Say what you will about 401(k) loans – and we have over the years – they are a fact of 401(k) life and were addressed in the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”). Before we get to the new rules, let’s start with the state of 401(k) plans. Recent data is difficult to come but a research report, An Empirical Analysis of 401(k) Loan Defaults, published by the Pension Research Council in 2010 can still provide us some insight.
For the three year period, July 2005-June 2008, one out of five active participants had loans; and, approximately 80% of 401(k) plan borrowers terminating employment defaulted on their loans – or approximately $600 million. So maybe a provision in the Act could be helpful to cut down the number and amount of defaults.