More than 1.5 million private-sector workers in New York City do not have access to retirement plans through their employers. As an ERISA attorney and Council Member, Ben Kallos led an 8-year effort for “Retirement Security for All” which would auto-enroll employees through employer payroll deduction into a municipally facilitated low-fee individual retirement accounts.
Ben Kallos started by authoring and introducing legislation in 2015 with Public Advocate Tish James to implement the program. In 2016, Ben and Tish worked with a national coalition of state and city governments to advocate before the White House and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) to secure new regulations for states and municipalities. In 2017, Steven Bannon in the White House prioritized stopping our legislation on a top ten list on his whiteboard. Among the first acts of the 115th Congress was the passage of House Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 that rolled back the regulations they had won. While the regulations, simply confirmed that ERISA did not pre-empt state or city facilitated IRAs, New York State and City attorneys didn’t want to risk litigation with the Justice Department in the notoriously strict 2nd Circuit. With a new White House in 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a state-sponsored IRA and Ben re-introduced his auto-IRA legislation. In September 2019, Cuomo still hadn’t even begun steps to implement a state IRA, so the Council held a hearing where Ben brought one of the only existing state facilitated auto-IRAs, OregonSaves, along with national experts to testify at the City Council.
On May 11, 2021, Ben's “Retirement Security for All” auto-enrollment IRA was signed into law. The would apply to employers with 5 or more employees who do not currently offer a retirement option to employees, though smaller employers will have the option of joining. Once implemented, employees over the age of 21 who do not already have access to retirement through their employer would have 5% automatically deducted from their payroll. Employees would be able to drop their enrollment and withdraw initial funds or adjust withholdings up to the Federal maximum of $6,000 (or $7,000 at age 50 or above). The auto-IRA would be portable between employers and likely even jurisdictions. The auto-IRA would be low-fee to participants and no-fee for employers. The “Retirement Security for All” Law that I wrote was almost immediately adopted as a state law.
Our firm is here to help businesses both big and small implement this new policy to minimize your liability while helping employees save for retirement.