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Who Offers Defined Benefit Plans?

Any employer can offer a Defined Benefit plan, but not many do anymore. Before the introduction of Defined Contribution Plans, most large corporations such as General Electric, General Motors, etc. offered only Defined Benefit Plans. Over the years, it has put a huge burden on these corporations to guarantee the performance of these plans. If the plan has not performed according to the assumptions, the company would have to contribute the difference, which would have to come from their profits. In order to shift the burden to the employees, most companies now offer Defined Contribution Plans (such as 401(k)s, etc.) instead of Defined Benefit Plans. Continue reading...

Can Something Happen to My Defined Benefit Plan?

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will insure benefits up to a point, but it may not replace the full value of a pension if a plan goes belly-up. While the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insures thousands of Pensions across the country, the entire benefit of your Defined Benefit Plan is in no way guaranteed. Some corporations can “freeze” your pension, meaning they stop the counter on the number of years you’ve worked, and use that as the number to calculate your monthly payments. Many pensions today are struggling after the long period of low interest rates on fixed instruments like government bonds. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a Self-Employed 401(k), Do I Have to Establish One for All Owners of My Business?

This may be something you have to ask a CPA or tax attorney, but generally the answer will be yes. Some institutions will not allow you to open a self-employed 401(k) if you have more than one owner in the business, but by statutory definition these plans can be set up for partnerships. If you are part of a partnership and this is where your self-employed income is made, you will be getting on thin ice if you attempt to form an LLC for yourself as a conduit for the money, just so you can have a self-employed 401(k), because, while that is not recommended, it will be about your best chance of setting up a Solo K that does not include your partners. Continue reading...

Can Blockchains Reduce Fraud and Failed Payments?

Blockchains can validate, clear, and document transfers of value much faster and more securely than traditional methods. Blockchains offer an extremely efficient and reliable means of processing transactions of any size in a way that reduced the likelihood of fraud and failed payments. If a cryptocurrency wallet says that there is a specific balance present in a specific wallet, then that balance is there; it can be validated using the transaction record held on the thousands of computers on a b... Continue reading...

How are My Retirement Benefits Computed?

Each Defined Benefit Plan has its own formula and therefore its own calculations. These formulas need to be arranged by an enrolled actuary to insure that they’ll work over time and will hold up to IRS scrutiny. In general, however, the calculations are strongly based on factors such as your age, your salary, and the number of years you have spent working for the company. For every bit of salary you collect, or length of time you add to your tenure, you add incremental amounts to the set benefit waiting for you in retirement. Continue reading...

Can My Employer Pay Me In Bitcoin?

The IRS has already paved the way for employers to pay wages using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and more services to facilitate this activity are being established. If your employer is willing to facilitate it, you can indeed receive your paycheck, or part of it, in bitcoins. Several financial services companies that deal in bitcoins exist that can help you accomplish this, and there will likely be more of them in the future. One such company, Bitwage, acts as an intermediary between your payroll service and Bitcoin exchanges, such as Coinbase, before sending the balance to your Bitcoin Wallet. The IRS has already established guidance on the subject. As an employer, you are free to pay employees in bitcoin and other “convertible virtual currencies” as long as you adhere to the same withholding and reporting requirements that would pertain to employee remunerations in US dollars, including FICA taxes and the rest of it. Continue reading...

Do I Need a Trust?

Whether or not you need a trust depends on several factors, some of which include: your level of assets, the complexity of your estate planning goals, the control you wish to exercise over your assets after your death, your need for creditor protection, amongst others. Trusts have many features that make them an attractive option for wealthy people – it allows them to avoid taxes in some cases, avoid probate court for heirs, and the ability transfer control of your assets to someone you trust (your selected trustee). It also affords the ability to have the assets span multiple generations, if managed properly. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits for My SEP IRA?

SEPs contain only employer contributions, and they must contribute the same percentage of every employee’s compensation. As of 2016, an employer may contribute the lesser of either 25% of an employee’s compensation or $53,000 annually. An important thing to note is that the employer decides whether to contribute to the employees’ SEP IRA each year; the employer is not required to make continuous yearly contributions. The equal treatment of all employees with respect to the retirement plans is a fundamental principle of all employer-sponsored retirement programs. Continue reading...

How Does Vesting Work?

Vesting is the schedule or process by which certain assets are eventually considered the property of an individual who uses them. If your employer provides some sort of matching, flat, or profit-sharing contribution to your retirement account at work, you will probably not be allowed keep the entire amount that they contributed if you change jobs or retire before a certain number of years have passed. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan, Do I Have to Establish One for All Employees of My Business?

