Need to Know: Your 401 (k) Options when you leave your job

Robin Weingast 401kThe new year often means a career change for many people. But what does a new job mean for your retirement plan? Here’s what you need to know about changing jobs and your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Typically you have four options – you can leave your money in its account, transfer it to an IRA, move it to your new employer’s plan, or cash out. Each option has implications for your finances, so here are some more details on each one:

Transfer into an IRA
This is an easy option that provides a few key advantages, most notably:

• You avoid taxes and penalties, which means your savings doesn’t take a hit
• You preserve your tax benefits
• Your savings become easier to manage – you’ll have fewer statements, and when it comes time to take your Required Minimum Distributions, you will have a centralized source.
• If you elect to transfer into a Roth IRA, you will avoid RMDs – you can withdraw at your own pace, which is particularly appealing if you anticipate having multiple sources for your retirement income.
• Your investment assortment may grow, since IRAs tend to offer more investment options than a traditional 401 (k).
However, be mindful that if you have company stock in your 401 (k) that has increased in value, then you should explore other options aside from an IRA, since company stocks moved to IRAs are taxed as income when withdrawn.

Keep your savings in your old 401 (k) plan
Many companies will allow you to keep money in your old 401 (k), even after you’ve left. This is certainly an easy option, and it has several key benefits:
• You retain the plan’s investments, fees, and features, plus you buy yourself some time to decide what you’d like to do with your money (all while earning more money)
• You avoid immediate taxation and penalties, and you preserve your tax benefits
• You have the option to transfer your savings at any time – typically once you leave a company, you are free to take distributions whenever you’d like, so you can move your money into a new account at any time.
• If you leave your job in or after the year you turn 55 (50 for public employees such as police and firefighters), you can take penalty-free withdrawals from the account.
You should keep in mind that if you have less than $5,000 in the account, you may not have this option and the plan may automatically roll the money into an IRA. If you have less than $1,000 in the account, you may simply receive a check.

Move your savings to your new employer’s 401 (k) plan
You are not required to move your savings into your new employer’s 401 (k) plan, but it may be the simplest, most streamlined solution for your money. You also benefit from a few key things
• You avoid immediate taxation and penalties
• You preserve your tax benefits
• You may be able to postpone the RMD past age 70 if you are still working
Be sure to fully understand your new plan’s rules, distribution parameters, and fees before you move your savings into a new 401 (k).

Cash out your savings
This seems, on the surface, like an attractive and easy way to access your funds. However, you should know a few things before cashing out your old 401 (k) plan
• The amount you withdraw will also be added to your taxable income, meaning you could lose as much as 49.6% to federal taxes
• You will have less money leftover to reinvest back into a retirement savings option, which will affect your long-term planning
In some cases, you may decide the penalties are worth it – but you should make sure you understand what they are before deciding on the cash out option.

If you have questions about how a job change will affect your retirement plan, then we’re here to help. Contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team for more information about how to make the decision that’s best for you.

Need To Know: 2015 Pension Plan Limits

It’s a new year and that means something important for your retirement plan – new contribution limits. In 2015, the IRS has raised pension plan limits to reflect cost-of-living increases. There are new limits for 401(k)-related plans as well as others. We’ve summarized the new limits (and given you a six-year overview of plan limits) in this helpful chart:Robin_Weingast_Plan_Limits

Based on these new limits, it’s more important than ever for you and your employees to review your retirement plans. The Robin Weingast & Associates team is here to help you understand the new limits and make sure you maximize their potential and opportunities. Contact us today to make sure your benefits are working for you.

Resource of the Month: Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business

Robin_Weingast_small_businessThere are over 27 million small businesses in the United States, and small businesses have accounted for 64% of the country’s job creation in the past 20 years. A small business is an independent company with fewer than 500 employees, and it’s becoming clear that small businesses are a vital part of the economic landscape.

