A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan is a retirement savings plan adopted by a business that allows the business to make retirement savings contributions for its employees. Each eligible employee sets up a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to receive the employer SEP contributions.
A SEP plan is easy to establish, simple to administer, and inexpensive compared to other types of retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans. There are no compliance tests and employers are not required to file annual reports with the IRS.
Any type of employer, including a self-employed individual, can establish a SEP plan.
Establishing a SEP plan requires three steps:
An employer can establish a SEP plan up to the employer’s tax return deadline, including extensions. For example, a sole proprietor who wants to make a SEP plan contribution for 2017 would have until their tax return deadline in 2018 to set up the SEP plan and make a 2017 contribution.
Your SEP plan must cover employees who have
You can choose to apply less restrictive eligibility requirements.
Employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement or who are nonresident aliens with no U.S. source income can be excluded, along with employees who haven’t met the eligibility requirements.
For each employee, including yourself, you can contribute up to 25% of compensation or $54,000 (for 2017), whichever is less. Employer contributions to the SEP plan are tax deductible on your business tax return. You must generally contribute the same percentage of compensation for each eligible employee.
You are not required to make a SEP contribution each year and you can vary the amount you choose to contribute each year.
A SEP plan does not affect your ability to make annual contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA. In addition to your SEP contributions, you can make traditional or Roth contributions of up to $5,500 (for 2017), plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution if you are age 50 or older. Participating in a SEP plan may affect your ability to take a tax deduction for a traditional IRA contribution, depending on your income.
You can take distributions from your IRAs, including SEP contributions, at any time. The distribution will typically be included in taxable income in the year of the distribution and may be subject to a 10% early distribution penalty if you are not yet age 59½.