Nov 10

Advantages of a Checkbook Control Individual 401(k) Plan

An Individual 401(k) plan, also known as a Solo 401(k), is perfect for sole proprietors, small businesses and independent contractors.

A Solo 401(k) plan is generally also referred to as a “checkbook control” Qualified Retirement Plan. In each case, a 401(k) plan is established whereby the participant serves as trustee and administrator of the Plan providing the participant with “checkbook control” over his or her retirement funds.

Advantages of a Checkbook Control Individual 401(k) PlanWith a “checkbook control” Solo 401(K) Plan you will never have to seek the consent of a custodian to make an investment or be subject to excessive custodian account fees based on account value and per transaction.

By having “checkbook control” over your retirement funds you will gain the following advantages:

“Checkbook Control”: You’ll no longer have to get each investment approved by the custodian of your account. Instead, all decisions are truly yours. To make an investment, simply write a check and use the funds straight from your Solo 401(k) Plan bank account.

When making a real estate investment or purchasing tax liens, a “checkbook control” Solo 401(k) Plan, will allow you as manager of the LLC the ability to simply write a check from your Solo 401(k) Plan bank account.

Example 1: Joe has a Solo 401(k) set-up by the IRA Financial Group. Joe has established his Solo 401(k) Plan bank account with Bank of America. Joe wishes to use his retirement funds to purchase a home from Steve, an unrelated third-party (non-disqualified person). Steve is anxious to close the transaction as soon as possible. With a “checkbook control” Solo 401(k) Plan, Joe can simply write a check using the funds from his 401(k) Plan bank account or can wire the funds directly from the account to Steve. Joe, as trustee of the plan, no longer needs to seek the consent of the custodian before making the real estate purchase. With a custodian controlled Solo 401(k) Plan without “checkbook control” Joe may not be able to make the real estate purchase since seeking custodian approval would likely take too much time.

Example 2: Joe has a Solo 401(k) set-up by the IRA Financial Group. Joe has established his Solo 401(k) Plan bank account with Bank of America. Joe wishes to use his retirement funds to invest in tax lien certificates via auction. Purchasing tax lien certificates requires Joe make the payment at the auction. With a “checkbook control” Solo 401(k) Plan, Joe can simply bring his 401(k) Plan bank account checkbook to the closing or secure a certified check from the bank in order to make payments at the auction. With a custodian controlled Solo 401(k) Plan without “checkbook control” Joe would not be able to make tax lien certificate investments because he would need custodian approval before each tax lien certificate purchase and would not have sufficient time to seek the consent of the custodian.

No Custodian Fees or Transaction Fees: The most significant cost benefit of the Solo 401(k) plan is that it does not require the participant to hire a bank or trust company to serve as trustee. In other words, there are no custodian fees or transaction fees when establishing a Solo 401(k) Plan with the IRA Financial Group. This flexibility allows the participant to serve in the trustee role. This means that all assets of the 401(k) trust are under the sole authority of the Solo 401k participant.  A Solo 401(k) plan allows you to eliminate the expense and delays associated with an IRA custodian, enabling you to act quickly when the right investment opportunity presents itself.

Speed: You can act quickly on a great investment opportunity. When you find an investment that you want to make with your retirement funds, simply write a check or wire the funds straight from your Solo 401(k) Plan bank account to make the investment. The Solo 401(k) Plan allows you to eliminate the delays associated with using an IRA custodian, enabling you to act quickly when the right investment opportunity presents itself.

Offset the Cost of Your Plan with a Tax Deduction: By paying for your Solo 401(k) with business funds, you would be eligible to claim a deduction for the cost of the plan, including annual maintenance fees. The deduction for the cost associated with the Solo 401(k) Plan and ongoing maintenance will help reduce your business’s income tax liability, which will in-turn offset the cost of adopting a self-directed Solo 401(k) Plan. The retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will help you take advantage of the available business tax deduction for adopting a Solo 401(k) Plan.

Cost Effective Administration: In general, the solo 401(k) plan is easy to operate. There is generally no annual filing requirement unless your Solo 401K plan exceeds $250,000 in assets, in which case you will need to file a short information return with the IRS (Form 5500-EZ).

Solo 401k Solution

For more information about the Individual 401(k) with checkbook control, please contact us @ 800.472.0646.

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Nov 07

Are You Eligible for a Self-Employed 401(k) Plan?

A Self-Employed 401(k) Plan, also called a  Solo 401(k) Plan, is well suited for businesses that either do not employ any employees or employee certain employees that may be excluded from coverage. A Solo 401(k) plan is perfect for any sole proprietor, consultant, or independent contractor.

To be eligible to benefit from the Solo 401(k) plan, investor must meet just two eligibility requirements:

1. The presence of self employment activity.

2. The absence of full-time employees.

The Presence of Self Employment Activity

Self employment activity generally includes ownership and operation of a sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), C Corporation, S Corporation, and Limited Partnership where the business intends to generate revenue for profit and make significant contributions to the plan.

Are You Eligible for a Self-Employed 401(k) Plan?Generate Revenue for Profit

There are no established thresholds for how much profit the business must be generated, how much money must be contributed to the plan, or how soon profits and contributions must happen. It is generally believed that the IRS will consider you eligible if the business being conducted is a legitimate business that is run with the intention of generating profits. The self employment activity can be part time, and it can be ancillary to full time employment elsewhere. A person can even participate in an employer’s 401(k) plan in tandem with their own Solo 401(k). In such a case, the employee elective deferrals from both plans are subject to the single contribution limit.

