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Free Tax Help

By Ken E Morris

For many self-employed individuals and small business owners, employer retirement plans are a key part of retirement savings. Understanding how the employer retirement plan fits into an overall retirement plan is important to being able to plan adequately for retirement.

Congress believes that employers should be encouraged to assist individuals in this retirement planning stage. Congress recognizes that although many employees understand the importance of setting money aside, few understand the link between their retirement savings and their overall retirement planning. Therefore, Congress now permits employers who sponsor an employer retirement plan to provide Qualified Retirement Planning Services to employees or their spouses as a tax-free fringe benefit.

What makes this new development particularly interesting to self-employed individuals and small business owners is that it permits them to spend pre-tax dollars on retirement planning services. Additional benefits include increases in employee job satisfaction and retention, and employee plan participation.

The retirement planning service is available on an employer-paid basis. The value of the Qualified Retirement Planning Service itself is not charged to the employee or included in taxable income. Thus, the value of the service is not subject to Social Security, Medicare, or income tax withholding.

Highly compensated employees may only exclude the value of the service from income if the service is available on a non-discriminatory basis to each member of the group of employees that is normally provided education and information regarding the employer plan. This group of individuals generally includes all participants in the employer retirement plan. However, the IRS may permit employers to restrict retirement advice to individuals nearing retirement age under the plan.

The Qualified Retirement Planning Services an employer provides may include advice and information regarding retirement planning for an individual and/or his spouse about how the employer retirement plan fits into their overall retirement plan. Employer retirement plans includes SEPs, SIMPLEs, Profit Sharing Plans, Money Purchase Pension Plans, 401(k)s plans, annuity plans, and 403(b) and 457 plans. As always, the value of any tax preparation, accounting, legal or brokerage services provided by the employer must still be included in the taxable income of the employee.

If the availability of using pre-tax dollars to get good professional retirement planning advice is attractive to you, you will want to contact a qualified financial advisor. A qualified financial advisor can provide more information on the Qualified Retirement Planning Services available to you and your spouse.

About the Author: “Can somebody please help me watch, manage, invest or oversee my 401k” is the question Mr. Morris hears most often that causes him the most concern. Fearing the American worker is being left in the dark, Mr. Morris, a fee based Investment Advisor Representative, based in Central Ohio, with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., helps 401k participants get the most out of their retirement plan. Let Ken Morris be your 401k Watchdog, with InvestMy401k.

Source: www.isnare.com