Retirement Resource – SEP IRA Limits

By Doherty • March 24th, 2011
Seal of the Internal Revenue Service

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The SEP IRA is a retirement plan designed to benefit small business owners and self-employed individuals . The plan is workable for sole proprietorships, LLCs, partnerships, and S and C corporations. In 2009 and 2010, the SEP IRA limits on contributions are capped at $49,000 yearly or 25% of the employee’s total compensation annually.

Contributions to a SEP IRA are generally 100% tax deductible and the investment profits in the account grow tax deferred. Withdrawals after age 59 ½ will be taxed as ordinary income, but earlier withdrawals will incur a 10% penalty tax as well as regular income tax.

The primary appeal of the SEP plan is the high contribution cap and the special flexibility the SEP allows . Yearly contributions are discretionary. The employer can decide each year on the percentage of contribution, or choose to make no contribution at all. Sometimes this decision is made based on the company’s net profit and the prevailing economic conditions that effect the business . SEP IRA plans can be set up by a business owner with employees or by a one person business.

The SEP should be set up by tax filing deadline. Self-employed people who have established accounts on their own behalf should be knowledgeable about SEP IRA limits on age. They can no longer contribute to their account beginning the year they turn 70 ½ years old. Because the IRS has a rule of uniform benefits for all, small business owners must contribute an equal percentage of each eligible employee’s income to their account, so an employee who is 70 ½ or older gets the employer SEP IRA contribution.

To be qualified for the plan, the employee must be at least 21 years old. Stock is not an allowable contribution, and all contributions are made in cash. There is no provision in a SEP plan for a catch-up contribution for employees older than 50 years old. SEP accounts are low cost to establish and administer , and with generous SEP IRA limits on contributions might be an ideal plan for rapid retirement savings.

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