Educators Retirement How Educators Can Retire in Comfort We have been working with Educators since 1991 to make their retirement lifestyle better. State retirement programs generally do not provide the income most educators desire to have after retirement. Fortunately, the government has provided qualified retirement plans so that you can make up the shortfall. Several of our early clients have already retired. They are now very pleased that they started their own qualified retirement plan when they did. It is never to late to start until the end, but the sooner you start the better off you will be in your retirement years.The Tax Sheltered Annuity program was the first and best known plan for educators and has been available for many years. It was established under authority of Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. Actually, the use of the word annuity' is a misnomer because you can invest in mutual funds as well as annuities. Mutual funds, historically, follow the stock market, which on a long term basis has better returns than other investments available to the program. Your investment in a 403(b) is deducted from your gross income and is not taxable. It grows tax deferred. The growth is taxed, as it is withdrawn, after retirement at the tax bracket you are in at that time. In 2003 you can invest up to twenty percent of your salary in a 403(b), limited to $12,000. If you are over fifty you can invest an additional $2,000 to catch up.Recently, the government extended the Section 457 qualified retirement plan, which was originally only for state and local government employees, to educators. Educators can use either the 403(b) plan or the 457 plan, or a combination of the two. The primary difference is that the investment in the 457 plan is made with after tax dollars. Your investment grows tax free and withdrawals after retirement are not taxed. The investment limits are the same, which means that an educator could put away $28,000 this year.With either program the school payroll department forwards your investment to the investment firm so that investing for your future is easy.The amount that can be invested increases by $1,000 per year through 2006 when it will be $15,000, after which it will be indexed to the cost of living index. The over fifty catch-up for the 403(b) plan also goes up $1,000 per year until 2006 when it will be $5,000, after which it will also be indexed. There is no catch-up provision for the educator's 457 plan.For more information, click on the "CONTACT US" button or call 1-800-354-PLAN.