Save a Bundle with Retirement Plans!

Small business owners have some lucrative new choices in qualified retirement plans. Current tax law allows more money to be set aside for business owners and key employees, including their spouses.

Since most entrepreneurs and executives don’t intend to live off Social Security in their golden years, the new tools can help you maintain financial independence – even before age 65.

Two relatively new plans worth considering are:

  • The Solo 401(k) Plan allows a one-person firm (a spouse can be the one other employee) to put away up to $50,000 pre-tax in 2012 (up from $49,000 in 2011).

The 2012 contribution limit is based on a formula that allows an employee to personally contribute up to $17,000 (up from $16,500 in 2011) and the employer to contribute up to 25 percent of salary. And of course, a self-employed person is essentially both the employer and the employee. In this case, the employer contribution can be up to 20 percent of the individual’s self employment income.

The total maximum contribution allowed for 2012 is $50,000 per individual, or $55,500 if the individual is 50 or older at year end. For example, let’s say a husband and wife team (both under age 50) operate an incorporated consulting business and they each earn salaries of $100,000 a year. They can each contribute $17,000 as employees and the company can contribute $25,000 for a total of $42,000 each – that’s $84,000 for the husband and wife.

Solo 401(k)s follow the same guidelines as other 401(k) plans so the company is forced to include most employees and contribute a similar percent for them. Therefore, these plans are best suited for companies with one or two people. If you are planning to add even one full-time employee to your business, talk with your tax pro before you hire someone to decide how to proceed with your retirement plan.

  • The Solo Defined Benefit Plan is skewed in favor of employee-owners age 45 and older. These plans can potentially allow tax contributions up to $100,000, as the covered individual nears retirement age.

Other features include flexibility of investments including stocks, bonds, exchange traded funds, mutual funds and other investments. The contribution limit is not based on a percentage of compensation, but is recalculated each year by an actuary.

For example, let’s say a husband and wife, ages 47 and 46 respectively, each earn $100,000 per year. They might each be able contribute $70,000 a year on a tax deductible basis into a Solo Defined Benefit Plan – or $140,000 for both of them.

The two options described here are certainly not the only ones available to your firm. Consult with your tax pro to determine how to best fund your retirement and comply with federal laws.

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