Here are 5 IRI ideas for clearing COVID-19 slime off of Americans' retirement nest eggs...

1. Push the required minimum retirement account distribution age to 75, from 72.

This would let some workers hold on to whatever savings they have till they can't work at all.

2. Ease limits on rolling retirement assets into lifetime income annuities.

IRI wants to let a worker put more than 25% of retirement account assets into a qualifying longevity annuity contract (QLAC).

3. Expand retirement plan catch-up contribution opportunities.

IRI says all workers hurt by lockdowns should get the same chance to make extra contributions that workers over 50 now have.

4. Let employees of nonprofit organizations participate in multiple employer plans or similar plans.

The SECURE Act now lets for-profit employers join MEPs. IRI says Section 501(c)(3) organizations should also get to offer MEPs.

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5. Help small businesses use retirement plan startup tax credits and MEPs at the same time.

For a small employer in a MEP, the generous SECURE Act tax subsidies appear to apply only during the first 3 years of the MEP's life. IRI hates that.

Annuity issuers and other life insurers are normally the people trying to remind everyone else in Washington that putting money away for the future matters, and that having a little cash for food and medicine at age 85 may be a lot more valuable than having a bigger house or a nicer vacation today.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19 pneumonia and heart inflammation, has wrenched annuity issuers away from that commitment to long-term savings. Life insurers and annuity producer groups gave enthusiastic support to the CARES Act — a COVID-19 emergency response package that includes a generous retirement account withdrawal provision.

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The provision lets people hurt by COVID-19 or COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines withdraw up to $100,000 from individual retirement accounts or defined contribution retirement plans without paying the usual 10% penalty.

The provision also gives people up to three years to pay income taxes on the withdrawals.

Annuity issuer and distribution groups have accepted the argument that short-term cash needs are so urgent right now that the retirement withdrawal provision was necessary.

Meanwhile, COVID-19, and the COVID-19 control lockdowns, are contributing to retirement nest egg blight all on their own, by saddling people with unexpected medical bills, startling changes and increases in living expenses, and furloughs and layoffs.

The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) — a Washington-based annuity player group that supported passage of the CARES Act — is now trying to respond to  COVID-19 nest egg blight with a five-point plan for increasing retirement savings as the nation recovers from the crisis.

One challenge is that many proposals for helping retirement savers could reduce the amount of income taxes those retirement savers pay, at a time when the federal government is desperate for tax revenue. The proposals may all have broad bipartisan support, until members of Congress start talking seriously about how to pay for the proposals.

For a look at the five points in the plan, see the slideshow above. (Hover your pointer over the sides of the first slide to make the control arrows show up.)

— Read Trump Extends Tax Filing Deadline; GOP Bill Eases Retirement Plan Withdrawalson ThinkAdvisor.

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