The Absence of Full-Time Employees

Unlike a regular 401(k) plan, a Solo 401K plan can be implemented only by self-employed individuals or small business owners who have no other full-time employees and are not employed by any business owned by them or their spouse (an exception applies if your full-time employee is your spouse). The business owner and their spouse are technically considered “owner-employees” rather than “employees”.

The following types of employees may be generally excluded from coverage:

  • Employees under 21 years of age
  • Employees that work less than a 1000 hours annually
  • Union employees
  • Nonresident alien employees

If you have full-time employees age 21 or older (other than your spouse) or part-time employees who work more than 1,000 hours a year, you will typically have to include them in any plan you set up. However, a Solo 401k eligible business can have part time employees and independent contractors.

Please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Jul 28

Take Control of Your Retirement with a Checkbook Control Solo 401(k)

With a Solo 401(k) Plan, as trustee of the Plan, you no longer have to get each 401(k) Plan investment approved by the custodian of your account. This means that all assets of the 401(k) trust are under the sole authority of the Solo 401k Plan participant (you).  A Solo 401(k) plan allows you to eliminate the expense and delays associated with an IRA custodian, enabling you to act quickly when the right investment opportunity presents itself.

Take Control of Your Retirement with a Checkbook Control Solo 401(k)For example, Mary has established a Solo 401(k) Plan for her business. Mary is appointed the trustee of her business’s Solo 401(k) Plan. Mary has opened her Solo 401(k) Plan bank account at a local bank. Mary wishes to use her 401(k) Plan funds to purchase a home from Ben, an unrelated third-party (non-disqualified person). Ben is anxious to close the transaction as soon as possible. With a Solo 401(k) Plan, Mary, as trustee of the Plan, can simply write a check using the funds from the 401(k) Plan bank account or can wire the funds directly from the account to Ben. Mary, as trustee of the Plan, no longer needs to seek the consent of the custodian or a financial institution before making the real estate purchase. With a Solo 401(k) Plan without “checkbook control”, Mary would likely not be able to make the real estate purchase since seeking custodian approval would have likely taken too much time.

Investment Opportunities

With a Solo 401(k) Plan, you will be able to invest in almost any type of investment opportunity that you discover, including: Real Estate (rentals, foreclosures, raw land, tax liens etc.), Private Businesses, Precious Metals, Hard Money & Peer to Peer Lending as well as stock and mutual funds; you’re only limit is your imagination. The income and gains from these investments will flow back into your 401(k) Plan tax-free.

The following are some examples of types of investments that can be made with your Solo 401(k) Plan:

  • Residential or commercial real estate
  • Domestic or Foreign real estate
  • Raw land
  • Foreclosure property
  • Mortgages
  • Mortgage pools
  • Deeds
  • Private loans
  • Tax liens
  • Private businesses
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Private placements
  • Precious metals and certain coins
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  • Foreign currencies

Real Estate

The IRS has always permitted a 401(k) Plan to purchase or hold real estate or raw land. Making a real estate investment is as simple as writing a check. Since you are the trustee of your Solo 401(k) Plan, you have the authority to make investment decisions on behalf of your 401(k) Plan. One major advantage of purchasing real estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan is that all gains are tax-deferred until a distribution is taken.

For example, if you purchased a piece of property with your Solo 401(k) Plan for $200,000 and later sold the property for $400,000, the $200,000 of gain would generally be tax-free. Whereas, if you purchased the property using personal funds (non-retirement funds), the gain would be subject to federal income taxes and in most cases state income tax.

Using Leverage to Purchase Real Estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan

Unlike a Self Directed IRA LLC, when a Solo 401(k) Plan buys real estate that is leveraged with mortgage financing it is exempt from paying any Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI or UBIT) tax on the income or gain generated. With the UBTI tax rates at approximately 35%, the Solo 401(k) Plan offers real estate investors looking to use nonrecourse financing in a transaction a tax efficient solution.

Tax Liens

By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase tax-liens or tax deeds, all income and profits are tax-deferred back into your Solo 401(k) Plan until a distribution is taken. More importantly, with a Solo 401(k) Plan, you, as the trustee, will have “checkbook control” over your 401(k) Plan funds allowing you to make purchases on the spot without custodian consent. In other words, purchasing a tax-lien or tax deed is as easy as writing a check!

Loans & Notes

The IRS and ERISA rules permit the use of Solo 401(k) Plan funds to make loans or purchase notes from third parties. By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to make loans or purchase notes from third parties, all interest payments received would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken.

For example, if you used a Solo 401(k) Plan to loan money to a friend, all interest received would flow back into your Solo 401(k) Plan tax-free. Whereas, if you lent your friend money from personal funds (non-retirement funds), the interest received would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax.

Private Businesses

With a Solo 401(k) you are permitted to purchase an interest in a privately held business. The business can be established as any entity other than an S Corporation (i.e. limited liability company, C Corporation, partnership, etc.). When investing in a private business using Solo 401(k) Plan funds, it is important to keep in mind the “Disqualified Person” and “Prohibited Transaction” rules under IRC 4975 and the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512.

Investing in an Active Business – The Unrelated Business Taxable Income Rules

If a Solo 401(k) invests in any business regularly carried on or by a partnership or LLC of which it is a member, all income or gains allocated to the Solo 401(k) will likely be treated as an unrelated business and subject to the Unrelated Business Taxable Income (“UBTI” or “UBIT”) rules pursuant to Section 512 of the Internal Revenue Code. For example, a Solo 401(k) investment into an LLC or partnership that is engaged in an active trade or business such a shoe factory; gas station, retail store or restaurant would likely be treated as an unrelated business and subject to UBTI.

