1. SEP IRAs: Introduction
  2. SEP IRAs: Eligibility Requirements
  3. SEP IRAs: Contributions
  4. SEP IRAs: Distributions
  5. SEP IRAs: Conclusion

By Denise Appleby

What Is a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Plan?
An SEP is a retirement plan established by employers, including self-employed individuals (sole proprietorships or partnerships). The SEP is an IRA-based plan to which employers may make tax-deductible contributions on behalf of eligible employees, including the business owner. The employer is allowed a tax deduction for plan contributions, which are made to each eligible employee's SEP IRA on a discretionary basis. (For background reading, see What is the difference between a Roth, SEP and Traditional IRA?)

Employees do not pay taxes on SEP contributions. However, distribution of these amounts, plus any earnings are taxed An employee (including the business owner) who is eligible to participate in his or her employer's SEP plan must establish a Traditional IRA to which the employer will deposit SEP contributions. Some financial institutions require the Traditional IRA to be labeled as an SEP IRA before they will allow the account to receive SEP contributions. Others will allow SEP contributions to be deposited to a Traditional IRA regardless of whether the IRA is labeled as an SEP IRA. Because the funding vehicle for an SEP plan is a Traditional IRA, SEP contributions, once deposited, become Traditional IRA assets and are subject to many of the Traditional IRA rules, including the following:

  • Distribution rules
  • Investment rules
  • Contribution and deduction rules for Traditional IRA contributions. These apply to the employee's regular IRA contributions, not the SEP-employer contributions.
  • Documentation requirements for establishing an IRA. In addition to the documents required for establishing an SEP plan (discussed later), each SEP IRA must meet the documentation requirement for a Traditional IRA.
(These rules are explained in the tutorial Traditional IRAs.)

SEP IRAs: Eligibility Requirements

Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    SEP IRA Limits in 2016

    Discover the SEP IRA limits for 2016. Included is a summary, plans that would be ideal candidates for SEP IRAs, and contribution and distribution rules.
  2. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    Is a Vanguard SEP IRA Account Right for You?

    Learn about the SEP IRA offered by Vanguard and why it is one of the best SEP products available, including why it's a good fit for small business owners.
  3. Retirement

    SIMPLE IRA Contribution Limits in 2016

    Learn the SIMPLE IRA contribution limits for 2016, with a brief summary of how the plan works, including eligibility and contribution and distribution rules.
  4. Retirement

    Retirement Planning For The Self-Employed

    Recent studies show that most self-employed Americans are saving little, if anything, for retirement. But making an investment in yourself is worth it.
  5. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    IRAs and Roth IRAs

    What IRAs are: Tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals. Pros: Tax benefits; investments grow tax-deferred and contributions may be deductible; numerous investment choices with range of ...
  6. Retirement

    How Traditional IRAs Work

    A traditional IRA is a tax-advantaged retirement account that includes stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments.
  7. Retirement

    IRA Contribution Limits in 2016

    Find out about the 2016 limits for contributions and income thresholds for individual retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.
  8. Retirement

    How Much It Takes to Max Out Your IRA

    IRAs have certain tax advantages that allow your nest egg to grow at a faster rate. But there are annual limits on how much you can contribute.
  9. Retirement

    The Pros and Cons of a SEP Account in Today's Volatile Markets

    Discover why you don't have to worry about a volatile market's impact on your simplified employee pension plan. Learn to use your SEP to navigate the markets.
  10. Retirement

    Self Employed? Avoid These 3 Retirement Mistakes

    Having a strategy for retirement is particularly important when you're self-employed, as there are certain pitfalls you must watch out for along the way.
Trading Center