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Self-Directed Solo 401(K)

When saving for retirement, many people use a Self-Directed Solo 401(K) plan. This plan is designed particularly for small businesses which employ only themselves and their spouse.

Since passage of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) Solo 401(K) plans became a much better choice for sole proprietorships. This law allows one to reap all of the benefits of Traditional 401(K) plans with a number of significant advantages.

 

The Self-Directed Solo 401(K) allows you to put aside more money for retirement

Under the 2018 rules, a Traditional IRA only allows someone to contribute a maximum of $5,500 annually until the age of 50 or $6,500 50+. However, a Self-Directed Solo 401(K) is more generous. Under the age of 50, the Self-Directed Solo 401K) plan allows you to contribute a maximum of $18,500 annually, and $24,500 each year after then. Perhaps the most significant advantage to a Solo 401(K) is the permitted profit-sharing contribution. Your business can also make a profit-sharing contribution of 20%, until a combined maximum limit of $55,000 is reached. After the age of 50, a $6,000 “catch-up” contribution can be added which increases the combined maximum amount to $61,000. If your spouse also contributes to the business, you can both contribute funds into your own accounts, which effectively doubles all of these limits.

Another benefit of a Self-Directed Solo 401(K) is a Self-Directed Roth IRA Option, which allows you to make after-tax contributions, unlike the Traditional Self-Directed 401(K) which only permits pre-tax contributions.

 

Eligibility Requirement for a Self-Directed Solo 401(K)

In order to qualify for a Self-Directed Solo 401(K), your business may have no other full-time employees besides you and your spouse. The business also must pay you a salary or wage as an individual.  The deadline for establishing a Solo 401(K) plan is the last day of your business’s tax year (December 31, for a calendar tax year). However, if the business is incorporated, you would probably want to form your Self-Directed Solo 401(K) early in the year because you cannot contribute any income which is not earned that year before the Solo 401(K) was formed.

 

Permitted Investments for a Self-Directed Solo 401(K)

Your Self-Directed Solo 401(K) plan can invest in almost anything. This allows you to both diversify your investments or and maximize returns – whichever is more important to you.

 

Tax Advantages of a Self-Directed Solo 401(K)

If you invest funds from your Self-Directed Solo 401(K) in real estate, there are significant tax advantages. When purchasing real estate, you can use nonrecourse leverage which avoids UDFI rules and is exempt from UBTI taxes. This is a substantial savings, as the UBTI tax is approximately 40% for 2018.

There are also tax deductions which can be claimed when using a Self-Directed Solo 401(K). Because you are paying for the Solo 401(K) with business funds, you could claim the cost of the plan as a tax deduction.

 

You can borrow money from your Self-Directed Solo 401(K)

Unlike many other retirement plans like Self-Directed Traditional IRA plans, which are forbidden from making loans, you can borrow money from your Self-Directed Solo 401(K). This can be up to $50,000 or 50% of your account value. There are no restrictions on the use of these funds. An additional benefit to this type of loan is the interest rate, which is essentially 0%, since you are both the lender and the borrower.

For more information on Self-Directed IRAs or Self-Directed Solo 401(K)s, call us today at 866-7500-IRA (472) or visit us at www.AmericanIRA.com.

Is Congress Really Talking About Slashing Contribution Limits to 401ks including the Self-Directed Solo 401k ?

No. If they were, it would be big news to many of our clients, who went through the trouble of setting up a Self-Directed Solo 401k for their small businesses or consulting ventures. And there’s some talk in the media about Congressional Republicans pushing to slash allowable contribution limits to around $2,400.

The New York Times writes it up here:

House Republicans are considering a plan to sharply reduce the amount of income American workers can save in tax-deferred retirement accounts as part of a broad effort to rewrite the tax code, according to lobbyists, tax consultants and congressional Democrats.

Notably absent from the story: Any language that’s actually in a bill on the House floor. More than that, there’s also the notable absence of a single Republican lawmaker that has ever, ever publicly advocated to reduce allowable 401k contributions to that level.

