Preparing Every Community to Promote Retirement Act, or Safety Act. The bill eliminated age limits on retirement contributions, introduced tax breaks for small businesses to offer 401(k) plans to their employees, and extended retirement benefits for some long-term but part-time employees.

Last week, Congress passed almost unanimously another bill, SECURE 2.0, that includes broader changes. The Senate is expected to pass its version in the coming weeks.

Here’s a look at how the primary retirement savings plan in the United States will change soon.

automatic recording

In what will be the biggest change for the 401(k) program, SECURE 2.0 will require employers to automatically enroll all eligible workers in their 401(k) plans with a savings rate of 3% of salary. (Many employees currently have to sign up and then choose their contribution level.) The new rule also applies to 403(b), a similar program for employees of some tax-exempt public organizations.

Contribution rates for enrolled workers will be automatically increased each year by 1% until their contribution reaches 10% annually.

While workers have the option to opt out of the plan or change their level of contribution after enrollment, automatically enrolling workers in these plans will make a significant difference in the participation of younger, lower-paid employees in the program.

2012 study mentioned in the SECURE 2.0 bill found that “[t]The most dramatic increases in enrollment rates have been among younger, lower-paid employees, and the racial gap in participation rates among employees subject to automatic enrollment has been virtually eliminated.”

About one in six employers already offer automatic enrollment, and about 90% of new employees who use them participate in retirement plans, compared to just 28% under voluntary enrollment, according to a recent study by Vanguard, the largest provider of mutual funds in the United States.

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Retirees save more

Older workers between the ages of 62 and 64 can increase their compensatory contributions to $10,000 annually, up from $6,500 now. Starting in 2023, these catch-up contributions will be taxed as Roth contributions, meaning they will be taxed before they are invested for retirement, although the earnings will be indexed with inflation.

Reddy said that people generally earn more as they age, and people in their 60s usually earn more than they spend. Giving them the ability to increase their contributions makes a huge difference to retirement savings. “If you have people who are motivated and have extra means, this is a great way to help them retire,” he said.

Barber, who heads benefits research at Ayco Personal Financial Management at Goldman Sachs, is concerned that this change may be overly complex.

Right now, most 401(k) contributions come from employee pay before taxes, so investors don’t really feel the bite until they’re ready to withdraw their savings. Under the new plan, the compensation contribution will be increased, but employees must pay taxes before They contribute.

For investors, Barber said, “It can come as a shock to some people who don’t understand the financial impact of this, especially if they’ve never had a Roth account.”

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Pay off student loan debt while saving

About 43.4 million borrowers in the United States have federal student loan debt, totaling $1.7 trillion, and many employees tend to forgo saving for retirement until they pay off their loans in full.

Losing the early years of potential savings puts them at a disadvantage. The plan has a solution for that.

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Employers can treat student loan payments as optional deferments to a retirement account, and make a matching 401(k) contribution. So if you pay off $1,000 of student loan debt, it would be similar to putting $1,000 into a retirement plan, as far as matching goes. If the company matches 6%, that means you save an additional $60.

“Earlier you do [invest]T. Lake Moore V, employee benefits attorney at McAfee & Taft, said that the more these investment gains are multiplied.

Delaying mandatory withdrawals and reducing tax penalties

Americans retire later and live longer. Secure 2.0 raises the minimum age at which registrants must begin withdrawing money from their accounts each year to 75 from 72. This allows for an additional three years of tax-free growth on their retirement investments.

(Penalty for not withdrawing the minimum required from his account after 75 in half, to 25% from 50%.

Part-time workers can contribute

Under the proposed law, companies offering a 401(k) plan would be required to allow part-time employees who work at least 500 hours per year for two years, (the equivalent of less than 10 hours per week) to contribute to a retirement account. This will include part-time workers, work staff, freelancers, carers, and independent contractors.

Additional provisions

plan too Expand tax credits for small businesses to provide greater access to their retirement plans Workers, create an online database of Americans to locate lost retirement funds.