What is a Safe Harbor Plan?


Safe Harbor Plan

A safe harbor plan is a type of retirement plan designed to help employers comply with certain non-discrimination requirements set by the IRS. These requirements prohibit highly compensated employees (HCEs) from receiving disproportionate benefits or contributions compared to non-highly compensated employees (NHCEs) in a 401k or other qualified retirement plan.

By adopting a safe harbor plan, an employer can automatically satisfy certain non-discrimination testing requirements and avoid costly penalties that can arise from failing to meet these requirements. Safe harbor plans offer several benefits, including:

  1. Enhanced contribution limits for HCEs: In a safe harbor plan, HCEs can make larger contributions to their retirement accounts without worrying about violating non-discrimination rules.

  2. Reduced administrative burden: Safe harbor plans typically have fewer administrative requirements than traditional 401k plans, which can save employers time and money.

  3. Greater employee satisfaction: Safe harbor plans can be designed to provide generous matching contributions, which can help attract and retain talented employees.

Overall, safe harbor plans can be an effective way for employers to offer a valuable retirement benefit to their employees while minimizing their own administrative burden and legal risk.