How many employees do you need to have a 401(k) plan? Can small businesses even offer a 401(k)?
Let ’ s get this out of the way. Yes, any size business can offer a 401 ( kilobyte ) design. traditionally, 401 ( potassium ) providers charged small and mid-sized businesses exorbitant fees or ignored them altogether—leading millions of smaller businesses out in the cold without an easy way to offer meaningful retirement benefits. Guideline is changing that by offering small businesses an comfortable, low-cost 401 ( kilobyte ) .
How do I set up a small business 401(k)?
If you ’ re ready to set up your minor business 401 ( kilobyte ), these are the four steps you ’ ll motivation to take.
For minor businesses that are quick to help their employees save for retirement, the IRS web site covers the actions you need to set up a 401 ( k ) design. In case you don ’ thymine speak in tax code, here ’ s a more accessible bit-by-bit guide .
Step 1: Choose a plan that meets your business goals
Plan design options
The big difference between 401 ( k ) plan designs is how and when an employer makes contributions on behalf of its employees. here are three types of plan designs, their requirements, and some early implications :
1. Standard profit sharing 401(k) plan: This plan gives employers the flexibility to make outright contributions to employee accounts, make contributions contingent on what employees’ defer (i.e., matching), or not contribute at all. An employer can also set up these contributions with a vesting schedule. These plans are subject to annual IRS nondiscrimination tests.
2. Safe Harbor profit sharing 401(k) plan: This plan type is similar to a standard profit sharing plan design, but it requires employers to contribute to their employees’ accounts. There are very specific rules about how contributions are structured in these plans, and contributions usually have to vest immediately. But in exchange, these plans get “safe harbor status” and are exempt from some annual IRS nondiscrimination tests and the consequences of failure. Standard plans must pass these tests every year. Check out our Safe Harbor 401(k) guide for more details.
3. SIMPLE 401(k): Businesses with fewer than 100 employees can open a SIMPLE 401(k). Similar to the Safe Harbor plan, SIMPLE plans require employers to make contributions to their participants’ 401(k) accounts that vest immediately. SIMPLE plans are also exempt from nondiscrimination testing. However, they are very prescriptive about start and closure dates, and once you commit to contributions for the year you cannot change your mind. Read more about how the differences between 401(k) and SIMPLE plans.
What other 401(k) plan features should I consider?
Offering retirement benefits is a capital way to attract and retain endowment. But specific plan features can very boost engagement and make your small business 401 ( k ) design tied more alluring. Traditional vs. Roth 401(k). What’s the difference?
Generally speak, the key dispute between the two is when employee contributions are taxed. With traditional accounts, contributions are made before taxes are taken out of pay up. Under Roth accounts, contributions are taxed first and then deposited. When an employee retires, withdrawals from traditional accounts are taxed at ordinary income rates, whereas Roth withdrawals can by and large be made on a tax-exempt footing. * Read more about traditional five Roth accounts. Should I match employee contributions?
Matching contributions can be enormously beneficial for both employees and employers. For employees, they ’ re an extra form of compensation that can help maximize their retirement savings. For employers, matching contributions may be tax deductible as an average business expense, improving to the annual corporate tax deduction limit on all employer contributions ( 25 % of cover payroll ). * Vesting schedules can help little business owners further customize their plan design to meet their occupation goals. Read more in our guide to 401 ( thousand ) equal. What is 401(k) profit sharing?
profit sharing works like a bonus to an employee ’ s retirement account—with one big deviation. Rather than be taxed immediately on that bonus, profit sharing contributions go straight into eligible employees ’ retirement accounts without any tax taken at contribution. Employees won ’ t have to pay taxes on that money until they retire. * For employers, these deposits are income tax-deductible and besides aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes—making profit sharing a win-win for both parties .
Step 2: Pick your dream team
small commercial enterprise 401 ( kelvin ) plans can involve a bunch of different service providers and advisors. When setting up your plan, you can choose to take an a la menu approach with several different providers. Or find one provider who can handle most, if not all, of the services required to set up and administer your plan.
When you offer a retirement plan through Guideline, we handle your recordkeeping, submission test, daily design administration, and more. That means your small commercial enterprise doesn ’ triiodothyronine have to sweat keeping lead of disparate systems or vendors precisely to manage your 401 ( k ) plan. 401(k) recordkeepers
No surprise : humble business 401 ( kilobyte ) plans require a bunch of recordkeeping. Between all of the contributions, earnings, losses, plan investments, expenses, and benefit distributions, it ’ s a draw to keep path of. 401 ( kilobyte ) recordkeepers are creditworthy for the stick to, to name a few :
- Logging employer and employee contributions
- Tracking investments
- Processing 401(k) loans and withdrawals
- Basic customer support
Financial advisors and fiduciary responsibilities
In the context of retirement, there are generally two kinds of fiscal advisors that take on fiduciary duty : 3 ( 21 ) and 3 ( 38 ). These numbers refer to sections of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ( ERISA ), the law dictating many of the rules surrounding retirement plans. hera ’ s how these “ fiduciaries ” differ :
A Section 3(21) advisor will do the heavy lifting in selecting and maintaining investments for your plan and hopefully provide you with advice to make better decisions on your own. That said, you’re still responsible for calling the shots. If you don’t consider yourself a retirement pro, this approach leaves you and your company on the hook for bad or risky decisions.
