Small Business Month is a time to celebrate the entrepreneurs in our communities who are the driving force of the American economy. If you’re a small business owner, it’s also a good time to evaluate what sets your company apart — and whether you can improve the benefits you offer to your employees.

In today’s competitive job market, a robust retirement plan can be a game-changer. SECURE Act 2.0, passed at the end of 2022, has made (or is phasing in) several changes to retirement planning that make it easier and more cost-effective for companies to offer retirement plans. The legislation also encourages employees to save for their future.

An easier way to start a plan

SECURE Act 2.0 offers a suite of benefits that make establishing and maintaining a retirement plan more cost-effective — thus helping smaller companies to start and maintain these benefits. There are now tax credits available to cover up to 100% of start-up costs for certain plans, as well as options to help offset employer contributions.

Small businesses with up to 50 employees can receive a credit covering 100% of administrative expenses (capped at $5,000) for the first three years of a new plan. There’s also an additional credit for employers with 100 or fewer employees to help offset the cost of employer contributions, up to $1,000 per employee.

If you don’t have an existing plan, you can create a streamlined deferral-only 401(k) or 403(b) starter plan with lower contribution limits. These plans are easier to administer and meet participation requirements automatically.

The legislation also makes it simpler for employers to offer Roth IRA contributions as part of their retirement plans. This option can be administered more easily, and will also appeal to employees who prefer making after-tax contributions to their retirement savings in order to make tax-free withdrawals later on.

Encouraging employee participation

Even when an employer offers a retirement plan, employees may not participate — often because they forget to opt in once they become eligible, or believe it’s preferable to retain more of their income in the present day. Failing to participate in a retirement plan is a major error, since it means an employee will miss out on an account’s potential for long-term appreciation and have much less money available in the future.

SECURE Act 2.0 aims to reduce non-participation by requiring plan providers to automatically enroll eligible employees in retirement plans established after December 29, 2022. This automatic enrollment will begin in 2025, with an initial contribution set by the employer between3% and 10% and an automatic increase of 1% each year to a minimum of 10% or a maximum of 15%. 

This requirement means companies take a more active role in helping their employees start and advance their retirement savings, while still giving employees the option to opt out. Note that some businesses are excluded from the requirement, including small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and businesses that are less than three years old.

Also starting in 2025, part-time workers who meet eligibility requirements (at least 21 years old and at least 500 hours of service in two consecutive years) will be able to contribute to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan if one exists. Currently, part-time workers can only make these contributions if they have worked for a business for three consecutive years.

A saver’s match incentive beginning in 2027 will further encourage retirement savings. This will offer a government-funded 50% match on contributions to an IRA or retirement account, up to $2,000 for eligible individuals or $4,000 for eligible couples. This replaces the current system of lowering eligible employees’ tax liability, with the funds being deposited directly into the recipients’ retirement accounts.

Flexible options

The SECURE Act 2.0 also builds more flexibility into how employers can put together their plan, and how employees can access it: 

Ready to take the next step?

A strong retirement plan isn’t just good for your employees; it’s good for your business. By offering a path to financial security, you can attract and retain top talent and keep your employees happy.

Grey Ledge Advisors can help you navigate the SECURE Act 2.0 and explore your retirement plan options. We’ll work with you to design a plan that fits your budget and helps you build a winning team. Contact Grey Ledge Advisors today to learn more.