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Retirement Plans: Know the Difference

Retirement Plans: Know the Difference

When planning for your future financial stability, understanding the nuances of the available retirement plans is quintessential. For most working Americans, three beneficial retirement savings vehicles are SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) plans, SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) IRA plans, and 401k plans. While superficially similar, these three plans differ significantly in structure, contribution limits, eligibility requirements, and employer involvement.

Let us dissect each retirement savings option to gain a better understanding and help you choose the one that aligns best with your financial goals.

1. SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) Retirement Plans

SEP plans are highly suitable for self-employed individuals or small businesses, offering ease of set-up and minimal administrative costs. Under this plan, only the employer can contribute, up to 25% of the employee’s compensation, or $66,000 in 2023 – whichever is less. Employees are not required to contribute to their SEP plan; however, they have complete control over the investment of the contributions received.

2. SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) IRA Plans

In contrast to SEP, SIMPLE IRA plans allow employees and employers to contribute. This plan is also typically employed by small businesses and has a mandatory employer contribution requirement. Employees may contribute up to $15,500 in 2023, and employers are obligated to match employee contributions up to 3% of the employee’s compensation or offer a fixed 2% of the employee’s compensation.

There are a few rules specific to the SIMPLE Plan that employers need to be aware of. First, the IRS does not allow another employer-sponsored retirement plan during the same calendar year as an active SIMPLE Plan. If your company wants to begin offering a 401k instead of a SIMPLE Plan, they must wait to start the new 401k until the calendar year after the SIMPLE Plan terminates. Secondly, the SIMPLE Plan is for the entire calendar year, even if you wish to terminate it. Finally, SIMPLE IRA accounts have a “2-Year Rule.” You are not allowed by the IRS to transfer funds into or out of the SIMPLE IRA for two years after your first contribution into that account by your employer UNLESS it is another SIMPLE IRA account. 

3. 401k Retirement Plans

Arguably the most well-known retirement savings option, the 401k plan allows the employee and employer to contribute. It has the highest contribution limit among the three, with employees able to contribute up to $22,500 in 2023 and an additional $7,500 for those over 50. Employers can match part or all of an employee’s contributions. Matching provides an excellent incentive for employee participation. This plan, however, can be more complex and costly to administer than the SEP or SIMPLE retirement plans.

Plan for retirement with Good Life Asset Strategies

All three plans – SEP, SIMPLE, and 401K – offer unique advantages depending on your income, career trajectory, and contribution capacity. SEP plans are ideal for self-employed individuals or small businesses, ensuring simplicity and flexibility. The SIMPLE IRA is akin to SEP but is more suited to employers intending to match or aid their employees’ contributions. The 401k plan offers higher contribution limits and the potential for matching employer contributions, making it suitable for larger organizations and employees wishing to maximize their retirement savings. 

Making informed decisions about retirement savings assets is crucial. Discernment between these plans is essential to aligning your choice with your future financial needs and contributing to a safe, stable retirement. Work with an experienced advisor at Good Life Asset Strategies to plan for the retirement of your dreams

The views expressed represent the opinion of Good Life Asset Strategies, LLC. The views are subject to change and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. This material is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. Stated information is derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources that have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness. 

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