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Archive for Deferred Compensation

Deferred Compensation, Part VII: Profit-Sharing

Adding a profit-sharing component to your 401(k) plan can increase your contributions while also motivating employees.  All of the previously-discussed rules apply: you can’t have a top-heavy plan, you can’t discriminate in favor of certain employees, etc…

Here’s a general description of what’s involved from the code:

A profit-sharing plan is a plan established and maintained by an employer to provide for the participation in his profits by his employees or their beneficiaries. Read more

Deferred Compensation, Part VI: Minimum Participation Standards

In general, a plan cannot specifically require that employees work for the company at least 1 year or attain the minimum age of 21.  For large employers with several divisions, this can happen accidentally.

Here are two examples from the accompanying Treasury Regulations:

Example 1. Corporation A is divided into two divisions. In order to work in division 2 an employee must first have been employed in division 1 for 5 years. A plan provision which required division 2 employment for participation will be treated as a service requirement because such a provision has the effect of requiring 5 years of service. Read more

Deferred Compensation, Part IV: Non-Discrimination

According to §401(a)(4), a deferred compensation plan cannot discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees (HCEs), which is a person who either owned 5% of the business at any time during the year or made more than $80,000 (inflation-adjusted) during the preceding year.

The regulations provide two safe-harbor tests for defined contribution plans (which comprise the vast bulk of 401ks).  Read more

Deferred Compensation, Pt. III: Non-Diversion Of Trust Assets

In order for a deferred compensation trust to the “qualified,” it must comply with all of §401s specific requirements.  Complete compliance creates tax-deferred status.  §501 states (emphasis mine),

An organization described in subsection (c) or (d) or section 401(a) shall be exempt from taxation under this subtitle unless such exemption is denied under section 502 or 503.

One of 401’s most important requirements is that funds can only be used for the benefit of the employees.  §401(a)(2) states in relevant part, Read more