Retirement
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Sources of Retirement Income

I’ve been talking to my clients about sources of retirement income. On average, what are the most prevalent sources of income for a retiree and what percentage does each represent?”  

ERISA consultants at the Retirement Learning Center (RLC) Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs, qualified retirement plans and other types of retirement savings and income plans, including nonqualified plans, stock options, and Social Security and Medicare. We bring Case of the Week to you to highlight the most relevant topics affecting your business.

A recent call with a financial advisor from Alabama is representative of a common inquiry related to retirement income.

Highlights of the Discussion

No longer do we have the old “three-legged stool” of retirement income, which consisted of Social Security, private pensions and personal savings. A 2021 study by the Social Security Administration revealed that the average retiree’s income comes from workplace retirement plans (primarily defined contribution plans) and IRAs (36%), followed by Social Security benefits (30%) and earnings from work (25%).

Retirement Income

Source: Social Security Administration, Improving the Measurement of Retirement Income of the Aged Population, 2021

The DOL’s requirement for plan sponsors to provide retirement income illustrations to participants with defined contribution plans will push the issue of retirement income even more. A key differentiator for advisors, moving forward, will be the ability to effectively support participants in transitioning away from a lump sum accumulation mindset to a true retirement income focus.

Conclusion

Nowadays, the primary sources of retirement income come from a person’s defined contribution plans and IRAs, Social Security benefits and workplace earnings. How to convert retirement plan and IRA balances into a reliable stream of retirement income is the next critical issue that needs innovative solutions.

© Copyright 2024 Retirement Learning Center, all rights reserved
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Fiduciary Investigation Program

“Do you have any insight into what happens during a DOL plan investigation?”

ERISA consultants at the Retirement Learning Center (RLC) Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs, qualified retirement plans and other types of retirement savings and income plans, including nonqualified plans, stock options, and Social Security and Medicare. We bring Case of the Week to you to highlight the most relevant topics affecting your business. A recent call with a financial advisor from Ohio is representative of a common inquiry related to Department of Labor (DOL) plan investigations.

Highlights of the Discussion

Yes, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) division of the DOL has a very detailed Enforcement Manual posted on its website (dol.gov). One of the chapters of the manual pertains specifically to the Fiduciary Investigation Program (FIP), applicable to employee benefit plans such as 401(k) plans. Included along with the detailed descriptions and procedures in the FIP are several DOL checklists — referred to as “Figures” in the text — that the DOL auditor completes as part of an investigation. For example:

 Figure 3 is a Bonding Checklist
 Figure 4 is a Reporting and Disclosure Checklist
 Figure 5 is an Individual Benefit Statement Compliance Checklist
 Figure 6 is the DOL’s general Investigation Guidelines

The DOL clarifies that the Investigation Guidelines (Figure 6) should not be considered as either mandatory or all-inclusive but should be used to the extent deemed appropriate for the plan. Also, the DOL can expand the scope of the investigation beyond the original allegations or suggest additional areas of inquiry if new information is uncovered during the investigation.

The Investigation Guidelines are arranged in two parts:

 Part I, Background Information, covers data related to the type and size of the plan, and the responsible parties.
 Part II, Review Procedures, explores compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and probes for potential violations of ERISA, particularly fiduciary violations.

The investigator may apply additional investigative steps if deemed necessary.

Conclusion
Plan sponsors can use the DOL’s FIP as a guide for conducting their own fiduciary reviews to uncover any potential deficiencies in their plans and implement remedies before the DOL targets them for formal investigations. For plan sponsors who have already been notified of a pending investigation, the FIP can give them an idea of what to expect.

© Copyright 2024 Retirement Learning Center, all rights reserved
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The Audit Formerly Known As “Limited Scope”

“My plan clients are asking questions about changes to what used to be called the “limited scope audit” for Forms 5500 that take effect for the 2021 plan year filings. Can you summarize the changes?”

ERISA consultants at the Retirement Learning Center (RLC) Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs, qualified retirement plans and other types of retirement savings and income plans, including nonqualified plans, stock options, and Social Security and Medicare. We bring Case of the Week to you to highlight the most relevant topics affecting your business. A recent call with a financial advisor from Pennsylvania is representative of a common inquiry related to the report performed by an independent qualified public accountant (the auditor) that accompanies certain Form 5500 filings.

Highlights of the Discussion
The limited scope audit related to Form 5500 filings is now more involved and has a new name: the ERISA Sec.103(a)(3)(C) audit. From a plan sponsor’s perspective, the changes do not affect anything in ERISA. Therefore, a sponsor’s ability to elect such an audit continues. The new rules change what is expected of the plan auditor, starting with the 2021 filing year in most cases.

