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Who Administers a 401(k)?

A 401(k) plan Administrator will usually be an officer of the Employer sponsoring the plan. A 401(k) plan document will specify who is the Administrator of the plan, but it is generally an executive or officer of the company sponsoring the plan. 401(k)s can be sold in packages that are essentially the same from employer to employer. When the design is well-established, and there are systems in place to enroll employees and maintain the plan, such as an employee website, a company’s CFO or human resources department chair may wear the Administrator hat. Some plans require a special administrator, and this may be a requirement of the broker-dealer acting as Custodian, especially if the plan has been designed from an open architecture, and there are many moving parts. Continue reading...

What is Publication 15-b on Fringe Benefits?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here IRS Publication 15-b outlines the different types of fringe benefits available to employees and describes which ones are taxable to the employee and which ones are not. Fringe benefits might include anything from the use of a company car to an employee life insurance policy paid for by the employer. Fringe benefits may be provided to regular employees or independent contractors (1099 employees). Some examples of fringe benefits include tuition reduction, group disability and cafeteria plans, and childcare benefits. Continue reading...

Who Establishes a 401(k)?

Employers make the decision to establish a 40(k), but it has to be good enough for employees to want to participate. An employer is responsible for establishing a 401(k) and for overseeing it as the sponsor and fiduciary. A self-employed individual can also establish an Individual 401(k), which has the same contribution limits and requires none of the testing or auditing of a regular plan. Other options for work-site retirement plans are SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and various kinds of profit-sharing and deferred compensation arrangements. Continue reading...

What are the 401(k) Contribution Limits?

The contribution limits of 401(k)s are generally increased year-to-year and published by the IRS. As of 2016, an individual can contribute up to $18,000, or 100% of compensation, into their 401(k) account on a pre-tax basis. This is the employee’s contribution only, and does not include employer contributions. There is a $35,000 window that can hold employer contributions, which may contain matching contributions as well as a profit-sharing component for a total of $53,000 in employee/employer contributions per year. Continue reading...

What is a Matching Contribution?

Employers can contribute to an employee’s 401(k) on a matching basis. Some employers will make additional contributions to your 401(k) based on the amount of your own contributions. Matching can be done on a dollar-for-dollar basis, meaning that for every dollar you contribute to your account, they will add a dollar as well. It can also be done using a factor, such as ½, meaning they will contribute a dollar every time you contribute two. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Work?

You may know that a 401(k) allows you to make payroll-deducted contributions to a retirement account before taxes are taken out, but how does it work? Employees can either become participants in a 401(k) by voluntary enrollment or by automatic enrollment with the ability to opt-out. Contributions go in before taxes are taken out, and this can reduce an individual’s taxable income or even income bracket for the year. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits for my Self-Employed 401(k)?

There is a high possible contribution you can make to your own 401(k), but you still have to pay attention to the limits. As of 2016, you may contribute up to $53,000 annually to your Self-Employed 401(k), plus a $6,000 catch-up contribution if you’re over 50. If your spouse is also on the payroll, you are allowed to have a combined contribution of up to $106,000, or $118,000 if you’re both over 50. Continue reading...

What is a SEP IRA?

A SEP is like a profit-sharing plan that uses some Traditional IRA rules. A SEP IRA is a benefit for employees that uses employer contributions to fund retirement investment accounts for each employee. Contributions are made on a pre-tax basis, the account grows tax-deferred, and the withdrawals are taxed as income. The employer contributions are immediately vested to the employees, who can exercise discretion with investment choices and allocations, among the investment options available in the plan. Continue reading...

What is a SIMPLE IRA?

SIMPLE IRAs are like safe-harbor 401(k)s for small businesses. A SIMPLE IRA is a type of retirement plan for small businesses. A business can only start a SIMPLE IRA if they have fewer than 100 employees who earned $5,000 or more in compensation for the year. As the name implies, a SIMPLE IRA provides an easier method for making contributions to both employees’ and the employers’ retirement accounts. Employees may choose to make salary reduction contributions to their SIMPLE IRA while employers are required to make either matching or non-elective contributions. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits for My SIMPLE IRA?

SIMPLEs allow higher employee deferrals than most retirement accounts. Employees are only able to make salary reduction contributions. As of 2016, they are able to defer up to $12,500 a year, but if an employee is over 50, they may defer an additional $3,000 as a “catch-up” contribution. However, an employee may choose not to contribute anything to their SIMPLE IRA. Employers, on the other hand, are required to make either a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution of 3%, or a non-elective contribution of 2% of the employee’s pay. The 3% match can be reduced to 1% in two out of five years if employees are notified before they make contributions. Continue reading...