Moreover, there’s not even a single named source on record saying that this is what the GOP is floating.

It would also put a major dent in the GOP brand, which at least ostensibly seeks to reduce the tax burden on working Americans and businesses.

It seems to us that a bunch of wonks at a planning session were looking at potential ways to offset revenue losses from a planned corporate income tax rate cut, and when they keyed in what they’d have to cap the allowable 401k contribution rate at to recoup the revenue loss, the computer spat out a figure close to $2,400. Nobody wanted to do it, but someone in the room ran to the media “on background,” unwilling to put his own name to the story, and the knuckleheads ran with it.

Our take: It is exceedingly unlikely that the GOP tax reform bill will contain any large reduction in allowable 401k contributions – at least not without a corresponding increase in contribution limits to alternative investment vehicles like IRAs and self-directed IRAs. Messing with 401ks – the primary retirement savings vehicle of the middle class – would be likely to cause an electoral revolt. The Obama administration had to quickly abandon a push to tax Section 529 plans a few years ago, as the Times notes in their article.

There is some legislative risk to those sitting on so-called “jumbo” IRAs, including jumbo self-directed IRAs, with assets above about $5 million. If any tax-advantaged investment account counts as ‘low-hanging fruit’ to revenue-hungry Congressional representatives, it’s those.

Naturally, self-directed IRA owners are over-represented among jumbo IRA account owners, because people that are able to amass $5 million or more in IRAs tend to be successful real estate and venture capital or private equity investors.

At this point, we don’t see any major legislative risks to the Self-Directed Solo 401k structure, though we’ll be keeping an eye on developments as the Republicans in Congress cobble together their expected proposal for tax reform.

Starting a New Self-Directed Solo 401k For Your Small Business

The Self-Directed Solo 401k is an amazingly flexible and powerful tool for long-term wealth building. The combination of tax-deferred growth, high payroll deduction/deferred compensation limits and the generous allowance for contributions by the employer make it particularly attractive for those whose businesses are generating substantial free cash flow and income potential.

Furthermore, unlike with IRAs, there are no maximum income levels that you must not exceed in order to fully enjoy the tax benefits of the plan. Small business owners and plan participants can contribute to a Self-Directed Solo 401k plan no matter what their income, though with conventional (non-solo) 401(k) plans the contributions of highly-compensated individuals could be limited by “top hat” rules, if rank and file participation in the plan is poor.

These provisions typically aren’t anything most solo 401(k) plan owners have to worry about, however, because the only full-time employees in these firms are typically the owner and his or her spouse.

Why solo 401(k)s?

A solo 401(k) plan may help you reduce your income tax liability. This is because the law allows you to deduct the entire amount of your contribution each year from your taxable income. This goes both for you personally, as the account owner and plan participant, as well as the business, which can write off contributions to employee pension plans, including 401(k) plans as employee compensation expenses, if they are incorporated.

If the business is not incorporated, then you can still make pre-tax contributions by deducting contributions for yourself from your personal income.

Setting Up for Self-Direction

If you want to invest your solo 401(k) results using self-directed strategies that allow for investing directly in alternative asset classes that aren’t normally associated with Wall Street (e.g., gold, precious metals, venture capital, private placements and direct ownership of real estate), then you need to engage the services of a reputable third-party administrator or custodian, such as American IRA, LLC.

To get started, visit www.americanira.com and open an account. Click on “Self-Directed Accounts), then on Self-Directed Solo 401k plans, and download and complete the Self-directed 401(k) application kit.

Why a Self-Directed Solo 401k?

Solo 401(k)s also have a number of other valuable benefits as well:

Higher Contributions

  • Annual contributions up to $54,000 with an additional $6,000 catch-up contribution for those over age 50.

Borrow from Your Self-Directed 401k (Tax- And Penalty-free)

  • Borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of your account value (whichever is less) for any purpose. Loans must be paid back within 5 years.

