Earnings season will kick off this week, with a handful of the big banks reporting results for the 1st quarter. The narrative in the market in recent months has been that progress…
LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS
PUBLISHED: APRIL 12, 2021
april RETIREMENT PLAN NEWSLETTER
YOUR INVESTMENT POLICY STATEMENT IS IMPORTANT TO US
The template Investment Policy Statement (IPS) is crafted by a team of ERISA attorneys and investment professionals. Throughout the years, our organization receives myriad versions of the template IPS as edited by a vast number of clients’ in-house counsel as well as ERISA counsel. The ERISA team takes the best of the ideas and incorporates them into a revised IPS template. In essence, the template IPS is the product of hundreds of ERISA attorneys whose input is all taken into consideration.
In regard to the language of the template IPS, it is drafted to be neither too constrictive nor overly vague. An overly vague IPS leaves the reader with no understanding as to what process fiduciaries follow. In that scenario, the IPS does not help protect the fiduciary by creating evidence of a roadmap of a prudent process. Conversely, an overly constrictive IPS can cause an unwary fiduciary to accidentally run afoul of its terms. The template IPS is crafted to avoid using words like “must” throughout its provisions to avoid such a scenario.
If you have specific questions regarding verbiage, our ERISA team is happy to address them. Forward your inquiries to your financial professional.
401(K) PLAN TAX CREDIT SUMMARY
Eligible employers may be able to claim a tax credit of up to $5,000, for three years, for the ordinary and necessary costs of starting a SEP, SIMPLE IRA or qualified plan (like a 401(k) plan.) A tax credit reduces the amount of taxes you may owe on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
If you qualify, you may claim the credit using Form 8881 PDF, Credit for Small Employer Pension Plan Startup Costs.
You qualify to claim this credit if:
- You had 100 or fewer employees who received at least $5,000 in compensation from you for the preceding year;
- You had at least one plan participant who was a non-highly compensated employee (NHCE); and
- In the three tax years before the first year you’re eligible for the credit, your employees weren’t substantially the same employees who received contributions or accrued benefits in another plan sponsored by you, a member of a controlled group that includes you, or a predecessor of either.
Amount of the credit
The credit is 50% of your eligible startup costs, up to the greater of:
- $500; or
- The lesser of:
- $250 multiplied by the number of NHCEs who are eligible to participate in the plan, or
Eligible startup costs
You may claim the credit for ordinary and necessary costs to:
- Set up and administer the plan, and
- Educate your employees about the plan.
Eligible tax years
You can claim the credit for each of the first three years of the plan and may choose to start claiming the credit in the tax year before the tax year in which the plan becomes effective.
No deduction allowed
You can’t both deduct the startup costs and claim the credit for the same expenses. You aren’t required to claim the allowable credit.
Auto-enrollment Tax Credit
An eligible employer that adds an auto-enrollment feature to their plan can claim a tax credit of $500 per year for a three-year taxable period beginning with the first taxable year the employer includes the auto-enrollment feature.
RETIREMENT PLAN COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES
A retirement plan committee consists of co-fiduciaries who are responsible for all plan management activities that have been delegated to them by their plan’s named fiduciary.
ERISA states that the committee must act exclusively in the best interests of plan participants, beneficiaries and alternate payees as they manage their plan’s administrative and management functions. Many committees meet regularly in order to have sufficient opportunity to deal with the myriad of fiduciary functions.
All fiduciary level decisions must employ ERISA’s procedural prudence which includes documented expertise on the topic being considered and periodic review to ensure the decision remains prudent. In terms of investment selection and monitoring, qualitative and quantitative considerations should be included in the decision making process. Quantitative issues involve performance metrics and price, while qualitative issues involve the management approach, process, personnel and more. Due to the importance to both participants and plan fiduciaries, the committee must ensure that the plan’s qualified default investment alternative reflects the needs and risk tolerance of the participant demographic.
As there are many other important activities for committees, it makes sense to establish an annual calendar of topics to consider at upcoming meetings. Agenda items may include: plan goal setting & review, fiduciary investment review, fiduciary education/documentation, participant demographics/retirement readiness, fee reasonableness & structure, plan design analysis, TDF suitability, client advocacy, participant financial wellness, legal, regulatory & litigation activities, employee education, provider analysis, reporting and disclosure requirements. detailed minutes and documenting the processes for each of its decisions is also best practice for fiduciaries.
The Department of Labor [DOL] is now asking plan sponsors to provide documentation of a comprehensive and ongoing fiduciary training program for all plan fiduciaries.
PARTICIPANT CORNER: THREE TAX TIPS THAT CAN HELP AS YOU APPROACH OR BEGIN RETIREMENT
Retirement is a whole new phase of life. You’ll experience many new things, and you’ll leave others behind – but what you won’t avoid is taxes. If you’ve followed the advice of retirement plan consultants, you’re probably saving in tax-advantaged retirement accounts. These types of accounts defer taxes until withdrawal, and you’ll probably withdraw funds in retirement. Also, you may have to pay taxes on other types of income – Social Security, pension payments, or salary from a part-time job. With that in mind, it makes sense for you to develop a retirement income strategy.
Consider when to start taking Social Security. The longer you wait to begin your benefits (up to age 70), the greater your benefits will be. Remember, though, that currently up to 85 percent of your Social Security income is considered taxable if
your income is over $34,000 each year.
Be cognizant of what tax bracket you fall into. You may be in a lower tax bracket in retirement, so you’ll want to monitor your income levels (Social Security, pensions, annuity payments) and any withdrawals to make sure you don’t take out so much that you get bumped into a higher bracket.
Think about your withdrawal sequence. Generally speaking, you should take withdrawals in the following order:
- Start with your required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts. You’re required to take these after all.
- Since you’re paying taxes on taxable accounts, make this the second fund you withdraw from.
- Withdraw from tax-deferred retirement accounts like IRAs, 401(k)s, or 403(b)s third. You’ll pay income tax on withdrawals, but do this before touching Roth accounts.
- Lastly, withdraw from tax-exempt retirement accounts like Roth IRAs or 401(k)s. Saving these accounts for last makes sense, as you can take withdrawals without tax penalties. These accounts can also be used for estate planning.
These factors are complex, and you may want to consult a tax professional to help you apply these tips to your own financial situation. You can test different strategies and see which ones can help you minimize the taxes you’ll pay on your savings and benefits.
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Lutz Financial (“Lutz”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Lutz. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Lutz is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Lutz’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please Note: If you are a Lutz client, please remember to contact Lutz, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Lutz shall continue to rely on the accuracy of information that you have provided.
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