Are you self-employed? Did you know you have many of the same options to save for retirement on a tax-deferred basis as employees participating in company plans?
Here are highlights of a few of your retirement plan options.
Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA Plan)
- You can put all your net earnings from self-employment in the plan: up to $11,500 (plus an additional $2,500 if you’re 50 or older) in salary reduction contributions and either a 2% fixed contribution or a 3% matching contribution.
- Establish the plan:
- Form 5305-SIMPLE, Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE) – for Use With a Designated Financial Institution,
- Form 5304-SIMPLE, Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE) – Not for Use With a Designated Financial Institution, or
- an IRS-approved “prototype SIMPLE IRA plan” offered by many mutual funds, banks and other financial institutions, and by plan administration companies; and
- open a SIMPLE IRA through a bank or another financial institution.
- Set up a SIMPLE IRA plan at any time January 1 through October 1. If you became self-employed after October 1, you can set up a SIMPLE IRA plan for the year as soon as administratively feasible after your business starts.
Simplified Employee Pension (SEP)
Contribute as much as 25% of your net earnings from self-employment (not including contributions for yourself), up to $49,000.
- Establish the plan:
- Form 5305-SEP, Simplified Employee Pension – Individual Retirement Accounts Contribution Agreement, or
- an IRS-approved “prototype SEP plan” offered by many mutual funds, banks and other financial institutions, and by plan administration companies; and
- open a SEP-IRA through a bank or other financial institution.
Set up the SEP plan for a year as late as the due date (including extensions) of your income tax return for that year.
- Make salary deferrals up to $16,500 (plus an additional $5,500 if you’re 50 or older) of your compensation from the business either on a pre-tax basis or as a designated Roth contribution.
- Contribute up to an additional 25% of your net earnings from self-employment (not including contributions for yourself), up to $49,000 including salary deferrals.
- Tailor the plan to allow you access to the money in the plan through loans and hardship distributions.
- A one-participant 401(k) plan is sometimes referred to as a “solo-401(k),” “individual 401(k)” or “uni-401(k).” It is generally the same as other 401(k) plans, but because there are no other employees, other than the spouse, that work for the business, it is exempt from discrimination testing.
Other Defined Contribution Plans
- Profit-sharing plan: allows you to decide how much to contribute on an annual basis, up to 25% of compensation (not including contributions for yourself) or $49,000.
- Money purchase plan: requires you to contribute a fixed percentage of your income every year, up to 25% of compensation (not including contributions for yourself), according to a formula stated in the plan.
Traditional pension plan with a stated annual benefit you will receive at retirement, usually based on salary and years of service.
Benefit may also be defined based on a cash balance formula in a hypothetical individual account (a cash balance plan).
Maximum annual benefit can be up to $195,000.
Contributions are calculated by an actuary based on the benefit you set and other factors (your age, expected returns on plan investments, etc.); no other annual contribution limit applies.
Retirement plans for self-employed people were formerly referred to as “Keogh plans” after the law that first allowed unincorporated businesses to sponsor retirement plans. Since the law no longer distinguishes between corporate and other plan sponsors, the term is seldom used.
Dollar figures are for 2011 and are subject to annual cost-of-living adjustments.
- Self Directed Brokerage Accounts (401k-plan-blog.com)
- SBO 401K for Partnership Businesses: Easy Method of Making Retirement Contributions (401k-plan-blog.com)
- 100% Contributions with Solo 401k (401k-plan-blog.com)
Avoid a Compliance Examination of Your Retirement Plan by Completing Your 401(K) Compliance Check Questionnaire
By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
Are you one of the lucky employers who will receive a letter from the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Unit (EPCU) ? Well, if you have a retirement plan and you are among the 1200 employers selected to complete the 401(k) Compliance Check Questionnaire you will receive your notice this week explaining how to complete it. The notice will direct you to a website asking you to respond to the following topics:
- Employer and employee contributions
- Top-heavy and nondiscrimination testing
- Distributions and plan loans
- Other plan operations
- Automatic contribution arrangements
- Designated Roth features
- IRS voluntary compliance and correction programs
- Plan administration
And what if you don’t respond – Well look forward to further action including a possible audit of your plan by the EPCU.
