Sep IRA vs Roth IRA: What’s the Difference?

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Understanding nan distinctions betwixt a SEP IRA and a Roth IRA is important for making informed status readying decisions. How tin knowing these differences heighten your semipermanent financial information and prosperity?

There are aggregate varieties of individual status accounts aliases IRAs, for short.

Two disposable versions are nan SEP-IRA and nan Roth IRA. So, what are they? And, tin you take to person 1 aliases nan other? – or moreover both?

In fact, a scholar submitted this nonstop question:

“I person a mobility astir nan SEP & Roth IRA. If My employer doesn’t connection immoderate benignant of status benefits. But I do person my ain Roth and from Previous employment Rollover IRA. I americium regularly contributing to my Roth IRA.

Also I would for illustration to lend to SEP aliases elemental IRA. Is it good to lend each scheme pinch retired immoderate penalty?

Also, I americium supra 50. What is nan champion way to lend supra mention IRA’s and not get penalty?”


Let’s excavation down and return a person look astatine nan SEP IRA vs. a Roth IRA mystery.

The extremity is to thief you spot nan virtues – and disadvantages – of each truthful you tin make an informed determination astir which will beryllium nan correct prime for you.

What Is a SEP IRA and How Does it Work?

A Simplified Employee Pension Plan, aliases simply “SEP IRA” for short, is portion IRA, portion pension plan. The IRA portion is that it useful overmuch nan measurement a accepted IRA does.

But nan pension broadside is that if you ain a business and person employees, you tin see those workers successful nan plan.

The connection “simplified” is included successful nan sanction because a SEP IRA is easier to group up and administer than accepted pension plans, for illustration 401(k) plans.

A SEP IRA tin beryllium set up successful conscionable 3 steps:

1. Execute a written statement to supply benefits to each eligible employees.

2. Give labor definite accusation astir nan agreement.

3. Set up an IRA relationship for each employee.

The past measurement requires immoderate further explanation. Unlike astir employer pension plans, each participants are not included successful a azygous plan.

Once nan scheme is established, each subordinate – you included – will person his aliases her ain IRA account. The relationship tin beryllium group up pinch a bank, security company, aliases qualified finance broker.

Since a SEP IRA is an IRA, it tin beryllium self-directed and invested successful immoderate plus people not prohibited by nan IRS.

You tin besides group up a SEP IRA for yourself alone, if you’re self-employed, and person nary employees. But that will springiness you nan elasticity to adhd labor should you determine to prosecute them later.

And nan truth that you will beryllium offering immoderate benignant of status scheme beryllium an inducement for group to activity for you.

General Provisions of a SEP IRA

In astir respects, a SEP IRA is for illustration a accepted IRA connected steroids:

  • A SEP IRA tin beryllium established for a sole proprietorship, partnership,  corp (S aliases C), aliases a constricted liability institution (LLC).
  • Contributions are tax-deductible successful nan twelvemonth taken.
  • Contributions tin beryllium made from earned income only.
  • You are not required to make contributions each year.
  • Contributions must beryllium made by nan taxation filing today, generally, April 15 (but including extensions).
  • Investment income accumulates connected a tax-deferred basis.
  • Unlike different status plans, a SEP IRA cannot person a Roth provision.
  • Distributions taken aft reaching property 59 ½ are taxable arsenic mean income.
  • Distributions taken earlier reaching property 59 ½ are taxable to mean income tax, positive a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
  • Required minimum distributions (RMDs) must statesman astatine property 73.

>> Related: SEP IRA Distribution Rules

SEP IRAs person an important taxation use that doesn’t get a batch of attention, but it’s huge.

SEP IRA contributions are not taxable to FICA (Social Security and Medicare) aliases national unemployment (FUTA) taxes.

401(k) plans, for example, do not person nan aforesaid advantage. You’ll salary some FICA and FUTA taxation connected your full income, including your 401(k) scheme contributions.

IMPORTANT: The SEP IRA is 1 of nan fewer status plans that does not connection a “catch up contribution” for participants complete nan property of 50. The maximum publication limit of $69,000 stands sloppy of your age.

SEP IRA Contribution Limits

Traditional and Roth IRAs person a fixed yearly publication limit. This is not nan lawsuit pinch a SEP IRA.

The maximum you tin lend to a SEP IRA is based connected your income. You tin lend up to 25% of your nett business income, up to a maximum of $69,000 for 2024.

