Whether you’re running a salon, writing a blog, or perfecting woodwork on a new home, the responsibility for your small business is all up to you. A SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account) is a retirement savings tool designed for self-employed individuals and small business owners.
Any small business owner with one or more employees or anyone with freelance income can open a SEP IRA at a bank or brokerage. So if you’re looking for a simple way to do right by your employees and maximize your tax advantages, too, a SEP IRA might be the way to go.
You have plenty to do to keep your small business running smoothly and retirement often takes a back seat to the countless other demands on your time. That’s why we pulled together this list of four reasons why we like SEP IRAs, so you can determine if opening one is a good fit for you.
You get immediate tax advantages.
As a type of traditional IRA, a SEP IRA allows you to deduct contributions in the year you make them. That means you can deduct the amount you deposit into your SEP IRA from your taxable income, so you pay less income tax for the year. That’s good news for a business trying to make the most of limited funds.
In addition, any growth in the IRA is tax-deferred until you (or your employees) withdraw funds. Then, during retirement, those distributions are taxed according to the applicable tax rate at that time. Note that the same transfer and rollover rules that apply to traditional IRAs also apply to SEP IRAs.
Annual contributions are flexible—you can contribute a lot or a little.
SEP IRAs offer quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to annual contributions. For one thing, SEP IRAs have significantly higher annual contribution limits than other types of IRAs—around ten times higher.
For 2018, business owners can contribute up to 25% of income or $55,000, whichever is less. That’s compared with the $5,500 ($6,500 age 50 or older) contribution limits for traditional and Roth IRAs. Putting away tax-advantaged funds in those higher amounts can really amp up your earning potential over the years. (Check the IRS website for current contribution limits.)
Not only are the contribution limits of SEP IRAs generous, the amounts (up to the limit) are entirely up to you as the business owner. That means in lean years, you can choose not to contribute at all. Then in the more profitable years, you can choose a larger amount that makes sense for you.
You can open a SEP IRA for yourself and for your employees.
SEP IRAs can be a simple retirement plan for yourself, if you’re a one-person show, or for yourself and your employees. A couple things to understand:
If you offer the SEP IRA plan to your employees, you must open a separate SEP IRA for each individual. Keep in mind that employers make contributions to the SEP IRAs of their employees—employees cannot save their own earnings in those accounts.
As a business owner, the amount you contribute to your own account has to be equal to the amount you contribute to your employees’ accounts. So, if you make a contribution to your own SEP IRA of 25%, you also have to make a 25% contribution to the accounts of all eligible employees.
SEP IRAs are easy to open.
Another thing that makes SEP IRAs popular with small business owners is that they’re simple to set up and easy to manage. If you’re a business owner with one or more employees or you have freelance income, you can open a SEP IRA at a bank or brokerage firm in just a few steps. Note that online banks often offer higher rates than brick-and-mortar banks.
Ally Bank offers deposit IRA products along with the safety and security of FDIC insurance, up to the up to the maximum allowed by law.
Ally Invest offers invest IRA products tailored to customers who prefer to manage their own trading as well as those who prefer a hands-off option. Just remember, investing involves risk, including loss of principal. Ally Invest products are not FDIC-insured, not bank guaranteed, and may lose value.