For people who are self-employed, had a great year and want to save for retirement, it is advised that they start a defined benefit plan by the end of the year. You are funding the pension plan: you can deduct and contributed the most and build up your benefits significantly in a relatively short time (often only 5-10 years). If you combine your defined benefit plan with a 401(k) plan, you will be able to shelter your income from taxes with a tax deduction that could reach a couple hundred thousand dollars each year.
To get this year’s deduction, you will have to start the plan before the 31st of December but the good news is you do not have to fund it fully until the following year before your tax filing deadline. The exact amount that you will be able to contribute is based on actuarial calculations that consider your income, years until you retire and age. Generally speaking, the older a person is, the more they can contribute. These defined benefit plans are perfect for those individuals who would like to contribute more money than they are allowed under many retirement plans including 401(k)s or SEP-IRAs.
Defined benefit plans are best for small practices and owner-only businesses. Think architects, doctors, software developers or sales reps. If you are married to your business partner, you could put away large amounts of money for your retirement. These plans are also perfect for employees that have a side business for extra income and spouses that are self-employed but they are not the partner that has to contribute to the living expenses of the family.
Once your defined benefit plan is set up, you will be required to add the minimum contribution that has been recalculated for the year. It is important that you only sign up for a defined benefit plan if you are expecting 3-5 steady years with a good income. Only put in the amount you feel comfortable with. Do not let any advisors push you over that amount. Many people want to put the maximum amount in because they want to get the most take benefits; however, they need to think about the future. If your business goes out of business, you are able to close the plan.
If you are not sure if you will have a steady income over the next few years, you should consider contributing a smaller about to the plan and open a 401(k). This way, in good years you can contribute to the 401(k) plan after you have made the defined benefit plan’s minimum contribution.
Now is the time to start your defined benefit plan. Remember, if you want to take advantage of the tax advantages for this year’s taxes, you need to open your plan by December 31st. You have until the filing deadline to fully fund your plan and it will still count for this year’s tax return.