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2023 Guide to SIMPLE IRAs for Small Businesses


In the realm of retirement solutions for small businesses, the SIMPLE IRA stands out due to its straightforwardness and lower administrative duties. Known variously as the SIMPLE retirement plan, Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees, SIMPLE individual retirement plan, or a salary reduction retirement plan, it is an excellent vehicle for businesses to support their employees' future.

Eligibility Criteria

A SIMPLE IRA plan is a viable option for small businesses with 100 or fewer employees, provided each has earned at least $5,000 in the previous year. It’s important to note that businesses offering this plan must not maintain any other retirement plans.

Setting Up a SIMPLE IRA

To establish a SIMPLE IRA, eligible employers may use one of two forms, depending on their preferred structure:

  • Form 5304-SIMPLE: For a plan allowing employees to select their own financial institution for their contributions.

  • Form 5305-SIMPLE: For a plan where the employer designates the financial institution to hold all contributions.

Contribution Structure

Employers must contribute either:

  • A match of their employees' contributions (between 1% and 3%).

  • A non-elective contribution of 2% of each eligible employee's compensation, up to the annual cap.

Employees may also make salary reduction contributions up to an annually adjusted limit. Notably, all contributions to a SIMPLE IRA are immediately 100% vested.

Benefits of a SIMPLE IRA

  • No annual filings for the employer.

  • Enables employees to contribute pre-tax earnings, lowering their taxable income.

  • Straightforward and cost-effective to set up and maintain.

  • No discrimination testing needed.

  • Possible tax deductions for employee contributions.

  • Employers might receive a tax credit of up to $500 per year for the first three years for setup and administration costs.

Considerations for 2023

  • There are lower contribution limits compared to other retirement plans.

  • Contributions are fixed and cannot be as flexible as some other plans.

  • Participant loans are not permitted.

Conflicting Strategies

Employers should be aware of alternative strategies that might conflict with a SIMPLE IRA, such as:

  • Traditional 401(k)

  • Solo 401(k)

  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP)

  • Defined Benefit Plan

  • Cash Balance Plan

  • Section 412(e)(3) Plan

Business Entities Suitable for a SIMPLE IRA

A variety of business entities can adopt a SIMPLE IRA:

  • Sole Proprietorships (Schedule C)

  • Farmers (Schedule F)

  • S Corporations

  • C Corporations

  • Partnerships


For small businesses looking to provide a retirement plan for their employees without the complexity of larger plans, the SIMPLE IRA remains a sterling choice in 2023. While it may have lower contribution limits and lacks the flexibility of loan provisions, its ease of setup, immediate vesting of funds, and potential tax advantages offer a compelling package. As we navigate the changing economic landscape, the SIMPLE IRA continues to be a practical and valuable tool for small business owners to support their employees' financial security in retirement.

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