On March 29, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022 (the “SECURE Act 2.0”). If this retirement savings legislation is passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Biden, SECURE Act 2.0 could represent an economic policy shift regarding retirement savings and investment.
SECURE Act 2.0 expands on the original SECURE Act and includes provisions to raise the required minimum distribution (RMD) age from 72 to 75 over time, broaden automatic enrollment in retirement plans and enhance 403(b) plans.
The original SECURE Act was passed into law by former President Trump in December of 2019. The original SECURE Act modified the existing retirement savings plan system regarding RMD, contributions to traditional IRAs, 529 plan uses for student loans, and making annuities easier for 401(k) plan administrators to offer. SECURE Act 2.0 expands on all of the foregoing provisions, including increasing the RMD age to 73 in 2022, to 74 in 2029, and to 75 in 2032.
SECURE Act 2.0 requires 401(k) and 403(b) plans to automatically enroll participants when they become eligible, though employees can opt out of this coverage. The automatic enrollment amount starts at a minimum 3% of salary and can reach up to 10% of salary, followed by a 1% increase each year until it reaches the maximum 10% threshold. There are exceptions to these SECURE Act 2.0 requirements regarding small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, new business (those less than 3 years old), church plans and governmental plans.
SECURE Act 2.0 also includes a proposal to increase catch-up contributions for eligible workers. Currently, those aged 50 and older contributing to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan are allowed to contribute $6,500 in addition to their standard maximum contribution of $20,500. Under SECURE Act 2.0, up to $10,000 in catch-up contributions may be allowed for workers aged 62-64. This could possibly raise the maximum 401(k) contribution to over $30,000. Workers contributing to an IRA would not receive a similar benefit from this proposed boost in catch-up contributions. However, the current IRA catch-up provision of $1,000 per year upon reaching age 50 would be indexed for inflation.
Currently, if employers match employee contributions in plans like a 401(k), those contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, to be taxable when a worker withdraws them in retirement. SECURE Act 2.0 allows employees to choose to receive after-tax Roth matching contributions instead. These contributions would not be excluded from a worker’s taxable income.