Checkbook Control

  • Plan participants may have the option to have checkbook control over their retirement funds. American IRA acts as the record keeper for the Self-Directed Solo 401k plan.

Roth Provision

  • A built in Roth provision is included which can be contributed to without any income restrictions.

Easy Administration

  • You are the trustee of the plan. American IRA acts as the record keeper.

Funding your Self-Directed Solo 401k

Many of our clients who establish a new Self-Directed Solo 401k for their small business want to fund it by rolling over one or more existing IRA or self-directed IRA accounts into the new solo 401(k). Fortunately this is easily done for pre-tax IRA funds. You simply have to ensure that your 401(k) plan founding documents allow for this provision. This is best done when you’re first drafting your 401(k) plan, whether it’s a solo 401(k) plan or any other small business 401(k) plan.

If you’re planning on expanding the business and hiring more employees over time, the solo 401(k) plan may not be the best match for you. The solo 401(k) plan is specifically designed for self-employed individuals and single-owner businesses, including corporations and LLCs, as well as for ‘mom and pop’ businesses owned and operated by couples.

You can’t directly fund your pre-tax solo 401(k) with a rollover from a Roth IRA. The tax regimens of both types of accounts makes them incompatible.

Claim a tax credit

You may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $500 per year for up to 3 years, just for starting a solo 401(k) plan, SIMPLE or SEP IRA. This tax credit is designed to encourage employers to help their employees provide for their own security in retirement by offsetting the costs of setting up the plan. To claim the credit, fill out IRS Form 8881, or speak to your tax advisor.

Why Independent Contractors Should Consider a Self-Directed Solo 401k

Independent contractors should take note of the Self-Directed Solo 401k. The 401k is America’s most widely-adopted retirement plan – largely replacing the ever more elusive traditional pension plan as one of the three legs of the American retirement ‘barstool,’ the other two being private savings (including conventional and self-directed IRAs and Roth IRAs) and Social Security. Employers are attracted to the 401k’s high contribution limits and flexibility, as well as its very manageable costs compared to traditional defined benefit pensions, while employees favor the pretax contributions and any employer contributions they may receive.

But the Self-Directed Solo 401k version is rapidly gaining traction as well. This variant of the 401k plan is specifically designed to give independent contractors, freelancers, artists, consultants and very small business owners an incentive and a path toward increased retirement savings and future financial security. If you are a sole proprietor, or an owner-operator of a business with no full-time employees other than yourself and a spouse, the Self-Directed Solo 401k has some tremendous advantages:

Self-Directed Solo 401ks support self-directed investing. With traditional employer-sponsored 401ks, you are limited to those mutual funds, annuities or guaranteed investment contracts (GICs) that your employer chooses for you. But your employer may be focused more on protecting themselves from liability than on choosing the very best funds available for you – and what gives them the expertise to do so? If you are your own plan sponsor, in contrast, you can invest independently of the Wall Street investment firms that market their investment products to employers. You can pick out your own investments, from individual rental real estate properties to oil & gas opportunities to limited partnerships, LLCs, private equity, venture capital, gold and precious metals and just about anything else you can imagine! The only exceptions are life insurance, collectibles, certain forms of precious metals of questionable or inconsistent purity, jewelry and gemstones and alcoholic beverages.

High contribution limits. Participants under age 50 can contribute up to $18,000 in salary deferral to the Self-Directed Solo 401k. But the business can make additional contributions of 20 percent of compensation (for single-member LLCs and sole proprietorships) or 25 percent (for all other businesses) up to a combined maximum of $54,000. That’s nearly ten times higher than the $5,500 limit imposed on IRAs for individuals under age 50. And unlike IRAs, 401ks don’t have an income test for eligibility to make pre-tax contributions.

If you’re over age 50, you can make additional contributions to your solo 401k of an additional $6,000 per year.

Asset Protection. Assets held 401k plans enjoy near-complete protection from creditors in every state. Even the IRS has trouble cracking open a 401k account, since 401k assets aren’t held in the owner’s name directly, but instead are held in trust for the owner’s benefit.

