If you have self-employment income, you can set up a Simplified
Employer Pension or SEP-IRA. They are easy to establish and don't have the annual
reporting requirements of other self-established retirement plans, says Picker.
are just IRAs once funded," says Choate.
They are especially
attractive to one-person businesses because they allow a self-employed person
to contribute up to 25 percent of annual self-employment income, up to $44,000
in 2006 ($45,000 in 2007).
For the one-person company or partnership,
"There is no real downside," except for the limitations you have with
regular IRAs, says Picker.
But if you go the SEP route, be
careful of hiring new employees. "They will be eligible for those IRAs as
well," says Bogosian. "You're now going to contribute on their behalf."
with IRAs, "creditor protection is a wild card," says Choate.
you're earning income on your own, you can also set up what's known as a solo
401(k). A little more complicated to establish than a SEP, it will
give you some of the advantages of a work-sponsored plan. "It's good for
the solo practitioner," says Bogosian. An employee can contribute up to $15,000,
or $20,000, if you're 50-plus. In addition to the elective deferral, an employee
could make the employer contribution -- up to a limit of $49,000.
since you control where the account is housed, you can pick an option that will
give you all the investment vehicles you need.
thing is that you can put away more money," says Picker. What to watch out
for: If you hire an employee, you may be limited to his or her contribution levels,
he says. Plus you'll have a lot more paperwork.
'profit-sharing' is actually a misnomer," says Picker. It's really a contribution
to the employee's retirement plan made at the employer's discretion. Since the
employee and employer are one and the same, it's a vehicle for saving more money
power of multiple accounts
Trying to decide between a company
401(k) and an IRA? Your best bet might be both.
can avoid some shortcomings by staying in both and rolling the money from one
type to another, says Choate.
For instance, with an IRA you
must start taking money out of the account once you hit 70 ½. But if you
also have a 401(k) and intend to continue working, you can roll your
IRA into your 401(k) and put off those withdrawals as long as you
If you are married and die first and your company plan
mandates a lump-sum payment, your spouse could roll the 401(k) into
an IRA or the spouse's own 401(k) and take payments out over time
based on life expectancy.
It also helps to check out the tax
laws in your state, says Choate. "Certain states have tax exemptions for
all retirement plans or some retirement plan distributions," she says.
Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.