Overview of SECURE Act 2.0 for Businesses and Individuals

By Ginny Graef, CPA, Partner

Overview of SECURE Act 2.0 for Businesses and Individuals

Congress enacts Secure Act 2.0 as part of Omnibus Spending Bill

According to a US Census Bureau 2021 income survey, almost 60% of US households did not have a retirement account in 2020. Congress passed The Secure Act 2.0 with the hope that its hundreds of provisions will make saving for retirement more accessible to all Americans. The Senate Finance Committee drafted summaries of all sections of The Secure Act and listed below are provisions that may be of particular interest to our business and individual clients.

Section 101: Expanding automatic enrollment in retirement plans

Section 101 requires 401(k) and 403(b) plans to automatically enroll participants in the respective plans upon becoming eligible (and the employees may opt out of coverage). The initial automatic enrollment amount is at least 3% but not more than 10%. Each year thereafter that amount is increased by 1% until it reaches at least 10%, but not more than 15%. All current 401(k) and 403(b) plans are grandfathered. There is an exception for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, new businesses (i.e., those that have been in business for less than 3 years), church plans, and governmental plans. Section 101 is effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2024.

Section 102: Modification of credit for small employer pension plan startup cost

The three-year small business startup credit is currently 50% of administrative costs, up to an annual cap of $5,000. Section 102 makes changes to the credit by increasing the startup credit from 50% to 100% for employers with up to 50 employees. Except in the case of defined benefit plans, an additional credit is provided. The amount of the additional credit generally will be a percentage of the amount contributed by the employer on behalf of employees, up to a per-employee with a cap of $1,000. This full additional credit is limited to employers with 50 or fewer employees and phased out for employers with between 51 and 100 employees. The applicable percentage is 100 % in the first and second years, 75% in the third year, 50% in the fourth year, 25% in the fifth year – and no credit for tax years thereafter. Section 102 is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2022.

Section 103: Saver’s match

Current law provides for a nonrefundable credit for certain individuals who make contributions to individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”), employer retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans), and ABLE accounts, tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. Section 103 repeals and replaces the credit with respect to IRA and retirement plan contributions, changing it from a credit paid in cash as part of a tax refund into a federal matching contribution that must be deposited into a taxpayer’s IRA or retirement plan. The match is 50% of IRA or retirement plan contributions up to $2,000 per individual. The match phases out between $41,000 and $71,000 in the case of taxpayers filing a joint return ($20,500 to $35,500 for single taxpayers and married filing separate; $30,750 to $53,250 for head of household filers). Section 103 is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2026.

Section 107: Increase in age for required beginning date for mandatory distributions

Under current law, participants are generally required to begin taking distributions from their retirement plans at age 72. The SECURE Act of 2019 increased the required minimum distribution age to 72. Section 107 further increases the required minimum distribution age further to 73 starting on January 1, 2023 – and increases the age further to 75 starting on January 1, 2033.

Section 108: Indexing IRA catch-up limit

Under current law, the limit on IRA contributions is increased by $1,000 (not indexed) for individuals who have attained age 50. Section 108 indexes such limit and is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2023.

Section 109: Higher catch-up limit to apply at age 60, 61, 62, and 63

Under current law, employees who have attained age 50 are permitted to make catch-up contributions under a retirement plan in excess of the otherwise applicable limits. The limit on catch-up contributions for 2021 is $6,500, except in the case of SIMPLE plans for which the limit is $3,000. Section 109 increases these limits to the greater of $10,000 or 50 % more than the regular catch-up amount in 2025 for individuals who have attained ages 60, 61, 62, and 63. The increased amounts are indexed for inflation after 2025. Section 109 is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2024.

Section 110: Treatment of student loan payments as elective deferrals for purposes of matching contributions

Section 110 permits an employer to make matching contributions under a 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan, or SIMPLE IRA with respect to “qualified student loan payments.” A qualified student loan payment is broadly defined as any indebtedness incurred by the employee solely to pay qualified higher education expenses of the employee. For purposes of the nondiscrimination test applicable to elective contributions, Section 110 permits a plan to test separately the employees who receive matching contributions on student loan repayments. Section 110 is effective for contributions made for plan years beginning after December 31, 2023.

