401(k) and pension plans in the US

What is the difference between a 401(k) and pensions plans in the US?

If you plan to retire in the US, you should have a traditional pension plan or a defined contribution scheme– such as a 401(k) account. While both provide money in retirement, there are differences between all the pension plans in the US.

Our US advisers have listed below the various schemes you can have in the US. At Hoxton Capital Management USA LLC, we understand the complications of managing multiple schemes and trying to get them invested, along with tax implications. Our US-qualified advisers can help you create a retirement plan that works best for where you are and what you need in the future. Get in touch to speak with an adviser today.

The information contained herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes. 

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401(k) What is it?

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan. If an employee is offered a 401(k) plan, they can contribute part of their wages to fund the 401k, within the annual limitations. We can help with managing the funds and can consolidate them. Speak with an adviser about this.


  • Protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)
  • Matching Funds – Employer can contribute as well (Up to $38,500)
  • Higher annual contribution limit compared to most others
  • Mostly free investing advice
  • Tax-deferred account


  • Limited Investment options
  • Higher account fees
  • Early withdrawal fees
  • If HNW, then the contribution limits may not be high enough

Maximum Contributions

  • Up to $20,500 PA for 2022

  • Catch-up contribution limited to $6,500

  • Employer limit $40,500

  • The total limit is $61,000


  • Withdraw available from 59½ without early withdrawal penalties. Must take minimum distributions at age 72
  • Taxed at usual income tax rate
  • Withdrawal before 59½ would probably result in a 10% tax penalty from the IRS
  • If employment is lost between 55 and 59½, it is possible to withdraw the 401k from the most recent employer without penalty
  • Can continue to contribute even after a withdrawal is made
USA pensions IRA

Traditional IRAs What is it?

Sometimes known as deductible IRAs, they are the original. Contributions are tax-deductible, so they reduce the taxable income and, therefore, federal taxes. Earnings grow tax-deferred until withdrawal.

We can help with managing the funds and can consolidate them. Speak with an adviser about this.

  • Tax deferrable
  • No tax payments until withdrawal
  • Can pass on as an inheritance
  • Full autonomy over investment strategy
  • Taxed on withdrawals at income tax rate
  • Early withdrawal penalties


  • Withdrawal can begin without penalty at 59½

  • Withdrawals must begin by 70½

  • Withdrawing before 59 ½ will result in a penalty of 10%, usually


Roth What is it?

A Roth IRA is a special individual retirement account (IRA) where you pay taxes on money going into your account, and then all future withdrawals are tax-free. Similar to an ISA in the UK.

We can help with managing the funds and can consolidate them. Speak with an adviser about this.

  • Savings grow tax-free as the tax was paid at entry
  • No required minimum distributions
  • A Roth can enable you to keep your tax bracket lower by juggling accounts
  • Tax paid upfront
  • The maximum contribution is low
  • There are income limits to having a Roth. However, you can convert your traditional to a Roth with no income limits
  • Can only contribute if household income less than $208,000

Maximum Contributions

  • Under 50 – $6,000

  • Over 50 – $7,000


  • No penalties for withdrawing contributions on a Roth IRA at any age

  • If withdrawing before 59½ or inside the first five years of holding the account

Pension transfer to USA

What is a 401(k) rollover?

A 401(k) rollover is when you direct the transfer of money in your 401(k) plan to a new 401(k) plan or IRA. The IRS allows 60 days from the date you receive an IRA or retirement plan distribution to roll it to another plan or IRA. At Hoxton Capital Management USA LLC, we can help consolidate the plans and manage the investments as we do with the UK SIPPs.

How can Hoxton Capital Management USA LLC help you rollover?

You would prefer to have someone manage it for you and take away the stress

  • At Hoxton Capital Management USA LLC, we are fully licenced by the SEC, and our US-qualified advisers have the capabilities to help you with managing your US pensions.
  • Your 401k is likely limited to a small sample of the available investment options. However, with an IRA, most types of investment are available to you, including not just mutual funds but also individual stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). More options can help you develop a better long-term strategy for your retirement savings.

