Maryland Launches Mandatory Retirement Program ‘MarylandSaves’ for Maryland Businesses

September 12, 2022

The MarylandSaves program, a mandatory state-sponsored retirement program, was created in 2016 under Maryland law to address the considerable number of people working within the state that had no retirement plan in place.

The MarylandSaves program, administered by Vestwell (not the state of Maryland), a subsidiary of BNY Mellon, boasts an easy setup and free facilitation to employers. The plan accounts are setup as a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account), an account that is contributed to after taxes, and is subject to all IRS rules related to Roth IRAs. While the program does not currently require (or even allow) employer contributions, that is expected to change.

With the MarylandSaves program’s official launch of September 6, 2022, Maryland registered businesses will begin receiving letters and emails from the state with access codes required for program registration. These codes will be sent any time from September 2022 through several quarters of 2023, so businesses are encouraged to watch out for their arrival.

Who is required to participate in the MarylandSaves program?

Employers that meet the following requirements:

  1. Employers with a ‘work location’ in Maryland, to include remote workers in Maryland
  2. Have been in operation for at least two calendar years
  3. Have at least one W-2 employee
  4. Use an automated payroll system

Employers meeting the above criteria are required to register with the program, regardless of whether they are exempt from creating a new retirement plan.

Am I exempt from the MarylandSaves program?

An employer is exempt from MarylandSaves if they do not meet the above eligibility requirements, or they already offer a qualified, employer-sponsored retirement plan. However, those employers seeking exemption based on an existing employer-sponsored retirement plan will still need to certify their exemption. This links to the SDAT (State Department of Assessments and Taxation) system and will affect business licensing.

Who is considered an eligible employee for the MarylandSaves program?

Any individual that is at least 18 years of age, working for a Maryland employer, regardless of status (full-time, part-time, seasonal, etc.) is eligible for this plan.

Next Steps for Businesses EXEMPT from MarylandSaves

  1. Watch for a letter or email from the state with your access code required for program registration.
  2. Certify your exemption.
  3. If filed by December 1, 2022, you will be eligible for a $300 credit on your 2023 personal property tax return (not for 2022), and every following year. Businesses must file the exemption form every year prior to December 1 in order to receive the SDAT annual report filing fee waiver for the following year’s MD personal property tax return.
  4. In 2023, the program removed the “company has no employees” checkbox from the exemption form, so companies can no longer request the fee waiver for companies with no employees.

Next Steps for Businesses NOT EXEMPT from MarylandSaves

  1. Determine whether to set up a MarylandSaves plan or another qualified retirement savings plan. If you choose to set up your own plan, and depending on the type of plan you select, you may need to act quickly. SIMPLE plans must be set up no later than October 1, 2022, to be effective for 2023. These are generally the most cost-effective option for small employers.
  2. Watch for a letter or email from the state with your access code required for program registration.
  3. Round up employee census information – items such as date of birth, that will allow you to setup the retirement plan for every individual.
  4. If you have chosen to create your own plan (outside of MarylandSaves), then you can certify your exemption. However, if you have not, you will need to register and use the program. A program onboarding video and online help center are both available on the MarylandSaves website.
  5. Notify your employees of impending changes and actions they can take. This step is critical. Resources such as auto-enrollment notifications, opt-out instructions, and other program fact sheets can be found on the MarylandSaves Program Resources page.
  6. If registered by December 1, 2022, you will be eligible for a $300 credit on your 2023 personal property tax return (not for 2022), and every following year. If using the MDSaves program, you do not need to file an exemption to claim the filing fee waiver; the MarylandSaves team will supply SDAT with your qualification information.
  7. Every time you run a payroll, you will need to submit contribution information for each individual to the MarylandSaves employer portal and make any updates to employee census information, including the addition of new employees.

I haven’t received my access code for MarylandSaves. What should I do?

  1. If a company has NOT heard from MarylandSaves, you can request your access code through the MarylandSaves website. On this page, enter the EIN (tax ID) for your company to receive the company’s access code via email.
  2. Once you’ve received this access code, you can proceed with the instructions above, either to file an exemption, or to register for the program.

What should employees know about the MarylandSaves program?

The most important detail to be aware of as an employee, is that if your employer creates a plan through MarylandSaves, you will automatically be signed up for this program with an immediate 5% contribution pulled from each paycheck (increasing by 1% each year until 10% is reached). Upon registration, the employee has 30 days to opt out via their individual portal (or via downloadable form). This must be done by the employee as the employer will not have access to make such a change.

For those employees opting to remain in the program, they will be charged a $30 administration fee per year, in addition to the amount contributed to their plan every paycheck. If a need should arise, the plan allows for a $1,000 withdrawal for emergencies without penalty to the individual.

It should be noted that if an employee is signed up for a MarylandSaves account through more than one employer, it is the responsibility of that employee to balance and manage contributions under the maximum deferral limits (the maximum allowed amount you can contribute from your paycheck to the account in one year). However, Vestwell will be merging the accounts into a single account per individual that will direct contributions into a single Roth IRA. See the IRS website for information regarding Roth IRA contribution limits.

Resources for employers and employees alike can be found on the MarylandSaves Program Resources page, in English and Spanish, at

Post updated 11.14.23


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