SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022
On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 into law. The Act does not include any major tax provisions but it does include the long-awaited SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022.
The Act builds upon the provisions of the original SECURE Act from 2019 and further ensures that more Americans can save for retirement and increase the amount they are able to save. It does this by expanding upon automatic enrollment programs, helping to ensure that small employers can easily and efficiently sponsor plans for employees, and enhancing various credits to make saving for retirement beneficial to both plan participants and plan sponsors. The Act also improves various investment options for plan participants, streamlines plan administration for plan fiduciaries and makes important changes to required minimum distributions that will help retirees with plan selections and decisions that will enhance their ability to make better use of their retirement savings. The following are the most significant provisions:
Provisions Benefiting Individuals
Tax-free rollovers from 529 accounts to Roth IRAs. After 2023, the Act permits beneficiaries of 529 college savings accounts to make up to $35,000 of direct trustee-to-trustee rollovers from a 529 account to their Roth IRA without tax or penalty. The 529 account must have been open for more than 15 years, and the rollover is limited to the amount contributed to the 529 account (and its earnings) more than five years earlier. Rollovers are subject to the Roth IRA annual contribution limits, but are not limited based on the taxpayer’s AGI.
Age increased for required distributions. Under the Act, the age used to determine required distribution beginning dates for IRA owners, retired employer plan members, and active-employee 5%-owners increases, in two stages, from the current age of 72 to age 73 for those who turn age 72 after 2022, and to age 75 for those who attain age 74 in 2032.
Bigger catch-up contributions permitted. Starting in 2025, the Act increases the current elective deferral catch-up contribution limit for older employees from $7,500 for 2023 ($3,500 for SIMPLE plans) to the greater of $10,000 ($5,000 for SIMPLE plans), or 50% more than the regular catch-up amount in 2024 (2025 for SIMPLE plans) for individuals who attain ages 60-63. The dollar amounts are inflation-indexed after 2025.
More penalty-free withdrawals permitted. The Act adds an exception after 2023 to the 10% pre-age-59½ penalty tax for one distribution per year of up to $1,000 used for emergency expenses to meet unforeseeable or immediate financial needs relating to personal or family emergencies. The taxpayer has the option to repay the distribution within three years. No other emergency distributions are permissible during the three-year period unless repayment occurs.
Similarly, plans may permit participants that self-certify having experienced domestic abuse to withdraw the lesser of $10,000, indexed for inflation, or 50% of their account free from the 10% tax on early distributions.
Also, retroactive for disasters after January 25, 2021, penalty-free distributions of up to $22,000 may be made from employer retirement plans or IRAs for affected individuals.
Reduced penalty tax on failure to take RMDs. For tax years beginning after December 29, 2022, the Act reduces the penalty for failure to take required minimum distributions from qualified retirement plans, including IRAs, or deferred compensation plans under Code Sec. 457(b) from the current 50% to 25% of the amount by which the distribution falls short of the required amount. It reduces the penalty to 10% if the failure to take the RMD is corrected in a timely manner.
Favorable surviving spouse election. For plan years after 2023, the surviving sole spousal designated beneficiary of an employee who dies before RMDs have begun under an employer qualified retirement plan may elect to be treated as if the surviving spouse were the employee for purposes of the required minimum distribution rules. If the election is made distributions need not begin until the employee would have had to start them.
Employer match for student loan payments. To assist employees who may not be able to save for retirement because they are overwhelmed with student debt, and are missing out on available matching contributions for retirement plans, SECURE allows them to receive matching contributions by reason of their student loan repayments. For plan years after 2023, it allows employers to make matching contributions under a 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan, or SIMPLE IRA for “qualified student loan payments.”
Return of excess contributions. The Act specifies that earnings attributable to excess IRA contributions that are returned by the taxpayer’s tax return due date (including extensions) are exempt from the 10% early withdrawal tax. The taxpayer must not claim a deduction for the distributed excess contribution. This applies to any determination of, or affecting, liability for taxes, interest, or penalties made on or after December 29, 2022.
Key Retirement Plan Provisions
Automatic salary deferral enrollment. For plan years beginning after 2024, the Act provides that a plan that permits salary deferrals generally will not be treated as a qualified cash or deferred arrangement or annuity contract unless it includes an automatic contribution arrangement (EACA) that satisfies these requirements:
- it must allow permissible withdrawals within 90 days after the first elective contribution;
- automatic contributions must be 3% to 10% during a participant’s first participation year, unless the participant elects out, automatically increasing by one percentage point each year to between 10% and 15% (but no more than 10% for plan years ending before 2025 for any non-“safe harbor” plan; and
- if the participant makes no investment election, automatically contributed amounts must be invested in accordance with DOL default investment rules.
Exceptions: Automatic enrollment is not required for SIMPLE 401(k) plans, plans established before December 29, 2022, governmental or church plans, plans maintained by an employer in existence for less than three years or with fewer than 11 employees.
New “starter 401(k) plans. The Act establishes two new kinds of retirement plan designs for plan years beginning after 2023, which smaller employers may be inclined to offer to employees due to their eased costs and administrative burdens
Improved coverage for part-timers. The Act modifies the rules that apply to long-term part-time employees under a 401(k) or 403(b) plan subject to ERISA to reduce the service requirement for those employees from three years to two consecutive years, for employees who have worked for the employer at least 500 hours per year and have met the minimum age 21 requirement by the end of the two-year period. This change is effective for plan years beginning after 2024.
More plan self-correction permitted. The Act expands the use of self-correction under the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) in a number of ways. It generally allows qualified plans under Code Sec. 401, Code Sec. 403, as well as SEPs and SIMPLE IRAs under Code Sec. 408 to self-correct certain inadvertent failures (defined expansively, but not including egregious or abusive violations), including participant-loan-related errors, without advance permission, unless the error is identified by IRS before any corrective actions is taken, or the self-correction is not completed within a reasonable time after the failure is identified.
Eased notice requirements for unenrolled participants. For plan years after 2022, the Act exempts defined contribution plans from intermittent notification requirements for participants who elect not to participate, and who have already received a summary plan description and any other notices related to initial eligibility. However, unenrolled participants must still receive: an annual reminder notice of their eligibility to participate with any applicable deadlines; and certain other documents they request.
Contribution changes for SIMPLE plans. Employers with SIMPLE plans currently must either make contributions for employees of 2% of compensation or match employee elective deferral contributions up to 3%. For tax years beginning after 2023, the Act permits an employer to make additional contributions to each employee of the plan in a uniform manner, of up to the lesser of up to 10% of compensation or $5,000 (indexed).
The Act also increases the SIMPLE annual deferral limit and the catch-up contribution at age 50 by 10%, compared to the limit that would otherwise apply in the first year this change is effective (tax years after 2023) for employers with no more than 25 employees. Employers with 26 to 100 employees could provide for higher deferral limits, but only if they either provide a 4% match or a 3% employer contribution. Similar changes to the contribution limits also apply for SIMPLE 401(k) plans.
Be assured that we can help you with all of this. If you would like additional information please contact your Gettry Marcus Advisor.
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