A Section 3(38) investment manager has full control over money management for your plan. That means they also take on liability for investment selection and sometimes asset management. Your duties are limited as a plan sponsor to prudently select and monitor a fiduciary. Therefore, opting for a 3(38) investment manager might be the best decision if you aren’t well versed in how retirement plans work.
401(k) third party administrators
There ’ s a lot of sub-rosa work that needs to happen to keep your small occupation 401 ( thousand ) plan in good stand. Though their responsibilities vary, 401 ( potassium ) plan administrators generally handle :
- Preparation of documents and notices for participants and beneficiaries
- Approval of transactions (loans, distributions, etc.)
- Monitoring compliance with plan rules and federal regulations
- Discrimination testing and audit support
- Compliance filing (Form 5500, etc.)
- Generation of annual participant census
While 401 ( k ) plan administration can be handled in-house, many choose to outsource the function to a third party administrator ( TPA ). But not all TPAs are created adequate. If yours is an ERISA 3 ( 16 ) fiduciary, they won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate just handle presidency but they will besides take on liability for doing these things in accord with ERISA regulations. Read more about 401 ( kilobyte ) administrators. What’s the difference between a trustee and a custodian?
By law, your 401 ( potassium ) plan ’ s assets must be held in a confidence account to ensure that they ’ re used entirely to benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries. In other words, your employees ‘ money needs to be kept in a safe space by a custodian and monitored by a regent.
Keep in mind that custodians are the parties that actually hold your design ’ mho assets, while trustees are creditworthy for collecting contributions, investing them, and issuing distributions. These tasks can be delegated to a design administrator, but the regent will have ultimate duty to ensure the administrator is doing its job. Payroll providers
Employees will contribute to their retirement accounts come payday. That means you ’ ll need to collaborator closely with your payroll provider to ensure employees ’ personal information and retirement contributions are accurately reflected in all systems. When employees update their contribution rates in your retirement seller ’ s chopine, for case, this should feed into the instrument you use to run payroll. Choosing a 401 ( thousand ) supplier that in full integrates with your HR and payroll providers can save time and reduce errors.
Guideline integrates with acme payroll providers, including but not limit to the ones above .
Step 3: Make it official
Adopt a written plan
Once you ’ ve settled on your plan types and features, you need to create a written plan document that, according to the IRS, “ serves as the foundation for daily plan operations. ” While that language sounds intimidating, it ’ s just referring to a description of the benefits, rights, and features under your design. Your 401 ( kelvin ) plan administrator will normally handle this for you. Your plan documents should include the pursuit features, for example :
- When employees are eligible to participate
- Vesting schedule information
- Employer matching and/or profit sharing details
- How distributions are handled
- Contact information for the employer and applicable third parties
Getting this information right and making sure that it’s readily available is critical when you need to demonstrate compliance during an audit.
For many plan designs, you ’ ll need to notify eligible employees about the 401 ( kilobyte ) plan before it goes into effect—usually 30 days in advance. Moving forward, you ’ ll besides need to give notice of any changes. A drumhead plan description serves as the primary way to plowshare information about your design and its benefits. If you include design features like automatic registration, Safe Harbor, or a qualify nonpayment investment option, you may be required to furnish extra notices.
A sample go-live timeline with Guideline .
You may besides want to give employees a more exhaustive summation of your retirement plan. Consider including a “ Retirement 101 ” section in your following loose registration presentation or all-hands suffer. Doing so could boost 401 ( k ) plan utilization, promote fiscal literacy, and help dispel misconceptions employees might have about your overall benefits software .
Step 4: Keep it running smoothly
Ongoing nondiscrimination testing
Offering a retirement plan takes unconstipated sustenance and a cheeseparing eye on 401 ( thousand ) design complaisance deadlines to ensure you don ’ t run afoul of ERISA and IRS rules. Most 401 ( kilobyte ) plans are required to pass nondiscrimination testing each year. These expect at the rate of each employee ‘s bill, employee contribution rates, and other details. Employer matching and profit partake besides come under scrutiny. Your company may besides want to regularly review or revise your plan features as the company ‘s situation changes. Government filings
In addition to keeping up with complaisance examination, you ’ ll necessitate to file an IRS shape 5500 each year. This federally-mandated form includes information about your business, your retirement plans, number of participants, and more. How much will a small business 401(k) cost?
Guideline 401 ( thousand ) starts at a $ 49 basis fee plus $ 8 per employee per calendar month. Learn more about our fees and services hera. When evaluating a little business 401 ( kilobyte ), consider if there are concealed fees for key functions such as complaisance, recordkeeping, and investment management. besides ask about apparatus fees, monthly fees, annual fees, Form 5500 fees, and whether a supplier expects you to pay fees to anyone else. All these criterion services are included in Guideline ‘s price. Are there any fees for employees?
many providers put a bunch of the charge for their services on employees, or storm employees into investments with high management fees. Ask what fees employees pay. Are there monthly fees or management fees ? And what kind of fees are charged by the funds in their portfolios ? For small business plans, the average employee fees are around 1 %, but some providers have fees adenine low as 0.07 %. Getting a good answer to this question could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in each employee ’ mho retirement report over the path of several decades.
There ’ s a lot to consider when setting up a small business 401 ( thousand ). If you ’ re presently researching providers, our checklist can help you keep everything directly. If you ’ d like to learn more about Guideline, you can schedule a design reference.
*This capacity is for informational purposes lone and is not intended to be construed as tax advice. You should consult a tax master to determine the best tax advantaged retirement plan for you .