Section 114: Deferral of tax for certain sales of employer stock to employee stock ownership plan sponsored by a S corporation

Under section 1042 of the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”), an individual owner of stock in a non-publicly traded C corporation that sponsors an employee stock ownership plan (“ESOP”) may elect to defer the recognition of gain from the sale of such stock to the ESOP if the seller reinvests the sales proceeds into qualified replacement property, such as stock or other securities issued by a U.S. operating corporation. After the sale, the ESOP must own at least 30% of the employer corporation’s stock. Section 114 expands the gain deferral provisions of Code section 1042 with a 10 % limit on the deferral to sales of employer stock to S corporation ESOPs. Section 114 is effective for sales made after December 31, 2027.

Section 115: Withdrawals for certain emergency expenses

Generally, an additional 10% tax applies to early distributions from tax-preferred retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs, unless an exception applies. Section 115 provides an exception for certain distributions used for emergency expenses, which are unforeseeable or immediate financial needs relating to personal or family emergency expenses. Only one distribution is permissible per year of up to $1,000, and a taxpayer has the option to repay the distribution within 3 years. No further emergency distributions are permissible during the 3-year repayment period unless repayment occurs. Section 115 is effective for distributions made after December 31, 2023.

Section 116: Allow additional non-elective contributions to SIMPLE plans

Current law requires employers with SIMPLE plans to make employer contributions to employees of either 2% of compensation or 3% of employee elective deferral contributions. Section 116 permits an employer to make additional contributions to each employee of the plan in a uniform manner, provided that the contribution may not exceed the lesser of up to 10% of compensation or $5,000 (indexed). Section 116 is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2023.

Section 117: Contribution limit for SIMPLE plans

Under current law, the annual contribution limit for employee elective deferral contributions to a SIMPLE IRA plan is $14,000 (2022) and the catch-up contribution limit beginning at age 50 is $3,000. A SIMPLE IRA plan may only be sponsored by a small employer (100 or fewer employees), and the employer is required to either make matching contributions on the first 3% of compensation deferred or an employer contribution of 2% of compensation (regardless of whether the employee elects to make contributions). Section 117 increases the annual deferral limit and the catch-up contribution at age 50 by 10%, as compared to the limit that would otherwise apply in the first year this change is effective, in the case of an employer with no more than 25 employees. An employer with 26 to 100 employees would be permitted to provide higher deferral limits, but only if the employer either provides a 4% matching contribution or a 3%employer contribution. Section 117 makes similar changes to the contribution limits for SIMPLE 401(k) plans. Section 117 is effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2023. The Secretary of Treasury shall report to Congress on data related to SIMPLE IRAs by December 31, 2024, and annually thereafter.

Section 126: Special rules for certain distributions from long-term qualified tuition programs to Roth IRAs

Section 126 amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow for tax and penalty free rollovers from 529 accounts to Roth IRAs, under certain conditions. Beneficiaries of 529 college savings accounts would be permitted to rollover up to $35,000 over the course of their lifetime from any 529 account in their name to their Roth IRA. These rollovers are also subject to Roth IRA annual contribution limits, and the 529 account must have been open for more than 15 years. Section 126 is effective with respect to distributions after December 31, 2023.

Section 127: Emergency savings accounts linked to individual account plans

Though individuals can save on their own, far too many fail to do so. According to a report by the Federal Reserve, almost half of Americans would struggle to cover an unexpected $400 expense. Many are forced to tap into their retirement savings. A recent study found that, in the past year, almost 60% of retirement account participants who lack emergency savings tapped into their long-term retirement savings, compared to only 9% of those who had at least a month of emergency savings on hand. Separating emergency savings from one’s retirement savings account will provide participants a better understanding that one account is for short-term emergency needs and the other is for long-term retirement savings, thus empowering employees to handle unexpected financial shocks without jeopardizing their long-term financial security in retirement through emergency hardship withdrawals.

Section 127 provides employers the option to offer to their non-highly compensated employees pension-linked emergency savings accounts. Employers may automatically opt employees into these accounts at no more than 3% of their salary, and the portion of an account attributable to the employee’s contribution is capped at $2,500 (or lower as set by the employer). Once the cap is reached, the additional contributions can be directed to the employee’s Roth defined contribution plan (if they have one) or stopped until the balance attributable to contributions falls below the cap. Contributions are made on a Roth-like basis and are treated as elective deferrals for purposes of retirement matching contributions with an annual matching cap set at the maximum account balance – i.e., $2,500 or lower as set by the plan sponsor. The first four withdrawals from the account each plan year may not be subject to any fees or charges solely based on such withdrawals. At separation from service, employees may take their emergency savings accounts as cash or roll it into their Roth defined contribution plan (if they have one) or IRA.