The UBTI rules were enacted by Congress in the 1950s t o prevent tax-exempt entities, such as charities, from competing unfairly with taxable entities. Since an 401(k) is treated as a tax-exempt entity pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 401, the UBTI rules apply to Solo 401(k) investments.

Most 401(k) investments are not subject to the UBTI rules because of the many exceptions available. For example, dividends, interest, annuities, royalties, capital gains, most rentals from real estate, and gains/losses from the sale of real estate are all excluded from the application of the UBTI tax. However, rental income generated from real estate that is “debt financed” loses the exclusion, and that portion of the income becomes subject to UBTI.

A Solo 401(k) subject to UBTI is taxed at the trust tax rate because a 401(k) is considered a trust pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 401. For 2011, a Solo 401(k) subject to UBTI is taxed at the following rates:

  • $0 – $2,300 = 15%
  • $2,300 – $5,350 = $345 + 25%
  • $5,350 – $8,200 = $1,107.50 + 28%
  • $8200 – $11,200 = $1,905.50 + 33%
  • Over $11,200 = $2,895.50 + 35%

Precious Metals & Coins

A Solo 401(k) Plan is permitted to invest in certain platinum coins as well as certain gold, silver, platinum, or palladium bullion provided the coins are held in a financial organization.

The advantages of using a Solo 401(k) Plan with “checkbook control” to purchase precious metals and/or coins is that their values generally keep up with, or exceed, inflation rates better than other investments. In addition, the metals and/or coins can be held in the name of the 401(k) Plan at a financial organization (at any local bank) safety deposit box eliminating depository fees.

Foreign Currencies

The IRS does not prevent the use of 401(k) funds to purchase foreign currencies, including Iraqi Dinars. Many believe that foreign currency investments offer liquidity advantages to the stock market as well as significant investment opportunities.

Purchasing foreign currency, such as the Iraqi Dinar, with a Solo 401(k) Plan is as easy as writing a check. As trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan, you will have “checkbook control” over your 401(k) Plan funds, providing you with the ability to make investments without requiring custodian consent. In addition, the foreign currency notes, including Iraqi Dinars, can be held in the name of the 401(k) Plan at a financial organization (any local bank) safety deposit box eliminating depository fees.

By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase foreign currencies, such as the Iraqi Dinar, all foreign currency gains generated would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken. In the case of a Solo 401(k) Plan, all foreign currency gains would be tax-free.

Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, CDs

In addition to non-traditional investments such as real estate, a Solo 401(k) Plan may purchase stock, bonds, mutual funds, and CDs. The advantage of using a Solo 401(k) Plan with “checkbook control” is that you are not limited to just making these types of investments. With a Solo 401(k) Plan with “checkbook control” you can open a stock trading account with any financial institution as well as purchase real estate, buy tax liens, or lend money to a third-party. Your investment opportunities are endless!

What Types of Investments are Not Permitted Using a Solo 401(k) Plan?

The Internal Revenue Code does not describe what an IRA can invest in, only what it cannot invest in. Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 prohibits Disqualified Persons from engaging in certain type of transactions. The purpose of these rules is to encourage the use of 401(k) funds for accumulation of retirement savings and to prohibit those in control of retirement funds from taking advantage of the tax benefits for their personal account.

Who is a “Disqualified Person”?

The IRS has restricted certain transactions between the Solo 401(k) Plan and a “disqualified person”. The rationale behind these rules was a congressional assumption that certain transactions between certain parties are inherently suspicious and should be disallowed.

The definition of a Disqualified Person (Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(e)(2)) extends into a variety of related party scenarios, but generally includes the 401(k) Plan participant, any ancestors or lineal descendants of the 401(k) Plan participant, and entities in which the 401(k) Plan participant holds a controlling equity or management interest. In essence, under Code Section 4975, a “Disqualified Person” means:

  • A fiduciary (e.g., the 401(k) Plan participant, or person having authority over making 401(k) Plan investments),
  • A person providing services to the plan (e.g., the trustee or custodian),
  • An employer, any of whose employees are covered by the 401(k) Plan,
  • An employee organization any of whose members are covered by the 401(k) Plan,
  • A 50 percent owner of C or D above,
  • A family member of A, B, C, or D above (family members include the fiduciary’s spouse, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, spouses of the fiduciary’s children and grandchildren (but not parents-in-law),
  • An entity (corporation, partnership, trust or estate) owned or controlled more than 50 percent by A, B, C, D, or E. Whether an entity is a disqualified person is determined by considering the indirect stockholdings/interest which would be taken into account under Code Sec. 267(c), except that members of a fiduciary’s family are the family members under Code Sec. 4975(e)(6) (lineal descendants) for purposes of determining disqualified persons.
  • A 10 percent owner, officer, director, or highly compensated employee of C, D, E, or G,
  • A 10 percent or more partner or joint venturer of a person described in C, D, E, or G.

Note: brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-brothers, step-sisters, and friends are NOT treated as “Disqualified Persons”.

Prohibited Transactions

Solo 401(k) prohibited transactions are listed in Code Section 4975; prohibited transactions are any direct or indirect:

  • Sale or exchange, or leasing, of any property between a plan and a disqualified person;
  • Lending of money or other extension of credit between a plan and a disqualified person;
  • Furnishing of goods, services, or facilities between a plan and a disqualified person;
  • Transfer to, or use by or for the benefit of, a disqualified person of the income or assets of a plan;
  • Act by a disqualified person who is a fiduciary whereby he deals with the income or assets of a plan in his own interests or for his own account; or
  • Receipt of any consideration for his own personal account by any disqualified person who is a fiduciary from any party dealing with the plan in connection with a transaction involving the income or assets of the plan.

