In the United States, a 401(k) plan is the tax-qualified, defined-contribution pension account defined in subsection 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code.[1] Under the plan, retirement savings contributions are provided (and sometimes proportionately matched) by an employer, deducted from the employee's paycheck before taxation (therefore tax-deferred until withdrawn after retirement or as otherwise permitted by applicable law), and limited to a maximum pre-tax annual contribution of $19,500 (as of 2020).[2][3]

Even if we assume that most Americans will get Social Security income, where the average benefit is roughly $16,000 per year (as of November 2016, see here), and that the median balance at retirement is $130,000, this article suggests this is reasonable, the math doesn’t look good. With a 4% withdrawal rate over 30 years, this gives our average American retiree $21,200 a year to live off. Now this is better than living off of dog food, but I doubt $1,766 a month will be a “comfortable” retirement for most Americans.


DISCLAIMER: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. No warranty or representation, express or implied, is made by Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, nor does Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation accept any liability with respect to the information provided on our website. You should consult with your professional advisor(s) prior to acting on the information in this guide.
Having enough savings to afford a comfortable retirement has been an issue for a long time now. In fact, some economists have recently estimated that millennials will face even a harder challenge and should save almost half of their income if they wish to retire at 65. However, the good news is that some parts of the country are friendlier on the wallet than others when it comes to retirement. Our newest visualization shows the average amount that a person will need to retire comfortably in each state, as well as the average retirement age by state.
According to the Council of Foundations, “such distributions do not count as qualified distributions from IRAs under these special rules, donors will have to first recognize those distributions as income. They then must calculate their charitable deduction according to the general rules pertaining to percentage limitations and itemized contribution reductions discussed below.”

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium™ are made available through Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. ("Schwab"), a dually registered investment advisor and broker dealer. Portfolio management services are provided by Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, Inc. ("CSIA"). Schwab and CSIA are subsidiaries of The Charles Schwab Corporation.
Not surprisingly, states with higher life expectancies and higher costs of living (like Hawaii) require the highest retirement savings. However, regardless of where they live, most Americans are not saving enough in order to fund their retirement. Some think that the solution could be making saving mandatory, with the government stepping in to divert a certain percentage of an individual’s earnings to a savings or retirement account. Others believe taxing the rich more is the way to go in order to strengthen Social Security, which provides the primary source of retirement income for many Americans. In addition, focusing new policies on developing affordable housing for the elderly could alleviate financial pressures for retirees.
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.)
Many plans also allow employees to take loans from their 401(k) to be repaid with after-tax funds at predefined interest rates. The interest proceeds then become part of the 401(k) balance. The loan itself is not taxable income nor subject to the 10% penalty as long as it is paid back in accordance with section 72(p) of the Internal Revenue Code. This section requires, among other things, that the loan be for a term no longer than 5 years (except for the purchase of a primary residence), that a "reasonable" rate of interest be charged, and that substantially equal payments (with payments made at least every calendar quarter) be made over the life of the loan. Employers, of course, have the option to make their plan's loan provisions more restrictive. When an employee does not make payments in accordance with the plan or IRS regulations, the outstanding loan balance will be declared in "default". A defaulted loan, and possibly accrued interest on the loan balance, becomes a taxable distribution to the employee in the year of default with all the same tax penalties and implications of a withdrawal.
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.
Prior to EGTRRA, the maximum tax-deductible contribution to a 401(k) plan was 15% of eligible pay (reduced by the amount of salary deferrals). Without EGTRRA, an incorporated business person taking $100,000 in salary would have been limited in Y2004 to a maximum contribution of $15,000. EGTRRA raised the deductible limit to 25% of eligible pay without reduction for salary deferrals. Therefore, that same businessperson in Y2008 can make an "elective deferral" of $15,500 plus a profit sharing contribution of $25,000 (i.e. 25%), and—if this person is over age 50—make a catch-up contribution of $5,000 for a total of $45,500. For those eligible to make "catch-up" contribution, and with salary of $122,000 or higher, the maximum possible total contribution in 2008 would be $51,000. To take advantage of these higher contributions, many vendors now offer Solo 401(k) plans or Individual(k) plans, which can be administered as a Self-Directed 401(k), permitting investment in real estate, mortgage notes, tax liens, private companies, and virtually any other investment.
Retirement plans: A retirement plan distribution paid to you is subject to mandatory withholding of 20%, even if you intend to roll it over later. Withholding does not apply if you roll over the amount directly to another retirement plan or to an IRA. A distribution sent to you in the form of a check payable to the receiving plan or IRA is not subject to withholding.
Despite these financial facts, Americans’ optimism regarding their economic future will likely remain high. This is one of the things that makes America great and truly inspiring. While past performance is no prediction of future results, I would much rather live in a country where people believe they can pull through difficult circumstances than in one with a dismal outlook.
Employees who are eligible for a rollover IRA can do one rollover in a 12-month period — no matter how many IRAs or 401(k) accounts they have. According to IRA rollover rules, completing a rollover is a simple process. There are two ways to do a rollover — a direct transfer between custodians or by having your current custodian send you a check and completing the rollover yourself within 60 days.
Americans have an unbridled sense of hope for their futures despite economic realities that seem much more grim. An article published by the Atlantic in 2015 (see here) illustrated the optimism of Americans, which is higher than any other developed nation. While I do tend to fall into this line of thinking myself (I am an American optimist), I am somewhat concerned with the retirement situation in America given the data.
In direct transfers, the IRS withholds no taxes. Rather, the entire amount transfers directly from one account to another. However, if the account holder receives a check he or she deposits into the IRA, the IRS insists upon a withholding penalty. Custodians or trustees must withhold 10 percent on checks from IRA distributions and 20% on distributions from other retirement accounts, whether or not the funds are for a rollover. At tax time, this amount appears as tax paid by the tax filer.
Separated from employment: One of the most common reasons for doing an IRA rollover is when someone leaves a company that provided retirement benefits like a 401(k); by using a rollover IRA, an account holder can move money out of their former employer’s retirement plan and gain access to new investment options of their choosing — sometimes at a lower cost
America’s 401(k) is a subsidiary of Group RHI, a leader in the retirement services industry. Group RHI’s companies serve businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities throughout the country, providing objective advice on 401(k) design and services, retirement plan consulting, and pension outsourcing. Collectively we serve close to 5,000 organizations, handling diverse retirement plan needs for hundreds of thousands of participants. For more information about Group RHI and its operations, visit www.grouprhi.com.
In direct transfers, the IRS withholds no taxes. Rather, the entire amount transfers directly from one account to another. However, if the account holder receives a check he or she deposits into the IRA, the IRS insists upon a withholding penalty. Custodians or trustees must withhold 10 percent on checks from IRA distributions and 20% on distributions from other retirement accounts, whether or not the funds are for a rollover. At tax time, this amount appears as tax paid by the tax filer.

