Qualified retirement plan is one that meets the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a) and is therefore eligible to receive certain tax benefits. Employers receive a tax break for the contributions they make for their employees. Employees can defer a portion of their salaries into the plan and reduce their present income-tax liability by reducing taxable income. Qualified retirement plans help employers attract and retain good employees.

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Age-Weighted Profit Sharing Plan

Age-Weighted Profit Sharing Plans is a type of plan that allocates proportionately larger employer contributions to participant who a relatively older than the other plan participants.

The age-weighted profit sharing plan allocates employer contributions based on age and compensation. Frequently, business owners, highly compensated employees, and long-term employees are older than the other employees. In these situations, an age-weighted plan allocation formula results in as much as 90 percent of employer contribution being allocated to owner(s) and long-term faithful employees.

As with all profit sharing plans, a pre-tax deferral (401(k)) plan component may be a part of the plan.

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Plain Vanilla Profit Sharing Plan

Generally, a factor is determined for each participant based on a combination of age, length of service, and level of covered compensation. All participant factors are determined as a percentage of total factors.

Each participant percentage is applied to employer contribution to determine the amount of addition from employer contribution to participant’s account.

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New Comparability Plan

These plans sometimes referred to as “Cross-Tested Plans”, are profit sharing plans that are tested for non-discrimination as though they were providing benefits from a defined benefit plan.

New comparability plan are generally utilized by small businesses that want to maximize contributions to owners and higher paid employees while minimizing contributions on behalf of other

employees. Employees are separated into two or more allocation groups, such as owners and non-owners.

This grouping method allows the employer to divide the employees into specific groups with each group receiving a different contribution rate. For example, employer can set up a plan where the contribution rate is 20% for the owner who is making $275,000 (result- a maximum contribution of $55,000); and the contribution rate for non-owners is 10%. The allocation formula will be allowed as long as the plan satisfies the nondiscrimination requirements.

Cross Testing is the process of converting contributions made today into their equivalent benefit that will ultimately be provided at retirement.

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Solo 401(k) Plans

An owner only 401(k) plan is for the small business owner with no eligible to participate common law employees. Part-time or seasonal employees working less than 1,000 hours per year are not eligible to participate. Owners (and, if applicable, their spouses) are covered under the plan.

Any business owner with no employees other than co-owners or spouses can establish an Owner Only 401(k) Plan.

For 2018, a deferral in the amount of $18,500 is allowed. If the owner has attained age 50 by year-end, an additional $6,000 may be deferred. Additionally, the “company” (independent contractor with 1099 income, freelancer, sole proprietor, or in partnership, LLC or Corporation) may contribute up to $36.500
to the profit-sharing element of the plan for a maximum addition of $55,000.

The owners may also rollover balances in their IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified retirement funds into their Solo 401(k) Plan.

Owner Only Plans are much simpler to administer (no discrimination testing required since all participants are owners). Owners can make a tax-deductible contribution to these plans at levels more generous than other retirement plans such as the SEP and SIMPLE Plans.

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Self-directed 401(k) Plan

Many investors think that since they have a choice among different mutual funds, Exchange-Traded Funds, stocks, and bonds, that these Traditional 401(k) Trust or IRA custodial accounts are “self-directed”. NOT SO.

In a true Self-Directed Plan, you may invest in just about anything other than life insurance and collectibles. Many alternative investments (alternative to traditional investments such as stocks and bonds) provide greater portfolio diversification when combined with some part of the portfolio made up of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or ETFs.

You have a voice in the part of the portfolio that contains investments that you are knowledgeable about. If you are astute in managing rental properties, as many real estate agents (brokers) are, you are as competent in selecting good real estate properties as an investment manager for a stock mutual fund is in the selection of stocks in solid companies.

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Alternate Investments:

* Raw land
* First and second mortgages
* Options to buy and sell real estate
* Liens
* Private placements, L.L.C.
* Precious metals
* and many more

As you have probably surmised by now, you must know what you are doing. Self-Directed is just that-self-directed. Rember, you choose the investments to buy and sell and when. You become the investment manager in the self-directed arena.

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The 401(k) Type Of Plan

The 401(k) type of plan allows employees to make pre-tax contributions to their 401(k) accounts. Not only do these arrangements allow a current tax deduction (pre-tax deferral), the income earned by the deferred amounts is not taxed either until deferral and income is distributed to the employee.

Many 401(k) plans are designed so that the employer makes a matching contribution on behalf of the employee who defers a portion of his/her pay. Only employees who contribute to their 401(k) plan receive a matching employer contribution.

Alternatively, the employer may make a “non-elective” contribution of 3% of each eligible employees compensation, whether or not the employee makes any deferral.

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Triple-stacked Match An Approach to Consider When New Comparability Fails

The Triple-Stacked Match 401(k) is a Safe Harbor because:

* An ADP Safe Harbor contribution is provided (1st match)
* The allocation of the discretionary matching formula does not exceed 4% of compensation and the match is limited to the first 6% of employee deferral (2nd match)
* Fixed Match: Participant deferrals in excess of 6% of compensation are NOT matched. The matching employer contribution is never greater than 6% of compensation.
* Thus, the 3rd match amount is algebraically calculated.
* The Triple-Stacked Matching Plan is exempt from the Top-Heavy rules since it only permits deferrals and matching contributions that meet the ADP and ACP requirements and has no profit-sharing component.
* The Triple-Stacked match is not age-related. It is totally dependent on how much the participant defers.
* Employees who make no deferrals receive zero contribution.

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