Section 302: Reduction in excise tax for failure to take required minimum distributions

Section 302 reduces the penalty for failure to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from 50% to 25%. Further, if a failure to take a RMD from an IRA is corrected in a timely manner, as defined under this Act, the excise tax on the failure is further reduced from 25% to 10%. Section 302 is effective for taxable years beginning after the date of enactment of the Act.

Section 307: One-time election for qualified charitable distribution to split-interest entity; increase in qualified charitable distribution limitation

Section 307 expands the IRA charitable distribution provision to allow for a one-time, $50,000 distribution to charities through charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder uni-trusts, and charitable remainder annuity trusts, effective for distributions made in taxable years beginning after the date of enactment of the Act.

Section 307 also indexes for inflation the annual IRA charitable distribution limit of $100,000, effective for distributions made in taxable years ending after the date of enactment of the Act.

Section 325, Roth plan distribution rules

Under current law, required minimum distributions are not required to begin prior to the death of the owner of a Roth IRA. However, pre-death distributions are required in the case of the owner of a Roth designated account in an employer retirement plan (e.g., 401(k) plan). Section 325 eliminates the pre-death distribution requirement for Roth accounts in employer plans, effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2023. Section 325 does not apply to distributions which are required with respect to years beginning before January 1, 2024, but are permitted to be paid on or after such date.

Section 326: Exception to penalty on early distributions from qualified plans for individuals with a terminal illness

Under current law, an additional 10% tax applies to early distributions from tax-preferred retirement accounts. Section 326 provides an exception to the tax in the case of a distribution to a terminally ill individual and would be effective for distributions made after the date of enactment of this Act.

Section 327: Surviving spouse election to be treated as employee

Section 327 allows a surviving spouse to elect to be treated as the deceased employee for purposes of the required minimum distribution rules. Section 327 is effective for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2023.

Section 334: Long-term care contracts purchased with retirement plan distributions

Section 334 permits retirement plans to distribute up to $2,500 per year for the payment of premiums for certain specified long term care insurance contracts. Distributions from plans to pay such premiums are exempt from the additional 10% tax on early distributions. Only a policy that provides for high quality coverage is eligible for early distribution and waiver of the 10% tax. Section 334 is effective three years after date of enactment of this Act.

Section 601: SIMPLE and SEP Roth IRAs

Generally, all plans that allow pre-tax employee contributions are permitted to accept Roth contributions with one exception – SIMPLE IRAs. Section 601 allows SIMPLE IRAs to accept Roth contributions. In addition, Section 601 allows employers to offer employees the ability to treat employee and employer SEP contributions as Roth (in whole or in part). The provisions in Section 601 are effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2022.

Section 603: Elective deferrals generally limited to regular contribution limit

Under current law, catch-up contributions to a qualified retirement plan can be made on a pre-tax or Roth basis (if permitted by the plan sponsor). Section 603 provides all catch-up contributions to qualified retirement plans are subject to Roth tax treatment, effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2023. An exception is provided for employees with compensation of $145,000 or less (indexed).

Section 604: Optional treatment of employer matching or non-elective contributions as Roth contributions

Under current law, plan sponsors are not permitted to provide employer matching contributions in their 401(k), 403(b), and governmental 457(b) plans on a Roth basis. Matching contributions must be on a pre-tax basis only. Section 604 allows defined contribution plans to provide participants with the option of receiving matching contributions on a Roth basis, effective on the date of enactment of the Act.

Questions on tax planning for your unique situation?

These tax savings opportunities should be carefully considered as part of your broader financial picture. This information is intended as a starting point for discussion on tax planning and savings opportunities for businesses and individuals. If any of the tax changes discussed here are of interest to you, or if they trigger questions about your specific tax and retirements situations, please reach out to your Keiter Opportunity Advisor or Email | Call: 804.747.0000 for advice on tax planning opportunities.

Share this Insight:

About the Author

Ginny Graef

Ginny Graef, CPA, Partner

Ginny enjoys working closely with her clients and their team of legal and financial advisors to provide tax planning solutions that meet her clients’ specific needs and goals. Ginny’s areas of expertise include income, gift, and trust and estate compliance and planning services. In addition, she focuses on compliance and consulting related to investment partnerships.

More Insights from Ginny Graef

The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.


Contact Us