The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team knows that small business owners are often so busy with the day-to-day realities of running their companies that it can be a challenge to find time to focus on other important areas – areas like employee benefits. That’s where we come in: using our 30 years of expertise, we work with small business owners to create custom plans that are tailored to each company’s specific goals and needs.

A key part of an employee benefit plan is a retirement savings plan. Retirement savings plans are not only beneficial as recruitment and retention tools, they also offer significant tax advantages to business owners. They are the cornerstone of a strong employee benefit plan, which is why this month’s resource is devoted exclusively to that topic. If you’re a small business owner, than download “Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business” today. This guide from the IRS offers a thorough look at the advantages and options that small business owners have for offering retirement plans.

Download “Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business” today.

If you’re a small business owner who wants to make sure you’re offering a competitive and financially advantageous benefits package to your employees, then download our resource and contact us today. Our team of experts will evaluate your current plan and recommend changes that work for you, your staff, and your bottom line.

The Robin S. Weingast & Associates “Resource of the Month” is a monthly feature that offers a resource guide about an important aspect of your business—including retirement plans, life insurance policies, and much, much more. Each resource guide that we feature will be available for you to download so that you can access our Resource of the Month whenever you need it. It’s the knowledge you need, right at your fingertips! Explore our Resource of the Month series.

Resource of the Month: Traditional Defined Benefit Plans

Robin Weingast Defined Benefit PlanDid you know that with a Traditional Defined Benefits Plan (DBP) you can accrue substantial benefits, even within a short period of time or if you retire early, and that your benefits are not dependent upon asset returns?

These are just a few of the many positive features of a DBP. Before you decide if a plan is right for you, your company, your employees, and your long-term business goals, we think it’s important that you have all the facts. That’s why our July Resource of the Month will give you a comprehensive overview of traditional Defined Benefit Plans, how they work, and their advantages.

As our Resource explains, the most basic explanation of a Defined Benefit Plan is that an “employer contributes an actuarially determined amount sufficient to pay each participant a fixed or defined benefit at his or her retirement.”

In truth, there’s much more to Defined Benefit Plans. Our July Resource of the Month will walk you through how they work, how benefits are defined, additional considerations, maximum benefits, and the advantages of DBP for both you and your employees.

Download the full guide today.

A Defined Benefit Plan may be a great fit for your business and may also help you meet your financial goals. Download our resource today and when you’re ready to talk more about a plan that’s right for you, contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates, Inc. team. We’re happy to put our combined experience and expertise to work….for you.

Resource of the Month: Combinations of Retirement Plans

You probably already know that under federal law, employers are allowed to have more than one kind of tax-deductible retirement plan. What you may not know are the ins and outs of the limits at both the individual and combined plan levels.

That’s why Robin Weingast & Associates has chosen “Combinations of Retirement Plans” as our May Resource of the Month. The guide will give you a detailed overview of:

1)   Individual Plan Limits
2)   Combined Plan Deduction Limits
3)   Combined Plans with 401 (k) Feature

It also provides this handy chart that explains the Allowable Combinations of Employer-Sponsored Plans:

Robin Weingast chart of allowable combinations of employer-sponsored plans

You can download the full guide here.

As always, the Robin Weingast & Associates team is available to discuss what combining retirement plans means for you and your business. Contact us today and we will be happy to assist you!

Miss a Resource of the Month?

Be sure to bookmark our Resource of the Month page so you have the knowledge you need right at your fingertips!

Need to Know: When Should I Start Receiving Retirement Benefits?

Many Robin Weingast & Associates, Inc. clients want to know the best time to start receiving retirement benefits.  Not only do our clients have to make this decision for themselves, their employees often ask for advice on how to maximize the benefits of their retirement plans.  In fact, this is such a common question that the Social Security Administration has prepared a short publication as a guideline.

Some highlights from their recommendations:

1) This decision is personal and involves a careful consideration of many factors:

– Do you want a smaller amount of money each month, sooner or a larger monthly payment for a shorter duration?
– What are your current cash needs (both personally and for your family)?
– Do you have additional income sources?
– What is your current state of health?
-Do you plan to keep working? This will impact your monthly benefits if you elect to receive them before your full retirement age.