Eligible employees have to be included in money-purchase and profit-sharing arrangements. If an employer established a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan, all eligible employees must have employer contributions deposited into an account for them. Normally an employee will agree to open an account to hold his or her employer contributions, but in some cases an employee will not want it. An employer must follow specific IRS instructions to open an account for such employees, to keep the plan compliant with ERISA and other regulations. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a Keogh Plan, Do I Have to Establish One for All Employees of My Business?

Keogh plans have minimum eligibility requirements that will probably include most of your employees, but not necessarily all of them. If an employer established a Keogh Plan, eligible employees must be allowed to start a Keogh Plan account as well. Eligibility requirements include: being over 21 years of age and having worked at least a year as a full-time employee for the employer, where full-time is defined as working over 1,000 hours in a year. Seasonal workers, non-resident alien employees, union employees, and non-working partners or owners in the business can be excluded. Continue reading...

What are the Contribution Deadlines for My Money Purchase/Profit Plan?

Contributions for Money Purchase and Profit Sharing plans come entirely from the employer, and must be made before the deadline. In order for an employer to deduct contributions to a money purchase or profit sharing plan, the first thing that needs to happen is that the plan has to be set up by the last day of that year, which is generally December 31. SEP IRAs, which are different than money purchase or profit sharing plans, do not have to be set up until contributions are made, which can be up until the tax deadline (with extensions). Continue reading...

What is a Thrift Savings Plan?

A Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a 401(k)-style plan for Federal employees. A Thrift Savings Plan functions the same way a 401(k) does – you can elect to contribute a portion of your salary, known as an employee deferral or employee contribution, and the money will be allowed to grow in the account tax-deferred. The TSP is only available to Federal Employees and United States military personnel. There is a flat contribution of 1% from the employer, and, depending on the type of Federal job, employees may be eligible for a matching contribution from the employer. Continue reading...

What is a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan?

Money Purchase plans and Profit Sharing plans are two types of Defined Contribution plans that can be used at a business, together if desired. Both of these are Defined Contribution plans, which means that only the terms of the contributions to the plan are defined in the plan document. This is different than Defined Benefit plans, which specifically define the benefit due to an employee at retirement, which is generally a monthly pension payment. If an employer wants to use both a Money Purchase plan and a Profit Sharing plan, it is possible, but since both of them are Defined Contribution plans, they will be limited in aggregate to the allowable defined contribution limits for employer contributions. Continue reading...

What is a Keogh plan?

Keogh plans are any type of qualified plan at a sole proprietorship or partnership. Keogh plans come in various forms, and this is because they are actually quite a broad category. IRS Publication 560 (found here) divides workplace retirement plans into SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and Qualified Plans. This last category, Qualified Plans, includes profit-sharing plans, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, money purchase plans, and defined benefit plans such as pensions and salary continuation plans. Continue reading...

What is a Self-Employed 401(k)?

Self-Employed 401(k)s are one of the best ways for self-employed people to save for retirement. Self-Employed 401(k)s function in exactly the same way traditional 401(k)s do, except for a few tweaks. First of all, Self-Employed 401(k)s can only be opened by a business owner or partnership with no employees, although your spouse may also contribute to the Self-Employed 401(k) if he or she works for the business. Continue reading...

What is a Matching Contribution?

Employers can contribute to an employee’s 401(k) on a matching basis. Some employers will make additional contributions to your 401(k) based on the amount of your own contributions. Matching can be done on a dollar-for-dollar basis, meaning that for every dollar you contribute to your account, they will add a dollar as well. It can also be done using a factor, such as ½, meaning they will contribute a dollar every time you contribute two. Continue reading...

What is a 529 Plan?

529 plans are accounts designed to help families save for the future college expenses of young family members. A 529 Plan is designed to help you save money now to pay your child’s college expenses later. Investment companies who design a plan, which looks similar to a retail mutual fund account or IRA, will partner with state governments to offer the state’s official 529 plan. Families can invest in a 529 and gain access to an array of mutual funds. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Compare With Other Retirement Plans?

There are several types of retirement plans that employers can provide, but 401(k)s are one of the most popular. Other employer-sponsored retirement plans include SIMPLEs, SEPs, and various kinds of defined benefit plans. SIMPLE IRAs are sometimes called SIMPLE 401(k)s, because they operate under the same laws as Safe Harbor 401(k)s. They both are primarily employee-funded, and have rigid standards for employer contributions. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits for my Self-Employed 401(k)?

There is a high possible contribution you can make to your own 401(k), but you still have to pay attention to the limits. As of 2016, you may contribute up to $53,000 annually to your Self-Employed 401(k), plus a $6,000 catch-up contribution if you’re over 50. If your spouse is also on the payroll, you are allowed to have a combined contribution of up to $106,000, or $118,000 if you’re both over 50. Continue reading...