Self-Directed Solo 401k Eligibility

The Self-Directed Solo 401k is a top-notch retirement vehicle for certain small business owners and self-employed individuals and couples. With maximum combined contributions of up to $54,000 in 2017, the flexibility to establish a Roth account within your 401k plan, the ability to engage in self-directed investment strategies such as direct ownership of real estate, and the ability to borrow against your 401k balance if you choose to structure your plan to allow it, the Solo 401k plan is both versatile and powerful. It also has unmatched power as an asset protection vehicle, nearly impervious to creditors.

But the Self-Directed Solo 401k plan is not for everybody. There are certain criteria that have to be met even to establish a Solo 401k or make contributions. And it’s not always the best answer for growing companies.

Here are the important eligibility criteria for Solo 401k plans, to include Self-Directed Solo 401k plans:

  • You must have self-employment or owner-employee income. That is, you must be able to show income from self-employment, or via your own C corporation, S corporation, partnership, or LLC.
  • You must not have any full-time employees in your company, other than yourself and a spouse.

Unlike IRAs, there are no maximum income thresholds or phase-outs that affect your ability to establish a Solo 401k or Self-Directed Solo 401k. The same goes for Roth solo 401ks and self-directed solo Roth 401ks. You can establish and contribute to a Solo 401k no matter how much money you are earning or project to earn. There are limits to how much you can contribute, of course, but simply earning too much will not make you ineligible for the Solo 401k altogether.

One advantage to Solo 401ks: You will not find your contributions limited because you can’t convince rank and file employees to contribute enough, thereby triggering “top hat” restrictions on highly-compensated employees. As long as you and your spouse are the only full-time employees in the company, you don’t need to worry about these non-discrimination provisions.

Part-timers

You yourself do not have to work full-time in order to enjoy the benefits of participating in a solo 401k. As such, the solo 401k is potentially a great solution for semi-retired persons, as well as those with part-time occupations and practices.

Coordination with other retirement plans.

You can participate fully in your Self-Directed Solo 401k even if you already have an IRA, or you participate in another retirement plan at another workplace. However, eligibility for IRA contributions could be affected if you do have access to a solo 401k plan. Call us at American IRA, LLC if you have questions: 866-7500-IRA(472).

Employees.

Generally, to maintain eligibility for a solo 401k plan, you can’t have any full-time employees in your business other than yourself and your spouse. However, you can have other employees. Current law exempts employees under age 21, employees who work fewer than 1,000 hours, and non-resident aliens. You can also exempt union employees, who are generally provided for under their collective bargaining agreement.

Solo 401k plan sponsors can also have all the part-time employees and independent contractors they want without affecting solo 401k eligibility.

Rolling Over A Former Employer’s 401k? Consider A Self-directed Solo 401k

Have a 401k from a former employer you need to either cash out or move to another plan soon? Consider your options carefully. The knee-jerk recommendation from many advisors is to roll over a 401k into an IRA or Roth IRA because of the access to a much wider array of mutual funds, stocks, bonds or other securities. But in some circumstances, this isn’t the best advice – especially for investors interested in Self-Directed Solo 401k strategies.

For example here are some questions to consider when thinking about a Self-Directed Solo 401k,

Will you want to begin withdrawing the money early? If you’ve left the work force, the 401k allows you to begin withdrawing your money earlier than the IRA – without the need to pay a 10 percent excise tax for early withdrawals. IRAs impose the 10 percent penalty on withdrawals before you turn age 59½. A 401k allows you, in certain circumstances, to begin taking money out penalty free beginning at age 55.

Asset Protection Issues

IRAs enjoy substantial creditor protection, especially if the IRA is not an inherited asset but was funded using the owner’s own earnings, or the earnings of a spouse, via a spousal IRA. But the IRS can still levy an IRA account, including, potentially, self-directed IRAs, in order to satisfy a tax debt.

