With the debut day of the Roth 401(k) inching closer, it would seem that employers would be enthusiastic, but The Toledo Blade reports that few seem interested in offering the new retirement-planning option.
On March 2, the Internal Revenue Service's treasury division decided to expand 401(k) retirement plans by adding a Roth feature. Soon, Roth 401(k) contributions will be under the same rules as Roth IRAs, which means the contributions will be expected to remain in the plan for five years to receive the tax-free advantage.
But its reception has been lukewarm.
John Hills, a partner at a Toledo accounting firm, said just three of his 35 employees have shown interest in the Roth feature, so he won't be offering it.
"Taxpayers in the lower brackets need the deduction, and those in higher brackets think they may as well take the deduction now because it's a sure thing. I'm thinking it's just not going to be popular," Hills said.
Nationally, only a fraction of companies are ready to offer the accounts. A recent survey by the consulting firm Hewitt Associates found that only about one-third of companies it asked were likely to offer the plans. Another study by the Profit Sharing Council of America found less than one of every five firms plan to offer them in early 2006.
"You don't want to jump in and find out that what you thought were the rules are not actually the rules," said Chuck Gallagher, vice president of human resources for The Andersons, in Maumee, Ohio. "You never know what the government will come up with in the final regulations."
But Jennifer Hildebrand, a trust executive with Toledo-based Trust Co., said, "I see a lot of great benefits in the Roth 401(k). But a lot of companies are waiting to see how it shakes out."