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Retirement Plans as Tax-Savings Strategy

Image of DaRenda Hanson
DaRenda Hanson
Retirement Plans as Tax-Savings Strategy

Many people think of retirement plans as something that is only offered through a large employer.  However, as a small business owner, retirement plans can be a very good tax AND retirement strategy.  I’m pretty sure you didn’t go in business for yourself thinking you would have to work for the entire rest of your life because you didn’t have a retirement plan in place. Let’s discuss this.

You may be asking yourself, how can a retirement plan help my employees?  Help me?  Save me on taxes? (OK, MAYBE you weren’t thinking about the taxes, but I was!)

As an accountant who routinely does tax planning for clients, I see the big benefits of having the correct retirement plan in place. Plans that we look at for clients, based upon their needs and business are: IRA, Roth IRA, Solo 401-k, 401-k, SIMPLE Plans, and SEP Plans.

I don’t expect you to know what all of these are, and I won’t go into that here, but I’m going to talk about the tax advantages over all of these plans.

I’ll start off with Roth IRAs. They are what we call after-tax accounts. I always recommend contributing to both after-tax and pre-tax accounts. If an account is after-tax, that means you contribute money AFTER taxes have already been paid on it.  Meaning, you would not pay tax when the funds are withdrawn in 20, 30, 40 years.  With Roth IRAs, they also grow tax-free—you will never owe tax on anything the ROTH earns. This is a huge tax advantage. Maybe not one you see today, but one your future self will thank you for. There are limits to how much you can contribute to a ROTH.  Currently, for 2021, the limit is $6,000 ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older).

Pre-Tax Retirement accounts are accounts that you take a deduction for in the year of contributions, but you have to pay tax on them when withdrawn. This is advantageous because you can lower the amount of taxes you pay NOW. For business owners, this has a two-fold effect.

Business owners can set up a retirement account for their employees (sometimes they are the only employee, but other times they have others employed), expense the cost of running the plan, expense the cost of matching contributions and set aside a portion of their paycheck to contribute. 

Let’s use an example of a Solo 401-k.  A business owner can contribute up to $19,500 ($26,000 if 50 or over) directly from their paychecks in 2021.  This equates to them deferring taxes on that money in 2021.

There are other calculations, and it depends on what kind of entity the business is established as, but the employer contributions are limited to $58,000.

Grand Total:  Lessening taxable income by $58,000 in the current year. For someone who has an effective tax rate of 22%, that's $12,760 in tax savings!

This is an extreme example, and most business owners aren’t going to max this out to the full advantage, but it is a tax-saving strategy that cannot be overlooked.

Core can help determine what strategy would both benefit owner, employees (if applicable), and the future growth of the company.

How much is it going to cost me?

Of course, this is a very important question. If the owner of the business is the only employee and the plan is anything other than a 401k or Solo 401-k, the fees are minimal. The 401-ks cost a little more to set up, but the tax savings FAR outweighs the cost. And the cost associated with it is, of course, a deductible business expense.

The point of a retirement plan through a business is to increase the expenses of the business—this is how tax liability is lowered. Yes, you take the expense for the matching funds, but those funds are paid to an account of which the owner owns (or employees). Would you rather pay that money to yourself, or pay it to the government in taxes?

If you answered the former, then we should talk!

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