Examples of Prohibited Transactions

The following are a number of common Solo 401(k) Plan related transactions that are prohibited pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975:

  • Selling interest in real estate to a Disqualified Person
  • Selling or transferring real estate you own personally to your Solo 401(k) Plan
  • Purchasing real estate with Solo 401(k) funds and leasing to a disqualified person
  • Investing 401(k) funds in a house that is used by the 401(k) owner (or other Disqualified Person)
  • Using the Solo 401(k) Plan as security for a loan
  • Personally guaranteeing a loan to your Solo 401(k) Plan
  • Buying real estate with your Solo 401(k) Plan and making repairs personally or having a “Disqualified Person” make repairs
  • Buying real estate with personal funds and then transferring title to the Solo 401(k)
  • Using personal funds to pay taxes and expenses related to the Solo 401(k) Plan real estate investment
  • Being compensated for any services performed for or on behalf of the Solo 401(k) Plan
  • Contributing personal funds to your 401(k) Plan bank account
  • Acquiring a credit card for your Solo 401(k) Plan bank account
  • Using your retirement funds to make a real estate investment and earning a commission personally from the purchase
  • Making an investment using your 401(k) Plan into a company or fund that will benefit the 401(k) Plan participant or a Disqualified Person personally
  • Making an investment using Solo 401(k) funds to facilitate or protect the 401(k) owner’s investment
  • The Solo 401(k) invests in a business owned by the Solo 401(k) Plan participant who serves as the 401(k) Plan trustee and the 401(k) Plan participant owner generates a salary from the business
  • Solo 401(k) Plan participant, as trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan, using 401(k) Plan funds to lend money to an entity which he/she has an interest in
  • Engaging in a transaction whereby the Solo 401(k) Plan participant – serving as trustee of the 401(k) Plan – independent judgment is affected
  • Purchasing company stock from the Solo 401(k) Plan participant whereby the purchase helps the Solo 401(k) Plan owner personally
  • Investing in a company owned by the Solo 401(k) Plan participant who is the trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan whereby the investments benefits the Solo 401(k) Plan participant personally

Tax-Free Gains

With a Solo 401(k) Plan “Checkbook Control” structure, all income and gains from investments will generally flow back to your 401(k) Plan tax-free. Because a 401(k) Plan is treated as a tax-exempt entity pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 401, all income and gains generated by the 401(k) Plan will flow-through to the 401(k) Plan account tax-free!

For additional information on the advantages of using a Solo 401(k) Plan with “checkbook control” to make investments, please contact one of our 401K Experts at 800-472-0646.

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Jul 24

Setting the Record Straight on Solo 401k Plans

The Solo 401(k) Plan is essentially a regular, plain-old, vanilla 401(k) plan that has one participant, who is a self-employed individual, or that person and his or her spouse. There is some misinformation being disseminated about these plans and we would like to set the record straight. We want to let you know what is fact and what is fiction according to the Internal Revenue Service.

A 401(k) plan for a self-employed individual is a new kind of plan.

Fiction

The “one-participant 401(k) plan” is not a new type of plan. It is a traditional 401(k) plan covering only one employee. The plans have the same rules and requirements as any other 401(k) plan. The surging interest in these plans is a result of the EGTRRA tax law change that became effective in 2002. The law changed how salary deferral contributions are treated when calculating the maximum deduction limits for contributions to a 401(k) plan. This change created an opportunity for some people to put away additional amounts toward their retirement. The Solo 401(k) Plan is best suited for business owners who do not have any employees, other than themselves and perhaps their spouse.

I can make up to $60,000 of contributions to my 401(k) Plan as employee and employer each year.

Fact

The annual Solo 401k contribution consists of 2 parts, an employee salary deferral contribution and an employer profit sharing contribution. In 2017 the total contribution limit for a Solo 401k is $54,000 or $60,000 if age 50 or older. The total allowable contribution limits are combined to get the maximum Solo 401k contribution limit.

Under the 2017 Solo 401(k) contribution rules, a plan participant under the age of 50 can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $18,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $54,000.

For plan participants over the age of 50, an individual can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $24,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $60,000.

Employee Elective Deferrals

Under the 2017 Solo 401(k) contribution rules, a plan participant under the age of 50 can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $18,000.

For plan participants over the age of 50, an individual can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $24,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth).

Employer Profit Sharing Contributions

Through the role of employer, an additional contribution can be made to the plan in an amount up to 25% of the participant’s K-1 or self-employment compensation (20% in the case of a Sole Proprietor or Schedule C Tax Payer).

Total Limit

In 2017, the maximum solo 401(k) plan contribution limitation is $54,000 and $60,000 for plan participants over the age of 50.

If the business owner’s spouse elects to participate in the Solo 401(k) and earns compensation from the business, the spouse is allowed to make separate and equal contributions increasing the couples’ annual total contribution to $108,000 for 2017 or $120,000 if both spouses over age 50.

Solo 401k contributions are flexible. Both the salary deferral and the profit sharing contributions are optional and can be changed at any time based on business profitability.

A Solo 401k participant can contribute to the plan as an employee and as employer.

As a Trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan I can make investments in traditional and non-traditional investments, such a real estate.

Fact

A Solo 401(k) offers a self-employed business owner the ability to use their retirement funds to make almost any type of investment on their own, including real estate, tax liens, and precious metals without requiring the consent of any custodian or person.

Unlike an IRA, I can use a nonrecourse loan to purchase real estate with my 401(k) Plan?

Fact

When an IRA buys real estate that is leveraged with mortgage financing, it creates Unrelated Debt Financed Income (a type of Unrelated Business Taxable Income) on which taxes must be paid. A Solo 401(k) plan is exempt from UDFI pursuant to Section 514.

