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  • Writer's pictureMarcus P. Miller, CFP®

Retirement Plan Makeover: See How SECURE Act 2.0 Could Help You

Overview of SECURE Act 2.0

The new law brings changes to the retirement planning landscape, from changing the age for RMDs to introducing emergency savings accounts and allowing employers to match student loan payments with retirement account contributions.

This article is divided into three sections which allow the reader to quickly identify the material most relevant to them. Working-age individuals will be interested in the changes to employer match and 529 plan changes for their (future?) children. Retirees will be interested in the changes regarding RMDs and Roth conversion strategies. Lastly, small business owners should pay attention to changes in eligibility for the retirement plan start-up credit and the introduction of the new Starter 401k.

I. Working Age

A. Employer matching student loans

Younger employees looking to pay back their student loans will be pleased to know that the Secure Act 2.0 allows employers of all sizes to amend their plans and offer employer matches for amounts paid by participants towards their student loan payments. This match must have the same vesting and matching schedules as if they were salary deferrals, giving young workers an extra incentive to save while paying off educational loans.

B. Linked Emergency Savings Account

This account is linked to an existing employer

retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), and is aimed at helping individuals save money for unanticipated expenses at any age. Contributions to this account are treated as salary deferrals into their retirement accounts and employers may opt to offer matching funds up to a certain amount. The account allows for a maximum contribution of $2,500 per year (including employer matching). Employers may set lower contribution limits at their own discretion.

Emergency savings accounts are required to hold only principal-protected investments such as cash or interest-bearing assets. Furthermore, there must not be any fees attached to at least the first four distributions annually. Additionally, these distributions are qualified Roth distributions and thus, tax- and penalty-free.

C. 529-to-Roth Conversion

Starting in 2024, 529 plans can be transferred into Roth IRAs. The transfer must go from the beneficiary of the 529 plan to a Roth IRA for the same person. The 529 plan must have been open for at least fifteen years. The contributions and earnings from the last five years are not able to be moved over during this process.