401(a) Plans / Money Purchase Plan Definition

Rocco Beatrice
July 29, 2009 — 1,321 views  
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A 401(a) plan is also referred to as a Money Purchase Plan. The 401a is defined as a type of retirement savings plan that allows you to save for retirement. 401(a) plans are offered by your employer and contributions can be made by yourself, your employer or by both. The contributions that are made to the account can be mandatory or voluntary. Your employer will determine if the contributions are to be made on a pre-tax or after-tax basis.

If your employer has a pick-up provision, the contributions will be made in a pre-tax basis. You may also be allowed to make additional voluntary contributions. If you choose to do this, the contributions will be made after taxes. All voluntary contributions are limited to 25% percent of your salary. There are various methods in which your employer will contribute. They may have a set dollar amount or percentage or they will match a certain percentage of the contributions you make.

There are many benefits to participating in a 401(a) plan offered by your company. If you choose to contribute, you will reduce your income taxes and build retirement savings at the same time. You also have the ability to rollover any savings you have into another 401 plan that may be offered by another company. You are allowed to rollover the funds into a 403(b) plan, an IRA or a 457 plan if you change employers. Any contributions that were made on a pre-tax basis are not subject to any income taxes until you begin withdrawing from the account. All earnings in the account will accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. If your employer offers a 457 plan, you can also participate in that plan while contributing to the 401(a).

If the 401(a) plan is administered by the ICMA-RC, there are additional benefits. You will be able to choose from many investment options. In most cases, there will be no restrictions if you choose to reallocate your investments. You will have no minimum required investments. Anyone who has been designated as a beneficiary will be entitled to receive the entire remaining amount in the account if you die. Payment options are more flexible and you will be able to determine your own payment schedule. When you do begin withdrawing from the account, you will maintain complete control over all the investments that are in the account.

Always be aware of any restrictions your employer may have. Some employers will have mandatory contributions. If this is the case, you are not allowed to cease contributions. Be aware of mandatory contributions. When you enroll in the plan, the decision is irrevocable. With a 401(a) plan, you are immediately vested 100% in your earnings and contributions. It is important to know what the contribution limits are each year. You may incur penalties if you do not adhere to the contribution and withdrawal rules and regulations. Always take the time to completely review these rules. You want to avoid incurring any additional taxes or penalties.

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Rocco Beatrice