A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees IRA, or SIMPLE IRA for short, is a retirement plan designed for small businesses with 100 or fewer employees. Though a SIMPLE IRA is an easier and less expensive plan for employers to set up than a traditional 401(k) plan, the amount a worker can save in a SIMPLE IRA is less than a 401(k), too.
2019 SIMPLE IRA Contribution Limits
For 2019, the annual contribution limit for SIMPLE IRAs was bumped up to $13,000. Workers age 50 or older can make additional catch-up contributions of $3,000, for a total of $16,000. By comparison, workers younger than 50 can salt away as much as $19,000 in a traditional 401(k) for 2019, plus another $6,000 if they’re 50-plus.
Employee contributions to a SIMPLE IRA are made on a pretax basis, which lowers taxable income. The invested money grows tax-sheltered until you withdraw it, at which time the distributions will be taxed as ordinary income. If you pull money out before age 59 1/2, you face a 10% early-withdrawal penalty on top of taxes. The withdrawal penalty increases to 25% for SIMPLE IRAs if money is pulled out within two years of signing up for the plan.
Unlike some other retirement plans, a SIMPLE IRA doesn’t offer a Roth option, which would allow workers to invest after-tax dollars in the plan and not to be taxed on withdrawals later in retirement.
Employer Contributions to SIMPLE IRAs
Good news for workers participating in a SIMPLE IRA: Employers must make some form of a contribution to employees’ accounts. An employer can choose to either make a dollar-for-dollar match of up to 3% of a worker’s pay or contribute a flat 2% of compensation, whether the employee contributes or not.
Most employers choose the dollar-for-dollar match of up to 3%, says Ronald Oldano, a certified financial planner and private wealth adviser in Orlando, Fla. However, if an employer has a bad year financially, there’s some wiggle room to lower the employer match to 1% or 2% for two years of a rolling five-year period. For example, a company just starting a SIMPLE IRA can elect to match 1% or 2% of each employee’s salary for the first two calendar years of the plan, but then must ramp up its match to 3% for the next three years. Once that five-year period is over, the employer can again lower its matching contribution.
If your employer is like most and matches dollar-for-dollar up to 3% of pay, make sure you’re contributing at least enough to qualify for the full match.
Also, remember to pick your investments wisely. SIMPLE IRAs can hold a basket of investments, from stocks and bonds to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. The best investment is one that fits your long-term goals at the right price.
How SIMPLE IRA Savers Can Build a Bigger Nest Egg
If you’re already stashing away the maximum contribution allowed in your SIMPLE IRA -- $13,000 for employees younger than 50 or $16,000 for 50-plus workers -- but want to save even more for retirement, consider opening a separate traditional IRA or Roth IRA, suggests Clark Randall, a certified financial planner and founder of Financial Enlightenment, in Dallas.
For 2019, individuals younger than 50 can contribute up to $6,000 to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. Retirement savers age 50 and up can make an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution. Roth IRAs have income limits. The maximum amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA for 2019 begins to phase out once modified adjusted gross income hits $122,000 for singles ($193,000 if married filing jointly). There’s no tax deduction for Roth IRA contributions. Contributions to a traditional IRA for 2019 are fully tax-deductible for singles and couples as long as one spouse doesn’t have a retirement plan through work. If one spouse is covered by a work plan, joint filers must earn $193,000 or less to claim the full tax deduction.
Rivan joined Kiplinger on Leap Day 2016 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. A Michigan native, she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 and from there freelanced as a local copy editor and proofreader, and served as a research assistant to a local Detroit journalist. Her work has been featured in the Ann Arbor Observer and Sage Business Researcher. She is currently assistant editor, personal finance at The Washington Post.
Is A Recession Looming? Two Big Bank CEOs See It That Way
Recession is likely, Citi's CEO told a Senate panel today, a sentiment echoed by JP Morgan's chief executive last week.
By Joey Solitro Published
Stock Market Today: Stocks Swing Lower as Oil Prices Retreat
A bad-news-is-good-news jobs report sent the main indexes higher at the open, but they didn't stay there for long.
By Karee Venema Published
Best Foreclosure Sites for Finding Properties
Making Your Money Last Wondering how to find foreclosed homes for sale for your next residence or to flip for a profit? These websites will guide you to foreclosures and real estate-owned properties to buy.
By Bob Niedt Published
Four Tips for Renting Out Your Home on Airbnb
real estate Here's what you should know before listing your home on Airbnb.
By Miriam Cross Published
Is a Medicare Advantage Plan Right for You?
Medicare Advantage plans can provide additional benefits beneficiaries can't get through original Medicare for no or a low monthly premium. But there are downsides to this insurance too.
By Jackie Stewart Published
What You Must Know About the Different Parts of Medicare
Medicare Medicare can be complicated but we've got you covered. Here is a quick guide to the different benefits provided through each part.
By Jackie Stewart Last updated
Retirees, It's Not Too Late to Buy Life Insurance
life insurance Improvements in underwriting have made it easier to qualify for life insurance, which can be a useful estate-planning tool.
By David Rodeck Published
Best Banks for Retirees
banking Kiplinger's 2023 list of the best banks for retirees.
By Lisa Gerstner Published
Kiplinger's Tax Map for Middle-Class Families: About Our Methodology
state tax The research behind our judgments.
By David Muhlbaum Published
As the Market Falls, New Retirees Need a Plan
retirement If you’re in the early stages of your retirement, you’re likely in a rough spot watching your portfolio shrink. We have some strategies to make the best of things.
By David Rodeck Published