IRS Rules on Cash Balance Plans [Example + Hazards]

A cash balance plan is a type of retirement plan for which employers make annual contributions and deduct them from employee paychecks. These payments are called contribution credits.

The amount of money that an employer contributes to a plan varies every year, but the IRS allows the employer to choose the amount that employees can contribute to the plan. In addition, the plan’s funding formula can vary, depending on the business’s demographics and goals.

IRS Rules on Cash Balance Plans

A cash balance illustration is a helpful tool for determining the amount that the employer will contribute to the program each year.

A cash balance plan can be a good choice for young or part-time employees, but they should be carefully evaluated. When choosing a plan, business owners should consider the entrance date, which is the date when employees can join the plan.

The entrance date is usually monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual. Some plans require participants to serve at least one year in the company before they can enroll. These rules can limit the types of benefits a business can provide.

cash balance plan rules

The IRS also imposes certain limitations on cash balance plans. The age for eligibility is twenty-one, and employees may be excluded. As long as two employees meet the eligibility requirements, the plan must cover 40% of employees and the owners.

Moreover, it must satisfy the IRS’s nondiscrimination testing requirements, which include age-based testing. Moreover, a cash balance plan must not discriminate against any employees.

A cash balance plan should be implemented according to the needs of the business. For instance, a small business might want to implement one to attract young, part-time, and seasonal employees.

For businesses with high turnover, annual service requirements may be the best option. If an employee is not a full-time employee, a cash balance plan is not the best solution. However, if you’ve got a company with high employee turnover, you should consider offering an option with lower entry age and higher cost-effectiveness.

The IRS has set rules that govern the funding requirements of cash balance plans. These rules apply to both C corporations and S corporations. They are relatively consistent from year-to-year.

The employer’s contribution to the plan must be within the funding range of the plan. The ERISA rules do not restrict employee participation in cash balance plans. If the business is run as a sole proprietorship, the owner’s salary must be lower than that of the owner’s spouse.

The tax treatment of cash balance plans depends on the type of plan used. For example, a two-owner practice can use a cash balance plan to defer income tax over traditional limits. During the deferral of income, the employer is responsible for the investment risk. If the practice uses a vesting schedule, the cash balance plan can be an ideal choice. A practice’s net taxable income will be zero.

The cash balance plan offers many advantages for both employers and participants. It can help the business maximize its contributions. It allows employers to offer different contributions to different groups of employees. The cash balance plan must cover at least 40% of an employee’s salary.

If it does not, the IRS may deem it invalid. For a cash balance plan, the employee’s salary is not limited, and the employer can designate a different amount of contribution for each participant.

The maximum lifetime funding limit for a cash balance plan is $2.9 million. The amount can be paid in two ways: in interest and principal. Those who are under age 62 can opt to receive their payment as a lump sum.

Bottom line

For other individuals, the money is taxed in three separate ways. It is possible to defer the entire contribution by having a 401(k) account. In some cases, the 401(k) can be used to reduce income taxes.

A cash balance plan is a type of retirement plan that provides business owners with a tax benefit in retirement. While a standard profit-sharing arrangement may be advantageous for a business, the cash balance method has several disadvantages.

For one, it may not be appropriate for a small business with a single owner. A two-owner practice that earns a $1 million profit does not qualify as a cash balance plan.