Roth 401(k)s are going to continue to gain ground.
The advantages of tax-deferred savings have long been part-and-parcel of the pitch behind 401(k) plans. The notion is simple: defer paying taxes on your savings now, and they’ll add up faster, further fueled by the tax-deferred accumulation of earnings on those balances. And then, the logic goes, you pay taxes on those monies as you withdraw them—years from now—and at rates that, post-retirement, will be lower.
Plan sponsors have long been reluctant to push Roth 401(k)s; their pay-it-now concept on taxes at odds with the traditional tax deferral mantra, and their benefits often seen as skewed toward more highly compensated workers.
However, these days, it’s hard to find someone willing to predict lower taxes in the future, even post-retirement. Moreover, today’s younger (and not-so-highly compensated) workers may very well be paying the lowest tax rates they will ever experience.
To date, most surveys indicate that the participant take-up rate on Roth 401(k)s remains modest, something on the order of what self-directed brokerage accounts have garnered (and in many cases, appealing to the same audience). However, the preliminary results of PLANSPONSOR’s annual Defined Contribution Survey suggest that Roth 401(k)s are cropping up on a surprising number of plan menus. It’s a trend that, IMHO, bears watching.
Please comment or call to discuss how this affects you and your company.