But 401k plans are different. Assets in a 401k are not held in your name personally, but in a trust on your behalf. This means that they cannot be seized in the event of a bankruptcy or judgment against you. Even the IRA cannot directly levy a 401k account because of a personal debt. The best the IRS – or any other creditor – can do with assets in a 401k is obtain a charging order – authorizing them to intercept income from the 401k when you take money out of the account, similar to a wage garnishment. But you can control when you take a distribution.

Few creditors want to wait years or decades for their money, and fewer still plaintiff lawyers want to wait that long to get paid. This is enough to dissuade many creditors or plaintiff’s attorneys, or to convince them to settle a case early on a basis favorable to you.

Tax Benefits of Real Estate 401k’s

If you are self-employed, or the owner-employee of your own company, and you are interested in owning real estate, it may make sense to roll your old 401k assets into a new Self-Directed Solo 401k you establish for your business. The Self-Directed Solo-401k may be an excellent match for businesses with just one full-time employer, or businesses owned and operated by married couples: In addition to the asset protection benefits, 401k’s are not generally subject to unrelated business income tax. This means your Self-Directed Solo 401k plan can borrow money to invest in real estate (on a non-recourse basis) without generating a tax liability on capital gains or income received from the 401k.

Real estate held in a Self-Directed Solo 401k is considered ‘passive income’ by the IRS, and therefore exempt from UBIT.

Otherwise, if you simply rolled your old 401k into an IRA and tried to pursue leveraged real estate strategies, you could be forced to pay income tax and capital gains tax on any amounts attributable to the leverage, rather than on your own money.

If you are interested in real estate ownership within your 401k, IRA or any other retirement vehicle, or you simply want to go over your options for rolling over a 401k from a prior employer, call American IRA, LLC today at 866-7500-IRA(472).

Alternatively, you can visit our website at www.americanira.com, and download hundreds of timely, informative articles, guides, blog posts and e-books about the advantages of self-directed investing.

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Business Owners — Why the Self-Directed Solo 401k May Be The Choice For You

The answer depends on your situation, your goals, and how you plan to use the assets in your account. In most cases, we find the investor is better off with a Self-Directed Solo 401k than a SEP IRA. This is due to the potential for contributions on the employer side (so –called “profit sharing contributions”) and the tax-free loan feature that you can give yourself (and any employees) when you set up your own 401(k) plan.

The Self-Directed Solo 401k plan may allow you to reach your annual maximum allowable contribution faster than a SEP IRA: As of 2016, plan participants under age 50 are allowed to make a maximum contribution of $18,000. With a Self-Directed Solo 401k, you also have more flexibility in choosing how your assets are taxed: You can set up a ‘Roth option’ within your 401(k) and enjoy tax free growth on any assets you leave in your Roth account for at least five years. (You will still be liable for any 10 percent taxes on early withdrawals that may apply, though).

The combination of employee-side contributions and profit sharing contributions can make a big difference compared to the SEP, which only allows for profit-sharing contributions. No employee-side contributions are allowed.

Example

Imagine Dave, a 55-year-old owner of an S-Corporation has no employees. But working on his own in his professional consulting business, he earns $100,000 in ordinary income, in total self-employment wages. Suppose he knows next year he’s going to earn exactly $100,000 in W-2 income. He wants to choose a retirement plan that will allow him to contribute the maximum allowable amount.

What plan should he select, a 401(k) plan or a SEP?

If he chooses a SEP, he can have his corporation defer a maximum of $25,000 of his income. Unlike with Self-Directed Solo 401k plans, SEPs do not allow for catch-up contributions for those over age 50. So his maximum deferral is limited to 25 percent of his income.

If he chose a solo 401(k), David knows he can contribute $49,000 as a salary deferral, as the employee of his own company. But he can also have his company contribute another 25 percent of his compensation, which would work out to a total contribution, including employee contributions and employer contributions, of $59,000.

Note: If David owned a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC, he would only be able to have the company defer 20 percent of his compensation instead of 25 percent, because of the effects of self-employment tax.

