Bipartisan Bill Would Allow Electronic Delivery of 401(k) Statements

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Bipartisan legislation was introduced Tuesday to allow 401(k) participant communications to be delivered electronically.

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., introduced the bipartisan Receiving Electronic Statements to Improve Retiree Earnings (RETIRE) Act, which they said would “ensure employers make retirement information easily accessible online, while providing protections for employees who prefer to receive paper documents.”

Under current law, the lawmaker said, “employers are required to waste significant money and paper mailing documents like notices, disclosures and statements to retirees.”

Estimates put the costs of sending just one four-page notice to recipients is between $36 million and $60 million, the lawmakers note.

“We need to make it easier for Americans to think about and plan for retirement,” said Polis in a statement announcing the legislation. “Nowadays, most Americans prefer their inbox to their mailbox. The RETIRE Act makes planning one-click away by giving employees online access to their retirement information. Not only does it make retirement information more accessible, but it helps the environment and reduces costs by cutting back on wasted paper.”

Roe, a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, added that “by encouraging savers to receive their retirement plan information online, this commonsense bill will lower administrative costs, provide more timely access to plan information and allow greater interaction with and personalization of retirement savings,” at a time when more participants are dealing with their financial needs online.

The legislation, Roe continued, “provides important consumer protections, allowing participants to opt out and receive paper statements at any time with no additional cost.”

Brian Graff, CEO of the American Retirement Association, said ARA “strongly endorses this important legislation that would significantly reduce plan costs helping both plan sponsors and participants,” adding that ARA “will be working hard in 2018 to try and get this issue finally addressed.”

Polis—who sits on the Committee on Rules, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the  Committee on Ethics, and the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee—is  also a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators that say they’re “determined to counter congressional gridlock.”

Without tax deferral, 401(k) savings would plummet, a Wells Fargo-Gallup survey found.

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