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Frequently Asked Questions

about 401(k) Easy run-it-yourself 401k plans

 

 
1)

What are the three main advantages 401(k) Easy has over other 401k plans?

2)

What are the two main differences between 401(k) Easy and other 401k plans?

3)

What is a "401k prototype plan"? What does it mean that 401(k) Easy includes one?

4)

We already have a 401k plan, but it's a headache, and costs a fortune. Can we switch to 401(k) Easy?

5)

Can we hire you to set up and run our 401k? What's the cost?

6)

We've never sponsored a 401k plan before. Will someone help us with deciding the particulars?

71)

What if we start with a run-it-yourself plan, then later decide we want an outside-serviced plan?

8)

Can 401(k) Easy handle 401k matching contributions? How about profit-sharing contributions? Are either mandatory? Do we have control over rates and vesting schedules?

9)

Does 401(k) Easy let us exclude part-time workers from receiving 401k matching contributions?

10)

Can 401(k) Easy handle 401k loans? Are they mandatory? Do 401k loans increase the price of 401(k) Easy?

11)

Can 401(k) Easy handle 401k hardship withdrawals? Are they mandatory?

12)

What kind of investments are available with 401(k) Easy? Can we offer 401k self-directed brokerage accounts?

13)

Why do we have to get a new copy of the 401(k) Easy software each year?

14)

Why do we pay for "eligible employees," not just those who participate in our 401k plan?

15)

How does 401(k) Easy help keep our 401k in sync with IRS regulations?

16)

Does 401(k) Easy help with 401k compliance testing?

17)

Does 401(k) Easy help with 401k year-end tax reporting?

18)

How else does 401(k) Easy simplify 401k plan administration?

[topic 1]

What are the three main advantages 401(k) Easy has over other 401k plans?

401k Q&A1. It's Easy to Use

With 401(k) Easy, most small businesses can run their 401k plans in less than 15 minutes a month. You simply feed some basic payroll information -- the same data most off-site, third-party vendors would make you collect anyway -- and click "Process." In seconds you're ready to forward the month's contributions to your plan's investment company(ies), then to have the software print account statements for plan participants, run compliance tests on your plan (in seconds), or prepare any of a myriad of useful reports for your records.

2. It Keeps Your 401k Assets Secure

With 401(k) Easy you have direct, constant control and oversight over your employees' 401k contributions -- from the time the money is separated from their taxable payroll until it's safely and securely deposited with their 401k investment accounts. The press has reported on the diversion of plan assets by unscrupulous employers and unscrupulous third-party administrators. 401(k) Easy helps protect employees' assets because all transactions occur directly between the employer and the investment company housing the  plan's assets, circumventing the third-party middleman.  

As an additional 401(k) Easy safety measure, each plan participant receives an account statement every month directly from the investment company housing his or her personal 401k savings. The statements document every transaction recorded during the period, making it virtually impossible for malfeasance to go undetected — particularly when the statements are viewed in conjunction with those prepared by 401(k) Easy. The 401(k) Easy statements summarize the participant's overall 401k activity during the month (deposits, withdrawals, transfers in and out) while the investment company statements show where the money went and what it's current value is.

3. It's Extremely Affordable

401(k) Easy saves clients, on average, 60% to 90% a year off traditional 401k expenses.

-- With pricing that starts at just $695 a year for plans serving two to four employees and that increases ONLY with plan size (all options, investments, tech support and more included), 401(k) Easy pricing is hard to beat.

-- Visit our Pricing and Price Comparisons pages to see how affordable a 401(k) Easy plan can be for your company — and don't forget to try out the 401k software. You'll be surprised at how easy it can be to save all that money!

[topic 2]

What are the two main differences between 401(k) Easy and other 401k plans?

1. Cost is the primary difference -- It could well be the mitigating factor in whether or not your company can sponsor a 401k.

-- No reasonably comparable 401k plan is priced as economically as 401(k) Easy.

-- Virtually all other plans charge extra for 401k loans, hardship withdrawals, automatic enrollment, an extensive investment list, etc. All those transaction and options charges can really add up!

2. Investment choice is another major source of variation:

-- 401(k) Easy lets your 401k plan offer any of an immense array of no-load mutual fund families and/or self-directed brokerage accounts.