“A SEP IRA is typically an due building for a mini business, particularly a azygous proprietor and allows for a publication of up to 25% of an employee’s salary by nan employer,”

advises Jacqueline Reeves, Managing Director of Bell Rock Capital LLC

“The SEP IRA contributions are before-tax. Depending upon nan scheme structure, SEP IRAs could licence labor to lend for illustration they would beryllium capable to a accepted IRA.”

But nan publication calculation isn’t rather arsenic elemental arsenic taking 25% of your nett income. Before applying 25% to your income, you must first deduct nan magnitude of nan publication itself.

It’s confusing, of course, but nan nett consequence is that you’ll efficaciously beryllium contributing 20% of your nett income.

Let’s activity retired an example, assuming nan maximum allowable income.

Your full compensation from your business is $305,000. If you multiply $305,000 by 25%, you get $76,250. But you’ll beryllium constricted to contributing nary much than $69,000 for nan year.

In reality, nan calculation looks for illustration this:

$305,000 nett income, minus nan $69,000 publication = $239,000 X 25% = $59,750

So, if you’re looking for a speedy calculation to find your allowable SEP IRA contribution, conscionable usage 20% of your business nett income.

My proposal is that you prosecute a CPA to grip your income taxation mentation if you person a SEP IRA. That’s particularly existent if you person labor participating successful nan plan.

There’s still different complication. In summation to deducting your ain publication to nan SEP IRA earlier making nan calculation, you must besides trim that income by one-half of your self-employment tax.

Yeah, prosecute a CPA!

What About Employee Contributions?

If your SEP IRA does see employees, you must usage nan aforesaid percent of compensation for each worker participating successful nan plan. You, arsenic nan employer, will make nan contributions – not your employees. But those contributions will beryllium tax-deductible to you.

If you take to lend 25% of your income to nan plan, you must lend nan aforesaid percent to your employee’s accounts. Similarly, each worker will besides beryllium taxable to nan $69,000 maximum publication (for 2024).

Contributions, erstwhile made by nan employee, instantly go nan spot of nan employee. There is nary vesting requirement.

What Is a Roth IRA and How Does it Work?

roth ira vs a sep ira. tin you person both?

Even though they’re some IRAs, a Roth IRA bears small resemblance to a SEP IRA. It’s overmuch much for illustration a accepted IRA, though pinch typical provisions.

A Roth IRA is designed for individuals only. Though Roth provisions are permitted successful definite types of status plans (not including SEP IRAs), they are much typically stand-alone individual accounts.

The maximum yearly publication is $7,000, aliases $8,000 if you’re property 50 aliases older.

But this is wherever nan unsocial advantage of nan Roth IRA enters nan picture.

>> See: Best Places to Open a Roth IRA

Roth IRA Contribution Limits

Annual contributions to a scheme are not tax-deductible. However, erstwhile you scope property 59 ½, and person participated successful a scheme for astatine slightest 5 years, you tin statesman taking withdrawals completely tax-free. That includes some nan contributions you’ve made complete nan years and nan income you’ve earned wrong nan account.

Roth IRAs person different taxation advantage complete different status plans. Since scheme contributions are not tax-deductible, they tin beryllium withdrawn anterior to property 59 ½ pinch nary income taxation consequences. That intends nary mean income tax, and nary 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Important: Roth IRA’s Offer Tax-Free Withdrawals

The use applies to nan contributions only, not to nan income they earned wrong nan plan. Early withdrawal of nan income information of your scheme anterior to turning property 59 ½ will beryllium taxable to mean income tax, and nan 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Fortunately, nan IRS allows you to first retreat retired of your contributions, past nan income information only erstwhile your contributions person been wholly withdrawn from nan plan.

This use is unsocial to nan Roth IRA. That’s nan logic immoderate financial advisors urge utilizing nan scheme arsenic a operation of emergency money and status plan.

“The main attraction of a Roth IRA is nan 100% tax-free withdrawal it offers,” points retired Lyle Solomon, Principal Attorney astatine Oak View Law Group. “You tin retreat from a Roth IRA relationship anytime you want, arsenic you person already paid taxes for nan invested funds.

But support successful mind that you do person to salary a 10% taxation punishment for withdrawals of immoderate net connected your investments unless you are older than 59 1/2. So, nan easy accessibility of a Roth IRA besides makes it an emergency fund.

Still, different use of a Roth IRA complete a SEP IRA is that you do not person to commencement taking required minimum distributions aft nan property of 73.”

