MERIT vs. a Guideline 401(k)

Meet Maine’s retirement mandate with a simple, powerful Guideline 401(k).

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Leave your email or give us a call to get started (888) 228-3491

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A young smiling woman discussing Guideline's 401(k) retirement savings plan solution with a group of coworkers.


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The mandate in a nutshell

The Maine Retirement Investment Trust (MERIT) was established in 2023. It requires Maine employers with 5+ employees to offer the state-sponsored plan or a qualified alternative like a Guideline 401(k). Compare your options

  • 15+ employees

    April 30, 2024

  • 5-14 employees

    June 30, 2024

Meet the mandate and more with a Guideline 401(k)

  • Simple setup

    Get started in 20 minutes. We’ll help you choose a plan that meets the mandate and your business’s goals.

  • Automated busywork

    Integrations with payroll providers means no need to maintain deductions or manually re-enter payroll data.

  • Live support

    You and your team get access to live support, guided employee onboarding, a mobile app, and more.

Compare MERIT with Guideline Starter

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  • Retirement plan type

    Starter 401(k)

    Roth IRA

  • Maximum employee contributions for 2024



  • Employee asset-based fee


    ($15 for every $10,000)


    ($20 for every $10,000)

  • Additional active employee fees


    $26/year account fee

    (charged quarterly at $6.50 each quarter)

  • Monthly employer fee

    $39 / month + $4 per participant


  • Investment options



    (Including Target Date Funds)

  • Professionally managed portfolios



  • Employer match



  • Profit Sharing



Keep your business in compliance. Set up a Guideline 401(k) in just 20 minutes.

Looking for a more robust plan? Look no further.

Starter 401(k) plans do have limitations like lower contribution limits and no employer contributions. If you’d like to set up a plan with more options and flexibility, you may want to consider Core or Enterprise.

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Cody RobinsonIZT Tech
Guideline makes administering a 401(k) almost completely hands-off. In a couple of clicks you’re off and running.Client of Guideline. Views may not be representative of other clients.

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What is the mandate?

The MERIT (Maine Retirement Investment Trust) was created to encourage more people to save for retirement. It requires Maine employers with 5 or more employees to provide access to a retirement plan. The plan can either be a private plan like a 401(k) or the state-sponsored plan.

When does the mandate take effect?

For companies with 15+ employees, the deadline is April 30, 2024.

For companies with 5-14 employees, the deadline is June 30, 2024.

Which employers are impacted by the retirement mandate?

You are eligible to participate in the MERIT Program if:

  • Your business is registered to conduct business in the state of Maine
  • You have at least five Maine based employees
  • Your employees must be 18 years old to enroll in MERIT
  • You don’t currently offer a qualified retirement savings program to your employees

Does Guideline satisfy the retirement mandate?

Yes. All of Guideline's 401(k) plans are designed to satisfy state program requirements and are priced to be affordable for businesses of all sizes.

Can I move from Guideline Starter to a standard 401(k)?

While it is possible for a plan to convert from a Starter 401(k) to a standard 401(k) plan at Guideline, the transition cannot take place until the beginning of the next calendar year. Learn more here.