The SECURE Act, passed at the end of 2019, significantly altered the retirement landscape. Now, proposed legislation, "SECURE Act 2.0," sets out to make even more changes. As before, several of the proposed provisions will require employers to closely consider the new rules. For newly established plans, there will be requirements that did not exist before. For a reminder on how the SECURE Act 1.0 changed the retirement landscape in 2020 click here and here.
Last week, on May 5, the House Ways and Means Committee sent the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021, "SECURE Act 2.0," to the House for consideration. Here are some of the more significant changes that the bill as currently drafted would bring to the retirement landscape:
- Raises the minimum distribution age. After being based on attainment of age 70½ for decades, the Act would raise the required minimum distribution ("RMD") age once again over several years. The SECURE Act 1.0 raised the RMD to age 72. If passed, SECURE Act 2.0 would continue the raise in the RMD age to 73 in 2022, 74 in 2029, and 75 in 2032.
- Increases and "Roth-ifies" catch-up contributions. The limit on 401(k) catch-up contributions for 2021 is $6,500, indexed annually for inflation. The proposed provisions would keep the catch-up age at 50 but increase the limit by an additional $10,000 per year for employees at ages 62, 63, and 64. The Act also provides that effective in 2022, catch-up contributions to 401(k) plans must be made on an after-tax, Roth basis.
- Also allows Roth-ification of matching contributions. Plan sponsors may, but are not required, to permit employees to elect that some or all of their matching contributions to be treated as Roth contributions for 401(k) plans.
- Student loan matching. The Act would allow, but not require, employers to contribute to an employee's 401(k) or 403(b) plan account by matching a portion of their student loan payments.
- Expanding automatic enrollment for new plans. Defined contribution plans established after 2021 will be required to enroll new employees at a pretax contribution level of 3% of pay. This level will increase annually by 1% up to at least 10% (but no more than 15%). There are exceptions for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, new businesses, church plans and governmental plans.
- Expedited part-time workers. One of the more significant changes under SECURE Act 1.0 was the expansion of eligibility for "long-term, part-time workers" to contribute to their employers' 401(k) plan. SECURE Act 2.0 would expedite plan participation by these workers by shortening their eligibility waiting period from 3 years to 2 years, meaning employees could contribute if they have worked at least 500 hours per year with the employer for at least 2 consecutive years and are at least age 21 by the end of that 2 year period. If passed, the first group of affected workers would become eligible on January 1, 2023, not 2024 as is the case under current law.
As noted, this bill has not been signed into law. Although there is bipartisan support, it is likely that the provisions will be modified as the bill makes its way through Congress. Presently, this proposal is expected to be taken up by the Senate after its August recess.
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