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CalSaver’s Plan and Federal Plan Startup Tax Credit

 “A number of my business clients have been required to adopt the Calsaver’s plan for their employees. Now I see the SECURE Act 2.0 of 2022 sweetened the federal tax credit for plan startup costs for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. If a business has adopted the CalSaver’s plan is the plan startup tax credit still available to them?”

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 California dealt with a question on CalSaver’s plan.

Highlights of Discussion
The good news is, “yes,” small business owners that adopted the CalSaver’s plan will still qualify for the federal plan startup tax credit if they want to upgrade from the CalSaver’s plan to a simplified employee pension (SEP), savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE) or qualified plan (e.g., 401(k) plan) and they otherwise qualify for the tax credit (i.e., had 100 or fewer employees who received at least $5,000 in compensation for the preceding year; and had at least one plan participant who was a nonhighly compensated employee).

The federal plan startup credit under IRC Sec. 45E is not available if, during the three-taxable year period immediately preceding the first taxable year for which the credit would otherwise be allowed, the employer or any member of any controlled group including the employer (or any predecessor of either), established or maintained a “qualified employer plan” with respect to which contributions were made, or benefits accrued, for substantially the same employees as are in the new qualified employer plan. A CalSaver’s plan is a payroll deduction Roth IRA—completely employee funded. It is not considered a qualified retirement plan that would preclude a small employer from being eligible to claim the plan startup credit if the employer is otherwise eligible.

Section 102 of the SECURE Act 2.0 of 2022 (see page 819) increases the plan startup credit from 50 percent to 100 percent of eligible plan startup cost up to $5,000 for the first three years for employers with up to 50 employees. Prior rules still apply for those with 51-100 employees. What’s more, there is an additional credit available for defined contribution plans that is a percentage of employer contributions made for five years on behalf of employees, up to a per-employee cap of $1,000. The contribution credit is phased out for employers with between 51 and 100 employees.

Conclusion
A CalSaver’s plan is a payroll deduction Roth IRA—completely employee funded. It is not considered a qualified retirement plan that would preclude a small employer from being eligible to claim the federal plan startup credit if the employer is otherwise eligible and establishes a SEP, SIMPLE or qualified plan.

 

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