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Solo 401(K) Retirement Plans

A new retirement savings account is now available for "owner-only businesses." An "owner-only business" is either a business that employs only the owner and immediate family members or a business that employs only the owner and employees who by law may be excluded from participation in retirement plans. Excludable employees include employees under age 21, employees with less than a year of service or who work less than 1,000 hours per year, certain union employees, and certain nonresident alien employees.

The new plan, sometimes called an Individual (k) plan, can be set up both by incorporated businesses or unincorporated businesses such as sole proprietorships and partnerships. When compared with other types of business retirement plans, an Individual (k) plan allows more flexibility in its funding and larger contribution amounts.

The two components of an Individual (k) plan are a profit-sharing contribution from the employer (up to 25% of compensation) and an employee salary deferral (up to $13,000 in 2004). Combining those two components, the maximum contribution on behalf of any one business owner is a whopping $41,000 in 2004. Contributions are discretionary each year.

The maximum salary deferral amount will increase by $1,000 per year through 2006. In addition, for individuals who are age 50 or older, the Individual (k) plans, like 401(k) plans for larger businesses, allow "catch-up" contributions in amounts that will increase annually through 2006. For 2004, the maximum catch-up contribution is $3,000.

Business owners are eligible to take personal loans from Individual (k) plans, so long as the plan document allows for plan loans. They may borrow as much as $50,000 in cash, or 50% of the balance in their account, whichever is less. Borrowing from an Individual (k) plan carries the same downside as with conventional 401(k) plan borrowing, however, making this move a last resort for many. Aside from undermining the accumulation of a large balance growing tax-free in the account, a loan, if not paid back on time, will be considered a distribution by the IRS, triggering income taxes and a 10% penalty.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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