You should contact your financial or tax advisor to determine if a donor advised fund (DAF) is appropriate for you. They may also be able to advise you on reputable sponsoring organizations. Once you determine the organization with which you will establish a fund, typically you only need to complete a few forms and transfer assets. You will want to determine if the fees and grant policies of the sponsoring organization suit your goals.


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.
A recent study from the Investment Company Institute found that more than 80 percent of those surveyed had rolled over their entire balance in their most recent IRA rollover. However, one of the unique things about an IRA rollover is that you do a partial IRA rollover to move just part of an account. However, you must still meet eligibility requirements and follow IRA rollover rules.

If the employee contributes more than the maximum pre-tax/Roth limit to 401(k) accounts in a given year, the excess as well as the deemed earnings for those contributions must be withdrawn or corrected by April 15 of the following year. This violation most commonly occurs when a person switches employers mid-year and the latest employer does not know to enforce the contribution limits on behalf of their employee. If this violation is noticed too late, the employee will not only be required to pay tax on the excess contribution amount the year was earned, the tax will effectively be doubled as the late corrective distribution is required to be reported again as income along with the earnings on such excess in the year the late correction is made.
Rollovers between eligible retirement plans are accomplished in one of two ways: by a distribution to the participant and a subsequent rollover to another plan or by a direct rollover from plan to plan. Rollovers after a distribution to the participant must generally be accomplished within 60 days of the distribution. If the 60-day limit is not met, the rollover will be disallowed and the distribution will be taxed as ordinary income and the 10% penalty will apply, if applicable. The same rules and restrictions apply to rollovers from plans to IRAs.