Furthermore, the Self-Directed Solo 401k also offers him the option of treating some or all of his contributions under Roth tax treatment. The SEP IRA provides no such flexibility.

Furthermore, the SEP does not allow for tax-free loans. The 401(k), should David choose, can loan him up to $50,000 tax free, at any time. He has up to 5 years, typically, to pay his 401(k) back.

So if your W-2 compensation or self-employment income is well below the 200,000 per year mark, the advantage goes to 401(k)s, as far as the owner or highly-compensated employees are concerned, where the objective is to maximize contributions.

The 401(k)’s advantage narrows, however, as income goes up over $200,000 and up.

A Key Advantage For a Self-Directed Solo 401k

Additionally, the Solo 401(k) may be a better match for those who use self-directed strategies and who want to own leveraged real estate (or leveraged anything else, for that matter) in their self-directed 401(k)s. This is because the 401(k) allows David to escape the unrelated debt-financed taxable income that normally applies to other retirement accounts that purchase assets using non-recourse loans. Whereas if he tried to purchase an investment property for a self-directed SEP IRA and borrowed 50 percent of the purchase price using a non-recourse loan, he would have to pay unrelated debt-financed income tax on 50 percent of any income generated by that property, and on 50 percent of any capital gains when the property is sold.

Advantages for SEP IRAs

The SEP IRA allows you to make contributions as late as April 15th of the following year, just like an IRA. So if David has a big bonus coming at the end of the year, he may want the extra time.

SEP IRAs may help you avoid the necessity of making matching contributions for employees who have not yet worked for you in at least three out of the last five years. If you sponsored a 401(k) and brought on employees, you would have to cover them, and provide the same profit sharing benefits to rank and file employees that you do for yourself. Generally, you would need to grant them to any worker who has worked at least 1000 hours and who has been with you for at least 1 year.

Outside of these two advantages, however, the case for the solo 401(k) plan is strong.

American IRA, LLC specializes in providing third-party administration services to people who want to take a more personalized approach to their retirement investing via a self-directed 401(k), SEP, SIMPLE IRA, IRA or Roth IRA. We also support self-directed Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and Health Savings Accounts. Our offices are in Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina, but we work with successful investors nationwide.

Want to learn more? Call us today at 866-7500-IRA(472), or visit us at www.americanira.com.

We look forward to serving you.

Save More For Retirement With a Self-Directed Solo 401k

Most people would love to set aside more money for retirement. But tax-deductible IRA contributions are limited to $5,500 per month for most of us, at best. Fortunately, those who own their own small businesses, are independent contractors or otherwise have self-employment income have another option that allows for much higher contributions:  the Self-Directed Solo 401k, sometimes called one-participant 401(k) or individual 401(k) plans.

If you qualify, setting up your own self-directed solo-401(k) allows you to effectively double-down on your allowable retirement contributions, sheltering much more money from taxes than you can relying on IRAs alone. Here’s how it works:

Self-Directed Solo 401k Contribution Limits

The Self-Directed Solo 401k allows you to contribute money on two levels: You can make elective salary deferrals as your own employee. For 2016, that limit is $18,000, or over three times what you could contribute using an IRA by itself for any given tax year. If you are age 50 or over, you can contribute an additional $6,000 in catch-up contributions. But there’s much more:

Employer contributions in Self-Directed Solo 401k plans

When you establish a Self-Directed Solo 401k plan, you are your own employer as well as plan employee – the plan sponsor as well as the plan participant. This allows you to ‘match’ your own employee contributions to the plan as you see fit, up to certain limits:

You can make employer contributions of up to 25 percent of total compensation as defined by the plan – up to a compensation cap of $265,000. If you are self-employed, however, as opposed to the owner/employee of your own corporation, you must make a special calculation to account for your contributions to the plan plus one-half of your self-employment tax. You may then generally contribute up to 25 percent of what is left over in an employer contribution.