You have high fees on your existing 401k and have cheaper alternatives available to you

  • 401(k)’s can often incur large fees that negate tax benefits and growth. Understanding if you could save more by using an IRA is essential.
  • That is why it is vital to have a US-qualified financial adviser look at your pensions and help you determine what the best and most cost-efficient options for you and your retirement planning are,

More control

  • If you find that a fund in your 401k is not performing well, you may not be able to find another investment option to switch to as easily as you can with an IRA.

Wealth transfer advantages

  • Upon your death, there’s a good chance that your 401k will be paid in one lump sum to your beneficiary. An IRA generally allows you to name multiple beneficiaries—or even trust as a beneficiary.

Fewer restrictions

  • Understanding your 401k is not easy – each company has a lot of flexibility in setting up the plan. The IRS standardises IRAs. Ultimately, there are pros and cons to both the 401k and IRA models, which is why discussing these options with a financial adviser is essential for retirement planning. Our advisers have outlined the process below and the pros and cons.


  • We will help you decide if it is best for you to rollover to another 401(k) plan or an IRA
  • The account must be opened before you begin your rollover if it is an IRA 
  • We will prepare all documentation for the new IRA, including ensuring the transfer of funds is completed in a way accepted by the new IRA institution
  • Consolidation of all 401(k)s
  • More investment choices in an IRA
  • Account can be moved anywhere
  • Current 401(k) is low cost and working well
  • 401(k)s have certain benefits that an IRA may not
  • 401(k)s sometimes allow loans. Although not advised.

Tax liabilities

  • Traditional 401(k) to Traditional 401(k) = No tax liability

  • Roth 401(k) to Roth 401(k) = No tax liability

  • Traditional 401(k) to Roth IRA – Likely tax liability

529 pensions

529’s What is it?

A 529 plan is an investment account that offers tax benefits when used to pay for qualified education expenses for a designated beneficiary.

We can help with managing the funds and can consolidate them. Speak with an adviser about this.

There are two types:

Prepaid Tuitions Plans

  • These let a saver or account holder purchase units or credits at participating colleges and universities for future tuition and mandatory fees at current prices for the beneficiary. They usually cannot be used to pay for room and/or board at colleges and universities and do not allow you to prepay for elementary or secondary schools.

Education Savings Plans

  • These let a saver open an investment account to save for the beneficiary’s future qualified higher education expenses, such as; tuition, mandatory fees and room and board. They can also be used to pay up to $10,000 per year per beneficiary for tuition at any elementary or secondary school.


Many states offer tax benefits for contributing to a 529 plan; however, you must likely be a resident of the state to be eligible.


There is no tax on withdrawal on any qualified higher education expenses. There is a 10% federal tax penalty on earnings if the funds are used for anything else.

Who is Uncle Sam?

Uncle Sam is a common national personification of the federal government of the United States or the country in general; a nickname for the government/tax man.

When do US nationals have to file their returns | FY 2022-23?

  • 1st Installment – June 15th
    • 15% of tax liability
  • 2nd Installment – September 15th
    • 45% of tax liability
  • 3rd Installment – December 15th
    • 75% of your tax liability
  • 4th Installment -March 15th
    • 100% of tax liability

Which tax forms will you need?

  • Form 1040
  • Form 2555 – FEIE
  • Form 1116 – FTC
  • Form 8938 – Specified Foreign Assets

*Note, there are others, but these are the most common.

401K rollover

What can we do for you?

  • Risk-appropriate portfolio advice and management
  • We can advise people who are now living outside the US

Hoxton Capital Management USA LLC, we always recommend that you speak with a US-qualified financial adviser when dealing with various pension schemes and taxes.

Our advisers will work with you to put a retirement plan together and ensure that your pensions are invested well and that there are no tax implications. Managing your various pensions and investments can be complicated. At Hoxton Capital USA LLC, we know the ins and outs of managing US pension accounts and have the time and knowledge to put together the right strategy for you. Talk to us now to start planning.

For more information, download our guide here:

401K pensions

How can we help you?

If you would like to speak to one of our advisers, please get in touch today.

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