What is a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan?

Money Purchase plans and Profit Sharing plans are two types of Defined Contribution plans that can be used at a business, together if desired. Both of these are Defined Contribution plans, which means that only the terms of the contributions to the plan are defined in the plan document. This is different than Defined Benefit plans, which specifically define the benefit due to an employee at retirement, which is generally a monthly pension payment. If an employer wants to use both a Money Purchase plan and a Profit Sharing plan, it is possible, but since both of them are Defined Contribution plans, they will be limited in aggregate to the allowable defined contribution limits for employer contributions. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a SEP IRA, Do I Have to Establish One for All Employees of My Business?

All employees that meet minimum eligibility criteria must be included in a SEP IRA arrangement. If you decide to establish a SEP IRA, every eligible employee must be given a SEP IRA account to receive employer contributions. An employer is able to expand eligibility but cannot ignore the minimum eligibility rules. If an employee is over 21, has worked at the business in 3 of the last 5 years, and has earned over $600 in the most recent year. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a Keogh Plan?

A Keogh plan will primarily need a plan document and a way to invest. A Keogh plan can be established by any self-employed individual of a sole proprietorship, partnership, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). A plan document must be put together by the sponsor, or the standard plan document from a prototype plan at a broker-dealer or trustee institution can be used. It is not necessary to submit the document to the IRS, but if you have any employees, it is required that you use this document and any other printed information necessary to fully explain and disclose their rights in regards to the plan. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a SEP IRA?

SEP IRAs do not have to be established until taxes are filed for the year, and it can be done quickly. SEP IRAs require very little paperwork or trouble to establish. One form will notify the IRS that SEP contributions are being made for the year, and the amount. The only other documentation needed is a plan document, which establishes and outlines the eligibility rules for a particular plan, but this document only has to be kept on file at the business, and does not have to be submitted to the IRS or any regulatory authority. Continue reading...

What is FICA?

FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes are handled by the Social Security Administration, as they are payroll withholdings that go toward Social Security and Medicare funds. Most people will have half of their FICA paid by their employer, but self-employed people must pay it all on their own, which is called the “Self-Employment Tax.” FICA is a tax on employees and employers that funds the Social Security and Medicare programs of the United States. Continue reading...

How is a 457 Plan Different From a 401(k)?

A 457 is only slightly different than a 401(k), but the differences can be important. Although the two plans are similar in practice, there are some very important differences. Former employees can withdraw from their accounts penalty-free after they have separated from service, even if they are under 59 ½. 457 plans must also be offered to independent contractors, which 401(k)s do not. 457 plans are offered to state and local public workers and employees of certain nonprofits.Top-hat 457 plans can also be offered to highly compensated employees without being offered to other employees, at both non-profit and for-profit businesses. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Compare With Other Retirement Plans?

There are several types of retirement plans that employers can provide, but 401(k)s are one of the most popular. Other employer-sponsored retirement plans include SIMPLEs, SEPs, and various kinds of defined benefit plans. SIMPLE IRAs are sometimes called SIMPLE 401(k)s, because they operate under the same laws as Safe Harbor 401(k)s. They both are primarily employee-funded, and have rigid standards for employer contributions. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a SIMPLE IRA, Do I Have to Establish One for All Employees of My Business?

In general, the answer is “Yes,” but there are a few exceptions. If you decide to establish a SIMPLE IRA, every eligible employee must be offered a SIMPLE IRA account. An employee is eligible if they have earned $5,000 in compensation during any two previous years, and are expected to earn $5,000 the current year. If an employee is unwilling to participate, the employer must open up a SIMPLE IRA on behalf of the employee. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a Keogh Plan, Do I Have to Establish One for All Employees of My Business?

Keogh plans have minimum eligibility requirements that will probably include most of your employees, but not necessarily all of them. If an employer established a Keogh Plan, eligible employees must be allowed to start a Keogh Plan account as well. Eligibility requirements include: being over 21 years of age and having worked at least a year as a full-time employee for the employer, where full-time is defined as working over 1,000 hours in a year. Seasonal workers, non-resident alien employees, union employees, and non-working partners or owners in the business can be excluded. Continue reading...

If I Want to Establish a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan, Do I Have to Establish One for All Owners of My Business?

Sometimes owners have to be included and sometimes they do not. A Money Purchase Plan does not have to be offered to every owner, only those who are considered employees as well. Money Purchase plans are pensions, and pension income is not paid to investors in a business, only employees. Profit Sharing plan contributions must reflect the proportional interest of an owner or employee in the business. Continue reading...