COLLECTED WISDOM™ on 401k Loans
This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.
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The retirement industry eagerly received the IRS guidance on applying provisions of the CARES Act with the issuance of Notice 2020-50 on June 19. It has provided important details on compliance with this legislation, which offers financial and tax relief to millions of Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Ascensus.com, June 2020
IRS Expands Definition of Qualified Individuals for Purposes of CARES Act Plan Distributions and Loans
On June 19, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service released Notice 2020-50 to help retirement plan participants affected by COVID-19 take advantage of the CARES Act provisions providing enhanced access to plan distributions and plan loans. Among other provisions, Notice 2020-50 expands the categories of individuals eligible for CARES Act distributions and loan treatment.
Source: Clarkhill.com, June 2020
This IRS notice provides guidance relating to the application of section 2202 of the CARES Act for qualified individuals and eligible retirement plans. The guidance in this notice is intended to assist employers and plan administrators, trustees and custodians, and qualified individuals in applying section 2202 of the CARES Act, including guidance on how plans may report coronavirus-related distributions.
Source: Irs.gov, June 2020
Retirement plan loans can be both an opportunity and a burden to participants. Loans come with the risk of default and penalties which can have a significant impact on the borrower. However, through a smart retirement plan design, participant education, and knowledge of recent legislation, plan sponsors can help to minimize loan usage and defaults. Here are some tips for designing lower-risk retirement plans.
Source: Pnc.com, June 2020
Borrowing money from a 401k is a common strategy used to get through hard times. If you've weighed your options during the novel coronavirus crisis and decided that a 401k loan is a right choice for you, there are five things you need to know before you borrow, as the rules have changed for 2020.
Source: Fool.com, June 2020
With the passage of the CARES Act, defined contribution plan sponsors face important decisions concerning their plan design, specifically whether or not to adopt the special distribution and loan limit increases for those affected by the coronavirus. It is a good time for plan sponsors to consider additional design changes that could help preserve long-term retirement security, especially ones that address participant challenges related to job loss, given the unprecedented economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Plansponsor.com, May 2020
The IRS has issued some initial guidance on the coronavirus-related relief for retirement plans under the CARES Act in the form of Q&As on its website. Most of the Q&As address coronavirus-related distributions, while one Q&A provides some IRS insight relating to the loan relief, referencing an old IRS Notice that answered questions about the loan relief issued after Hurricane Katrina.
Source: Beneficiallyyours.com, May 2020
The CARES Act authorizes employers to make changes to their qualified retirement plans to increase loan limits, delay loan repayments, and make distributions to plan participants experiencing certain COVID-19 related circumstances. Due to a lack of guidance from the IRS, there's confusion among third-party administrators about how to administer these changes, resulting in potential issues with forms used by TPAs to approve these CARES Act loan and distribution changes.
Source: Employeebenefitslawreport.com, April 2020
It turns out that there is a quirk in the CARES Act provisions regarding COVID-19 loans that are giving plan sponsors a reason to pause. This issue is that while the CARES Act allows an increase in the loan limits for borrowers who qualify for a COVID-19 loan ($100,000 or 100% of a participant's vested account balance, if less), it did not extend the repayment terms. Thus, the loan must be repaid over five years, unless used to acquire a primary residence.
Source: Cammackretirement.com, April 2020
It is important to understand that recordkeepers will not be the ones on the hook for any hasty decisions that are made regarding the CARES Act retirement plan distribution and loan provisions. That liability will rest squarely on the shoulders of the plan fiduciaries. And, as with any fiduciary decision, a prudent process should be followed, and that prudent process is probably going to take longer than five days. Should plan sponsors adopt the new loan and/or distribution rules? Here are some things to consider.
Source: Cammackretirement.com, April 2020
The CARES Act appears to make the loan suspension mandatory. But when you look at how the IRS interpreted the same provision that was in the Katrina Emergency act, it's reasonable to conclude that it's optional, not mandatory.
Source: Businessofbenefits.com, April 2020
The structure and the language used by the drafters of the CARES Act in their crafting of the new participant loan repayment suspension rules seem to be both rare and broad: they appear to mandate, as a matter of federal law, that each loan repayment due through December 31, 2020, by COVID qualifying participants be suspended for one year. Interestingly enough, the language does not appear to prevent ongoing loan repayments from being made should the participant choose to do so. The plan may not be able to impose a due date on those payments from COVID participants. The challenge for administrators is how you accommodate the suspension with the desire to permit repayments at the same time?
