Does a Cash Balance Plan Apply to all Employees? The ‘Simple’ Guide

Looking to Get $100,000+ Into Retirement?

We'll show you the #1 tax and retirement strategy!

You may have set up a cash balance plan to make a considerable contribution for yourself. However, does a cash balance plan apply to all employees?

This question is critical to understanding how a cash balance plan works. You will see that they work great for high-income solo business owners but are more challenging with businesses with many employees.

In this post, we will talk a little bit about what employees must receive a contribution under the plan. We will also discuss the restrictions and limitations when you have many employees. Let’s get started.

Quick Links:

A Qualified Retirement Plan

A cash balance plan is what’s considered a qualified plan. This means that it qualifies for tax deferral and must follow nondiscrimination rules. However, the nondiscrimination rules are slightly more flexible for cash balance plans.

You do have to make a contribution to all eligible employees. However, eligibility can be restricted to exclude the following employees who:

  • are under the age of 21
  • work less than 1000 hours a year
  • were hired during the current plan year

Once you’ve determined the eligible employees, you have to include 40% of them in the plan. This percentage would also include owners.

As a general rule, the owners will still be able to make large contributions while you’ll give much smaller ones to the employees. Generally, we like to see 85% to 90% of the contribution allocated to the owner. In most situations, this will make economic sense.

But you can get a lower percentage allocated to owners and still have it make a lot of sense. That’s especially true if owners are behind in retirement contributions or are in a very high federal and state tax bracket.

Retirement planning is a crucial aspect of financial security, and employers play a vital role in helping their employees prepare for life after work. One retirement savings option that has gained popularity in recent years is the cash balance plan.

Unlike traditional pension plans, which may have limitations or exclusions based on tenure or employment status, cash balance plans offer a more inclusive approach. This article explores how cash balance plans apply to all employees, regardless of their age, employment status, or salary level, and highlights the benefits they provide for a diverse workforce.

Cash Balance Plan Advantages

One of the key advantages of cash balance plans is their ability to cater to employees of all ages. While traditional defined benefit pension plans tend to favor long-term employees who have spent many years with a company, cash balance plans offer a fair retirement solution for both young and seasoned employees.

Each participant’s account receives a predetermined annual contribution, typically a percentage of their salary. This means that even employees who join a company later in their careers can benefit from the plan, as their individual accounts grow based on their annual contributions and interest credits.

Looking to Get $100,000+ Into Retirement?

We’ll show you the #1 tax and retirement strategy!

Furthermore, cash balance plans do not discriminate based on salary levels. Unlike some retirement plans that impose income restrictions or contribution limits, cash balance plans provide a uniform benefit formula that applies to all employees.

This ensures that employees across various income brackets have equal access to retirement savings and can accumulate funds at a consistent rate, regardless of their earnings. By eliminating income-based barriers, cash balance plans promote fairness and equity in retirement planning, fostering a sense of inclusivity among employees.

Flexibility and Portability

Cash balance plans offer flexibility and portability, making them suitable for employees in different stages of their careers. The flexibility lies in the various distribution options available upon retirement or separation from the company.

Participants can choose to receive a lump-sum distribution, which provides the entire account balance in a single payment. This option can be particularly appealing to employees who have alternative investment opportunities or immediate financial needs.

Alternatively, employees may opt for a rollover to an individual retirement account (IRA) or transfer the funds into another employer-sponsored retirement plan. This flexibility allows employees to carry their retirement savings forward, even if they change jobs or industries.

The portability of cash balance plans makes them attractive to younger employees who may be more likely to change employers or pursue entrepreneurial ventures throughout their careers. By providing the means to preserve and grow retirement savings regardless of employment circumstances, cash balance plans empower employees to take control of their financial futures.

Does a Cash Balance Plan Apply to all Employees?

In today’s rapidly evolving work landscape, where gig economy jobs, contract work, and freelance opportunities are becoming increasingly prevalent, traditional pension plans may not adequately address the retirement security needs of all employees. Cash balance plans offer a solution by providing a dependable retirement savings vehicle that is not contingent on a lengthy tenure with a single employer.

For employees in industries with high turnover rates or those who experience frequent job changes, cash balance plans ensure that retirement savings remain intact and continue to grow over time. This mitigates the risk of losing accrued benefits when transitioning between jobs. By providing a consistent and portable retirement savings option, cash balance plans offer employees a sense of stability and peace of mind, even in uncertain career trajectories.

Final Thoughts

Cash balance plans have emerged as a flexible and inclusive retirement savings option that applies to employees of all ages, income levels, and career stages. These plans eliminate many of the barriers associated with traditional pension plans, offering equal opportunities for retirement savings accumulation.

With their fairness, flexibility, and portability, cash balance plans empower employees to take charge of their financial futures, regardless of the evolving nature of the workforce. By embracing cash balance plans, employers can foster an inclusive

Paul Sundin

Get a FREE 30 Minute Consultation

Reach out to us today and we'll show you our favorite strategies! We can show you how to structure a plan for maximum tax benefit and provide you with a custom plan design.

Leave a Comment