Even though the term "401(k)" is a reference to a specific provision of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code section 401, it has become so well known that it has been used elsewhere as a generic term to describe analogous legislation. For example, in October 2001, Japan adopted legislation allowing the creation of "Japan-version 401(k)" accounts even though no provision of the relevant Japanese codes is in fact called "section 401(k)".
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.
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limit to 401(k) accounts in a given year, the excess as well as the deemed earnings for those contributions must be withdrawn or corrected by April 15 of the following year.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.
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.
Amounts that must be distributed during a particular year under the required minimum distribution rules are not eligible for IRA rollover treatment. However, you can distribute shares of investments from your IRA to satisfy the RMD requirements. These shares can then stay invested in a non-retirement brokerage account. Whether you distribute cash or shares, any amount distributed from your IRA will be reported on a 1099-R and is included on your tax return as income.
The annual contribution percentage (ACP) test is similarly performed but also includes employer matching and employee after-tax contributions. ACPs do not use the simple 2% threshold, and include other provisions which can allow the plan to "shift" excess passing rates from the ADP over to the ACP. A failed ACP test is likewise addressed through return of excess, or a QNEC or qualified match (QMAC).
In the early 1970s, a group of high-earning individuals from Kodak approached Congress to allow a part of their salary to be invested in the stock market and thus be exempt from income taxes. This resulted in section 401(k) being inserted in the then-current taxation regulations that allowed this to be done. The section of the Internal Revenue Code that made such 401(k) plans possible was enacted into law in 1978. It was intended to allow taxpayers a break on taxes on deferred income. In 1980, a benefits consultant and attorney named Ted Benna took note of the previously obscure provision and figured out that it could be used to create a simple, tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. The client for whom he was working at the time chose not to create a 401(k) plan. He later went on to install the first 401(k) plan at his own employer, the Johnson Companies (today doing business as Johnson Kendall & Johnson). At the time, employees could contribute 25% of their salary, up to $30,000 per year, to their employer's 401(k) plan.