Topic Archive: Question of the Week

Can Automatically Enrolled Participants Who Forgot to Opt Out Withdraw Their Deferrals?

DWC | 10/8/19

Facts

We are thinking of adding automatic enrollment to our 401(k) plan.  One of our concerns, however, is that we might end up with a bunch of tiny account balances for participants who forget to opt out until they see their first paycheck with automatic deferrals taken out.

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Is It Possible to Avoid an Audit for the First (Short) Year of Our Plan?

DWC | 10/1/19

Facts

Our company has about 200 employees, and we launched a new 401(k) plan on October of last year.  We were eager for all of our existing employees to get excited about this new benefit, so we waived the waiting period to join so that everyone would be eligible on day one.  The good news is that it worked, and we had a lot of our employees sign up for the plan.  The bad news is that no one warned us ahead of time (and that our current TPA just told us) that we must have the plan audited for that three-month period because we have more than 100 employees eligible when we launched the plan.  Adding insult to injury, we have to rush to get it done in time to file our first Form 5500 by October 15th!  Yikes!

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How Do I Calculate How Much Money is Available for a 401(k) Loan?

DWC | 09/24/19

Facts

The participants in my company’s 401(k) plan are regularly inquiring about how much money they have available for a loan.  When I report back the amount available to them, it’s not unusual for me to hear groans and exclamations from them that “this is my money” (particularly if they’re disappointed they aren’t able to access more). I know there are certain parameters related to participant loans set forth in the plan document, but it seems like there’s more to the magic formula that I’m just not able to explain to the participants.

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What is Automatic Enrollment and How Does it Work?

DWC | 09/17/19

Facts

Our company sponsors a 401(k) plan, but very few of our participants are contributing.  We started the plan as an added benefit to help attract and retain employees, but we also truly want to encourage our employees to save for retirement.  I’ve heard a lot about something called automatic enrollment and how it can be a great tool to get people to save, but I really don’t know much more about it.

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What is a Successor Plan and Does It Prevent Me from Starting a New 401(k) Plan?

DWC | 09/10/19

Facts

My company used to sponsor a 401(k) plan for my employees.  Due to an unforeseen financial hardship, we terminated the plan two years ago.  Now that we are back on solid footing, I would like to start up another 401(k) plan.  I checked with the TPA we were working with, and they said something about a possible successor plan issue.  I’m not really sure what that means.

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How Do We Identify Highly Compensated Employees for the First Year Our Company Exists?

DWC | 08/27/19

Facts

We established our company on February 1st of this year, and now we are planning to launch our 401(k) plan.  We know there are number of tests and determinations that require us to look at company history, but as a new company, we don’t really have much of a history to look at.

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Who Are All the Providers Servicing My Plan & What Do They Do?

DWC | 08/20/19

Facts

I sponsor a small 401(k) plan for my employees.  Sometimes, I get confused about which service provider to go to for different plan-related questions.  Time and efficiency are important to me (and so is cost), and it seems like having all these different providers might be overkill.  Recently, I was talking to a friend who is also a business owner, and she said she’s got one group doing all her plan work from A to Z.

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What is the Deadline to Implement a Retirement Plan for the Current Year?

DWC | 08/13/19

Facts

Returning from sunny days at the beach, I’ve begun discussing my company’s year-end financial projections with my accountant.  Those conversations have been about as fun as a sunburn; it looks like my company and I are looking at a hefty tax bill.  My accountant has suggested on more than one occasion that I consider implementing a retirement plan to help minimize my tax burden, but I’ve just never gotten around to it.  Now, I’m kicking myself.

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Is It Possible to Convert a Pre-Tax 401(k) Account to a Roth Account?

DWC | 08/6/19

Facts

We recently had one of the participants in our 401(k) plan ask if it is possible to convert her balance from pre-tax to Roth.  She has been a participant in our plan for many years and has both her own deferrals as well as company contributions (both match and profit sharing). Based on her current financial situation, she believes it would be more advantageous to convert to Roth so that she can receive distributions tax-free when she retires.

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Can We Require Employees to be Employed at Year-End to Receive a Safe Harbor Contribution?

DWC | 07/30/19

Facts

Our company sponsors a safe harbor 401(k) plan.  Each participant receives a safe harbor nonelective contribution equal to 3% of his or her annual pay.  Our TPA calculates the safe harbor contribution for us after the close of each year, and we deposit it sometime before we file our company tax return for that year.  Each year, we have a couple of participants who terminated employment before year end, and we end up making contributions for them even though they are long gone by the time we make the deposit.

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