Source: Businessofbenefits.com, April 2020
The significant economic tremors, including income insecurity and job reductions, stemming from the coronavirus pandemic may lead to increased loan defaults and impact long-term retirement readiness. Plan sponsors have some ability to facilitate repayments and minimize defaults for participants who are unable to make loan repayments.
Source: Callan.com, March 2020
The IRS says in a recent Issue Snapshot that a plan sponsor may, but is not required to, allow a cure period during which a delinquent participant loan may be brought back into compliance without triggering a deemed distribution. If allowed, the cure period must be specifically provided for in the written plan document.
Source: Plansponsor.com, March 2020
A plan administrator may, but is not required to, allow a cure period during which a delinquent participant loan may be brought back into compliance without triggering a deemed distribution. If allowed, the cure period must be specifically provided for in the written plan document. This recently updated article discusses common scenarios involving the cure period.
Source: Irs.gov, March 2020
Beyond the tax and possible penalty ramifications, there generally are not any additional punitive actions (such as a negative mark on a credit report) taken against the participant in the case of a loan default.
Source: Dwc401k.com, December 2019
How do participants feel about loans, how are they using them, and how are participants affected by plan sponsor decisions related to the loan feature? Addressing the "voice of the participant" -- and what we can learn from these voices -- is the purpose of this 16-page report.
Source: Loaneraser.com, December 2019
Most participants tend to be under financial stress when taking a loan from their 401k, so the thought of repaying it becomes an afterthought that later adds to their stress, according to a new study. Greenwald & Associates conducted a survey of 500 plan participants who have taken at least one plan loan and performed in-depth interviews with a subset of the participants to better understand the context around loan-taking, participant education and loan defaults.
Source: Asppa.org, December 2019
There are a number of factors beyond the plan document that determine how much a 401k participant can withdraw in the form of a loan. The laundry list includes IRS limits, a participant's vested balance, whether they currently have a loan, and whether they've had an outstanding loan within the last twelve months. This article provides a quick look at each of these factors to help you determine how much a participant can borrow and why.
Source: Dwc401k.com, September 2019
Loans are a particularly difficult issue in 403b plans. 403b plans funded with individual annuity contracts and custodial accounts have contract-level requirements applicable to loans that must be addressed. The contract rights attached to the individual annuities and custodial accounts inhibit certain plan level compliance initiatives. Additionally, the rules for loans under Code Section 72(p) apply a single loan limit to all plans of the employer.
Source: Ntsa-net.org, August 2019
If a participant defaults on a retirement plan loan after they separate from service, the plan will "offset" the outstanding balance of the loan, deducting it from the participant's account and treating it as a distribution. Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, if a participant wanted to defer taxes on that unpaid loan balance, they had 60 days to roll the cash value to another eligible retirement plan or IRA. With the update in December 2017, that deadline was extended to the due date for the participant's tax return, including extensions, for the year in which the loan offset occurred.
Source: Fidelity.com, August 2019
Plan sponsors who choose to include a loan feature in their retirement plan must take care to ensure their loan program is operated in compliance with the tax rules and the plan's loan policies to avoid unintended consequences for loan recipients and the plan. To help you keep your loan program in compliance, here's an overview of the basic rules for plan loans and some best practices for finding, fixing and avoiding plan loan mistakes.
Source: Newportgroup.com, June 2019
A single misstep in the 401k plan loan rules, no matter how inconsequential it might seem, causes a loan to become defective even if no one notices right away. And, continuing with business as usual for a defective loan can lead to additional problems. It is actually not all that uncommon for a single loan oversight to multiply into numerous errors that require multiple strategies to reclaim the iron throne of compliance.
Source: Dwc401k.com, June 2019
And while personal finance pros don't recommend raiding your retirement plan for cash if you can avoid it, there are a couple different ways you can tap your 401k plan: an early withdrawal or a 401k loan.
Source: Bankrate.com, May 2019
Some employers consider allowing loans when the plan is established. However, after weighing all the advantages and disadvantages, and further discussing it with their advisors, many employers decide not to allow loans for several reasons.
