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I separated from a company on 12/30/2015. Feb 2016 I paid $60 distribution fee to rollover the entire 401K balance to an IRA. Fast forward 4 yrs, in March of 2020 I get an email "your statement is available" from the old company. Log in to the supposedly closed 401K account and see that a $600 deposit was made in January 2020. Of course, with the onset of the pandemic, the balance was now $400. I called the plan administrator at the company and she would not explain it. Called 4 other ex-employees of the same company, 3 had similar deposits ($400, $450, $500) made. I spoke to someone at the plan provider (Ascensus), she said it was very unusual. However, she said I would have to pay another $75 plus taxes to withdraw it.

Question: why would the amounts be "rounded off"? Who/How was it decided that I would get $600 exactly? Did something illegal occur and an audit found it? If it was my money all along, they could have mailed me a check. I should say that the relationship is adversarial with the old company. Not nice people.

Edit to add information...same company that I worked for made the deposit. I was 100% vested, and it was not a bonus. There WAS a problem with my final paycheck. ~$40 was put into my 401K, ~$24 of my money pre-tax, and ~$16 company match. The company sent me several demand letters, first they wanted all 40, then just their 16. It was their mistake and I refused to return any of it. That makes them paying me $600 after 4 yrs all the stranger.

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    we can only guess. The least the plan should be able to do is to tell you who deposited the money, and then you contact with them with further questions.
    – littleadv
    Jul 26, 2023 at 15:30

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I have heard of deposits into a 401(k) the year after leaving the company. This occurs when there is a profit sharing or similar bonus paid after you leave but you still qualified for it.

I have seen money removed from an account after employment ends because you weren't 100% vested in the company match portion. This deduction usually is done x years after you leave or whenever you roll the funds into an IRA or your new company's 401(k).

4 years later is very unusual. But so is a mistake remaining for 3 more years.

I wouldn't want to transfer the funds into a retirement account and then have to return them. I wouldn't want to put the money into a non-retirement account, and then have to return it after paying taxes. I certainly don't want to pay $75 more to get the funds.

If they were funds from your pay they would have ended up in the employee contribution section of the statement. They could be Roth or non-Roth. If it was company money it would be in that section.

Question: why would the amounts be "rounded off"? Who/How was it decided that I would get $600 exactly?

I have seen bonuses where everybody gets $x. I have seen ones where it is a percent of pay.

Did something illegal occur and an audit found it?

Unless your typical paycheck contribution amount was a nice round number I wouldn't think it was because they forgot to put your last paycheck into the account. But a missing check is the type of thing that could have been caught in a audit.

I would keep digging. There has to be a reason.

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  • Thanks mhoran_psprep. I'm not sure where or how to dig. Rumour has it the company "found" some excess cash at some point and couldn't keep it. I feel something shady went on. Jul 26, 2023 at 17:53

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