Unlike IRAs, which limit tax-deductible contributions to $6,000 per year (in 2019, up from $5,500 in 2018), self-employed plans allow you to save as much as $56,000 of your net self-employment income in 2019 (up from $55,000 in 2018), depending on the type of self-employed plan you adopt.
Contributions to a self-employed plan may be tax deductible up to certain limits. These contributions, along with any gains made on the plan investments, will accumulate tax deferred until you withdraw them.
Withdrawal rules generally mirror those of other qualified retirement plans. Distributions are taxed as ordinary income and may be subject to 10% federal income tax penalty if taken prior to age 59½, unless an exception applies. (Special rules apply to Roth accounts and SIMPLE IRAs.) Self-employed plans can typically be rolled over to another qualified retirement plan or to an IRA. Annual minimum distributions are required after the age of 70½.
You can open a self-employed plan account through banks, brokerage houses, insurance companies, mutual fund companies, and credit unions. Although the federal government sets no minimum opening balance, most institutions set their own, usually between $250 and $1,000.
The deadlines for setting up a self-employed plan and for making contributions vary by plan type.
Each tax year, you may be required to fill out Form 5500, depending on the type of plan you choose. You may need the assistance of an accountant or tax advisor, incurring extra costs.
If you earn self-employment income, a self-employed plan could be a valuable addition to your retirement strategy. And the potential payoff — a comfortable retirement — may far outweigh any extra costs or paperwork.