A rollover of retirement plan assets to an IRA is not your only option. Carefully consider all of your available options which may include but not be limited to keeping your assets in your former employer's plan; rolling over assets to a new employer's plan; or taking a cash distribution (taxes and possible withdrawal penalties may apply). Prior to a decision, be sure to understand the benefits and limitations of your available options and consider factors such as differences in investment related expenses, plan or account fees, available investment options, distribution options, legal and creditor protections, the availability of loan provisions, tax treatment, and other concerns specific to your individual circumstances.
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.
ROBS plans, while not considered an abusive tax avoidance transaction, are questionable because they may solely benefit one individual – the individual who rolls over his or her existing retirement 401(k) withdrawal funds to the ROBS plan in a tax-free transaction. The ROBS plan then uses the rollover assets to purchase the stock of the new business. A C corporation must be set up in order to roll the 401(k) withdrawal.
Employers are allowed to automatically enroll their employees in 401(k) plans, requiring employees to actively opt out if they do not want to participate (traditionally, 401(k)s required employees to opt in). Companies offering such automatic 401(k)s must choose a default investment fund and savings rate. Employees who are enrolled automatically will become investors in the default fund at the default rate, although they may select different funds and rates if they choose, or even opt out completely.[33]
Nepal and Sri Lanka have similar employees provident fund schemes. In Malaysia, The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) was established in 1951 upon the Employees Provident Fund Ordinance 1951. The EPF is intended to help employees from the private sector save a fraction of their salary in a lifetime banking scheme, to be used primarily as a retirement fund but also in the event that the employee is temporarily or no longer fit to work. As of March 31, 2014, the size of the EPF asset size stood at RM597 billion (US$184 billion), making it the fourth largest pension fund in Asia and seventh largest in the world.
Even if we assume that most Americans will get Social Security income, where the average benefit is roughly $16,000 per year (as of November 2016, see here), and that the median balance at retirement is $130,000, this article suggests this is reasonable, the math doesn’t look good. With a 4% withdrawal rate over 30 years, this gives our average American retiree $21,200 a year to live off. Now this is better than living off of dog food, but I doubt $1,766 a month will be a “comfortable” retirement for most Americans.
You should contact your financial or tax advisor to determine if a donor advised fund (DAF) is appropriate for you. They may also be able to advise you on reputable sponsoring organizations. Once you determine the organization with which you will establish a fund, typically you only need to complete a few forms and transfer assets. You will want to determine if the fees and grant policies of the sponsoring organization suit your goals.

There are a number of "safe harbor" provisions that can allow a company to be exempted from the ADP test. This includes making a "safe harbor" employer contribution to employees' accounts. Safe harbor contributions can take the form of a match (generally totaling 4% of pay) or a non-elective profit sharing (totaling 3% of pay). Safe harbor 401(k) contributions must be 100% vested at all times with immediate eligibility for employees. There are other administrative requirements within the safe harbor, such as requiring the employer to notify all eligible employees of the opportunity to participate in the plan, and restricting the employer from suspending participants for any reason other than due to a hardship withdrawal.
The purpose of a rollover is to maintain the tax-deferred status of those assets. Rollover IRAs are commonly used to hold 401(k), 403(b) or profit-sharing plan assets that are transferred from a former employer's sponsored retirement account or qualified plan. Rollover IRA funds can be moved to a new employer's retirement plan. Rollover IRAs do not cap the amount of money an employee can roll over and they permit account holders to invest in a wide array of assets such as stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds.

