What is a 403(b)/TSA

    A 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) plan is a retirement plan offered by public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations. An individual’s 403
    (b) annuity can be obtained only under an employer’s TSA plan. Generally, these annuities are funded by elective deferrals made under salary
    reduction agreements and nonelective employer contributions.

    Who can establish a 403(b) plan?
    You are allowed to have a 403(b) plan if you are a:
    Public school, college or university or
    Charitable entity tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Code.

    How do 403(b) plans work?
    Basically, 403(b) plans are similar to 401(k) plans. Just as with a 401(k) plan, a 403(b) plan lets employees defer some of their salary. In this case,
    their deferred money goes to a 403(b) plan sponsored by the employer. This deferred money generally does not get taxed by the federal
    government or by most state governments until distributed.

    What are the advantages of participating in a 403(b) plan?
    There are significant tax advantages for participants in a 403(b) tax-sheltered accounts:

    Contributions to a 403(b) account are tax deferred
    Earnings on a 403(b) account are also tax deferred

    403(b) Financial Hardship Distribution Rules
    First and foremost, tax deferred savings plans such as 403(b)s, 401(k)s and 457s are designed to allow employees to save money for retirement
    while employed. They are considered long term investments and the IRS have imposed restrictions in the form of stiff penalties to discourage
    employees from accessing the funds in the account before retirement which are commonly called an “early or premature distribution”.

    Generally, a distribution cannot be made from a 403(b) account until the employee:
    • reaches 59 ½,
    • has a severance from employment,
    • dies,
    • becomes disabled,
    • has a qualified reservist distribution, or,
    • encounters financial hardship

    For a distribution from a 403(b) plan to be on account of hardship, it must be made on account of an immediate and heavy financial need of the
    employee and the amount must be necessary to satisfy the financial need. The need of the employee includes the need of the employee's spouse
    or dependent or the employee's non-spouse or non-dependent beneficiary.

    Whether a need is immediate and heavy depends on the facts and circumstances. The IRS allows hardship distribution if it is used to pay for:

    (1) certain medical expenses;
    (2) costs relating to the purchase of a principal residence;
    (3) tuition and related educational fees and expenses;
    (4) payments necessary to prevent eviction from, or foreclosure on, a principal residence;
    (5) burial or funeral expenses; and
    (6) certain expenses for the repair of damage to the employee's principal residence.

    Expenses for the purchase of a boat or television would generally NOT qualify for a hardship distribution. A financial need may be immediate and
    heavy even if it was reasonably foreseeable or voluntarily incurred by the employee.

    A distribution is not considered necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee if the employee has other resources
    available to meet the need, including assets of the employee's spouse and minor children.

    A distribution is deemed necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee if:
    (1) the employee has obtained all other currently available distributions and loans under the plan and all other plans maintained by the employer; and
    (2) the employee is prohibited, under the terms of the plan or an otherwise legally enforceable agreement, from making elective contributions and
    employee contributions to the plan and all other plans maintained by the employer for at least 6 months after receipt of the hardship distribution.

    A hardship distribution may not exceed the amount of the employee's need. However, the amount required to satisfy the financial need may include
    amounts necessary to pay any taxes or penalties that may result from the distribution.

    Please note that hardship distributions are not necessarily exempt from an additional 10% tax penalty. In addition, withdrawals of this type are
    subject to federal income tax as they are viewed as ordinary income.

    Proper documentation and Plan Administrator approval are required for financial hardship distribution applications.
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