I can borrow the lesser of $50,000 or 50% of my 401(k) account value for any purpose?

Fact

A Solo 401k loan is permitted at any time using the accumulated balance of the solo 401k as collateral for the loan. A Solo 401(k) participant can borrow up to either $50,000 or 50% of their account value – whichever is less. This loan has to be repaid over an amortization schedule of 5 years or less with payment frequency no greater than quarterly. The interest rate must be set at a reasonable rate of interest – generally interpreted as prime rate as per The Wall Street Journal. As of 6/23/17 prime rate is 4.25%, which means participant loans are to be set at a very reasonable interest rate. The Interest rate is fixed based on the prime rate at the time of the loan application.

As a self-employed individual I can defer $18,000 in pre-tax deferrals and $18,000 in after-tax deferrals (Roth).

Fiction

The answer is “No.” There is one limit per person for all types of elective deferrals. However, the $18,000 can be split in any ratio between the Roth and the pre-tax elective deferrals.

Employer contributions to a 401(k) Plan are due when the employer’s tax return is due.

Fact

Employer contributions are not required to be made until the due date of the employer’s tax return, plus extensions. So, in the case of a sole proprietor, this is when the 1040 is due – October 15, if an extension was filed.

If I have two jobs, I can contribute the maximum to both company’s plans.

Fiction

The 402(g) limits are by person, not by plan. For example, Steve, aged 40, is employed by Company X, and participates in Company X’s 401(k) plan. Steve defers the most allowed by Code section 402(g) for 2017, $18,000. He also has his own business with a 401(k). He will not be able to defer anything in the self-employed 401(k) for 2017. This is because the Code section 402(g) limit applies to the individual and he has already deferred the maximum allowed for the year.

If I am the only participant and have a 401(k) plan, I don’t have to file any annual Form 5500 returns.

It depends

A Form 5500-EZ (or Form 5500) does not have to be filed for a plan year (other than the final plan year) that begins on or after January 1, 2011, if you have one or more one-participant plans that separately or together had total assets of $250,000 or less at the end of that plan year. In other words, if the assets of the plan or plans exceed $250,000, a Form 5500-EZ is required for a one-participant plan. The IRA-based plans almost never have an annual Form 5500 filing requirement, regardless of the value of the IRA assets.

If additional employees are hired, they don’t have to be covered under a 401(k) plan for self-employed individuals.

Fiction

Just because the plan is called Solo 401(k), it doesn’t mean that if the business is expanded and employees are added, the plan is only for one employee. If the new employee meets the eligibility requirements under the plan, then he or she will be required to enter the plan and be eligible for salary deferrals. Assuming that the new employee is a non-highly compensated employee, the plan is now subject to nondiscrimination testing, known as the ADP and ACP tests.

Please contact one of our Solo 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Jul 14

Contribution Limits for the Solo 401k Make it the Retirement Choice for the Self-Employed

Under the 2017 Solo 401(k) contribution rules, a plan participant under the age of 50 can make a maximum annual employee deferral contribution in the amount of $18,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax, after-tax or Roth. On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) annual profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $54,000, an increase of $1,000 from 2016.

For plan participants over the age of 50, an individual can make a maximum annual employee deferral contribution in the amount of $24,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax, after tax, or Roth. On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) annual profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $60,000, an increase of $1,000 from 2016.

One of the main benefits of a Solo 401(k) Plan is the opportunity to make higher annual contributions in pre-tax, after-tax or Roth.

IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) plan is unique and so popular because it is designed explicitly for small, owner-only business. In addition, to the high annual contribution limitations. There are many features of the IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) plan that make it so appealing for small business owners.

Tax and Penalty Free Loan

Unlike most Solo 401(k) Plans offered by the traditional financial institutions such as Fidelity, IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan allows plan participants to borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of their account value (whichever is less) for any purpose, including paying credit card bills, mortgage payments, or anything else. The loan has to be paid back over a five-year period at least quarterly at a minimum prime interest rate (you have the option of selecting a higher interest rate).

Checkbook Control & No Transaction Fees

The most attractive feature of the IRA Financial Group Solo 401(k) Plan is that it offers the plan participant checkbook control over his or her retirement funds. In the case of a conventional Solo 401(k) Plan offered by most financial institutions, the plan participant is relegated to making traditional investments, such as stocks and or mutual funds. In addition, the Solo 401(k) Plan account is required to be opened at the financial institution. With IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan, the plan account can be opened at any local bank, including Chase, Wells Fargo, and even Fidelity. In addition, with IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan, the plan participant can make almost any traditional as well as non-traditional investments, such as real estate, precious metals, tax liens, and much more. With IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan, the Plan participant has the freedom to make the investments he or she wants while at the same time opening the 401(k) account at any local bank. As trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan, the Plan Participant (you) can serve as the trustee providing you checkbook control over your retirement funds. With IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan, making a Solo 401(k) Plan investment is as simple as writing a check.

Invest in Real Estate & Much More Tax-Free

With IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed Solo 401(k) plan, you will be able to invest in almost any type of investment opportunity that you discover, including: real estate, tax liens, precious metals, private notes, hard money loans, private business, etc.; your only limit is your imagination. The income and gains from these investments will flow back into your Solo 401(k) tax-free.

Roth Contributions & Conversion

Unlike a conventional Solo 401(k) Plan offered by most financial institutions, IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan contains a built in Roth sub-account which can be contributed to without any income restrictions. In addition, the IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan allows for the conversion of a traditional 401(k) or 403(b) account to a Roth subaccount. However, the Solo 401(k) Plan participant must pay income tax on the amount converted.

