Small Business 401 (k) Plans. Do You Have One In Place for Your Employees?

Only 14 percent of small employers sponsor some type of plan for their employees to save for retirement, according to data from the Government Accountability Office. Does your small business offer employees a 401k or other retirement savings account?

A September 2016 New York Times article reports that in a tight labor market, benefits like retirement plans are increasingly being viewed as necessities to attract quality, long-term employees.

401k plans used to be too confusing and costly for the average small business owner. However, technology and transparency have made implementing a retirement savings plans for employees easier and more cost effective than ever.

Here’s information you need to know from a joint report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and the IRS.

Benefits of a 401(k) plan

  • Promotes financial security in retirement.
  • Helps attract and keep talented employees.
  • Employers are entitled to a tax deduction for contributions to employees’ accounts.
  • Money contributed may grow through investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, savings accounts, and other investment vehicles.
  • Contributions and earnings generally are not taxed by the Federal Government or by most state governments until they are distributed.
  • Plans may allow employees to take their benefits with them when they leave the company, easing administrative responsibilities.

Still on the fence about offering employees a 401(k)? Forbes has a good article with additional information here: Three Myths Keeping Small Businesses From Starting a 401(k)

Establishing a 401(k) Plan

When a 401(k) plan is established, a small business owner must take certain actions. One of your first decisions will be whether to set up the plan yourself or to consult a professional. Here are four initial steps for setting up a 401(k) plan:

  • Adopt a written plan document,
  • Arrange a trust for the plan’s assets
  • Develop a record keeping system
  • Provide plan information to employees eligible to participate.

Elements of Operating 401(k) Plans

  • Participation
  • Contributions
  • Vesting
  • Nondiscrimination (To preserve the tax benefits, the plan must provide benefits for rank-and-file employees, not just business owners and managers. These requirements are called nondiscrimination rules and compare both plan participation and contributions of rank-and-file employees to those of owners/ managers.)

Choosing a Provider

A little Internet research can provide a plethora of information for small business owners. Perform your due diligence and pick a plan that is right for you and your employees. It’s a great idea to check with your accountant, financial planner or attorney before you put something in place. Starting up might be a hassle but the payoff will be worth it for both you and your employees.