For more information, you can check out the “Retirement News For Employers” spring 2010 newsletter. I have included a copy of it at my Client Resource Center just look under the file named Pension Audit Resources.
If you have questions about completing the form, you should consult with your plan administrator for assistance.
If you make eligible contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or to an individual retirement arrangement, you may be eligible for a tax credit. Here are six things you need to know about the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit:
1. Income Limits The Savers Credit, formally known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, applies to individuals with a filing status and income of:
- Single, married filing separately, or qualifying widow(er), with income up to $27,750
- Head of Household, with income up to $41,625
- Married Filing Jointly, with income up to $55,500
2. Eligibility requirements To be eligible for the credit you must have been born before January 2, 1992, you cannot have been a full-time student during the calendar year and cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s return.
3. Credit amount If you make eligible contributions to a qualified IRA, 401(k) and certain other retirement plans, you may be able to take a credit of up to $1,000 or up to $2,000 if filing jointly. The credit is a percentage of the qualifying contribution amount, with the highest rate for taxpayers with the least income.
4. Distributions When figuring this credit, you generally must subtract the amount of distributions you have received from your retirement plans from the contributions you have made. This rule applies to distributions received in the two years before the year the credit is claimed, the year the credit is claimed, and the period after the end of the credit year but before the due date – including extensions – for filing the return for the credit year.
5. Other tax benefits The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit is in addition to other tax benefits which may result from the retirement contributions. For example, most workers at these income levels may deduct all or part of their contributions to a traditional IRA. Contributions to a regular 401(k) plan are not subject to income tax until withdrawn from the plan.
6. Forms to use To claim the credit use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions.
For more information, review IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), Publication 4703, Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, and Form 8880. Publications and forms can be downloaded at IRS.gov or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service [yesterday] announced cost‑of‑living adjustments applicable to dollar limitations for pension plans and other items for Tax Year 2010.
Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. Section 415(d) requires that the Commissioner annually adjust these limits for cost‑of‑living increases. Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415. Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made pursuant to adjustment procedures which are similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.
The limitations that are adjusted by reference to Section 415(d) will remain unchanged for 2010. This is because the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2009, is less than the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2008, and, following the procedures under the Social Security Act for adjusting benefit amounts, any decline in the applicable index cannot result in a reduced limitation. For example, the limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) will be $16,500 for 2010, which is the same amount as for 2009. This limitation affects elective deferrals to Section 401(k) plans and to the Federal Government’s Thrift Savings Plan, among other plans.
Effective January 1, 2010, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) remains unchanged at $195,000. For participants who separated from service before January 1, 2010, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant’s compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2009, by 1.0000.
The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) remains unchanged for 2010 at $49,000.
The Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A). After taking into account the applicable rounding rules, the amounts for 2010 are as follows:
The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) remains unchanged at $16,500.
The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) remains unchanged at $245,000.
The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan remains unchanged at $160,000.
The dollar amount under Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii) for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a 5‑year distribution period remains unchanged at $985,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the 5‑year distribution period remains unchanged at $195,000.
The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $110,000.
The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $5,500. The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $2,500.
The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost‑of‑living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, remains unchanged at $360,000.
The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) remains unchanged at $550.
The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts remains unchanged at $11,500.
The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations remains unchanged at $16,500.
The compensation amounts under Section 1.61‑21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation purposes remains unchanged at $95,000. The compensation amount under Section 1.61‑21(f)(5)(iii) remains unchanged at $195,000.
The Code also provides that several pension-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3). After taking the applicable rounding rules into account, the amounts for 2010 are as follows:
The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return is increased from $33,000 to $33,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $36,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), remains unchanged at $55,500.
