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Does your organization offer a deferred pay plan that does not qualify as an employee benefit? Designed to reward workers in the far future, these plans are commonly offered alongside tax-advantaged qualified retirement plans like 401(k)s.

It is possible to establish a nonqualified plan so that it will only benefit a small number of employees, or even just one. In other words, there should be no difficulty with it favoring higher-ups in the organization.

Most ERISA regulations and reporting requirements do not apply to a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Further, the RMD regulations that apply to qualified plans are not applicable to such a plan. Employees can delay taking RMDs until they reach age 75.

Federal income tax is deferred until a later period, typically retirement, if the plan is “unfunded,” meaning no sums are deliberately set aside for this purpose.

This has the potential to be an alluring retention and recruitment device. Deferred compensation is not subject to federal income tax until it is actually received by the employee.

If the company is experiencing financial difficulties, delaying payments until a later date may be beneficial. However, this could delay deductions until after payments have been made.

What Is a Nonqualified Deferred Compensation (NQDC) Plan?

A deferred compensation plan is an agreement between you and your employer that you will receive pay at a later date. Nonqualified deferred compensation plans (NQDC) are one kind of deferred compensation plan, while qualified deferred compensation plans (DDPs) are another. It’s how people use the plans and how the law treats them that differentiates the two types.

NQDC plans allow businesses to provide employees with monetary incentives in addition to base pay and benefits. This supplemental income is typically deferred by employers and distributed at a later date. When further compensation or benefits are delayed, the associated taxes are also put on hold. If an employee has already contributed the maximum to a qualified retirement plan like a 401(k), they may want to consider a nonqualified deferred compensation plan.

Share purchase programs and pensions are two examples of NQDC plans. The plans are commonly referred to as 409(a) plans.

Nonqualified Deferred Compensation (NQDC) Plans vs. Qualified Deferred Plans

Choosing between a qualified deferred compensation plan and a nonqualified deferred compensation plan requires careful consideration of a number of factors. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act imposes regulations on qualified deferred compensation schemes (ERISA). Rules do apply to NQDC plans, but they aren’t as stringent as those that apply to other types of retirement plans.

Another major distinction is that qualified deferred compensation plans are subject to income limits while other types of plans are not. A 401(k) is one type of deferred compensation plan that meets these requirements. There is a cap on contributions each year.

Nonqualified deferred compensation programs do not limit contributions. For this reason, they can be useful for high earners who desire to make larger contributions than are allowed under qualified deferred compensation plans. However, there is no assurance that employees will be able to receive NQDC benefits because such schemes are essentially agreements (especially if a company has financial problems and has to declare bankruptcy in the future).

Payment amounts, payment dates, and the occurrence that will cause payment must all be detailed in a written plan. This might be a retirement date, a set date, or something else entirely.

Planning for Your Future with Nonqualified Deferred Compensation (NQDC) Plans

It’s important to remember that not everyone is eligible for a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Consider your individual financial situation while deciding if joining one is a good idea. If you’re not already contributing the maximum to your 401(k) each year, joining a NQDC plan may not be the best use of your time if your goal is to save more money for retirement.

Deferred payments from NQDC plans are normally distributed to retirees. You should consider the impact retirement will have on your tax bracket (or whenever you elect to receive the deferred payments). Since you’ll be paying income taxes on the deferred funds, having a NQDC plan is most advantageous if you end up in a lower tax rate.

The type of investments linked to your NQDC plan is another element to think about. Employer-sponsored plans (such 401(k)s and 403(b)s) are more secure, therefore you may not need a NQDC plan if the investment possibilities are the same as those in your 401(k).

Nonqualified deferred compensation schemes (NQDC) can be used in a variety of contexts. Because of this, they are extraordinarily intricate contracts. Make sure you know exactly what to expect before signing up for one. The advice of a financial planner may be worthwhile. You can learn from such a professional how a NQDC plan may effect your retirement savings and taxes in the future.