This section provides you with answers to the most frequently asked questions about retirement benefits under the International Agricultural Research Centers Retirement Plan Trustee, Limited, herein after referred to as “the Plan”. To learn more about the Plan, please refer to the IARC Offshore Retirement Plan Participant and Investment Guides.
What is the Plan?
The IARC Retirement Plan was established in 1996 to help Center employees save for retirement by investing employer contributions (made by the Center) and voluntary contributions (made by the employee). The Plan is a defined-contribution retirement plan. An individual account is established for you in which your retirement contributions will be deposited. All contributions deposited into your account are 100% vested.
Why use a Trust?
The Plan is constituted under a Guernsey trust, which is a separate legal framework segregating the assets of the Plan from those of the Centers and AIARC, which provides greater protection of assets for the Plan participants (employees).
All Guernsey-based trustees are required to be licensed and are regulated by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC); trustees have to meet all regulatory requirements as a licensed Guernsey trustee.
Who is the trustee?
The trustee for this plan is the International Agricultural Research Centers Plan Trustee Limited, a Guernsey-based trustee company. The trust company is controlled by a Board of Directors elected by members of AIARC.
Who manages the Plan?
While the trustee is responsible for the operation of the Plan, it has delegated plan administration responsibilities to the Association of International Agricultural Research Centers (AIARC). AIARC is a nonprofit membership corporation located in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, that was established by CGIAR to manage personnel benefits for the Centers. As the administrator of the Plan, AIARC is responsible for enrolling participants, depositing contributions for each participant, and performing other duties required for the operation of the plan. The administrator may further designate other third parties to carry out specific duties on behalf of the Plan. For instance, Citibank London is the appointed custodian, and investment fund choices are offered by AllianzGI.
Who is eligible?
You are eligible if you are (1) employed by a qualifying Center and (2) a non-U.S. taxpayer.
Please note that you will be advised by your Center if you are eligible to join the Plan. If you are eligible, you will receive the Offshore Retirement Plan Enrollment Form
enabling your investment funds or LifeCycle Concept
, authorize voluntary contributions to be deducted from your salary, and designate beneficiaries in the event of your death.
Eligible employees begin participation in the retirement plan on the first day of their employment, as advised to AIARC by the Center.
What are Active Participants and Retired Participants?
An Active Participant is a current employee of a Center, while a Retired Participant is a former Active Member (no longer employed by the Center).
What is a Combined Contribution or Combined Member Account?
A Combined Contribution or Combined Member Account is the account of the individual Plan Member that holds both the employer (Center) and the voluntary (employee) contributions.
How much is contributed?
Center Contributions: Your Center will contribute a monthly amount based on the Center’s retirement formula in the sponsorship agreement with AIARC. The contribution amount will be payable from the date you join the Plan until you leave employment. Please contact Human Resources at your Center for specific details concerning the formula (e.g., 15% times gross monthly salary) used for determining the employer contribution amount.
Voluntary Contributions: If your Center is making monthly employer contributions on your behalf, you can make voluntary contributions as well. Your monthly contribution must not exceed your monthly net salary. You may only make these contributions through monthly payroll deduction.
You may increase or decrease your contributions after enrolling in the Plan. However, you must always notify your Center and AIARC of the change to your desired monthly contribution dollar amount in writing. You will receive confirmation via email that this change has been accepted. Voluntary contributions can only be made while you are actively employed at a Center that participates in the Plan and while your Center is making employer contributions on your behalf.
Please note that both your employer and voluntary contributions are 100% vested.
When do employer (Center) and voluntary (employee) contributions begin?
Your contributions will begin after you complete and return the Offshore Retirement Plan Enrollment Form to AIARC. However, your Voluntary (Employee) contributions will begin after AIARC processes your first full month of salary. Please note that no contributions will be made until your form is received by AIARC by the monthly cutoff date.
How can I begin a new or change an existing voluntary (employee) contribution?
You can begin a new or change an existing voluntary (employee) contribution after you complete and return the Offshore Retirement Plan Voluntary Contribution Change Form to AIARC. Please note that no contributions will be made until your form is received by AIARC by the monthly cutoff date.
Who decides what funds I should invest in?
The IARC Plan is a self-directed plan, meaning that you choose the mutual funds to invest your money.
What investment options are available?
