The Slott Report | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The Slott Report

Going Solo

Sometimes it pays to go solo. For self-employed individuals looking to maximize their nest egg, a solo 401(k) plan -- also known as an “individual 401(k)” or a “uni-k” -- may be a better choice than a SIMPLE or SEP IRA. Who Can Have a Solo 401(k)? Business owners can open up a solo 401(k) as long as they have no employees (other than a spouse). Solo plans are typically used by sole proprietors, but they are also available to owners of an incorporated business. If you’re self-employed and also earn salary as a regular employee of another business, you can still have a solo 401(k). But only your self-employment income can be taken into account in the solo plan.

Using Retirement Dollars Within the 60-Day Rollover Window

By the look of everyone’s Facebook and Instagram photos, it appears we are all flying Gulfstream jets around the world, relaxing on far-away beaches and lighting Cuban cigars with twisted-up $100-dollar bills. Is the economy really doing that well for everyone? Are we all participating in these boom times? Of course not. Living paycheck to paycheck is commonplace. In fact, many people try to access whatever retirement nest egg they do have to cover expenses and emergencies happening right now. Foreclosure notices are issued. Student loans pile up. A child gets sick and health coverage only goes so far. Emergency funds are required immediately.

A SEP for Your Side Gig

It is not unusual for many workers today to have a side gig. They may have job, and it might even be full time, but it’s still not enough to make ends meet. So, they operate their own business on the side. The extra income can be welcome. It can also be an overlooked source for retirement savings. A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA plan can offer an easy and inexpensive way to fund your retirement with income from your side gig. A SEP IRA plan is an employer sponsored retirement plan where contributions are made to employee’s IRAs. The process for establishing and operating a SEP is very straight forward. Contributions, which are tax-deductible for you or your business, go into an IRA that you establish. For SEP purposes if you are self-employed, you are considered an employer.

Retirement Account Rollovers: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: I read your November 29, 2017 explanation of rollovers and the time limitations. But my issue is still unclear to me. In December 2018, my husband made a transfer from his 401(k) to an IRA to a Roth IRA. We intended to do the same this year, but an unexpected bill hit us, and we took a distribution from the 401K two weeks ago. Taxes were taken out. The bill turned out to be much less than expected and so, we would like to roll over the distribution into his existing Roth account. Since the December one was a transfer and this one would be a 60 day rollover, is it permitted? And if so, can we do another transfer in a few months? Thank you in advance. Nina Answer: Hi Nina, You are wise to be concerned about the timing of your transactions, but you should be OK. The IRS has a “once-per-year rule” that limits anyone from making more than one IRA rollover in any 12-month period. (The 12-month period is not a calendar year.) Violating this rule could cause serious tax consequences.

Qualifying to be Qualified

Many of you who participate in a company retirement plan may have heard that the plan is “qualified” or “tax-qualified.” That sounds reassuring, but what exactly does it mean? In other words, what qualifies a qualified plan to be qualified? (And, while we’re at it, how much wood can a woodchuck chuck …?) The carrot and the stick: The concept of a qualified plan resulted from Congress’s desire to incentivize companies to establish retirement plans. So, Congress enacted certain tax breaks for employers who set up those plans, but required the plans to satisfy a number of rules designed to make sure the plans don’t take advantage of rank-and-file workers. Here are the most important of those rules:

Roth IRA & Roth 401(k) – The Basics

Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k) plans are incredibly popular, and why wouldn’t they be? Both offer tax-free earnings and allow the account owner to pass tax-free dollars to their beneficiaries. However, despite the ubiquity of Roth accounts, there are some common misunderstandings about how Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s operate and interact with each other. Confusion swirls around such basic concepts as contribution limits, eligibility and Roth rollovers. For example, income limits apply to Roth IRA contributions only There are no income limits for designated Roth 401(k) plan salary deferrals. Contributions are the initial building block of Roth IRAs.

Inherited IRAs and RMDs: Today's Slott Report Mailbag

Question: I have read your updates and shared information regarding the SECURE bill that is in the Senate currently. The information discusses the non-spouse beneficiaries of IRAs will need to take distributions over 10 years as a lifetime stretch will not be an option anymore. Do you have any information on existing Inherited IRAs that are already in the stretch phase? My wife inherited an IRA in 2007 and we are stretching it over her lifetime. Does the bill grandfather existing and focus on future inherited IRAs? I realize we will not know the final answer until the bill is passed by both chambers and signed by the President, but wondered if you had any preliminary information.


When driving your car, most of the time you’re going forward. But sometimes, like when you back into a parking spot in anticipation of beating the traffic after a sporting event or concert, you must shift gears to reverse. So it is with rollovers between 401(k) plans (or other employer plans) and IRA’s. Most of the time you’ll be considering a rollover from the 401(k) plan to an IRA. But sometimes it makes sense to consider a “reverse rollover” – from an IRA to a 401(k).


With the year half over, it’s prime time to huddle, refocus your team and commit to reaching your 2019 goals—for your clients and your advisory business. Here are 7 strategies advisors can leverage now to notch a win for clients in the 2019 retirement planning game: 1. Analyze the Film: Review 2018 Tax Returns The 2018 tax season is now over for most taxpayers, and it has been a learning experience for many. This is the first time both advisors and clients will know the actual effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Review clients’ 2018 returns and use these results to plan for 2019. Assess the effect of the Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction on 2018 tax returns to plan for 2019 results. Did retirement plan contributions affect the client’s QBI deduction or their tax bracket?


‘Tis the season for bee stings and mosquito bites. Just like those summer irritations, 401(k) plan loans have their own annoying rules that can make them risky transactions. Fortunately, a provision of the 2017 tax reform law applied a little hydrocortisone to help relieve the itch. One advantage that 401(k) plans have over IRA’s is that 401(k)’s (as well as many other employer-sponsored plans) can allow participants to borrow against their accounts. 401(k) plans are not required to allow loans, but most do.

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