-- Self-directed brokerage accounts mean each plan participant has access to his or her choice of investments. Stocks, options, foreign securities, mutual funds, bonds, corporate, municipal and zero coupons, certificates of deposit, government obligations, and UIT's are all available.

-- Most other plans offer far less selection; some limit you to no choice -- they preselect the investments, usually their own, and often charge significant fees for additional, nonproprietary investments.


[topic 3]

What is a "401k prototype plan"? What does it mean that 401(k) Easy includes one?

The prototype plan is the master document describing and defining every aspect of a 401k prototype. The IRS analyzes this master and deems it "approved" or "disapproved." Once approved, the master can be used to create any number of 401k plans that fall within the approved specifications.

-- Included in the prototype plan can be a certain amount of plan flexibility, such as a variety of possible participation eligibility requirement.

-- With 401(k) Easy, you have IRS-approved flexibility with your plan's participation eligibility parameters, with whether or not to offer employer contributions and if so what type (matching, profit-sharing, and/or qualified nonelective) and at what rate, with whether you want to offer 401k loans, and more. See our Plan Customization Options page or our 401k Order Form for a complete list of options currently available to 401(k) Easy clients.

-- Ongoing plan qualification depends on, among other things, that your plan pass its annual IRS compliance tests (unless you've chosen to run your plan via the IRS-approved safe harbor method of plan administration).

-- 401(k) Easy includes both point-and-click compliance testing with results in seconds (so you can run the tests after you finish each month's processing to see long before the official year-end tests if any undesirable trends are surfacing) and safe harbor software automation functions.

[topic 4]

We already have a 401k plan, but it's a headache and costs a fortune. Can we switch?

Yes. Our streamlined conversion process makes plan takeovers easy and efficient.

-- The typical 401k plan can be converted into a 401(k) Easy plan in a matter of days.

-- We set up everything for you, just as we would for a new plan.

-- The conversion process is FREE. You pay nothing more than any other 401(k) Easy client with a 401k plan of your size.

-- You can likely keep your existing investments, or you can expand your offerings with self-directed brokerage accounts or a family of no-load mutual funds. See our Investments pages for exact listings.

-- Complete our Plan Conversion Order Form or contact us for more information or to have us get started on transforming your 401k plan into an affordable, flexible, option-rich 401(k) Easy plan.

[topic 5]

Can we hire you to set up and run our 401k? What is the cost?

We do not offer full service 401k plans, but we can likely recommend a relatively affordable, reliable provider once we know your 401k needs. Please contact us if you're looking for a full-service, reliable, small business plan provider.

[topic 6]

We've never sponsored a 401k plan before. Will someone help us with the particulars?

In establishing your 401(k) Easy 401k plan, we'll explain the 401k basics to you as well as the plan customization options we offer and how each typically affects the operation and popularity of a plan of your size.

Once you choose the features you want for your company plan, we'll hardwire your decisions into your 401(k) Easy software. The software then "knows" your plan and handles most of your run-it-yourself plan administration for you.

-- Your 401(k) Easy User's Guide offers two levels of help: The Quick Guide tells you the short and simple of what to do to get your plan up and running and continued running; the complimentary 401k Help CD-ROM gives background details on 401k plan operation and less frequent transactions.

-- There's free technical support, too, should you ever need it.

Our technical support staff fields inquiries on technical, software-related questions as well as general 401k and related questions. We are not, however, pension law attorneys, accountants, actuaries or tax preparers, who are the only qualified people to answer certain questions.  It is always advisable to consult with your tax and/or legal advisors in matters that concern your company's 401k plan.

[topic 7]

What if we start with a run-it-yourself plan, then later decide we want an outside-serviced plan?

If, for any reason, you decide you no longer want to run your own 401k plan, we can quickly convert your 401(k) Easy into a 401k serviced by an outside company -- we can even recommend a quality provider who specializes in 401k plans of your size.

So if your company grows by leaps and bounds and you decide you would rather pay someone else to do the work, we can help. Just let us know!

[topic 8]

Can 401(k) Easy handle 401k matching contributions? How about profit-sharing contributions? Are either mandatory? Do we have control over rates and vesting schedules?

401(k) Easy allows for the most popular 401k options permitted under current law, but does not mandate inclusion of any. Employer matching contributions, profit-sharing contributions as well as qualified nonelective contributions are included in these options.

