Business and Industry | Financial Literacy | Financial Planning | Practitioners

Give your employees free, easy access to retirement plans with MarylandSaves

Employers who enroll by Dec. 1 will have their SDAT filing fee waived for 2023

Retirement may come as a painful shock to far too many Americans.

About 25% of U.S. workers have no retirement savings and only 36% believe their retirement plan is on track, according to PwC’s “Retirement in America” report. Among those with no savings at all are 13% of those age 60 and above and 17% of those between the ages of 45 and 59. Our oldest workers — those who, presumably, have been saving the longest — have a medium retirement savings account balance of just $120,000. “When divided over 15 years,” Yahoo! Money reporter Stephanie Asymkos writes, “that would generate a modest distribution of less than $1,000 per month and even less for those who outlive their life expectancies.”

It’s a problem that impacts us all. Local and state governments will shoulder an outsized share of the financial burden when it comes to supporting those with no savings — and you and I will be forced to chip in.

But in Maryland and a handful of other states, help is one the way.

A new program called MarylandSaves was launched on Sept. 15 to make it easy for employers to provide workers with access to a retirement plan — a critical first step in boosting the retirement savings of employees throughout Maryland.

“The idea is to make it as easy as possible for employers who don’t already have a retirement plan to offer a state-sponsored plan to their employees,” said Glenn Simmons, acting executive director of the Maryland Small Business Retirement Savings Program. “Our charge was to come up with a plan that is free and as easy as possible for employers to implement.”

MarylandSaves is the byproduct of a law that was passed in 2016 by the state’s General Assembly. The law mandates the employers in Maryland who pay their employees with an automated payroll system or service must offer their employees access to a retirement plan.

When its program was launched in September, Maryland became just the fifth state to enact what Simmons called a “state-sponsored auto-IRA program.” Oregon led the way in 2017, followed by Illinois, California and Connecticut.

“When people reach retirement age and can’t work anymore, that causes a huge strain on social services — Medicare and Medicaid, but others well beyond that,” Simmons said. “Some people seem to think they can live on Social Security alone, but Social Security was never designed to be a full retirement vehicle.”

MarylandSaves: How it works The program is mandatory for Maryland employers. While other states encourage participation with penalties for non-compliance, Maryland chose to use a carrot instead of a stick: Employers who participate in MarylandSaves or offer another qualified retirement program will receive an annual waiver for their yearly $300 State Department of Assessments and Taxation report filing fee.

To qualify for the 2023 SDAT waiver, employers must enroll in MarylandSaves by Dec. 1, 2022. Here’s how:

  1. Register at
  2. Set up your account by uploading payroll and employee information to the system.
  3. Keep your staff lists up to date and submit your employees’ savings contributions.

Employers have no fiduciary or legal responsibilities related to the administration of the program — MarylandSaves handles all of that for you. Employers also are not responsible for program education or enrollment. Just provide MarylandSaves with your employee payroll census data and program personnel will reach out to you and your employees and set up their accounts for them.

Employees, meanwhile, will automatically have 5% of their earnings deposited into their retirement accounts unless they choose to opt out. They also have complete control over their accounts, with the ability to change their contribution rates and investment choices or to completely opt out at any time.

For further details, download these informational slides or visit


Bill Sheridan