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The SECURE Act 2.0: The Most Impactful Provisions #13 — Starter 401(k) Plans and Safe Harbor 403(b) Plans

Key Takeaways

  • Most employees who work for large and mid-sized employers have the opportunity to defer money from their paychecks into a savings-based retirement plan. That is not the case with many small employers, though, where large numbers of employees work for firms that do not offer plans.
  • However, savings-based plans are critical for employees to obtain financial security in retirement. There are studies that show that employees who can defer into retirement plans will save much more for retirement that those who do not have access to plans.
  • Based on surveys, small employers do not offer plans because they are worried about the cost and administrative complexity of setting up and operating plans.
  • To allay that concern, Congress created, in SECURE 2.0, a new type of plan that is simple and low cost: “Starter” 401(k)s and “Safe Harbor” 403(b)s. The purpose of this new plan design is to encourage small employers to set up plans that enable their workers to save for retirement through deductions from their paychecks.

The President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which included SECURE Act 2.0, on December 29, 2022.

SECURE Act 2.0 has over 90 provisions, some major and some minor; some mandatory and some optional; some retroactively effective and some that won’t be effective for years to come. One difference between SECURE Act 2.0 and previous retirement plan laws is that many of 2.0’s provisions are optional…that is, plan sponsors are not required to adopt the provisions, but can adopt them if they decide that the change will help their plans and participants. This series discusses the provisions that are likely to be the most impactful, either as options or as required changes.

This article is about an effort by Congress to extend plan coverage for workers at smaller employers by creating a new and straightforward type of low-cost plan:  the Starter 401(k) and Safe Harbor 403(b).

Continue reading The SECURE Act 2.0: The Most Impactful Provisions #13 — Starter 401(k) Plans and Safe Harbor 403(b) Plans