Can I make contributions to both a SEP and a Solo 401(k) Plan?

Yes. You can make contributions to both a SEP and a Solo 401K Plan. In other words, a business can have both a SEP IRA and a Solo 401(K) Plan, although, there is generally no advantage for a business to have both active at the same time.

A Solo 401(k) Plan includes both an employee and profit sharing contribution option, whereas, a SEP IRA is purely a profit sharing plan.

Under the 2016 Solo 401(k) contribution rules, a plan participant under the age of 50 can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $18,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $53,000.

For plan participants over the age of 50, an individual can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $24,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $59,000.

Whereas, a SEP IRA would only allows for a profit sharing contribution. Hence, a participant in a SEP IRA would be limited to 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum of $53,000 for 2016. No employee deferral exists for a SEP IRA.

For example, Joe, who is 60 years old, owns 100% of an S Corporation with no full time employees. Joe earned $100,000 in self-employment W-2 wages for 2016. If Joe had a Solo 401(k) Plan established for 2016, Joe would be able to defer approximately $49,000 for 2016 (a $24,000 employee deferral, which could be pre-tax or Roth, and 25% of his compensation giving him $49,000 for the year). Whereas, if Joe established a SEP IRA, Joe would only be able to defer approximately $25,000 (25% if his compensation) for 2016.

In other words, having both a SEP IRA and a Solo 401(k) Plan will not allow a business owner to defer more than $53,000 ($59,000 if the individual is over the age of 50) for 2016. Most individuals will use a Solo 401(k) Plan vs. a SEP IRA since you can reach the maximum annual contribution limit quicker than a SEP IRA since the Solo 401(k) Plan includes both an employee deferral and profit sharing component, whereas, a SEP IRA just includes just a profit sharing component.

To learn more about the benefits of a Solo 401(k) Plan vs. a SEP IRA, please contact a tax professional at 800-472-0646.


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