The Self-Directed Solo 401k Plan Secret Sauce

Because of the way contribution limits are calculated, solo 401(k) plans offer a nice perk for certain higher-earning plan sponsor/participants: Anything you contribute to the plan as an elective deferral not counted as compensation. Which increases the amount of money eligible for the 25 percent employer’s non-elective contribution.

The Self-Direction Advantage

Self-direction also increases your purchasing power, because your solo 401(k) can actually borrow money to make leveraged investments. Yes, this increases risk, but it also magnifies potential returns. It is quite common for self-direct solo 401(k) sponsor/participants to have their 401(k)s borrow money with which to make investments – especially in real estate.

401(k) plans have the additional advantage of substantial creditor protection – going even beyond the generous limits for IRAs established by federal law. Even the IRS can’t levy assets in a 401(k) to satisfy personal debts, since 401(k) assets are typically held in trust for the beneficiary, rather than considered personal assets.

Solo 401(k)s can also be structured to allow for personal loans to yourself from your 401(k) for any reason. Ask us about this particular feature of our Self-Directed Solo 401ks.

Diversification

Using a self-directed 401(k), rather than a standard Wall Street prepackaged product allows much more diversification than is usually possible for most plan sponsors. You are not limited to a window of stocks, bonds and mutual funds.  you can bring your retirement assets to bear on any number of investment strategies and asset classes:

  • Direct ownership of rental properties
  • Oil gas and pipeline investments
  • Tax liens and certificates
  • Raw land
  • Foreign real estate
  • Closely-held C corporations, partnerships and LLCs
  • Farms and ranches
  • Precious metals
  • Venture capital
  • Private equity
  • Private lending and hard money lending
  • Mortgage lending

And much more!

Caveat: The solo 401k is not a great match for you if you have any employees besides yourself and a spouse, or if you want to hire employees very soon. However, you can get many of the same benefits using a SEP IRA.

American IRA, LLC works with many successful Self-Directed Solo 401k sponsors who are even now pursuing many different successful investment strategies. For more information, give us a call at 866-7500-IRA(472). Or visit us online for a wealth of informative informational articles, brochures and other literature at www.americanira.com.

 

 

 

Self-Directed Solo 401k Forms Checklist

Looking to start a Self-Directed Solo 401k plan with American IRA, LLC? It’s not a difficult process. But because a Self-Directed Solo 401k plan is a qualified retirement plan under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), it may require a good number of forms to fill out or documents that you must either provide to the IRS, Department of Labor, or have on file at your company.

Here are the most common required forms to set up a Self-Directed Solo 401k:

Basic Plan Document. This document is the primary document establishing the plan rules, including eligibility criteria, vesting, employer matching, and the like.

Summary Plan Description. This is a shorter document explaining the basic points in the Plan Document above, along with responsibilities and obligations of both the employer and plan participants.

A new Employee ID Number. 401(k) rules require you to obtain a new Employer Identification Number for the plan. This is easily done directly with the IRS.

Beneficiary Designations. In the event of the death of a plan member, estate executors will look to the beneficiary listed in the individual beneficiary designation forms on the plan. All of the plan assets will be transferred to the beneficiaries listed on the form. This action will occur regardless of state intestate laws. When the plan participant has designated a beneficiary, the assets bypass the state’s probate courts and intestate laws. The funds go direct to the beneficiary in days, not months.

Each participant should designate primary and contingent beneficiaries, and make trustee arrangements for any minors they want to name as beneficiaries. Most use UTMA rules (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act), which is simple and generally free, and just name a trusted friend or relative to act as trustee for the money.

If your situation is more complicated, you may want to consult with an attorney about drawing up a more formal trust arrangement and designate a trustee. American IRA, LLC does not provide tax advice. For information specific to your individual circumstances, you should consult with a qualified attorney in your state.

Loan Procedure Addendum.

This is a critical feature for self-directed solo 401(k) plans that allow loans to plan participitants. Typically, plan rules allow participants to borrow up to 50 percent of their plan balance, or up to $50,000. But you as the plan sponsor may want to take more advantage of the flexibility and control you have with a self-directed solo 401(k).

