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COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Safe Harbor 401k Retirement Plans

As a general rule, 401k plan must satisfy certain non-discrimination requirements. Many small businesses find this hard to do and, as a result, many don't set-up such plans. The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 provided 401k plans with alternative, simplified methods of meeting the non-discrimination requirements. 401k plans that adopt one of these alternative methods are referred to as "safe harbor 401k" plans.

Here is information to help you understand Safe Harbor 401k plans.

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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What's So Safe About a Safe Harbor 401k Plan?

Abstract: A Safe Harbor 401k can seem like an obvious choice, but it may not be the best option for every plan. Safe Harbor plans are a great fit for small businesses (particularly those with under 25 employees) and businesses that have failed noncompliance testing in the past. But while you save in administrative hassle, you may pay a bit extra in plan costs and required contributions.

Source: Myubiquity.com, June 2019

Can a Company Implement a Match Safe Harbor Mid-Year?

Abstract: Human resources departments are working to follow either a calendar or fiscal year plan of important notices, paperwork, and changes for employees. Is it possible, then, to make a change mid-year and implement a match safe-harbor 401k plan?

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, June 2019

Safe Harbor 401k Match vs. Nonelective Contribution

Abstract: In general, there are two broad categories of company contributions to a 401k plan -- a match and a nonelective (a/k/a profit sharing) contribution -- and it is not uncommon for the two terms to be used interchangeably even though the contribution types are quite different. You may now be wondering whether one type of safe harbor contribution is better or worse than the other. The answer really depends on what the company is hoping to achieve with its retirement plan as well as the budget for making contributions.

Source: Dwc401k.com, June 2019

Safe Harbor for All? There is More Than One Way to Fix a 401k Plan

Abstract: In 1999, the "safe harbor" plan design became available to help solve the failed Average Deferral Percentage (ADP) tests issue for plan sponsors. They have been sold as the only answer to this issue, but often a safe harbor plan design is unnecessary. The only problem it solved was the lack of creativity on the part of the individuals who designed the plan.

Source: Fmgsuite.com, May 2019

Key Considerations for Implementing a Safe Harbor 401k Plan

Abstract: If your business is considering implementing a 401k plan for your employees, or changing the plan provided, the alternatives are to either offer a traditional 401k or look at alternative options using the safe harbor provision. This can be a complicated decision as it combines both laws and regulations surrounding plan offerings as well as your businesses priorities.

Source: Hallbenefitslaw.com, May 2019

Does My Safe Harbor Plan "Require" Testing?

Abstract: There is a common misconception that safe harbor plans are exempt from testing requirements. This overly general and inaccurate statement calls for a proper explanation. A safe harbor plan requires tests other than non-discrimination, entails proper administration to satisfy the plan design and can benefit from testing for plan optimization.

Source: Rpgconsultants.com, March 2019

Safe Harbor or Traditional 401k Plan -- How to Decide

Abstract: If you're a business owner, you want to know when a safe harbor or traditional 401k plan is best for your company. To make an informed decision, you need to know two things: 1) if your plan will fail ADP/ACP or top heavy tests and 2) if safe harbor status will compromise your ability to meet plan priorities.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, March 2019

What You Need to Know About a Safe Harbor 401k

Abstract: A key regulation for most 401k plans is subjecting workers to nondiscrimination tests each year to prove a plan doesn't unfairly favor certain employees. A Safe Harbor 401k allows employers the opportunity to cut through the complexity. By setting one up, a business can provide its employees with the same tax benefits as a regular 401k plan but skip the onerous annual testing.

Source: Usnews.com, January 2019

Safe Harbor 401k Plans: Everything You Need to Know

Abstract: A safe harbor 401k plan is a type of tax-deductible 401k plan that ensures all employees at a company have some set of minimum contributions made to their individual 401k plans, regardless of their title, compensation, or length of service. A major perk of this plan is that it also helps companies pass IRS non-discrimination testing.

Source: Humaninterest.com, August 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Safe Harbor 401ks

Abstract: There are laws. There are regulations. There are a million different ways to design a 401k. You might've heard that Safe Harbor can be a good plan design, but you're probably wondering: what the heck is a Safe Harbor 401k? This article will walk you through everything you need to know to decide if a Safe Harbor 401k is right for your business.

Source: Forusall.com, July 2018

Safe Harbor 401k Plans: Everything You Need to Know

Abstract: A safe harbor 401k plan is a type of tax-deductible 401k match that companies use to help themselves pass IRS non-discrimination testing. Safe harbor plans mean that all eligible employees in the company are entitled to the same match, regardless of their title, compensation, or length of service.

Source: Humaninterest.com, July 2018

What is a Safe Harbor 401k Plan?

Abstract: This article discusses qualifying requirements and the types of employer contributions when designing a Safe Harbor 401k plan.

Source: Boutwellfay.com, June 2018

Safe Harbor 401k Plans Make Sense for Many Businesses

Abstract: According to a 2016 study by SHRM, 68% of 401ks are safe harbor plans. But while the rules are straight forward and the benefits are significant, there are still see many plans which have not yet implemented a safe harbor match of any kind. This article exploreS the requirements and share some examples of safe harbor plans.

Source: Belr.com, February 2018

SEPs vs 401k Safe-Harbor

Abstract: This chart compares a SEP with a safe-harbor 401k plan and is especially important for employers who must cover participants other than just the owners.

Source: Consultrms.com, December 2017

Participant Notice Requirements for Safe Harbor 401k Plans

Abstract: Employers sponsoring Safe Harbor 401k plans must satisfy certain notice requirements. The notice requirements are satisfied if each eligible employee for the plan year is given written notice of the employee's rights and obligations under the plan and the notice satisfies the content and timing requirements.

Source: Qbillc.com, December 2017


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