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SECURE Act Passes in Congress

2019 saw the passage of the SECURE  (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act at the eleventh hour.  We wrote late last year about some key provisions to the act that have potential to impact your retirement accounts, depending on your finances (please see

This post summarizes key provisions and provides a link to more detail on the Act.

Key Provisions of the SECURE Act

We paraphrase liberally here from a detailed discussion on Michael Kitces’ blog at This analysis was written by guest blogger Jeffrey Levine, CPA/PFS, CFP®, CWS®, and MSA.

Provisions Impacting IRAs

  • Elimination of the lifetime “stretch” provision for non-spouse beneficiaries of inherited IRAs and other retirement accounts, replaced by a 10-year time limit for taking distributions.
  • RMDs for IRAs required to begin at age 72 (instead of age 70 1/2).
  • Removal of age 70 ½ for contributions (yes, if you are still working at age 72, this could mean both contributing and taking distributions at the same time!).
  • $5,000 qualified birth or adoption distribution.
  • Taxable non-tuition fellowship and stipends treated as compensation for IRA purposes.
  • Non-deductible IRA contributions can be made with certain foster care payments.

 401(k) Provisions

  • Provision of ERISA fiduciary Safe Harbor for selecting annuity provider for retirement plans.
  • Creation of a “distributable event” for annuities no longer allowed as plan investment choices.
  • Tax credits for small businesses that establish certain retirement plans.
  • Maximum contribution for 401(k) automatic enrollment increased to 15%.
  • Long-term, part-time employees who work at least 500 hours in at least 3 consecutive years will be eligible to participate in their employer’s 401(k) plans.
  • Multi-Employer Plans may maintain qualified status overall if only one employer’s portion is disqualified.
  • Elimination of 401(k) loans made via credit card or similar arrangements.

Other Provisions

  • Employers may adopt employer-funded plans up to the date of the employer’s tax return.
  • Increased penalties for employers failing to file taxpayer and employee benefit plan returns.
  • Qualified 529 expenses expanded to include apprenticeship and student loans.
  • Kiddie tax reverts to older rules so that children’s unearned income is taxed at parent tax rates.
  • Allowance of Qualified Disaster Distribution of up to $100,000 per disaster from retirement accounts.

Tax Extenders

  • Discharge of qualified personal residence indebtedness is excluded from gross income.
  • Allowance of the mortgage insurance premium deduction.
  • Deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses.
  • Adjusted Gross Income “hurdle rate” for qualified medical expenses to remain at 7.5%.
  • Miscellaneous incentives for economic growth, energy production and green initiatives.


We hope this recap of the SECURE Act has been helpful.  If you have questions or issues because you think you may be impacted, we welcome the opportunity to discuss them with you. In fact, as last year progressed, we were discussing the potential impact on current clients and have been incorporating it into plan recommendations. And of course, we always recommend that you discuss issues concerning taxes with your tax advisors.