>> Related: Roth IRA Rules and Contribution Limits

Roth IRA Income Limits

Roth IRA contributions are permitted only up to definite income limits. For 2024, you are eligible to make a Roth IRA publication up to nan pursuing income limits:

  • Married Filing Jointly, aliases Qualifying Widow(ER): Full publication up to a modified adjusted gross income of $230,000, gradually phasing retired up to $240,000.
  • Married Filing Separately, and You Lived With Your Spouse astatine Any Time During nan Year: Reduced publication permitted up to an income of $10,000, past prohibited.
  • Single, Head of Household, aliases Married Filing Separately and You Did Not Live With Your Spouse astatine Any Time During nan Year: Fully deductible up to an income of $146,000, past phased retired astatine an income of $161,000.

The income limits are different area wherever nan Roth IRA departs from a accepted IRA.

With a accepted IRA, income limits limit aliases destruct your expertise to make a tax-deductible contribution if you are covered by an employer-sponsored plan. But you tin still make a non-tax-deductible contribution, moreover if you transcend those income limits.

Not truthful pinch nan Roth IRA. Though you tin person a Roth IRA pinch an employer-sponsored plan, you cannot make immoderate publication astatine each if your income exceeds nan IRS limits shown above.

You tin support a Roth IRA successful conjunction pinch an employer-sponsored plan, including a SEP IRA. But nan full contributions betwixt nan 2 plans cannot transcend $69,000.

Roth IRA General Provisions

The general provisions of a Roth IRA are very akin to a accepted IRA, different than nan taxation consequences.

Roth Ira’s = Tax-Free Money! 🙌🏼

  • Contributions are not tax-deductible successful nan twelvemonth taken.
  • Contributions tin beryllium made from earned income only.
  • Your scheme tin beryllium held successful a financial institution of your prime and invested successful immoderate plus classes not prohibited by nan IRS.
  • You are not required to make contributions each year.
  • Contributions must beryllium made by nan taxation filing date, which is mostly April 15. But that does not use to extensions.
  • Investment income accumulates connected a tax-deferred basis.
  • Distributions taken aft reaching property 59 ½ are tax-free arsenic agelong arsenic you’ve participated successful a Roth scheme for astatine slightest 5 years.
  • Distributions of nan income information of your scheme taken earlier reaching property 59 ½ are taxable to mean income tax, positive a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
  • Roth IRAs are not taxable to required minimum distributions (RMDs). You tin virtually let them to proceed to turn for your full life.

SEP IRA Advantages

  • You tin make larger contributions than you tin pinch a accepted aliases a Roth IRA. The maximum publication for a accepted aliases Roth IRA is conscionable $7,000, while nan maximum for a SEP IRA is $69,000.
  • Your contributions to a SEP IRA are deductible for FICA and FUTA taxes, successful summation to national and, astir authorities income taxes.
  • The scheme tin beryllium group up to see employees.
  • You tin group up an individual scheme arsenic a sole practitioner, past adhd labor arsenic you prosecute them.
  • Each worker tin support his aliases her ain IRA relationship wrong nan plan.
  • Easy status scheme to group up and maintain.
  • A SEP IRA is simply a wholly self-directed plan. You tin unfastened an relationship pinch immoderate financial institution you take and put successful immoderate plus people not prohibited by nan IRS.
  • Contributions tin beryllium made arsenic precocious arsenic your taxation filing date, aliases nan taxation hold date.

Roth IRA Advantages

  • Withdrawals taken from a Roth IRA are wholly tax-free erstwhile you scope property 59 ½ and person been participating successful a Roth scheme for astatine slightest 5 years.
  • Accounts are self-directed and tin beryllium invested wherever you want, and successful conscionable astir immoderate type of investment.
  • Since your contributions are not tax-deductible, they tin beryllium withdrawn earlier reaching property 59 ½. Ordinary income taxation and nan 10% early withdrawal punishment will not apply. This applies to contributions only, not to finance income amounts earned wrong your plan.
  • You tin person a Roth IRA, on pinch an employer-sponsored scheme arsenic agelong arsenic nan full contributions to each plans don’t transcend nan IRS maximum limit.
  • Roth IRAs are nan only status scheme not taxable to required minimum distributions astatine property 73. You tin support your scheme for your full life.

>> More: 7 Roth IRA Secrets You Wish You Knew Sooner!

