There are alternatives to a 401k for small business owners | Business

April 6, 2021

Business owners have a variety of options when it comes to saving for retirement and offering employee benefits. When business owners think of retirement, often a 401k comes to mind. However, other types of retirement plans might be simpler to administer or more appropriate for their sized business. This article is not meant to list all available retirement plans, but to offer a few alternatives.

Glenn Griffin

If your business has only a couple of employees or is family-run, you might consider a Simplified Employee Pension Plan. The SEP IRA is a good way to set aside a chunk of money for retirement and get a deduction for the contribution. While Traditional and Roth IRAs limit how much you can set aside — $6,000 if under age 50 and $7,000 if over age 50 — the SEP IRA could allow you to set aside much more. An employer can contribute 25% of their compensation or up to $58,000, whichever is less, and get a tax deduction for that contribution. The contribution would be made into an investment account with a wide variety of investment options. The reason that this plan is best for a family-owned business or one with few employees is that a contribution must be made for each eligible employee based on the contribution percentage the owner made for themselves. So if you contribute 25% for yourself as the business owner, you must also contribute 25% for each eligible employee.

You can see that this might get a bit expensive if you have several eligible employees. An eligible employee is at least 21 years of age, has worked for the company 3 of the last 5 years and received at least $600 in compensation during the year.

Another option is the Simple IRA. This acts much like a 401k, whereas the employee makes their own contribution to the plan and the employer offers a match. In most cases, the employer will make a dollar for dollar match up to 3%. This plan may be more suitable for larger businesses that might not want to offer the SEP IRA due to the potential for larger, cost-prohibitive employer contributions. Simple IRA participants may contribute up to $13,500 if under age 50 and $16,500 if over age 50. The company’s matching percentage is in addition to the employee’s contributions. If an employer offers a Simple IRA, each eligible employee must be given the option to participate but may choose to decline.

An employer can make eligibility less restrictive, but the most restrictive requirements include an employee that has earned at least $5,000 in compensation in any two years before the current calendar year and expects to receive $5,000 in the current calendar year.

Either of these plans can be set up though your local financial advisor and are generally pretty easy to administer with lower cost than a traditional 401k. Not only will they benefit employees, but they also help business owners save for their own retirement, get personal deductions and offer potential business deductions.

Glenn Griffin is a board member of the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce and the owner of Griffin Asset Management