What states have mandated retirement savings plans?

What states have mandated retirement savings plans?


The results from recent studies surrounding retirement readiness are in, and they don’t look good. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling reports that while retiring without having enough money set aside is the most worrisome area of personal finance for American workers, 27 percent of U.S. adults do not save any portion of their household’s annual income for retirement [1].

Taking a cue from this statistic, and understanding that everyone benefits from making savings a priority, some states are proactively investing in the economic futures of their citizenry by introducing laws that provide state-run retirement savings initiatives. Essentially, once the legislation is passed, it requires states to offer some type of savings vehicle and for employers with a minimum number of employees (that number varies by state) to provide a retirement savings program. And while the minimum number of employees needed varies from state to state, the main message holds steady—providing employees with some sort of a retirement savings vehicle is vitally important.

How many states have mandated retirement plans?

Currently, ten states have passed state plan legislation: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. The mandates are structured around, generally speaking, a required 3 percent employee auto-deposit into a retirement savings account that will occur unless the employee opts out. The goal is part financial, of course, but also part educational.

What are the benefits of state-mandated retirement plans?

As plans begin to grow for traditionally low savers who may not otherwise be versed in retirement, they are immersed in a savings culture and actively engage in it for their future. Similarly, as collective retirement savings are sustained over a period of time and employee numbers grow, smaller employers become more attractive for servicing within the financial industry.

State plans have certain upsides for small employers, specifically that it costs employers little to nothing—in time or money—to set up. Employers simply coordinate payroll deductions. But, there’s cost and then there’s value. Many state plans offer only one option—a Roth IRA—and small employers and their employees could benefit more by exploring other saving vehicles that fit within the mandate.

Do state-mandated Roth IRAs have downsides?

Roth IRAs have income limitations that could impede a business owner or highly compensated employees from making contributions to their best savings advantage. State plans could mean less money in employees’ savings; maximum deferral amounts in a state plan are generally four times less than amounts allowed through a traditional retirement plan. Plus, employer matching is not possible. In order to maximize their own savings efforts, owners and highly compensated employees would have to have additional retirement accounts outside of the state plan.

If employers desire to maximize their contribution or want to offer incentives like matching contributions, they could offer a 401(k) plan. This option comes with an upfront cost to the employer, but there is added value. The employer fees can be tax deductible, and employers and business owners or highly compensated employees can maximize their contributions.

The coverage choice ultimately remains with the employer, but it boils down to this: most state plans are mandates—meaning employers are told exactly what to do within the specific parameters of an IRA. Or, employers can choose a 401(k) plan on their own that both serves employees and complies with state requirements. 

Let’s start the conversation about the different types of savings plan and their fit in your future (and the future of your employees) with a needs assessment. Contact us at 800.236.7400, option one, today to learn more.