-- With 401(k) Easy you decide whether to offer (or exclude) employer contributions.

-- If you decide to include employer contributions, you choose the type(s) (matching, profit-sharing and/or qualified nonelective) and define the rate(s). Most any rate allowed by 401k regulations is permissible with 401(k) Easy.

-- If you decide to include employer contributions, you define the vesting schedule, too. You can choose a different schedule for any matching and profit-sharing contributions. Qualified nonelective contributions are, by law, always 100% immediately vested when made.

[topic 9]

Does 401(k) Easy let us exclude part-time workers from receiving 401k employer contributions?

To exclude part-timers from receiving employer contributions, simply exclude them from participation in the plan by setting appropriate length of service and other participation requirements for your plan.

-- If you want part-timers to be able to participate in your 401k plan but not receive employer contributions, you're better off not offering employer contributions but instead offering some type of bonus to the groups of employees you seek to reward. 401k contributions are a percentage of pay, including bonuses, so paying bonuses will allow employees to contribute more to their 401k accounts themselves (in lieu of your making contributions for them). Please contact us or consult your tax advisor for details and further options.

[topic 10]

Can 401(k) Easy handle 401k loans? Are they mandatory? Do 401k loans increase the price of 401(k) Easy?

401(k) Easy allows for all the most popular 401k options permitted under current law, but does not mandate inclusion of any. 401k loans are one of these options. Your company sets the policy for its plan within the IRS guidelines.

There is no extra charge for including 401k loan capabilities in your 401(k) Easy system.

-- Your company can charge plan participants a "reasonable" (in the IRS' eyes) fee for processing 401k loans; $25 to $50 is most common.

-- The administrative tools to handle 401k loans are contained within your plan-specific 401(k) Easy software.

-- 401(k) Easy does not charge your company or its plan participants anything for 401k loans.

NOTE: In 2002 the availability of 401k loans to certain business owners and officers was liberalized within what are known as the EGTRA Amendments. You can view a summary of the amendments within this website's ERISA 404c Compliance section. If you're a business owner and intend on taking out a 401k loan, we suggest you talk with a qualified tax advisor first to make sure you're clear on the new, more liberal regulations.

[topic 11]

Can 401(k) Easy handle 401k hardship withdrawals? Are they mandatory?

The Internal Revenue Code says hardship withdrawals MUST be available to qualifying participants of every 401k plan. 

-- Your company can charge its plan participants a "reasonable" (in the IRS' eyes) fee for processing hardship withdrawals; $25 to $50 is most common.

-- The administrative tools to handle hardship withdrawals are contained within your plan-specific 401(k) Easy software.

-- 401(k) Easy does not charge your company or its plan participants anything for hardship withdrawals.

[topic 12]

What kind of investments are available with 401(k) Easy? Can we offer 401k self-directed brokerage accounts?

401(k) Easy clients can choose to offer mutual fund families and/or self-directed brokerage accounts within their 401k plan.

from among hundreds of SEC-regulated mutual fund families for their company 401k plan. Investment types include:

-- The mutual fund families are all SEC-regulated and all offer a diversity of risk-return scenarios.

-- We often recommend choosing just one family of mutual fund investments for your run-it-yourself 401k plan due to the administrative complexity involved with multiple investment family plans. Each family is designed to encompass the full spectrum of investing needs.

-- Self-directed brokerage accounts (through Schwab, Cigna, Fidelity or others) provide a greater number of investments and investment types, if that's what you're looking for. There's a tremendous selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds as well as stocks (major exchanges and OTC markets), options (covered calls), foreign securities (both listed and OTC), bonds (corporate, municipal, and zero coupon), and certificates of deposit, government obligations, and UIT's.

-- Offer a mutual fund family or self-directed brokerage accounts — or both; whatever best suits your 401k needs.

-- Visit our Investments section for specific listings of potential 401k investment options.

[topic 13]

Why do we have to get a new copy of the 401(k) Easy software each year?

The 401(k) Easy software is, like tax return software, specific to the year for which it was written. It's automated functions take into account numerous regulatory parameters that have been written into the program so you never have to worry about them.

-- Your 401(k) Easy software processes information pertaining only to the tax year for which it was written.

-- The fee you pay for your revised, customized 401(k) Easy run-it-yourself 401k software each year is, on average, 60% to 90% less than what you'd pay anyone to run your 401k plan for you.