Under the old rules, a limited scope audit permitted plan sponsors to elect to have the plan auditor exclude certain investment information from his or her review that pertained to investments held and certified by qualified institutions. In 2019, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) Auditing Standards Board issued two new auditing standards related to the financial statements of employee benefit plans and transparency in annual reports:

1. Statement on Auditing Standards(SAS) No. 136, Forming an Opinion and Reporting on Financial Statements of Employee Benefit Plans Subject to ERISA; and
2. Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 137, The Auditor’s Responsibilities Relating to Other Information Included in Annual Reports.

SAS 136 creates a new section in the AICPA Professional Standards, and deals with the auditor’s responsibility to form an opinion and report on the audit of financial statements of ERISA employee benefit plans. SAS 136 takes effect for audits of ERISA plan financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2020. SAS 137 enhances transparency in reporting related to the auditor’s responsibilities for nonfinancial statement information included in annual reports.

SAS 136 will affect limited-scope audits beginning with the 2021 filing by

1. Referring to such audits as ERISA Sec.103(a)(3)(C) audits;
2. Clarifying what is expected of the auditor, including specific procedures when performing the audit; and
3. Establishing a new form of report that provides greater transparency about the scope and nature of the audit, and describes the procedures performed on the certified investment information.

For a summary of the SAS 136 changes to Form 5500 reporting, please refer to AICPA’s At A Glance: New Auditing Standard for Employee Benefit Plans.

Conclusion
Limited scope audits associated with IRS Form 5500s have a new name and scope because of changes that are effective starting with the 2021 filing year in most cases. A plan sponsor’s ability to elect such an audit continues. The new rules change what is expected of the plan auditor. Make sure the plan has an experienced auditor who is keenly aware of the new expectations.

© Copyright 2024 Retirement Learning Center, all rights reserved
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Roth IRAs v. Designated Roth 401(k)s

“What are the differences between Roth IRAs and designated Roth 401(k) accounts?”

Highlights of discussion

While there are many differences, the following chart summarizes some of the key dissimilarities.

Feature Roth IRA Designated Roth 401(k) account
Investment options Generally, unlimited, except for life insurance and certain collectibles As specified by the plan
Eligibility for contribution  Must have earned income under $144,000 if a single tax filer or under $214,000 if married filing a joint tax return ·   Access to a 401(k), 403(b) or governmental 457(b) plan with a designated Roth contribution option and

·   The individual must meet eligibility requirements as specified by the plan

Contribution limit (2022) $6,000 ($7,000 if age 50 or older) $20,500 ($27,000 if age 50 or older)
Conversions Anyone with eligible IRA or employer-plan assets may convert them to a Roth IRA Plan permitting, anyone with eligible plan assets may convert them within the plan to a designated Roth account
Recharacterize contribution Yes, within prescribed period No
Required minimum distributions Not during owner’s lifetime Yes
Tax- and penalty-free qualified distributions, regardless of type of money Taken

·      After owning the Roth IRA for five years and

·      Age 59 ½, death, disability, or for first home purchase

Must have a distributiontriggering event under plan terms, plus

·   Five years after owning the designated Roth account and

·   Age 59 ½, death, or disability

Tax and/or penalty on nonqualified distributions based on type of money According to IRS distribution ordering rules:

1.     Contributions: Always tax- and penalty-free

2.     Taxable Conversions: On a first-in, first-out basis by year; always tax-free; penalty if taken within five years of conversion

3.     Nontaxable conversions:  On a first-in, first-out basis by year; always tax- and penalty-free

4.     Earnings: Taxed as ordinary income, subject to penalty unless exception applies

Withdrawals represent a pro-rata return of contributions and earnings in the account; earnings are taxable and subject to penalty unless an exception applies. See IRS Notice 2010-84 for rules applicable to the return of designated Roth 401(k) converted amounts
Timing of distributions At any time, subject to tax and/or penalty depending on type of assets distributed Following plan-defined, distribution triggering events
Loans No Yes, if plan permits
Five-year holding period for qualified distributions Begins January 1 of the year a contribution or conversion is made to any Roth IRA of the owner ·         Separate for each 401(k) plan in which an individual participates

·         Begins January 1 of the year a contribution or in-plan conversion is made to the account

 Beneficiary Anyone, but spousal consent required in community property states Anyone, but spousal consent required

 

Conclusion

While both Roth IRAs and designated Roth 401(k) plan contributions offer the potential for tax-free withdrawals, there are several key differences between the two arrangements. Whether one, the other or both may be right for a particular investor depends on the individual’s circumstances and goals and should be determined based on a thorough conversation between the investor and his or her tax advisor.

 

 

© Copyright 2024 Retirement Learning Center, all rights reserved