Automatic Payroll Deduction IRAsPosted June 27th, 2011
Why is This Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This blogticle discusses one avenue for retirement planning solutions for small businesses. Wealth managers who have small business clients may consider a discussion on the automatic payroll deduction IRAs as one simple way to help employees save for retirement.
A payroll deduction individual retirement account (IRA) is one simple way for businesses to give employees an opportunity to save for retirement. The program is easy to implement; the employer sets up the payroll deduction IRA program with a bank, insurance company or other financial institution, and then the employees choose whether and how much they want deducted from their paychecks and deposited into the IRA. Depending on the IRA service provider, some employees may also have a choice of investments depending on the IRA provider. Wealth managers can add value to employees and employers by, not only establishing a plan, but by also working with employees to help them manage their IRAs.
Under a payroll deduction IRA, the employee makes all of the contributions, thus there are no employer contributions. By making regular payroll deductions, employees are able to contribute smaller amounts each pay period to their IRAs, rather than having to come up with a larger amount all at once.
One advantage of these accounts is that there is little administrative cost and no annual filings with the government. Moreover, businesses of any size can participate as there is no requirement that an employer have a certain number of employees to set up a payroll deduction IRA.
Another element that makes the program attractive to some small businesses is that the program will not be considered an employer retirement plan subject to Federal requirements for reporting and fiduciary responsibilities as long as the employer keeps its involvement to a minimum.
Here’s how the IRAs generally work: The employer sets up the payroll deduction IRA program with a financial institution, such as a bank, mutual fund or insurance company. The employee establishes either a traditional or a Roth IRA (based on the employee’s eligibility and personal choice) with the financial institution and authorizes the payroll deductions. The employer withholds the payroll deduction amounts that the employee has authorized and promptly transmits the funds to the financial institution. After doing so, the employee and the financial institution are responsible for the amounts contributed.
Generally however, the employer needs to remain neutral with respect to the IRA provider. It cannot negotiate with an IRA provider to obtain special terms for its employees, exercise any influence over the investments made or permitted by the IRA provider, or receive any compensation in connection with the IRA program except reimbursement for the actual cost of forwarding the payroll deductions.
Commonly, any employee who performs services for the business (or “employer”) can be eligible to participate. The decision to participate is left exclusively up to the employee. The employees should understand that they have the same opportunity to contribute to an IRA outside the payroll deduction program and that the employer is not providing any additional benefit to employees who participate.
Employees’ tax-deferred contributions are generally limited to $5,000 for 2011. Additional “catch-up” contributions are permitted for employees age 50 or over. This special catch-up amount is currently limited to $1,000 per year.
Tomorrow’s blogticle will continue to discuss simple wealth management solutions.
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