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Between impeachment, trade treaties and a massive spending bill, small business owners and operators would be forgiven if they didn’t catch enactment of the federal SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act. But it may be their ticket to offering employees the kind of 401(k) savings plans that are essential for attracting top talent.

“Anyone looking for ways to better their retirement planning has now caught a break,” wrote Paul Katzeff for Investor’s Business Daily.

The law is designed to give small businesses incentives to offer plans by making it easier to participate in multiple employer savings plan programs. Previously, businesses had to be part of a group with a common characteristic, such as being in the same industry. Now the plan simply has to be run by a common provider.

Another key provision for small business participation is the creation of a safe harbor provisions to protect employers from being liable under certain fiduciary duties. As Katzeff puts it, “Employers who sponsor 401(k) plans get the immunity they have long sought from lawsuits by disgruntled employees who don’t like an annuity they obtained through their plan. From now on, disgruntled employees will only be able to sue the insurer….”

The law also contains several provisions for employees, including changes that allow for contributions to IRAs past age 70 ½ and push back the age for Required Minimum Distributions to age 72.
The SECURE Act was included in one of the two spending bills enacted Friday to prevent the government from shutting down. In addition to the SECURE Act, the spending measure included reauthorization of the export-import bank and another to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program.

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