Investment & Finance

Mastering SEP IRAs: A Guide to Retirement Savings

Michael Gavin
January 17, 2024
5 minute read
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We’ve spoken about IRAs before here at alphaAI. We know that savings and retirement planning are both crucial components of financial well-being, especially for those that are self-employed and small business owners. In another addition of our comprehensive guides, we’ll dive into the world of Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEP IRAs), exploring their features, benefits, eligibility criteria, and the strategic advantages they offer to individuals and businesses alike.

Understanding SEP IRAs

What is a SEP IRA?

A Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account, or SEP IRA, is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan designed to provide an easy and cost-effective way for self-employed individuals and small businesses to contribute to their own and their employees' retirement funds. Established by the employer, SEP IRAs offer flexibility and potential tax advantages.

Features of SEP IRAs:

Contribution Flexibility:

Employers have the discretion to choose when and how much to contribute each year, offering flexibility based on the business's financial performance. Contributions are made directly to employees' individual SEP IRAs.

Tax Deductibility:

Employer contributions are tax-deductible, reducing the business's taxable income. Employees are not taxed on employer contributions until withdrawal.

No Discrimination Testing:

SEP IRAs are exempt from the complex nondiscrimination testing required by some other retirement plans, making them attractive to small businesses.

Ease of Administration:

SEP IRAs are easy to set up and administer, with minimal paperwork and reporting requirements. There are no annual filing requirements with the IRS.

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Eligibility Criteria:

Employer Eligibility:

Any business entity, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations, can establish a SEP IRA. Even if the employer contributes to their own SEP IRA, they must also contribute to eligible employees.

Employee Eligibility:

Employees eligible for a SEP IRA include those who are at least 21 years old, have worked for the employer in three of the last five years, and have earned at least $600 in the current year.

Contribution Limits:

Employer Contributions:

Employers can contribute up to 25% of an employee's eligible compensation, capped at $61,000 (as of 2022). Contributions are not required every year, providing flexibility during lean financial periods.

Employee Contributions:

Employees cannot make contributions to a SEP IRA; all contributions come from the employer.

Advantages of SEP IRAs

Business Benefits:

  • Tax Advantages: Employer contributions are tax-deductible, reducing the overall tax liability for the business.
  • Contributing to employees' retirement can also enhance employee loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Flexibility and Control: Employers have control over contribution amounts, enabling them to adapt to the business's financial circumstances.

Individual Benefits:

  • Tax-Deferred Growth: Investments within a SEP IRA grow tax-deferred until withdrawal during retirement.
  • Simplified Administration: Unlike other employer-sponsored retirement plans, SEP IRAs require minimal paperwork and administrative burden.

Setting Up and Managing a SEP IRA

Establishing a SEP IRA:

Document Adoption: Employers must adopt a written plan document outlining the terms of the SEP IRA. The document does not need to be filed with the IRS but should be kept on record. Communicating with Employees: Employers must inform eligible employees about the SEP IRA, including the plan's features, eligibility criteria, and contribution structure.

Administration Best Practices:

Record-keeping: Maintain accurate records of contributions, eligible employees, and plan documents. Regularly update employee information to ensure compliance.

Investment Strategy: Employees have control over the investments within their SEP IRAs, so providing educational resources on investment options can be beneficial.


SEP IRAs stand as a powerful retirement savings tool for both employers and employees, offering tax advantages, flexibility, and simplified administration. Not only does alphaAI provide investment strategies you can utilize for any trading, we also work with SEP IRAs. You can learn more about our strategies and our SEP IRA management on our site.

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