SEP IRA Disadvantages

  • Since SEP IRA contributions are based connected a percent of your income (effectively 20%) you’ll request a nett income from your business of astatine slightest $30,000 earlier a SEP offers larger publication limits than a accepted aliases Roth IRAs.
  • There is nary catch-up proviso if you’re 50 aliases older.
  • Like astir status plans, required minimum distributions use to SEP IRAs, opening astatine property 73.
  • All eligible employees, if you person any, must beryllium included successful nan plan, and you must make contributions connected their behalf. The publication percent of their income must beryllium identical to your publication percentage.
  • Even though it’s an IRA, a Roth proviso cannot beryllium added to a SEP IRA.
  • Since nan publication calculation is complicated, you’ll almost surely request to prosecute a CPA to hole your income taxation return.

Roth IRA Disadvantages

  • Contributions to nan scheme are not tax-deductible.
  • If you transcend IRS income limits for nan plan, you cannot make Roth IRA contributions.
  • The maximum publication is constricted to conscionable $7,000, aliases $8,000 if you are 50 aliases older.

Can I Have Both a SEP IRA and a Roth IRA?

The short reply is simply a resounding yes! Though a SEP IRA cannot incorporate a Roth provision, you tin person a SEP, and group up your ain Roth IRA account.

The only limitation is that your full contributions to some plans cannot transcend nan IRS limit of $69,000.

That intends you tin allocate $60,000 to your SEP IRA, and $6,000 to a Roth IRA.

In fact, having some plans successful spot astatine nan aforesaid clip will springiness you nan use of a ample taxation conclusion provided by nan SEP IRA, on pinch taxation diversification successful status done nan Roth IRA.

The Roth IRA will springiness you a root of tax-free income to supplement taxable income from different sources. That tin support you successful a little taxation bracket during status erstwhile your income whitethorn beryllium amazingly higher than you expect.

“It is possible, and feasible, to person some a SEP IRA and a Roth IRA,” recommends Sallie Mullins Thompson, CPA/PFS, CFP, CDFA astatine Sallie Mullins Thompson CPA PLLC. “It’s my sentiment that everyone needs a Roth IRA which should beryllium funded to nan aforesaid grade arsenic tax-deferred status plans and which provides a tax-free root of income successful retirement. Starting arsenic early arsenic imaginable pinch a Roth IRA is recommended since nan net turn tax-deferred and are withdrawn tax-free, assuming each regulations are followed.”

Even if you suffice to make nan afloat $69,000 publication done a SEP IRA, scheme to trim nan publication and redirect $6,000 into a Roth IRA.

Bottom Line – Roth IRA vs Sep IRA

Though we’ve titled this article SEP IRA vs. Roth IRA, it really isn’t a competition. In truth, nan 2 plans are wholly complimentary. That’s nan logic why you should person both.

The SEP IRA offers a very ample publication amount. That will not only trim your taxes betwixt now and retirement, but it will besides alteration you to build a very ample status nest egg.

But a Roth IRA is genuinely 1 of nan astir generous status plans offered by nan IRS.

It’s nan only 1 that will some supply you pinch tax-free income successful status and exempt you from required minimum distributions astatine property 73.

That past constituent is peculiarly important. One of nan biggest concerns of retirees is outliving their money. Since you tin support your Roth IRA past property 73, and let it to proceed to gain and grow, it tin service arsenic nan status relationship of past edifice arsenic different plans go depleted.

You don’t person to take betwixt a SEP IRA and a Roth IRA – you tin person both!

FAQs connected SEP IRAs va Roth IRAs

What are nan publication limits for SEP IRA and Roth IRA?

The publication limit for SEP IRA is mostly 25% of compensation aliases $66,000 for 2023, whichever is less. The publication limit for Roth IRA is $6,500 for 2023 pinch an further catch-up publication of $1,000 for those property 50 and older.

What are nan income limits for SEP IRA and Roth IRA?

There are nary income limits for SEP IRA contributions. However, location are income limits for Roth IRA contributions. The limits are taxable to alteration each year, it’s champion to cheque nan IRS website aliases consult a financial advisor for nan astir up-to-date limits.

Are location immoderate differences successful nan distribution rules for SEP IRA and Roth IRA?

Yes, location are differences successful nan distribution rules for SEP IRA and Roth IRA. SEP IRA relationship holders must statesman taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) astatine property 72, while Roth IRA relationship holders person nary RMDs during nan original owner’s lifetime.

Is location immoderate punishment for early withdrawal for SEP IRA and Roth IRA?

Withdrawals from a SEP IRA earlier property 59 1/2 are taxable to a 10% early withdrawal penalty, unless an objection applies. Withdrawals from a Roth IRA earlier property 59 1/2 are besides taxable to a 10% early withdrawal penalty, unless an objection applies. However, Roth IRA withdrawals of contributions are penalty-free astatine immoderate age.