2) Life expectancy is longer than it used to be. This is great news that also means your retirement may be much longer than you think.  Approximately one-third of all people who are 65-years-old today will live to be 90. It’s important to consider this when determining a timeline for receiving benefits.

3) Your decision may impact your family—both your spouse and your children who may be eligible to receive benefits.

4) While your total overall benefit distributions will not change, your monthly payments will differ significantly based on when you opt to receive benefits.

Robin Weingast Retirement planning


This chart is from the Social Security Administration’s article and gives you a breakdown on how your benefits differ based on the age at which you opt to begin receiving benefits. It assumes a benefit of $1,000 at a full retirement age of 66. Notice that receiving benefits at 70 versus 62 results in a 32% monthly increase.

The article explores each of these points in depth. If you would like to read more, you can download the full article here.

Have questions?
The Social Security Administration offers several resources on their site, most notably an online benefits planner and an online Retirement Estimator.

Need to talk?
Online resources are great, but as always, the Robin Weingast & Associates, Inc. team would be happy to discuss a plan that works for you. We would also be happy to help you provide your employees with resources to help them make the best decision about when to receive retirement benefits. Contact us today to ensure that your retirement is personally and financially fulfilling.

Robin Weingast featured in the March 2014 Suffolk Lawyer

Robin Weingast featured in March 2014 Suffolk Lawyer sharing her benefit planning expertise.Employee benefit expert Robin Weingast recently shared her 30+ years of knowledge with the Suffolk Lawyer, the official publication of the Suffolk County Bar Association. In “Cash Balance Defined Benefit Retirement Plans—How to Increase Your Tax Deductible Plan Contributions,” Weingast explores if adding a Cash Balance Defined Benefit Plan is a good fit for your company.

As you know, we are currently exploring Cash Balance Plans in our special series (catch up on part 1 and part 2), and in her article for the Suffolk Lawyer, Robin goes into detail on the many advantages of a Cash Balance Defined Benefit Plan, including:

1) The potential for larger tax deductible contributions than permitted under Defined Contribution (401(k) Profit Sharing Plans) for owners and key employees—which shelters your business profits from taxes

2) Tiered benefit levels, allowing partners and employees to have different levels of contributions

3) A greater appreciation of the plan and its benefits by your employees

4) Less volatility and cost

5) Greater funding flexibility


The article also explores if a Cash Balance Defined Benefit Plan is a good fit for your company, and breaks down the many factors to consider, including company demographics (including the age of your staff and your age relative to them), taxes, and if your company has the resources to offer this type of plan.

These are just a few of the many insights offered in the piece. You can download the full article here..

Above all, any benefit plan needs to be thoughtfully constructed and carefully managed by a qualified team of experts. As always, Robin Weingast and her firm of enrolled actuaries, certified pension and employee benefit consultants, and financial and insurance advisors are available to discuss your options for a customized, tax-favorable, and innovative retirement program that is current with ever-changing tax laws. Contact the Robin Weingast team today for more information.

A Special Series from Robin Weingast & Associates, TPA: Cash Balance Plans

Robin Weingast has all the information you need about Cash Balance PlansCash balance plans have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity. However, these plans, which can provide tax-deductible benefits as much as five times greater than 401(k) profit sharing plans, have actually existed for more than 30 years. When the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) resolved much of the legal uncertainty of these plans, small and large companies alike showed a renewed interest. According to a recent research report, the number of cash balance plans increased by more than 23% from 2006 to 2007 and more than 75% of existing cash balance plans are sponsored by companies with fewer than 50 employees.

In our special “Need to Know” Series on Cash Balance Plans, the Robin Weingast & Associates team will walk you through everything you need to know about these popular plans.

As always, the Robin Weingast & Associates team is here to help. If you have any questions about cash balance plans, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help. 

