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Maine Retirement Savings Program: Details & deadlines for employers

Maine Retirement Savings Program: Details & deadlines for employers

September 19, 2023

In 2021, The Maine Legislature created the Maine Retirement Investment Trust in An Act to Promote Individual Retirement Savings through a Public-Private Partnership in recognition of the benefits to both the State and residents of the State in establishing retirement savings accounts. The MERIT Board is establishing a workplace retirement savings program for employees who do not otherwise have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer. Employees will be automatically enrolled in a Roth IRA Account. Once enrolled, the account will be funded from an employee’s wages unless the employee opts out.

With this plan and law going into effect in early 2024, Here's a closer look at what it means for a Small Maine business with five employees or more that doesn't already have a retirement plan in place for employees. 

Automatic Enrollment into "Maine Retirement Savings Program" (MERIT)

It's important to note that employers already offering qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Simple 401(k)s, or Simple IRAs, are exempt from participating in this program.

Addressing the Northeast Retirement Savings Gap

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 49% of workers in the Northeast have access to a defined contribution plan, leaving many without the means to secure their retirement. Even more alarming, 43% of workers without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan express concerns about having enough savings to cover their retirement expenses.

Key Takeaways:

  • A "covered employer" refers to an entity or individual engaged in business in Maine for at least two years, with five or more employees, that has not offered a retirement plan in recent years.
  • A "covered employee" is anyone 18 years or older with taxable wages in Maine who a covered employer employs.
  • Initially, covered employees will contribute 5% of their salary or wages, with the flexibility to adjust their contribution rates. The law permits annual contribution increases of up to 1%, maxing out at 8%, and does not require employer contributions.
  • Implementation of the program will occur gradually, starting in April 2024. Non-compliance will result in escalating fines, reaching $100 per covered employee after July 1, 2027.
  • Specific registration deadlines apply to employers based on their workforce size.


With the Mandate starting in 2024, the Passage of Secure 2.0 by the Federal Government means there has never been a better time to set up an Employer Retirement plan for your business.

Small business owners who do not currently offer a workplace retirement plan now have an attractive tax deal to start one. By small, I mean businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Section 102 of the SECURE Act 2.0 of 2022 (SECURE 2.0) enhances and expands the tax credits available for your business, if you establish a new (SEP), (SIMPLE) or qualified retirement plan like a 401(k) plan.

First, for businesses with up to 50 employees without a retirement plan that establishes a SEP, SIMPLE IRA or 401(k) plan, Section 102 of SECURE 2.0 increases the small plan startup tax credit from 50% to 100% of eligible costs (capped at $5,000 per year) for the first three years the plan exists. (Prior rules still apply for those with 51-100 employees.)


  • Combining the new law's tax benefits with a custom-designed plan that fits your employer's and employees' goals is a double win for small business owners in Maine.
  • Three years of tax credits that fully pay for a new 401(k) setup and admin fees. Your small business with up to 50 employees can now get a credit of up to $5,000 annually. Over three years this credit could be worth $15,000!
  • Automatic Enrollment credit of $500 per year to employers with automatic enrollment. Credit is applied to each year for the plan's first three years. With Secure Act 2.0 specific plans to have Auto Enrollment, starting in 2025, Auto Enrollment will be required universally.
  • Employer Match Credit granted to small business employers matching contributions to employees 401k up to $1,000 of credit per employee per year.


Comparing Maine Retirement Savings Program (MERIT) with a 401(k)


IIS Financial Services is here to guide you through the mandated deadlines: 

For Mainers navigating this new landscape, we are here to help and can make saving for retirement and meeting state-mandated deadlines easier than ever. As an independent advisory firm based in Augusta and Portland, Maine, Specializing in Retirement Plan Consulting, we can address your questions regarding the legislation's impact on your business and help you explore alternative retirement plans that better align with your business and employees' needs.

To learn more, click the link below to schedule a call or contact David Hanson at (207) 761-4733 or email us at


Schedule a call to see what plan fits your business.




While the information provided is believed to be reliable, it should be noted that accuracy cannot be guaranteed, and this content does not represent a comprehensive analysis of the discussed material.