The IARC Offshore Retirement Plan offers the choice of 23 investment funds from seven different fund managers representing a diversified range of assets classes, both actively managed and passive index funds, along with a LifeCycle Investment Concept. Information about each fund can be found in the IARC Retirement Plan Participant Guide starting on page 8 on the AIARC.org website. It is recommended that you review pages 1 to 7 of this guide because it discusses important variables that you should consider when making investment decisions such as your personal circumstance, risk tolerance, investment time horizon, as well as the risks associated with investing and the strategies for managing these risks.
Does the Plan offer an ESG fund?
Yes, the plan offers an Environmental, Society, and corporate Governance (ESG) fund for those participants who are interested in investing in a socially responsible way. Information about the ESG fund can be found in the IARC Retirement Plan Participant Guide, under SRI on page 21.
Can I make changes to my account after enrollment?
After you are enrolled in the Plan, you can change your personal details, investment choices, and beneficiaries at any time by creating a personal account on the IARC Plan website. You may also rebalance your allocations and/or switch your investments up to a maximum of four times per year.
Can I transfer money to this Plan from a previous plan?
The IARC Offshore Retirement Plan allows transfers in from another retirement plan. To qualify for the transfer in, the plan member must (1) provide a copy of the prior plan document, (2) provide a copy of the most recent statement, and (3) transfer the entire balance of the most recent statement into the IARC Offshore Retirement Plan.
When do I get access to my Combined Contribution or Combined Member Account?
You will have access to your Combined Contribution or Combined Member Account upon:
- Separating from a Center and attaining age 55;
- Separating from a Center before age 55 and paying the associated withdrawal penalty;
- Transferring your account balance directly to another retirement plan with similar restrictions;
- Becoming totally and permanently disabled; or
If I leave my Center, can I make a withdrawal?
- If you are age 55, you may withdraw money without penalty.
- If your Combined Member Account is less than the Trivial Balance (a Combined Member Account that has a balance of less than $5,000), you may make a full withdrawal (closing the account) without penalty.
- If you are under age 55, a withdrawal (other than of a Trivial Balance) will result in a penalty of 33.33% unless you directly transfer the balance of your account to another retirement plan with similar restrictions, become totally and permanently disabled, or die.
Can I make withdrawals prior to age 55?
Once separated from your Center, a withdrawal prior to age 55, will result in a penalty of 33.33% unless you directly transfer the balance of your account to another retirement plan with similar restrictions, become totally and permanently disabled, or die.
Does the age requirement also apply to withdrawals of voluntary (employee) contributions?
Yes, the age requirement applies to both employer (Center) and employee (Voluntary) contributions.
Can I withdraw my retirement funds if I change my Active Employment status from Full/Part-Time Employee to Consultant?
You can only withdraw your retirement funds if you are no longer an Active Employee and not receiving any Active Employee benefits from AIARC. For example, you cannot withdraw your retirement funds if you are continuing to receive IARC Medical Insurance. For insurance purposes, Consultants are considered Active Employees. Refer to Active Employee Eligibility Classifications.
Can I withdraw my retirement funds if I do not participate in any AIARC benefits?
If you meet the eligibility requirements for a withdrawal and you are not receiving any other IARC benefits (e.g., not enrolled in the IARC Medical Plan) for a minimum of 30 days, you can withdraw your retirement funds.
Why is there a penalty for withdrawals made prior to age 55?
It is standard for international retirement plans that are acknowledged by governmental tax authorities to impose age requirements and assess penalties against early withdrawals to discourage employees from withdrawing their money prematurely and using the money for non-retirement purposes.
Who determined the 33.33% penalty and who receives the penalty?
Each tax authority determines the respective penalty for its own jurisdiction. Thus, the Guernsey Tax Authority approves the penalty for retirement plans in Guernsey.
If I die, what happens to my account?
If you should die, your account becomes the property of your named beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries will have all the options available to them as detailed in the IARC Offshore Retirement Plan Participant and Investment Guides and/or Plan document.
It is very important that your personal details are kept up to date to ensure that the payment of your account goes to the intended beneficiaries.
How are taxes handled?
The Plan neither accounts for nor remits taxes to any government or other entity. However, the fund managers of the investments that you choose may have to deduct tax on income and dividends within certain funds, which cannot be reclaimed.
The tax treatment of any contributions into and any benefits taken (withdrawals) from this Plan will depend on your own personal circumstances and country of tax residency. It is your responsibility and obligation to abide by and comply with the laws and regulations in the country where you are a taxpayer.
If you have any doubt as to the extent to which you may be liable for any tax under this Plan, it is recommended that you consult with a professional tax advisor.