Similarly, India has a scheme called PPF and EPF, that are loosely similar to 401(k) schemes, wherein the employee contributes 7.5% of his / her salary to the provident fund and this is matched by an equal contribution by the employer.[44] The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is a statutory body of the Government of India under the Ministry of Labour and Employment. It administers a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme. The schemes covers both Indian and international workers (for countries with which bilateral agreements have been signed; 14 such social security agreements are active). It is one of the largest social security organisations in India in terms of the number of covered beneficiaries and the volume of financial transactions undertaken. The EPFO's apex decision making body is the Central Board of Trustees.
Each plan is assigned a dedicated consultant to ensure the smooth day-to-day administration of the plan. These duties include maintaining required plan documents, Trust reconciliation, all appropriate non-discrimination testing, calculating employer contributions and refunds, preparing required annual reports, notices and IRS Form 5500s as well as acting as the primary relationship manager for the client.
In a direct transfer, account holders who want to move money work through their new provider rather than the old one. When setting up their new account, they have the new custodian initiate a transfer request, which moves the account directly from the old custodian. Using a direct transfer, the old custodian doesn’t always even have to sell all the investments within an account — they can sometimes transfer the account with the current portfolio intact.
Having enough savings to afford a comfortable retirement has been an issue for a long time now. In fact, some economists have recently estimated that millennials will face even a harder challenge and should save almost half of their income if they wish to retire at 65. However, the good news is that some parts of the country are friendlier on the wallet than others when it comes to retirement. Our newest visualization shows the average amount that a person will need to retire comfortably in each state, as well as the average retirement age by state.
In direct transfers, the IRS withholds no taxes. Rather, the entire amount transfers directly from one account to another. However, if the account holder receives a check he or she deposits into the IRA, the IRS insists upon a withholding penalty. Custodians or trustees must withhold 10 percent on checks from IRA distributions and 20% on distributions from other retirement accounts, whether or not the funds are for a rollover. At tax time, this amount appears as tax paid by the tax filer.
Having enough savings to afford a comfortable retirement has been an issue for a long time now. In fact, some economists have recently estimated that millennials will face even a harder challenge and should save almost half of their income if they wish to retire at 65. However, the good news is that some parts of the country are friendlier on the wallet than others when it comes to retirement. Our newest visualization shows the average amount that a person will need to retire comfortably in each state, as well as the average retirement age by state.

With more than $5 trillion under management, Vanguard is well-known as a leading provider of professionally-managed, cost-efficient mutual funds and ETFs. Vanguard is the best rollover IRA provider if you want to focus on low-cost, passive investing in your rollover IRA. It offers more than 100 mutual funds to choose from, including several funds that can focus investments in specific sectors or asset classes.


Example: For the 2018 tax year, a couple plan to file jointly. They are both age 75 and anticipate adjusted gross income (AGI) of $125,000, including $60,000 in RMDs. Although they will not itemize deductions, they still plan to make charitable contributions totaling $5,000. They will report federal taxable income of $98,400 ($125,000 AGI, less a standard deduction of $26,600 — $24,000 plus an additional standard deduction of $1,300 each for being over 65), resulting in federal tax is $13,527.
For many people, this rule doesn’t present much of a problem. However, violation of the IRS’s one-rollover-per-year rule can cause the extra rollovers to be treated as taxable distributions. You may also be assessed a 10 percent penalty, and your rollover funds could be treated as excessive contributions taxed at 6 percent per year as long as they stay in your rollover IRA.

Example: For the 2018 tax year, a couple plan to file jointly. They are both age 75 and anticipate adjusted gross income (AGI) of $125,000, including $60,000 in RMDs. Although they will not itemize deductions, they still plan to make charitable contributions totaling $5,000. They will report federal taxable income of $98,400 ($125,000 AGI, less a standard deduction of $26,600 — $24,000 plus an additional standard deduction of $1,300 each for being over 65), resulting in federal tax is $13,527.


401(k) plans charge fees for administrative services, investment management services, and sometimes outside consulting services. They can be charged to the employer, the plan participants or to the plan itself and the fees can be allocated on a per participant basis, per plan, or as a percentage of the plan's assets. For 2011, the average total administrative and management fees on a 401(k) plan was 0.78 percent or approximately $250 per participant.[36] The United States Supreme Court ruled, in 2015, that plan administrators could be sued for excessive plan fees and expenses, in Tibble v. Edison International.[37] In the Tibble case, the Supreme Court took strong issue with a large company placing plan investments in "retail" mutual fund shares as opposed to "institutional" class shares.[38]

A recent study from the Investment Company Institute found that more than 80 percent of those surveyed had rolled over their entire balance in their most recent IRA rollover. However, one of the unique things about an IRA rollover is that you do a partial IRA rollover to move just part of an account. However, you must still meet eligibility requirements and follow IRA rollover rules.
Having enough savings to afford a comfortable retirement has been an issue for a long time now. In fact, some economists have recently estimated that millennials will face even a harder challenge and should save almost half of their income if they wish to retire at 65. However, the good news is that some parts of the country are friendlier on the wallet than others when it comes to retirement. Our newest visualization shows the average amount that a person will need to retire comfortably in each state, as well as the average retirement age by state.
×