-- You pay the $495 401k plan and software system customization fee ONLY at your plan's initial setup, not each year thereafter when you receive your upgraded software.

-- Data transfer is handled automatically in just seconds during installation of the new year's program.

[topic 14]

Why do we pay for "eligible employees," not just those who participate in our 401k plan?

Plan testing requirements set by lawmakers are written in terms of eligible employees, not participating employees; your 401(k) Easy program, therefore, is customized to account for all eligible (not just participating) employees.

The government's goal in creating the 401k plan is to encourage people to save money for their retirement. Lawmakers want all types of employees to make use of the 401k -- especially those categories of wage earners who historically rely heavily on Social Security for their retirement income. Employers are permitted to restrict eligibility to participate in company 401ks somewhat, but government rules have been written to encourage participation among lower-paid and mid-level employees; those who historically rely  more heavily on Social Security and other government assistance during retirement.

There are numerous ways to encourage widespread participation in your company 401k plan. The 401(k) Easy User's Guide contains many suggestions, or you can contact us for ideas before you even have us create your plan.

[topic 15]

How does 401(k) Easy help us keep our 401k in sync with IRS regulations?

We've built several safeguards into the 401(k) Easy run-it-yourself 401k system to help you keep your 401k in line with ever-changing IRS regulations:

-- We program relevant IRS regulations about contribution limits and compliance testing, among other things, into your 401(k) Easy software. For instance, the software won't let you enter a contribution for a participant that will push the participant's year-to-date contribution total over the allowable maximum (and it tells you how much, if anything, the participant CAN contribute without exceeding the maximum).

-- 401(k) Easy runs the all-important ADP (average deferral percentage), ACP (actual contribution percentage), and top-heavy compliance tests that every 401k plan must pass at year's end. Although your plan only has to pass these tests at the end of the plan year, 401(k) Easy can run year-to-date tests as often as you like (we recommend monthly) so you can spot noncompliance trends -- long before mandatory year-end testing is done -- and running those tests is as easy as a mouse click! Consider 401(k) Easy as your in-house 401k Compliance Early Warning Radar!

-- 401(k) Easy allows you to run your 401k plan using the safe harbor method of plan administration instead of using 401k compliance testing, if you prefer.

-- 401(k) Easy will only accept data that pertains to the calendar year for which it was written, so you'll never process data under the wrong year's regulations.

[topic 16]

Does 401(k) Easy help with IRS 401k compliance testing?

Yes -- and you can run year-to-date tests as often as you want to identify any trends toward noncompliance, so you can fix the problem before the final year-end tests.

-- 401(k) Easy runs the all-important ADP (average deferral percentage), CAP (actual contribution percentage), and top-heavy compliance tests that every 401k plan must pass at year's end. Although your plan only has to pass these tests at the end of every plan year, 401(k) Easy can run year-to-date tests as often as you like (we recommend monthly) so you can spot noncompliance trends -- long before mandatory year-end testing is done.  Running practice compliance tests is as easy as a mouse click!  Consider 401(k) Easy as your in-house 401k Compliance Early Warning Radar!

[topic 17]

Does 401(k) Easy help with 401k year-end tax reporting?

Included with your 401(k) Easy system is free access to our 401k FedForms website.

-- The 401k FedForms website contains annotated versions of relevant 401k-related federal reporting forms (Summary Annual Report, 5500 series, 1099-Rs, and more). The annotations tell you where within 401(k) Easy to find needed information.

-- The website also tells you what forms are relevant to your particular plan, and when each form is due to the IRS.

-- The 401(k) Easy software pulls many of the numbers together for you in a brief series of easy to read reports to further expedite your federal reporting processes.

[topic 18]

How else does 401(k) Easy simplify 401k plan administration?

Because we're long-experienced in all aspects of 401k administration for plans of all sizes, we know plan administrators' needs and have created a series of brief, easy to read reports that enable plan administrators to find the information they need -- quickly -- so they can do their jobs -- quickly.

-- Whether it's purchase orders for new investment accounts that accompany the month's contributions to the investment company, or account statements for plan participants, or information on outstanding 401k loans, the information is available at a mouse click.

-- The 401(k) Easy User's Guide contains an index summarizing the content of each report and typical uses for the information; it's easy to determine which report will best suit your needs.



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