Transfer Request Forms. These forms authorize us as your third party administrator for your 401(k) to transfer money directly from your old employer’s 401(k) or an existing IRA or other qualifying retirement account. If you are funding your Self-Directed Solo 401k with existing retirement funds, you may want to fill out this form, rather than have the old form send you a check and then mail it back out within 60 days. If you drop the ball, the IRS may deem the entire amount to be an early taxable distribution, causing you to be liable for early withdrawal penalties and any income taxes due.

Adoption Agreement.  This form is among your company’s bylaws or operating documents and declares that your company is adopting this particular 401(k) plan.

You can find easily downloaded forms of all kinds via our website here. American IRA, LLC, is one of the leading administration firms that specializes in working with owners of self-directed solo 401(k) plans and other self-directed retirement plans.

For more information on how to get started establishing your own self-directed solo 401(k), call us today at 954-663-1776, or visit us on the Web at www.americanira.com.

We look forward to working with you.

Advantages of Loans from a Self-Directed Solo 401k

The ability to take a loan from a Self-Directed Solo 401k is one of the biggest advantages of the 401(k). Since you are ultimately the plan sponsor, you can design your plan and its loan provisions any way you want.

While we wouldn’t recommend borrowing from your retirement funds to pay wedding expenses (why not a down payment on a new home!?) or vacation costs – the math just doesn’t work well – the freedom and flexibility offered by a Self-Directed Solo 401k is one of the program’s strengths – if used responsibly.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken advantage of loans from an employer’s 401(k) plan for a variety of reasons. According to information from TIAA-CREF, the most common reasons cited for taking out a 401(k) loan are as follows:

  • Paying off debt
  • Paying for unreimbursed or emergency medical procedures
  • Home purchases or renovations
  • Living expenses after a job loss
  • Education costs for the beneficiary or a family member
  • Special events such as weddings and/or family vacations

Many of our clients use loans from their 401(k) judiciously, to make reasonable and prudent investments, or to increase the value of their homes, or in real estate they may own in taxable accounts. Some of them use their 401(k)s as an additional source of liquidity.

Why?

They have a number of advantages over loans from traditional creditors:

  • 401(k) loans are not reported to credit rating agencies.
  • There is no lengthy application process needed. Other lenders could take days or weeks to process a loan. With a Self-Directed Solo 401k it’s as simple as filling out a couple of forms.
  • There is no credit check required
  • Interest rates are relatively low compared to other loan sources.
  • There are no restrictions on the loans. You can use a loan from your Self-Directed Solo 401k for any purpose, personal or business.
  • You are paying interest to yourself, ultimately, rather than to a bank or credit card company. So you must still make the payments, but at least that interest will wind up in your account, rather than in someone else’s.

Points to Consider

Remember that when you borrow from your Self-Directed Solo 401k, you have opportunity costs. That is, your money is no longer earning whatever returns it would be generating within the 401(k). So whatever you do with a loan should at least theoretically have expected returns of at least what your money would have earned within the 401(k), plus interest, net of taxes. In practice, this is usually a pretty substantial hurdle to overcome to justify a 401(k) loan.

Interest on a 401(k) loan taken for personal purposes is not tax deductible. However, the interest may be tax deductible if it’s for business or investment purposes.

If you close the plan or leave the company/employer, you may have to pay back the outstanding balance immediately or within 60 days.

While a 401(k) loan is not a great idea for everybody, many of our clients at American IRA, LLC have the liquidity, investment experience and financial prudence to make this feature work very well for them.

If you are a small business owner or you are self-employed or plan to become so, and you are interested in putting these benefits to work for yourself, we want to work with you.

To learn more about solo Self-Directed Solo 401k plans and how to set them up for yourself, contact American IRA, LLC today at www.americanira.com, or call 866—7500-IRA(472) for a confidential, no-obligation consultation.