Source: Consultrms.com, May 2019
The IRS recently provided some welcome relief by expanding the types of failures eligible for self-correction. Revenue Procedure 2019-19, which contains an updated Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, provides that certain plan document and operational failures, including some plan loan failures, may now be corrected through self-correction, without the added burden and expense of making voluntary correction program filings with IRS.
Source: Groom.com, May 2019
The use of 401k loans reached a nine-year low of 22.5% in 2018, and continued a steady six-year decline of nearly 10%, according to T. Rowe Price's annual participant data benchmarking report, Reference Point. The report also found that the percentage of participants who took a hardship withdrawal fell for the ninth consecutive year, declining from 1.9% in 2010 to 1.3% in 2018. Meanwhile, both loan balances and the average amount of hardship withdrawals increased.
Source: Troweprice.com, April 2019
Plan sponsors may have a false sense of security when it comes to the fiduciary risk related to 401k loans. What they may not recognize is that participant loans are plan investments and must be managed with the same prudence and oversight required for any plan investment. The risk is heighted by several factors: the increased focus on 401k plans as a source of litigation; an alarming rate of loan defaults, as reflected in academic and industry studies; and a misguided belief that disclosure provides adequate protection. This 6-page paper explores these issues.
Source: Loaneraser.com, April 2019
A common feature many retirement plans have is participant loans. This sounds like a great idea to encourage employees to save for retirement by giving them a way to access their money if they need to. That's the theory, anyway, until something goes wrong.
Source: Ferenczylaw.com, March 2019
It sounds like a no brainer: you've racked up high-interest credit card debt, so to pay it off, you plan to borrow from your 401k/403b plan at a low interest rate that you (in most cases) pay back to yourself. Thus replacing high-interest debt with loan interest debt and saving tons of money in the process. While it appears to be a savvy financial move - here's why it is may not be.
Source: Cammackretirement.com, February 2019
401k administrators play many roles including, often somewhat reluctantly, banker. In addition to all other duties, plan administrators are responsible for the administration of 401k retirement plan loans. This article will take you through the IRS's 401k loan rules and regulations to keep you from tripping up.
Source: Forusall.com, February 2019
Many 401k plans permit loans to participants. But often participant loans don't conform to the requirements of IRC Section 72(p) or are prohibited transactions under IRC Section 4975. This article reviews how to avoid and fix such mistakes.
Source: Irs.gov, February 2019
If a 401k plan loan ends upon termination of employment, or a participant's account balance is reduced to repay a loan after a default, can the resulting plan loan offset amounts be rolled over? If so, how does that work?
Source: Thomsonreuters.com, January 2019
While the retirement plan industry is primarily focused on helping participants invest more money, it is equally important to prevent them from taking out loans or hardship withdrawals. A well-crafted loan policy statement can help plan sponsor clients take control of leakage and excess early withdrawals, and, like any stated compliance policy, what is written must be followed.
Source: Planadviser.com, January 2019
Borrowing from a 401k only delays, or wipes out, retirement plans. Sometimes, taking out a loan from retirement savings is the only option to cover unexpected costs. But using a retirement account as emergency savings comes with serious risks.
Source: Bankrate.com, November 2018
As your 401k account grows, it can be tempting to tap into it, especially if you're in need of extra cash. But, considering that it's a means to fund your retirement, it's important to understand the pros and cons of borrowing from your 401k.
Source: Intuit.com, October 2018
Is a loan provision in your plan the right thing for you and your employees? This article outlines how the loan provisions work from an administrative perspective, and offers some pro-and-con considerations too.
Source: Benefit-Resources.com, September 2018
Twenty-five percent of 401k participants have an outstanding loan against their account, according to Alight Solutions. This is undoubtedly why 75% of employers are worried about the level of participant loans in their 401k plan. When offered two loans, 14.4% take advantage of that. When offered three loans, 11.9% do the same.
Source: Planadviser.com, August 2018
Employers are not their employees' financial advisors. Nonetheless, if you offer a 401k plan at your business, consider the following information that may help you and your employees better understand the rules and regulations around borrowing early from a retirement plan.
Source: Paychex.com, August 2018
How participant loan payback options to retirement plans have changed for the better. The TCJA helps employers get to keep their helpful plan loan provision and former participants don’t have to worry about having no other option but to either take out a higher interest loan from a bank to cover their balance or take the tax and penalty hit.