Easy Administration

IRA Financial Group’s Solo 401(k) Plan is easy to operate. There is generally no annual filing requirement unless your solo 401(k) Plan exceeds $250,000 in assets, in which case you will need to file a short information return with the IRS (Form 5500-EZ). However, unlike a financial institution, the tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will assist you in completing this form is require.

To learn more about the advantages of the Solo 401K Plan with Checkbook Control please contact a 401(k) Expert at 800-472-0646.

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May 22

Why a Solo 401(k) is the Best Retirement Plan for the Self-Employed

Here’s a great article from Dough Roller touting the advantages of the Solo 401(k) Plan

If you’re self-employed, you have several retirement plan options available to you as an individual or small business owner. The best retirement plan for the self-employed, though, is probably the Solo 401(k).

Also called an individual 401(k), it has similar advantages to the traditional, employer-sponsored 401(k) plans available to large companies. However, it brings with it more benefits because you’re self-employed.

How a Solo 401(k) Plan Works

A Solo 401(k) plan is essentially a 401(k) for a self-employed individual. But there are several features of the plan that distinguish it from the larger, employer-based 401(k) plans. These include:

  • Since you are the business owner, you act as both employer and employee on the plan.
  • A Solo 401(k) plan is just for the owner of the business and the owner’s spouse; it is not available for employees of the business.
  • The amount you can contribute to a Solo 401(k) are generally more generous than they will be for an employee participant in typical large company 401(k) plans.
  • You can set up a Solo 401(k) even if you are an independent contractor or a freelancer.

Solo 401k Contribution Limits

As an employee of the business, contribution limits to a solo 401(k) plan are exactly the same as they are for a traditional 401(k) plan. You can contribute up to 100% of your salary or up to the contribution limit, whichever is greater. The current contribution limit for 2017 is $18,000 of your salary, or up to $24,000 if you’re age 50 or older.

It’s here that being the employer comes in handy.But since you are also the employer in the solo plan, you can also contribute as much as 25% of your net income to the plan as a profit-sharing contribution. (See IRS examples of the

As an employer, you can also contribute as much as 25% of your net income to the plan as a profit-sharing contribution. (See IRS examples of the employer matching contribution — it varies by business entity.)

Solo 401k Contribution Deadline

One other important point about the solo 401(k) plan is that you must make your contributions to the plan no later than the end of the calendar year. That means that you must make your contribution no later than December 31 in order for the contribution to be deductible for the tax year in question.

This is unlike contributions to IRA plans, which allow you to make deductions up until the filing deadline for the preceding tax year.

Simplicity

One of the biggest advantages of a Solo 401(k) is that you can essentially set it up similar to a self-directed IRA. That means that you are free to choose your investment trustee. You can also select a discount investment broker. This will provide you with an opportunity for unlimited investments and very low fees.

This is unlike many traditional 401(k) plans, which often limit your investment options to a few mutual funds and charge high plan fees.

Very Generous Contributions

As I noted above, with the Solo 401(k) you can make both employee and employer contributions. So, let’s say you’re self-employed as a sole proprietor and report your income and expenses on Schedule C of your income tax return. If your net income from the business is $100,000, you can contribute $18,000 as an employee. But then you can also contribute 25% of the net profit as the employer.

This means that your total contribution could reach $43,000!

That’s an enormous retirement contribution based on a $100,000 income. If you are in the 25% federal tax bracket, for example, a $43,000 contribution could result in a tax savings of $10,750 (although it’s important to consult a tax expert to be sure).

This is much more generous than other types of self-employed retirement plans. For example, let’s take the contribution scenario above. In it, you are contributing 43% of your income to your retirement plan using the Solo 401(k).

SEP IRA

Under a SEP IRA, your contribution would be limited to 20% of the same income, or $20,000. (The SEP IRA provides for a deduction equal to 25% of your net income, after the deduction for the contribution is removed from your income… That means that the net contribution to a SEP IRA is effectively limited to 20% of your income.)

SIMPLE IRA

Under a SIMPLE IRA, your contribution limit is even lower. The maximum contribution that you can make as an employee is $12,500. (This bumps up to $15,500 if you are age 50 or older.) SIMPLE IRAs also provide for an employer match. As the employer in the business, you can provide either a 3% matching contribution, or a 2% non-elective contribution (up to $5,000). That means that your total contribution to the plan is limited to a total maximum of $20,500 per year.

Traditional IRA

And, of course, a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA limits your annual contribution to $5,500, or $6,500 if you are 50 or older.

The maximum contribution to any and all tax-sheltered retirement plans, including the Solo 401(k) plan, is $54,000 for 2017. However, with a Solo 401(k) plan, you can reach that maximum much more quickly than you can with other self-employed retirement plans.

There is one important limitation pertaining to S corporations: distributions paid from an S corporation are considered dividends, and are therefore not considered earned income. For this reason, you cannot make contributions to a Solo 401(k) plan that include your distributions from the S Corp.

You Can Add a Solo Roth 401(k) to the Mix

Just as with a traditional 401(k), you can allocate part of the plan to a Solo Roth 401(k) plan. That will enable you to allocate up to $5,500 of your employee contribution to the Roth portion. If you are age 50 or older, up to $6,500 can go toward the Roth portion. The remainder of your allowed contribution will go into the regular portion of your Solo 401(k) plan.

The employer matching portion can only go into the regular part of your Solo 401(k), and not the Roth portion.

You Can Include Your Spouse

An owner cannot add employees to a Solo 401(k) plan. He or she can, however, add a spouse. Your spouse can make contributions based on his or her earnings from the business.

