The retirement opportunity you may be missing - The SEP IRA
- August 8, 2019
- By: Marcos A. Segrera, CFP® Financial Advisor
Its is very common for workers to generate some form of income outside of their primary occupation. You may have a full-time job but still seek an opportunity to generate additional income. The extra money could be a potential opportunity to increase retirement savings. A Simplified Employee Pension IRA (SEP IRA) offers an easy and inexpensive way to set this up.
A SEP IRA is an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Contributions can only be made by the employer on behalf of its employees. In this case, you are the employer and the employee. If you do have employees (other than yourself), you need to be aware that anyone who works for the company will be entitled to contributions.
The process for establishing a SEP IRA is fairly straightforward, and you can open this type of account at most brokerages. Once the account is open, contributions are tax deductible for the business. However, no salary deferrals or catch-up contributions are allowed in a SEP IRA.
Once in the IRA, the funds are like any other IRA funds and subject to the same rules. They immediately belong to the employee and you can do whatever you want with them. You could even take an immediate distribution, although this is not recommended. The distribution will be taxable and subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty if taken before age 59.5, unless an IRS-approved exception applies.
One of the advantages of a SEP IRA over a traditional IRA is the larger contribution limit. For 2019, the limit is the lesser of 25% of compensation or $56,000. This dwarfs the 2019 traditional IRA limit of $6,000 plus $1,000 catch-up if over age 50. SEP contributions can be made up to the due date of your tax return, including extensions. For example, a 2019 SEP contribution can be made up until April 15, 2020 or October 15, 2020 if you filed an extension. Contributions are not required to be made every year, so it provides flexibility if the income you are generating outside of your primary occupation is low or you simply do not want to contribute.
The last piece of good news is that you are able to contribute to a SEP IRA even if you participate in a retirement plan at your main job. You can also fully fund a Roth IRA or traditional IRA up to the allowed limits. Keep in mind that the deductibility of a traditional IRA contribution and ability to contribute to a Roth IRA will phase out depending on your annual income.
Bottom line, if you have a side gig or are self-employed, you could take advantage of the SEP IRA option to increase your overall retirement savings. Be sure to consult with your financial advisor and accountant to see if this is a good option for you.