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Is there such a thing as a “presidential election cycle” impact on stocks?

Some analysts have popularized the notion that the 4-year presidential election cycle holds secrets to bear and bull markets. Found in publications such as the Stock Traders Almanac, The Presidential Election Cycle is the theory that different phases of the presidential term are correlated to broad market conditions. As will many such theories, it may not hold up under a lot of scrutiny, but there are some correlations to be found. 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...

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 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...

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...

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

Only employees must be included in SIMPLE IRAs. The IRS has about 20 criteria for assessing whether an employee-employer relationship exists. Silent partners and other owners who do not participate in the business or draw wages do not need to be included in the plan. You have to offer SIMPLE IRAs to all of your employees who received at least $5,000 in compensation in the preceding year two years. Unionized employees can be excluded. 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 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...

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...

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...

How Can I Establish a SIMPLE IRA?

A SIMPLE IRA must be established by an employer with fewer than 100 employees. An employer can establish a SIMPLE IRA if they have no more than 100 employees who earned $5,000 or more during the preceding calendar year. The employer cannot have any other type of qualified retirement plan going while a SIMPLE IRA is in effect. SIMPLEs should be established between Jan 1 and October 1 of the first year of the plan, unless the business started after that. Plans can be set up relatively quickly and can even use automatic enrollment if employees are given the ability to opt-out. 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...

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...

What is Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance?

Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage is normally offered as a rider on health or regular life insurance policies, or as a part of voluntary deduction supplemental insurance offered to an employee group. AD&D policies provide separate coverage and terms for the instance of death by accident and the loss of limbs or specific functionality of body parts. The main attraction to this insurance is that it is very affordable, and many employees check to box to have it deducted from their pay because it is such a negligible amount. 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...

What are the Vesting Rules for My Keogh Plan?

Vesting rules depend on the type of Keogh contributions being made. The IRS imposes certain rules on Keogh Plans, which includes vesting restrictions. Different employers might have totally different vesting schedules, as long as they satisfy the IRS rules. It depends on the type of contribution being made, such as matching or profit-sharing or money-purchase contributions, whether the plan is a QACA, and so on. Many contributions are immediately vested, while some are gradually vested over a few years, and some are on a cliff-vesting schedule. 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...

What Are the Contribution Limits For My Thrift Savings Plan?

Contribution limits for the TSP are the same as regular 401(k)s. Employees and employers using the TSP will have the same contribution limits as 401(k) plans. An employee can defer up to $18,000 a year in 2016, plus a $6,000 catch-up deferral if the employee is over 50 years old. The employer can contribute up to a maximum total balance of $53,000 (or $59,000 if the employee is over 59 ½), including employee deferrals. There is a standard 1% employer flat contribution, and some Federal employees will also receive a match. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits for My SEP IRA?

SEPs contain only employer contributions, and they must contribute the same percentage of every employee’s compensation. As of 2016, an employer may contribute the lesser of either 25% of an employee’s compensation or $53,000 annually. An important thing to note is that the employer decides whether to contribute to the employees’ SEP IRA each year; the employer is not required to make continuous yearly contributions. The equal treatment of all employees with respect to the retirement plans is a fundamental principle of all employer-sponsored retirement programs. 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...