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Cryptocurrency & 401(k) Plans: Is Bitcoin in Your Plan's Future? Thumbnail

Cryptocurrency & 401(k) Plans: Is Bitcoin in Your Plan's Future?

Cryptocurrency has grown in popularity in recent years, and the possibility of using it as a part of your retirement saving strategy is no longer a fantasy.

Some plan providers are offering businesses the choice to provide employees with an ERISA-compliant 401(k) plan that includes a portion of contributions being directed to cryptocurrency assets. With Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies becoming more mainstream, should you consider this choice for your employees?

Like other alternative and speculative assets, cryptocurrency can be illiquid at times, and its current values may fluctuate from the purchase price. Cryptocurrency assets can be significantly affected by a variety of forces, including economic conditions, supply and demand forces and potential regulation.

Crypto Considerations

Bitcoin and other digital assets do come with several potential benefits, but these benefits should always be considered alongside the drawbacks. If you’re a retirement plan provider, weigh the advantages and disadvantages to better understand Bitcoin as a retirement plan choice. 

Consideration #1: Taxes

Bitcoin is taxed like most other assets. The IRS categorizes bitcoin as property, with four additional rules:1

  • If paid in bitcoin, it must be reported on a W-2 and is handled like any other income.
  • Independent service providers may be paid in bitcoin and standard employment taxes apply. 
  • Character gains and losses on bitcoin will depend on the underlying asset.
  • Payments using Bitcoin must be reported just like any other property.

Consideration #2: Opportunity For Diversification

Diversification can play a role in the health of our investments, especially for long-term investments like 401(k)s. Diversifying offers a chance to receive losses and gain, with the hope that the gains outdo the losses. Bitcoin could be helpful as a retirement savings choice by acting as another source of diversification. Diversification is an approach to help manage investment risk. It does not eliminate the risk of loss if security or asset price declines.   

Consideration #3: Potential Volatility

One of the biggest concerns surrounding Bitcoin may be its history of volatility. It has been known to rise and fall quickly, with drops as extreme as 80 percent.2 As a retirement choice, such volatility could be unnerving. In addition, many factors impact the volatility of bitcoin, so measuring them becomes an even greater challenge for investors. 

Consideration #4: Possible Security Issues

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes that digital assets may be impacted by some security issues including:2

  • Password recovery: Bitcoin accounts require a password to access funds. But with no form of recovery, if your password is lost, the funds are lost as well.
  • Susceptible to hacking: As an online asset, cryptocurrency may be susceptible to hacking attempts.
  • Lack of support: You may not receive the same level of support as other forms of investments, especially if your funds go missing.

As a plan sponsor, you may see cryptocurrency as a part of your investment choices in the coming years (or months). With growing popularity, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may be an attractive selection for your plan participants. As you consider, remember to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Work with your plan advisor to review your choices and determine whether or not this may be the right move for you and your employees.

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  1. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-virtual-currency-guidance
  2. https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201408_cfpb_consumer-advisory_virtual-currencies.pdf

The information presented in this article is obtained from or based on sources believed to be reliable. BWC does not represent or warrant its accuracy or completeness and is not responsible for losses or damages arising out of errors, omissions or changes or from the use of information presented in this article. The article does not purport to contain all the information that an interested party may desire and, in fact, provides only a limited view. Information presented does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security.

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal invested. Past Performance does not guarantee future performance. Individual client accounts and performance vary. BWC does not provide tax advice.

About Beirne Wealth Consulting Services, LLC – www.beirnewealth.com

Beirne Wealth Consulting Services, LLC (“BWC”) is a privately owned, SEC Registered Investment Advisor with offices in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. BWC provides independent, fee-based investment management services and customized financial planning solutions. Our institutional business provides consulting expertise to defined benefit and defined contribution plans, endowments, foundations and non-profit organizations. Our private clients include high net-worth individuals and prominent families, many of whom bring complex wealth management challenges and multigenerational planning needs. For more information, please visit www.beirnewealth.com or give us a call today at 888-231-6372.

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