Qualified Retirement Plan
A retirement plan that is established and operates within the rules laid down in Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, and thus receives favorable tax treatment.
A qualified retirement plan available to eligible employees of companies. 401(k) plans allow eligible employees to defer taxation on a specific percentage of their income that is to be put toward retirement savings; taxes on this deferred income and on any earnings the account generates are deferred until the funds are withdrawn—normally in retirement. Employers may match part or all of an employee’s contributions. Employees may be responsible for investment selections and enjoy the direct tax savings.
A loan taken from the assets within a 401(k) account. 401(k) loans charge interest and are normally paid back through payroll deductions. If the borrower leaves an employer before a 401(k) loan has been repaid, the full amount of the loan is generally due. If the borrower fails to repay the loan, it is considered a distribution, and ordinary income taxes may be due, along with any applicable tax penalties.
A 403(b) plan is similar to a 401(k). A 403(b) is a qualified retirement plan available to employees of non-profit and government organizations.
Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
A qualified retirement account for individuals. Contributions to a Traditional IRA may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your individual circumstance. Distributions from traditional IRA and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.
A qualified retirement plan in which earnings grow tax deferred and distributions are tax free. Contributions to a Roth IRA are generally not deductible for tax purposes, and there are income and contribution limits. Roth IRA contributions cannot be made by taxpayers with high incomes. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal also can be taken under certain other circumstances, such as after the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.
Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE)
A qualified retirement plan that allows employees and employers to contribute to traditional IRAs set up for employees. SIMPLE plans are available to small businesses—those with 100 or fewer employees—that do not currently offer another retirement plan.
Defined Benefit Plan
A retirement plan under which the benefit to a retiring employee is defined. Defined benefit plans are normally funded by employer contributions.
Defined Contribution Plan
A retirement plan under which the annual contributions made by the employer or employee are defined. Benefits may vary depending on the performance of the investments in the account.