Need to Know: Getting a Copy of a Prior Year Tax Return or Transcript

Robin Weingast Tax ReturnKeeping copies of your tax returns is a smart habit. In addition to needing them for any questions the IRS may have, you will most likely need tax returns to apply for a home mortgage or if you and/or a dependent apply for a student loan. If you haven’t kept copies, the IRS can help you get a copy of a return or even a transcript of other tax information you might need.

What is a tax transcript?

There are two kinds of tax transcripts:

1. A tax return transcript shows most line items from your originally submitted return s well as accompanying forms and schedules you may have filed. It does not include any changes made after filing
2. A tax account transcript shows any changes that you or the IRS made to your return after filing. This transcript includes marital status, return type, adjusted gross income, and taxable income.
It’s important to understand that these are not actual copies of your filed, processed tax returns.

How can I get transcripts from prior years?

Getting transcripts is free, and you can get them for the current year and past three years. You can order transcripts:

Online at, using the “Order a Transcript” option (link: Order a Transcript tool)
• By phone at 800-908-9946, using their menu options
• By mail, by completing a Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. The forms are available online, or by calling 800-TAX-FORM

What if I need a copy of my processed, filed tax return?

For a fee* ($57 per copy), you can obtain a processed, filed tax return. Simply complete Form 4506 and mail it to the address listed for your area.

In general, you can obtain a current year’s return as well as returns from the past six years, but these requests may take up to 60 days to fulfill.

*If you live in a Presidentially declared disaster area, the IRS may waive the fee to obtain copies of your tax returns. Visit and select the ‘Disaster Relief’ link in the lower left corner of the page for more about IRS disaster assistance.

For more information

If you’d like to understand this process step-by-step, you can watch the video How to Request a Copy of Your Tax Return.

Have more questions?

The Robin Weingast team is well versed in the many resources that are available to business owners and individuals. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

Questions about Required Minimum Distributions?

Robin Weingast money imageRequired minimum distributions (RMDs) are the amounts that a retirement plan owner is required—by law—to withdraw each year. Here’s what you need to know about RMDs:

When are RMDs required to begin?
Typically, you will need to begin making annual distributions starting the year that you will turn 70 ½ years old, or the year in which you retire. What this means is that if you are 70 ½ and still work for the company with which you have your 401(k), you will not be mandated to take an RMD from that account.

Important exception: If you own at least 5% of the business that sponsors the retirement plan, you will need to begin making the RMD once you are 70 ½, whether or not you are working.

Do RMD rules apply to all kinds of retirement accounts?
RMD rules apply to:

1) Traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
2) IRA-based plans including SEPs, SARSEPs, and Simple IRAs
3) All employer-sponsored retirement plans including 403(b), 457(b), 401(k), and profit-sharing plans

Important exception: RMD rules do not apply to Roth IRAs (while the plan owner is alive), but DO apply to Roth 401(k) plans.

When do RMDs need to be made?
If you have any IRA account, RMDs must be made by April 1 of the year following the year you turn 70 ½, even if you are still employed. After that, RMDs must be made by December 31 of each year.

How do I calculate my RMDs?
The IRS offers several worksheets and resources to help you understand the amount of your RMD.

Please note: IRA owners have to calculate separate RMDs for each account, although the entire amount can be taken from one or more of the IRAs. However, RMDs from plans such as 401(k)’s must be taken individually from each account.

What else do I need to know about RMDs?
There are some other important elements to RMD requirements:

1) If the plan or IRA owner dies, there are different distribution rules for beneficiaries.
2) If you are still employed and need to make RMDs, your employer still has to contribute to your plan, and you must be given the opportunity to make salary deferrals, plan permitting.
3) If your distributions fall below the RMD requirements, then you will be subject to a tax equal to 50% of the undistributed RMD.

Have more questions?
The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is here to help. We have over 30 years of experience helping our clients with their benefits, retirement, and investment needs. Contact us for a free consultation today.

Content for this post came from this article.