For example, let’s say that you have an S corporation. You take a salary of $50,000 per year, and your spouse takes an equal amount. You can each make a contribution of up to $18,000 on your respective salaries. As an employer, you can then match up to 25% of the same amount.

Converting the Solo 401(k) to a Traditional 401(k)

Many businesses start out as one-person affairs. The owner starts out working for himself and only adds employees as the business grows.

A Solo 401(k) plan really shines when you hire employees. Why? Because you can convert these plans to a traditional 401(k) plan as soon as you begin adding employees.

When you start adding staff, you can easily convert your Solo 401(k) to a traditional plan. As you do, you can enable your employees to participate in the plan. That’s a big advantage because offering a 401(k) plan — particularly as a small business — is an attractive advantage for drawing potential talent. Many employees prefer to work in a business that offers a retirement plan. With the Solo 401(k), you will already have a plan in place when that day comes.

As with all things related to retirement plans, be sure to consult a tax expert before making any decisions.

If you would like more information about the Solo 401(k) plan, please contact a 401(k) at the IRA Financial Group at 800.472.4646.

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Mar 21

Using a Solo 401k to Invest in Real Estate in the Reno, NV Area

Do you live in or around the Reno, NV area? Are you looking to invest in real estate? Did you know you can use your retirement funds to invest in almost anything, including real estate, tax free? If you currently have a retirement plan at a traditional financial institution, you may not know this. That’s because they want to push the investments they’re familiar with, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds. With an IRA Financial Group Solo 401(k) Plan, you can invest in almost anything without the consent of your custodian. Further, with checkbook control, you can make an investment by simply writing a check. Now is the time to invest in the Reno area. In a recent client survey, Reno ranked near the top for real estate investments. Continue reading to see how to use your retirement funds to invest.

Advantages of Using a Solo 401(k) to Purchase Real Estate

Income or gains generated by a 401(k) Plan generate tax-deferred/tax-free profits. Using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase real estate allows the 401(k) to earn tax-free income/gains and pay taxes at a future date, rather than in the year the investment produces income.

With a Solo 401K, you can invest tax-free and not have to pay taxes right away – or in most cases for many years allowing your retirement funds to grow tax-free! All the income or gains from your real estate deals flow though to your 401(k) account tax-free!

Types of Real Estate Investments

Below is a partial list of domestic or foreign real estate-related investments that you can make with a Solo 401(k):

  • Raw land
  • Residential homes
  • Commercial property
  • Apartments
  • Duplexes
  • Condos/townhomes
  • Mobile homes
  • Real estate notes
  • Real estate purchase options
  • Tax liens certificates
  • Tax deeds

Investing in Real Estate with a Solo 401(k) is Quick & Easy!

Purchasing real estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan is essentially the same as purchasing real estate personally.

  • Set-up a Solo 401(k) Plan with the IRA Financial Group.
  • Identify the investment property.
  • Purchase the investment property with the Solo 401(k) Plan – no need to seek the consent of the custodian with a Solo 401(k) Plan since you serve as Trustee and Plan Administrator.
  • Title to the investment property and all transaction documents should be in the name of the Solo 401(k) Plan. Documents pertaining to the property investment must be signed by you as Trustee.
  • All expenses paid from the investment property go through the Solo 401(k) Plan. Likewise, all rental income checks must be deposited directly in to the Solo 401(k) Plan bank account. No 401(k) related investment checks should be deposited into your personal accounts.
  • All income or gains from the investment flow through to your 401(k) tax-free!

Solo 401K Solution

Structuring the Purchase of Real Estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan

When using a Solo 401(k) to make a real estate investment there are a number of ways you can structure the transaction:

1. Use your Solo 401(k) funds to make 100% of the investment

If you have enough funds in your Solo 401(k) to cover the entire real estate purchase, including closing costs, taxes, fees, insurance, you may make the purchase outright using your Solo 401(k). All ongoing expenses relating to the real estate investment must be paid out of your Solo 401(k) bank account. In addition, all income or gains relating to your real estate investment must be returned to your Solo 401(k) bank account.

2. Partner with Family, Friends, Colleagues

If you don’t have sufficient funds in your Solo 401(k) to make a real estate purchase outright, your Solo 401(k) can purchase an interest in the property along with a family member (non-disqualified person), friend, or colleague. The investment would not be made into an entity owned by the 401(k) owner, but instead would be invested directly into the property.

For example, your Solo 401(k) Plan could partner with a family member, friend, or colleague to purchase a piece of property for $150,000. Your Solo 401(k) Plan could purchase an interest in the property (i.e. 50% for $75,000) and your family member, friend, or colleague could purchase the remaining interest (i.e. 50% for $75,000).

All income or gain from the property would be allocated to the parties in relation to their percentage of ownership in the property. Likewise, all property expenses must be paid in relation to the parties’ percentage of ownership in the property. Based on the above example, for a $2,000 property tax bill, the Solo 401(k) would be responsible for 50% of the bill ($1000) and the family member, friend, or colleague would be responsible for the remaining $1000 (50%).

Isn’t Partnering with a family member in a Real Estate Transaction a Prohibited Transaction?

Likely not if the transaction is structured correctly. Investing in an investment entity with a family member and investing in an investment property directly are two different transaction structures that impact whether the transaction will be prohibited under Code Section 4975. The different tax treatment is based on who currently owns the investment. Using a Solo 401(k) Plan to invest in an entity that is owned by a family member who is a disqualified person will likely be treated as a prohibited transaction. However, partnering with a family member that is a non-disqualified person directly into an investment property would likely not be a prohibited transaction. Note: If you, a family member, or other disqualified person already owns a property, then investing in that property with your Solo 401(k) would be prohibited.

