Bill to expand MEPs to 403(b) plans introduced


I rarely talk about legislation because so many bills over the years get proposed with zero action by Congress. It took more than 4 years for Roth 401(k) plans to be a thing. However, I want to take time to talk about something near to my heart.


The Improving Access to Retirement Savings Act—introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) along with Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and James Lankford (R-OK)—would expand multiple employer plan (MEP) access to 403(b) plans. It would also clarify that small employers that join a MEP (including a pooled employer plan) may take the small employer pension plan start-up credit for their first three years in a MEP, regardless of how long the MEP has been in existence.


403(b) plan MEPs were never really a major thing because the Internal Revenue Code didn’t say they were allowed and didn’t say they were disallowed, so almost all providers never pursued that road. 403(b) plan MEPs are a terrific idea that are poorly handled by many plan providers because of the non-ERISA flavor of most of them, which means they are loaded with high fees. Most of the worst run non-ERISA 403(b) plans are public school district plans and hopefully, this type of legislation, if enacted, could offer relief to ERISA and non-ERISA 403(b) plan participants.

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