A 401(k) plan may have a provision in its plan documents to close the account of former employees who have low account balances. Almost 90% of 401(k) plans have such a provision.[24] As of March 2005, a 401(k) plan may require the closing of a former employee's account if and only if the former employee's account has less than $1,000 of vested assets.
A Rollover IRA is an account that allows you to move funds from your old employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA. With an IRA rollover, you can preserve the tax-deferred status of your retirement assets, without paying current taxes or early withdrawal penalties at the time of transfer. A Rollover IRA can provide a wider range of investment choices that may meet your goals and risk tolerance, including stocks, bonds, CDs, ETFs, and mutual funds.

If you have not elected a direct rollover, in the case of a distribution from a retirement plan, or you have not elected out of withholding in the case of a distribution from an IRA, your plan administrator or IRA trustee will withhold taxes from your distribution. If you later roll the distribution over within 60 days, you must use other funds to make up for the amount withheld.


To help ensure that companies extend their 401(k) plans to low-paid employees, an IRS rule limits the maximum deferral by the company's highly compensated employees (HCEs) based on the average deferral by the company's non-highly compensated employees (NHCEs). If the less compensated employees save more for retirement, then the HCEs are allowed to save more for retirement. This provision is enforced via "non-discrimination testing". Non-discrimination testing takes the deferral rates of HCEs and compares them to NHCEs. In 2008, an HCE was defined as an employee with compensation greater than $100,000 in 2007, or as an employee that owned more than 5% of the business at any time during the year or the preceding year.[32] In addition to the $100,000 limit for determining HCEs, employers can elect to limit the top-paid group of employees to the top 20% of employees ranked by compensation.[32] That is, for plans with the first day of the plan-year in the 2007 calendar year, HCEs are employees who earned more than $100,000 in gross compensation (also known as 'Medicare wages') in the prior year. For example, most testing done in 2009 was for the 2008 plan-year, which compared 2007 plan-year gross compensation to the $100,000 threshold in order to determine who was an HCE and who was an NHCE. The threshold was $125,000 for 2019, and is $130,000 for 2020.[28]

A donor-advised fund, or DAF, is an account established as a means to support charities while achieving income tax savings. It allows donors to establish a fund to make charitable contributions over time while receiving an upfront tax deduction. Because any assets transferred into the account must eventually go to charity, the donor is qualified for a charitable deduction at the time of the contribution. Depending on the assets used to establish the fund, a donor can receive an income tax deduction of up to 60% of his or her adjusted gross income on that donation.


If you withdraw funds from an IRA, and then subsequently redeposit them to your IRA within 60 days, the transaction would not be taxed. You can only do this type of IRA transfer once in any 12 month time period. This one-per-year provision does not apply to trustee-to-trustee transfers where the money is sent directly from one institution to another.

For some, this distribution could increase their taxable income in such a way that it pushes them into a higher tax bracket. This could reduce eligibility for tax credits and deductions. To eliminate or mitigate the impact of this income, many charitably inclined people often make a type of qualified charitable distribution (QCD) referred to as a Charitable IRA Rollover. This is not treated as taxable income, and allows people satisfy their required minimum distribution (RMD).

Wherever you are in your tax planning process, just know that you’re not alone. The rules around required minimum distributions, Charitable IRA rollovers, qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) and planned gifts sound complicated to a lot of people, but rest assured that you’ve come to the right place to find out what they are, and how they can benefit you. Read on to learn more, and then consult with your tax advisor for advice on your specific tax situation.
You may be able to use a special tax rule to distribute shares of company stock out of the plan once you are retired or no longer working there. It is a distribution option called Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA). Some 401(k)s may allow you to transfer existing shares directly to an IRA. Many institutions require the funds to go to your IRA as cash instead of as shares. Check with your 401(k) plan financial custodian to see what distribution options are allowed.
To engineer a direct rollover, an account holder needs to ask his plan administrator to draft a check and send it directly to the IRA. In IRA-to-IRA transfers, the trustee from one plan sends the rollover amount to the trustee from the other plan. If an account holder receives a check from his existing IRA or retirement account, he or she can cash it and deposit the funds into the new IRA. However, he or she must complete the process within 60 days to avoid income taxes on the withdrawal. If he or she misses the 60-day deadline, the Internal Revenue Service treats the amount like an early distribution.
A rollover IRA is very similar to a traditional IRA and gets almost identical tax treatment. However, there are key differences between a rollover IRA and a traditional IRA including how they’re established. While a traditional IRA is typically established with new contributions or direct-transfer between custodians, a rollover IRA starts by rolling funds from another retirement account.
Another item to be aware of with rollover IRA contributions is that this may restrict your ability to move your account in the future. If, for example, you do a 401(k) rollover to IRA and later contribute to that rollover IRA, you won’t be able to roll your IRA back into a 401(k) at some point in the future. This is covered further in the 401(k) Rollover to IRA section below.
The downside to this is that some banks may charge to issue a check to another bank of custodian when you are moving your IRA. This limit on IRA-to-IRA rollovers does not apply to eligible rollover distributions from an employer plan. Therefore, you can roll over more than one distribution from the same qualified plan, 403(b) or 457(b) account within a year. This one-year limit also does not apply to rollovers from Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs (i.e. Roth conversions.)
A Rollover IRA is an account that allows you to move funds from your old employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA. With an IRA rollover, you can preserve the tax-deferred status of your retirement assets, without paying current taxes or early withdrawal penalties at the time of transfer. A Rollover IRA can provide a wider range of investment choices that may meet your goals and risk tolerance, including stocks, bonds, CDs, ETFs, and mutual funds.
If you’re no longer employed by the employer maintaining your retirement plan and your plan account is between $1,000 and $5,000, the plan administrator may deposit the money into an IRA in your name if you don’t elect to receive the money or roll it over. If your plan account is $1,000 or less, the plan administrator may pay it to you, less, in most cases, 20% income tax withholding, without your consent. You can still roll over the distribution within 60 days.
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