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The Colorado Secure Savings Program Explained

October 04, 2022



  • Colorado SecureSavings Program is an Auto-enroll Roth IRA
  • The program is currently in its pilot phase with the plan set to begin phasing in businesses in 2023
  • Once in place, the Colorado SecureSavings Program will be required by all Colorado businesses with five or more employees that have been in business for two or more years


In a 2017 bill, Colorado both announced a retirement mandate and instituted Colorado SecureSavings, a state-run retirement savings alternative.

In recent years, confidence in Social Security has been on the decline with 64 percent reporting that they are not confident that the program will remain viable by the time they need it according to a 2022 principal study.

On top of this, according to the information on the Colorado SecureChoice website, almost a million workers in Colorado do not have access to retirement savings. This program intends to address both issues by providing access to a retirement savings program to most workers in the state.

What Type of Plan is Colorado SecureSavings?

Colorado SecureSavings is a Payroll Deduction Roth IRA. While each employer is responsible to enroll in a retirement program if they meet the criteria detailed below, each employee under an enrolled employer is automatically enrolled after a 30-day opt-out period.

The investments are made with after-tax contributions automatically deducted from each employee’s paychecks. Employees can opt out at any time.

What’s unique about Colorado SecureSavings is that it has joined forces with New Mexico to create the first multi-state-run IRA. However, don’t expect the program to be the same for both states. Despite this joint venture, there will be key differences between the two such as eligibility requirements and plan rollout timeline.

When Can A Business Enroll?

Colorado SecureSavings is currently in its pilot phase operating with a select group of Colorado businesses. It will officially launch early next year, although the dates are not set in stone.

What Businesses are Required to Enroll?

The program will be initiated in phases starting with larger companies. Smaller companies will have more time to sign up for Colorado SecureSavings or a qualified alternative than larger companies. Details about the implementation phases is planned to be released later this year. Once all phases have been established, participation is mandatory for the below employers.

Employers that:

  • Have operated for at least two years,
  • Employ at least five workers

To participate, employees must:

  • Be at least 18 years old,
  • Be employed and receive wages from their employer,
  • Not receive benefits from another retirement plan, and
  • Have worked for the employer for at least six months.

How Much Can Employees Contribute?

Employees that are a part of companies that are enrolled in Colorado SecureSavings have a 30-day opt-out period. If they take no action, they will be enrolled at the default contribution rate of 5 percent annual pay. Contributions are limited by annual IRS contribution rates.

IRA contribution rates, however, differ significantly from those of a 401(k). While the annual contribution limit for IRAs is $6,000 (2022), 401(k)s and other similar plans have a contribution limit of $20,500 (2022), well over three times as much.

What if I Don’t Comply With the Colorado Retirement Mandate?

Businesses that do not comply with the Colorado retirement mandate will be fined $100 per employee up to $5000 annually. Employers do not need to worry about fines until after the Colorado SecureSavings Program is required for businesses of their size, however, it is best to prepare in advance with a qualified plan or enroll in Colorado SecureChoice to avoid paying hefty fines.

Are There Other Retirement Plan Options?

Fortunately, employers in Colorado are not forced to enroll in the state-run program if they enroll in a qualified retirement plan. Qualified plans include:

  • 401(a)
  • 401(k)
  • 403(a)
  • 403(b)
  • 408(k)
  • 408(p)
  • 457(b)

Each plan type has its benefits and drawbacks. If you are unsure which plan is right for you, we will help you find the right match for your business.

If you already offer retirement benefits you can certify your exception when the program officially launches.

If you are not satisfied with the offerings of the Colorado SecureChoice program, get in contact and we will help you build a plan for your business.

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