What retirement accounts can I have?

What Retirement Accounts are Available for Someone Who is Self-employed or a Small Business Owner?

Well…it depends (you knew that was coming right?).

Before giving an answer, I always ask:

  • How many employees do you have?
  • Are you an S-Corporation?
  • How much do you want to contribute to your retirement accounts?
  • Do you want as simple a solution as possible?

Three types of accounts work best for small business owners or freelancers:

  • Simplified employee plan (SEP) IRA
  • Solo 401(k)
  • Simple IRA











*less half of your self-employment tax


What does this chart mean?

A SEP IRA is very similar to a regular IRA. The contributions come from the business only; there are no employee contributions. If you are self-employed, your contribution is 20% of your business net income, and if you are an S-Corporation, your contribution is 25% of your compensation. A SEP IRA tends to be a great plan for a small business owner with no employees.

A Solo 401(k) is similar to a 401(k) offered from an employer. You can make contributions from your paycheck and the business can make contributions as well. A Solo 401(k) does have filing requirements once the plan gets big enough. The “solo” part of a Solo 401(k) is because the plan only works if you don’t have employees.

If you do have employees, a Simple IRA is a very straightforward plan that offers two options: a flat 2% of compensation or a 3% match of compensation.


So, what retirement account is right for me?

Most of our small business clients who have no employees tend to use SEP IRAs. Our small business owner clients who do have employees usually use Simple IRAs.

We always recommend you talk to an advisor to determine which option is best for you and your circumstances.

TL;DR: Retirement planning might be a pain, but you should still be saving for it.

When Am I Required to Provide Health Insurance to Employees?

As you likely know, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) added requirements for employers to provide health insurance to employees if employing a certain number of full-time employees. According to various provisions of the ACA, a full-time employee is defined as anyone working around 30 hours per week. You do need to look at part-time employees as well since they can add up to full-time employees.

If you have over 50 employees, you are considered a Large Employer and are required to provide health insurance benefits. In this case, we recommend speaking to an agent to discuss the specific requirements that must be adhered to under the ACA.

Employers with less than 50 full-time employees are considered Small Employers. Small Employers are not required but are encouraged to offer health insurance benefits to their employees. Small Employers have access to the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) and can check their eligibility online.

If your business has under 25 full-time employees, you may qualify for the Small Business Health Care Credit to lower premium costs.

If you provide health insurance benefits to your employees, this information needs to be reported on your employees’ W-2 forms along with any other benefits.

TL;DR: Health insurance is a complicated area if you employ close to 50 full-time employees. If you are under 50 full-time employees than you aren’t required to provide coverage, but there are programs available to help you do so.


How do I hire Someone?

First…take a step back. While you might have someone already picked out for an open position in your practice, you need some lead time before you can hire someone in Washington State.

Do you already have a payroll system set up? If you’re an S-Corp, you should. If payroll is already established, the hiring process can often be a little quicker.

If not, then you will need to file a NEW business license application. When you apply, the purpose will be “hire employees.”

We recommend that you file for a new business license online since it is the quickest way to apply.

Now the wait begins. This is why I mentioned that there will be some wait time. You will need confirmation letters for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance from the Department of Labor and Industries and the Employment Security Department.

Once you get the confirmation letters, you will need to setup your payroll. We recommend using Gusto (our affiliate link) for payroll. We can either help you set this up or you can purchase Gusto (or use another method) on your own. We do not recommend QBO Payroll, we have seen to many mistakes happen.

From here, you’ll need to get your new employee set up and on payroll. You will also need to make sure that you are following the various Minimum Wage Requirements and Labor Standards Act.

If you are an S-Corporation with a retirement plan, hiring employees can be a little more difficult  if you have a retirement plan in place for yourself. We will discuss some of these topics in future blog posts.

TL;DR: Make sure you are set up for payroll before you hire someone. We recommend discussing this with a professional as messing payroll up is very easy. As always, we can help!