A man wearing a suit points to a chart on a piece of paper while sitting at a table with notebooks and pens.

The Strategic Edge: Leveraging 401(k) Plans for Tax Strategies

April 2024

The Strategic Edge: Leveraging 401(k) Plans for Tax Strategies

David Schmid, AIF®
Vice President
401(k) Plan Advisor

In the ever-changing landscape of the U.S. economy, where innovative technology and lean operational models are the norm, strategic management of financial resources is crucial. One often overlooked aspect of this financial strategy is the implementation and management of employee 401(k) plans. In addition to enhancing employee well-being and attracting skilled individuals, 401(k) plans provide significant tax benefits that can affect their financial results.

Tax-Deferred Growth: A Core Benefit
The main tax benefit of a 401(k) plan is tax-deferred growth for employees and employers. By making contributions pre-tax, plan participants can lower their taxes, increase the potential for compounding, save on taxes in the long term, eliminate current taxes on investment gains, and maintain a strong savings discipline.

Furthermore, the funds within a 401(k) plan experience tax-deferred growth. This means that the investments in these accounts are not subject to capital gains taxes annually.

After Tax Contributions: An Attractive Feature for Both Employees and Employers
Unlike traditional 401(k) plans, individuals contribute to a Roth 401(k) with after-tax dollars. This means that the money that goes into the Roth 401(k) has already been subject to taxation.

Plan participants have a significant advantage that withdrawals during retirement are tax-free, if they meet certain conditions (typically, they must hold the account for at least five years and make the withdrawal after age 59½). This can be beneficial for individuals who expect to be in a higher tax bracket in retirement or those who anticipate higher tax rates in the future.

Another benefit for employees is that Roth 401(k) contributions are exempt from Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for the original owner, unlike traditional tax-deferred choices. This allows for more flexibility in retirement planning.

Employer Contributions: Multiple Benefits
Another crucial element to consider is the contributions made by employers. A lot of companies provide a matching contribution to their employees' 401(k) plans, resulting in a tax deduction for the employer and an immediate tax advantage. This situation benefits all companies by promoting employee engagement, increasing satisfaction and retention, and lowering taxable income.

Tax Advantages of The Employer Paying Administrative and Advisory Fees Related to the 401(k)
Paying fees out of plan assets is a common practice among many 401(k) plan sponsors for covering administrative and advisory fees. The majority of fees are typically shouldered by small business owners, who tend to have the most assets in the plan. The employer/plan sponsor may consider covering these fees, as they can be tax-deductible business expenses.

In addition to being a tax deduction for the employer, the participant will benefit from having more money invested in the plan, since the employer covers those costs. This can be a competitive attraction to recruit and retain talent.

Cash Flow Flexibility and Tax Credits
For smaller firms, cash flow management is a critical concern. The flexibility in employer contributions to 401(k) plans allows these businesses to manage cash flow more effectively. Companies can adjust employer contributions via a match or discretionary profit-sharing plan annually based on their financial performance, providing much-needed flexibility.

Companies with less than 100 employees may be eligible for specific tax credits when they set up a 401(k) plan. The SECURE Act 2.0, for instance, offers a startup tax credit for small businesses to offset the costs of starting a retirement plan and contribution credit for offering a match, making it more feasible for companies to offer these plans. Sponsors of plans can choose to claim the credit one year before the plan becomes effective and can continue to do so for the first three years of the plan.

Existing plans may also claim tax credits. If a qualified employer adds auto-enrollment to their plan, they can receive a $500 annual tax credit for a three-year taxable period starting the year after implementing the option.

Enhanced Employee Retention and Reduced Turnover Costs
Some industries face high turnover rates. A robust 401(k) plan can serve as an effective tool for employee retention. The costs associated with high employee turnover – including recruiting, training, and lost productivity – can be significant. A competitive 401(k) plan can indirectly impact a company's profitability and cut down on turnover-related expenses by improving employee retention rates.

In summary, while the primary aim of a 401(k) plan is to serve as a retirement savings option for employees, its tax perks are a significant advantage for small companies. A well-planned 401(k) implementation can be a game-changer, benefiting businesses by reducing taxable income, offering cash flow flexibility, and improving employee retention. With the implementation of SECURE Act 2.0 and ongoing industry changes, smart executives should utilize these plans strategically to benefit both their employees and their overall financial management.
David Schmid
Vice President
401(k) Plan Advisor
David Schmid is exclusively responsible for managing and advising Parkside Financial Bank & Trust 401(k) plan clients. He works closely with administrative partners to ensure our clients receive the unparalleled service they deserve. David listens to each client’s unique objectives in order to design and maintain a plan that evolves with the growth of the company and the needs of its participants.

DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is intended to provide thought-provoking commentary. The information presented herein has been obtained from and is based upon sources and vendors deemed to be reliable, but may be incomplete. Parkside Financial Bank Trust does not itself endorse or guarantee, and assumes no liability for, the accuracy or reliability of any third party data or the financial information contained herein.

Parkside Financial Bank & Trust does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. 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. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. Investments are not insured by the FDIC or any government agency, provide no bank guarantee, are not a deposit and may lose value.

We're always here to answer questions.

Reach out to customerservice@pfbt.com

Stay Connected with Parkside

Commercial Banking        Family Office        trust       401(k)