Monthly Archives: January 2016

NYSLRS Tax Overview

Tax season is ramping up, so it’s a good time to talk about the tax information related to your NYSLRS pension benefit.

1099-Rs

NYSLRS retirees and beneficiaries who receive a taxable benefit from NYSLRS are sent a 1099-R form each year. Certain NYSLRS members may also receive a 1099-R tax form if, for example, you borrow a taxable NYSLRS loan, default on a NYSLRS loan, or if you end your membership and withdraw your contributions. The 1099-R is a statement that shows:

  • The total benefit paid to you in a calendar year.
  • The taxable amount of your benefit.
  • The amount of taxes withheld from your benefit.

We mail out all 1099-R forms — more than 500,000 — by January 31, so if you haven’t already received your form, be sure to check your mail over the next few days.

If you lose your 1099-R, you can request a reprint from us starting the second week of February. Once reprints are available, we’ll process requests each night and mail them out the next day. This year, reprints will be available for calendar years 2013, 2014, and 2015.

1099-R Interactive Tutorial

1099-r tax form tutorial screenshot

Understanding your 1099-R Tutorial

We feature an interactive tutorial about the 1099-R form on our website. It walks you through a sample 1099-R, and offers a short explanation of specific boxes on the form.

Changing Your Federal Tax Withholdings

Your NYSLRS pension benefit is subject to federal taxes. You can change your federal tax withholding status at any time by sending us a W-4P form. (A handy tutorial about the W-4P form that walks you through the steps on filling it out is available on our website.)

W4-P Tax form tutorial screenshot

Understanding your W-4P Form Tutorial

We also offer a federal tax withholding calculator on our website to help you estimate how much should be withheld.

If you have other tax-related questions about your benefit, please visit our Tax FAQs.

NYSLRS Basics: Becoming Vested

What does it mean to be a vested NYSLRS member? If you’re vested, you’ve reached a major milestone in your membership. Being vested means that you’ve earned enough service credit to qualify for a pension benefit, even if you leave public employment. If you leave public employment after becoming vested, at a later date you can apply for and receive what we call a vested retirement benefit. The vested benefit is based on the service and salary earned when you were an active member with NYSLRS.

When Do I Become Vested?

The amount of service credit you need to be vested is based on what tier you’re in. If you’re a Tier 5 or 6 member, you need ten years of service to be vested. If you’re in another tier (Tier 1, 2, 3 or 4), you’re vested once you earn five years of service credit.

Applying for the Vested Benefit

For most vested members, if you leave the payroll before age 55, you’ll be eligible for a retirement benefit when you reach age 55. Tier 1 and Tier 2 members are eligible for a benefit on the first of the month following their 55th birthday. Tier 3, 4, 5 are eligible for a benefit on their 55th birthday. Employees’ Retirement System Tier 6 members are also eligible on their 55th birthday, but Police and Fire Retirement System Tier 6 members are eligible on their 63rd birthday.

Please note these are the earliest ages that you become eligible for the vested benefit. An early age reduction may apply under certain plans. Please review your retirement plan booklet to see if early age reductions apply.

Becoming Vested

Receiving your vested retirement benefit is not automatic. You must file a retirement application when you become eligible and wish to receive your benefit.

Visit our website to learn more about vesting.

Want to read more in our NYSLRS Basics series? Check out past posts on:

NYSLRS Basics: Member Contributions

As a NYSLRS member, you may be making or have made contributions as part of your membership. When you make contributions, a percentage of your salary joins a pool of money called the Common Retirement Fund (the Fund). The Fund is also made up of employer contributions and investment income. By investing contributions, the Fund helps to meet its obligation of paying out benefits to past, present and future retirees.

What this means for you is that you, and other members like you, are all doing your part to fund your future retirement.

Types of Member Contributions

If you belong to a contributory retirement plan, you make required contributions. This means you must make contributions for the length of time listed in your retirement plan. Some members may contribute for only part or all their public service careers. If you belong to a non-contributory plan, this means you aren’t required to make contributions. Instead, you could make voluntary contributions over the course of your career, if your plan allows it. This would provide you with an annuity in addition to your pension when you retire.

(Check out the “Contributing Toward Your Retirement” section in your specific retirement plan publication to see what contributions you make.)

contributions-ers-pfrs-tiers-3-6

Withdrawing Your Member Contributions

What happens to your contributions if you leave public employment? One option is to take your contributions with you. If you have less than ten years of service credit or aren’t vested, you can withdraw your contributions plus the interest they’ve earned. However, withdrawing your contributions also terminates your membership with NYSLRS. Once your membership ends, you won’t be eligible for a retirement benefit.

Another option is to leave your contributions where they are. After all, if you leave public employment, there’s a chance you may return as well. If you do, then your contributions will be waiting for you when you rejoin NYSLRS. If you don’t return to public service, aren’t vested, and have been off the public payroll for seven years, by law we must terminate your membership. Any contributions left will stop accruing interest.

If you have ten or more years of service credit, you can’t withdraw your contributions from NYSLRS. In that situation, if you’re vested before you leave public employment, you can apply for a retirement benefit at a later date (age 55 for most members).

(Read our publication “What If I Leave Public Employment?” for more information, particularly the taxability of withdrawing your contributions.)

If you have questions, visit our website to learn more about member contributions. Want to read more NYSLRS Basics? Check out our earlier posts on:

NYSLRS Retirees at Home and Abroad

If you’re a current NYSLRS member, you’re a state or local employee who works within New York State. But once you retire, you can spend time in warmer climates or move closer to family.

From an economic standpoint, we’re fortunate to have 78 percent of NYSLRS retirees and beneficiaries stay in New York. As we’ve mentioned before in previous posts, NYSLRS retirees contribute to the New York economy in a big way:

  • $12 billion generated in economic activity
  • $1.6 billion paid in real property taxes
  • $514 million paid in state and local sales tax
  • 60,400 jobs created from local spending

However, we haven’t looked at the other 22 percent of our retirees and beneficiaries. If they aren’t living in New York, where have they gone?

NYSLRS Retirees in the United States

NYSLRS Retirees in US

We’d be lying if we said we were surprised that Florida is the state with the second highest number of NYSLRS retirees and beneficiaries. Florida is currently home to 35,014 NYSLRS retirees. (Keep in mind New York is home to 337,406.) And you can find many other retirees and beneficiaries all along the East Coast…

  • North Carolina: 8,190
  • New Jersey: 7,171
  • South Carolina: 5,105
  • Pennsylvania: 4,300
  • Virginia: 3,585

…the West Coast…

  • California: 2,226
  • Oregon: 284
  • Washington: 478

…and even as far as Alaska (currently 60) and Hawaii (116). All told, 429,591 NYSLRS retirees and beneficiaries live throughout the United States and its territories.

NYSLRS Retirees Around the Globe

Where in the world are NYSLRS Retirees?Out of our 430,308 total NYSLRS retirees and beneficiaries, there are only 717 globetrotters. These retirees and beneficiaries live throughout the world, with the most common countries being:

  • Canada: 164
  • Israel: 56
  • United Kingdom: 36
  • Italy: 31
  • Jamaica: 31

Whether you retire close to home or move away, you’ll always be a part of NYSLRS. Make sure you stay in the loop about your benefits by visiting our Retirees home page.