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A 2023 Guide to Simplified Employee Pensions


In 2023, the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) remains a powerful tool for employers to contribute towards their employees' retirement. Known for its flexibility and higher contribution limits, a SEP IRA is an attractive option for businesses of all sizes, particularly benefiting owner-employees and family-run enterprises.

Understanding SEP IRAs

A SEP IRA stands out due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Unlike traditional retirement plans, it doesn't burden an employer with hefty start-up and operating expenses. Designed solely for employer contributions, the SEP allows for up to 25% of an employee’s pay to be contributed, with maximums surpassing many other retirement options.

Eligibility and Contributions

The primary criterion for a SEP plan is straightforward: any business entity, including sole proprietors and S or C corporations, can establish one. Contributions can be made flexibly, up to the due date of the company's tax return, extensions included. This extended period is a boon for businesses, giving them ample time to allocate funds wisely.

Why SEP IRAs Are Ideal for Some Businesses

For businesses with fluctuating cash flows, SEP IRAs offer a respite with their flexible contribution schedules. Family businesses particularly stand to gain, as equal contributions across the board are a SEP mandate, ensuring a uniform benefit for all employees who are often family members in such businesses.

Benefits and Considerations

The advantages of SEP IRAs are numerous: no filing requirements, low administrative costs, immediate 100% vesting for employees, and the ability to make contributions until the tax return due date. However, employers must note that employees cannot make their own contributions, and equal contributions must be maintained for all eligible employees.

Setting Up a SEP IRA

Initiating a SEP plan is as simple as adopting Form 5305-SEP or a similar SEP prototype plan. Remember, if you use Form 5305-SEP, you can't maintain any other retirement plan within the business.

Conflicting Strategies

While a SEP IRA has distinct benefits, it's important to consider other strategies like SIMPLE IRAs and 401(k)s for businesses. Each has its own set of rules and benefits, and the choice depends on specific business needs and financial strategies.


In conclusion, as we navigate through 2023, the SEP IRA continues to be a viable and beneficial retirement strategy for many businesses. Its ease of setup, generous contribution limits, and flexibility make it a standout choice, especially for smaller businesses and those seeking a straightforward retirement plan with minimal administrative hassles. As always, consulting with a financial advisor is key to determining whether a SEP IRA aligns with your business's goals and financial capabilities.

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