3. Borrow Money for your Solo 401(k)

You may obtain financing through a loan or mortgage to finance a real estate purchase using a Solo 401(k). Solo 401(k) participants can also borrow up to either $50,000 or 50% of their account value – whichever is less to help finance a real estate investment.

If using financing through a third-party loan to purchase real estate (other than a loan from the 401(k) Plan), one important point must be considered when selecting this option:

  • Loan must be non-recourse – A “prohibited transaction” is a transaction that, directly or indirectly involves the loan of money or other extension of credit between a plan and a disqualified person. Normally, when an individual purchases real estate with a mortgage, the traditional loan provides for recourse against the borrower (i.e., personal liability for the mortgage). However, if the 401(k) Plan purchases real estate and secures a mortgage for the purchase, the loan must be non-recourse; otherwise there will be a prohibited transaction. A non-recourse loan only uses the property for collateral. In the event of default, the lender can collect only the property and cannot go after the 401(k) Plan itself.

Note: Unlike a Self-Directed IRA LLC, pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 514(c)(9), in the case of a Solo 401(k) Plan, the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBTI) does not apply when using nonrecourse leverage as part of a real estate transaction (unrelated debt-financed income – UDFI). Therefore, unlike a Self-Directed IRA LLC, using a Solo 401K to finance a real estate investment will not trigger UBTI – which imposes a tax in the range of 40% for 2016 on all income/gains relating to the debt financed portion of the investment.

For more information about using your 401(k) to invest in real estate in Reno, please contact a 401(k) Expert at the IRA Financial Group @ 800.472.0646.

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Mar 10

Who Will Benefit Most From a Solo 401k Plan?

The Solo 401(k) plan is unique and so popular because it is designed explicitly for small, owner only business. It’s a tax efficient and cost effective plan that offers all the benefits of a Self Directed IRA plan, and includes additional benefits, such as high contribution limits (up to $60,000) and a $50,000 loan feature. There are many features of the Solo 401(k) plan that make it so appealing and popular among self employed business owners. A solo 401(k) Plan is typically used by owner owned business for the following purposes:

  • High Contribution Limits: Under the 2017 Solo 401(k) contribution rules, a plan participant under the age of 50 can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $18,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral.For plan participants over the age of 50, an individual can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $24,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $60,000.
  • Loan Feature: While an IRA offers no participant loan feature, the Solo 401k allows participants to borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of their account value (whichever is less) for any purpose.
  • Finance a Business or investment: Borrow up to $50,000 to finance a business or make an investment.
  • Flexible Investment Options: You can invest in almost any type of investment, including real estate, private business entities and commercial paper and channel the gains back into your 401(k) tax free.
  • Roth Type Contributions: With IRAs, those who earn high incomes are disallowed from contributing to a Roth IRA or converting their IRA to a Roth IRA. The Solo 401(k) plan contains a built in Roth sub-account which can be contributed to without any income restrictions.
  • Cost Effective Administration: In general, the solo 401(k) plan is easy to operate. There is generally no annual filing requirement unless your solo 401(k) plan exceeds $250,000 in assets, in which case you will need to file a short information return with the IRS (Form 5500).
  • Exemption from UDFI: When an IRA buys real estate that is leveraged with mortgage financing, it creates Unrelated Debt Financed Income (a type of Unrelated Business Taxable Income) on which taxes must be paid. A Solo 401(k) plan is exempt from UDFI.

Retirement Saving Consolidation Through Rollovers

A solo 401(k) plan can accept rollovers of funds from another retirement savings vehicle, such as an IRA, a SEP, or a previous employer’s 401(k) plan.

Please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Feb 02

Who Receives the Most Benefits of a Solo 401k Plan?

The Solo 401(k) plan is unique and so popular because it is designed explicitly for small, owner only business. It’s a tax efficient and cost effective plan that offers all the benefits of a Self Directed IRA plan, and includes additional benefits, such as high contribution limits (up to $59,000) and a $50,000 loan feature. There are many features of the Solo 401(k) plan that make it so appealing and popular among self employed business owners. A solo 401(k) Plan is typically used by owner owned business for the following purposes:

  • High Contribution Limits: Under the 2016 Solo 401(k) contribution rules, a plan participant under the age of 50 can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $18,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral.For plan participants over the age of 50, an individual can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $24,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $59,000.
  • Loan Feature: While an IRA offers no participant loan feature, the Solo 401k allows participants to borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of their account value (whichever is less) for any purpose.
  • Finance a Business or investment: Borrow up to $50,000 to finance a business or make an investment.
  • Flexible Investment Options: You can invest in almost any type of investment, including real estate, private business entities and commercial paper and channel the gains back into your 401(k) tax free.
  • Roth Type Contributions: With IRAs, those who earn high incomes are disallowed from contributing to a Roth IRA or converting their IRA to a Roth IRA. The Solo 401(k) plan contains a built in Roth sub-account which can be contributed to without any income restrictions.
  • Cost Effective Administration: In general, the solo 401(k) plan is easy to operate. There is generally no annual filing requirement unless your solo 401(k) plan exceeds $250,000 in assets, in which case you will need to file a short information return with the IRS (Form 5500).
  • Exemption from UDFI: When an IRA buys real estate that is leveraged with mortgage financing, it creates Unrelated Debt Financed Income (a type of Unrelated Business Taxable Income) on which taxes must be paid. A Solo 401(k) plan is exempt from UDFI.

Retirement Saving Consolidation Through Rollovers

A Solo 401(k) plan can accept rollovers of funds from another retirement savings vehicle, such as an IRA, a SEP, or a previous employer’s 401(k) plan.

Please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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