The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for taxpayers filing as head of household is increased from $24,750 to $25,125; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $27,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), remains unchanged at $41,625.
The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for all other taxpayers is increased from $16,500 to $16,750; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $18,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), remains unchanged at $27,750.
The deductible amount under § 219(b)(5)(A) for an individual making qualified retirement contributions remains unchanged at $5,000.
The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) remains unchanged at $89,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $55,000 to $56,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $166,000 to $167,000.
The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(C)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $166,000 to $167,000. The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(C)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) remains unchanged at $105,000.
For example – Eligible compensation is calculated incorrectly, a payroll run misses the employee contribution deferral, or you forget to timely remit participant contributions to the plan administrator.
When errors occur, its important to make sure you understand how to correct the problem by using the Voluntary Correction Program (“VCP”).
Here is a list of the top ten failures found in the VCP program:
1. Failure to amend the plan for tax law changes by the end of the period required by the law.
This results in a plan failing to operate in accordance with the current law because the plan document has not been amended to affect such change. Currently, the most common law changes that employers have failed to amend their plans for are GUST*, the good faith amendments for EGTRRA** and the Final and Temporary regulations under section 401(a)(9).
2. Failure to follow the plan’s definition of compensation for determining contributions.
Usually, certain types of compensation are excluded, such as bonuses, commissions, or overtime, or certain types of compensation are included where they should have been excluded. This failure can result in participants receiving allocations to their accounts that are either greater than or less than the amount they should have received.
3. Failure to include eligible employees in the plan or the failure to exclude ineligible employees from the plan.
This often occurs in a controlled group situation after a merger or acquisition. Where otherwise eligible employees are excluded, the excluded employees don’t receive an allocation of contributions to which they are entitled. Where ineligible employees are included in the plan, the employer has made additional contributions which it did not need to make to the plan.
4. Failure to satisfy plan loan provisions.
Loan failures often result from the plan sponsor’s failure to withhold loan payments. Where a plan fails to collect loan repayments from participants, the loan is considered defaulted and the participant should be taxed on the loan in the year of default.
5. Impermissible in-service withdrawals.
These requests relate to both defined benefit and contribution plans. The law provides that distributions to participants can be made upon certain events or the attainment of a specific age. This failure involves the circumstance where a distribution is made to a participant where the law or plan terms do not permit a distribution.
6. Failure to satisfy IRC 401(a)(9) minimum distribution rules.
The law requires that a participant receive a distribution when they attain a certain age. This failure involves the plan not making distributions to participants where they have attained the age for required distributions under the law. The law requires that the participant pay an excise tax of 50% on the amount of required distribution if it is not made timely. The Service will, in appropriate cases, waive the excise tax if the plan sponsor requests the waiver in appropriate situations.
7. Employer eligibility failure.
This occurs when an employer adopts a plan that it legally is not permitted to adopt. Common situations are where a government adopts a 401(k) plan or a tax-exempt entity (other than a 501(c)(3) entity or a public educational organization) adopts a 403(b) plan.
8. Failure to pass the ADP/ACP nondiscrimination tests under IRC 401(k) and 401(m).
This failure could result from the employer not using the correct compensation or where the employer excluded eligible employees who elected not to participate in the 401(k) plan.
9. Failure to properly provide the minimum top-heavy benefit or contribution under IRC 416 to non-key employees.
The law requires that if the account balances or accrued benefits of key employees (typically, owners) comprises a substantial portion of the assets of the plan (generally, 60% of plan assets), non-key employees are entitled to receive a minimum benefit or contribution.
10. Failure to satisfy the limits of IRC 415.
Once you have identified an error, you can refer to the following “Fix-It Guides” published by the IRS.
Revenue Ruling 2009-02 provides the covered compensation tables under section 401 of the Code for the year 2009 for use in determining contributions to defined benefit plans and permitted disparity. Revenue Ruling 2009-02 will appear in IRB 2009-2, dated Jan. 12, 2009.