Source: Benefit-Resources.com, August 2018
Your 401k is a nest egg, growing tax-free, that you build up over your working life to provide you with money after retirement. When it comes to financial decisions, a loan from a 401k usually qualifies as a last resort. Despite the drawbacks, there are a few legitimate reasons to borrow from your 401k.
Source: Bankrate.com, August 2018
This article describes recent legislative changes affecting hardship withdrawals and plan loans and some of the issues plan sponsors and practitioners must confront.
Source: Asc-net.com, July 2018
Effective January 1 of this year was the right of participants to an extended period to rollover their defaulted loan amount, if the default arose following unemployment or the termination of a plan. The statue has a fundamental flaw: it confuses the rules related to the taxation of the loan with the distribution rules related to defaulted loans. The practical effect of this confusion is that it is virtually impossible to effectively use. Making it work requires the acceleration of the reduction of the plan's retirement benefit, which runs counter to the fiduciary obligations under a loan program.
Source: Businessofbenefits.com, June 2018
When considering a 401k loan, you'll want to understand how it works and the potential complications. Follow these steps before borrowing funds from your 401k plan.
Source: Usnews.com, June 2018
Under the new Tax Act, the 60-day period was extended to the filing due date for the participant's tax return for the year in which the loan offset amount arises. This means the deadline for any offset that arises during the tax year will not be until April 15 of the following year, which can be extended to October 15 with a tax return extension. Participants now have a much larger window of time to come up with the funds to deposit the offset into an IRA or another qualified plan to avoid taxation.
Source: Belfint.com, May 2018
Many plan sponsors falsely believe that loan defaults do not merit fiduciary attention. Yet the Employee Retirement Income Security Act characterizes plan loans as investments, requiring care and prudence to meet the fiduciary standard. With all the litigation targeting defined contribution plans, now is a good occasion for plan sponsors to re-evaluate their loan practices.
Source: Loaneraser.com, May 2018
Your retirement account is sacrosanct...until it isn't. Sometimes a rainy day arrives before retirement, and the seemingly untouchable is a tempting source of short-term support and relief. Recent discussions about 401k loans look at the scale of the practice, the consequences and what a plan may consider concerning a policy for them.
Source: Asppa.org, April 2018
Tax Act's Participant Loan Changes Compels Fresh Review of "Uncomfortable" Loan Fiduciary Obligations
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's participant loan changes (which delays the account offset on loan defaults related to unemployment or plan termination) triggers something we would all rather not look at: the "uncomfortable" manner in which ERISA's fiduciary rules apply to loans and their administration.
Source: Businessofbenefits.com, April 2018
While some employers do allow you to continue to make loan payments if you leave your job, one provision of the new tax law that hasn't gotten much attention can make a huge difference to people who find themselves in a bind with an outstanding loan and no more job. Basically if you default on your 401k loan, there is a way to still repay it, but the details matter.
Source: Financialfinesse.com, March 2018
The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted on Dec. 22, 2017, contains a few rules that will impact benefit administrators. This article focuses on retirement plan administrators' and HR benefits managers' obligations relating to plan loan offset amounts.
Source: Hklaw.com, February 2018
Plans sponsors who want to provide the flexibility of 401k loans while helping their employees avoid savings setbacks can start with good plan design and education. A good loan program encourages employees to think carefully before borrowing against their retirement savings, and may even provide disincentives to such borrowing. Here are seven tips for a successful loan program.
Source: Forusall.com, February 2018
With sweeping tax reform going into full effect last month, many 401k participants are wondering how and if their plans will be affected. The answer to that question is: not much. The biggest news for 401k owners with regard to the new tax laws is the extension of payback dates on outstanding loans.
Source: Schneiderdowns.com, February 2018
One option a terminated employee had with an outstanding plan loan was to "rollover" an offset by contributing to the amount of the unpaid loan balance to an IRA with 60 days of leaving. Effective for tax years beginning in 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act extends the rollover deadline from 60 days to the due date of the employee's tax return including extensions.
Source: Retirementplanblog.com, January 2018
Negative behaviors such as using the 401k plan as an emergency fund instead of a long-term retirement savings account and taking excessive loans and hardship withdrawals is a symptom of a bigger problem among the employee population. The same is true for impulsive investment decisions that could ultimately delay employees' retirement. A combination of plan design and financial education works well to improve employees' financial wellness by casting a wider net in order to help employees help themselves without feeling pushed.
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