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The SIMPLE 401(k) Plan: Your Guide for 2023

As we step into 2023, it's crucial for employees and employers alike to stay informed about the best retirement savings strategies available. One such strategy is the SIMPLE 401(k) plan, a streamlined employer-sponsored retirement scheme that allows employees to make salary-deferral contributions on a pre-tax basis. Let's delve into what the SIMPLE 401(k) entails and how it could benefit you.

Understanding the SIMPLE 401(k) Plan

The SIMPLE 401(k) plan, standing for “Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees of Small Employers”, is an attractive retirement savings vehicle for many. It combines the simplicity of the SIMPLE IRA with some flexibility found in a traditional 401(k).

Eligibility Criteria

Before we explore the details, it's important to understand who qualifies for this plan. To participate in a SIMPLE 401(k), your employer must:

  • Have established the SIMPLE 401(k) plan.

  • Employ 100 or fewer employees.

  • Not offer any other retirement plans.

Contributions and Limits

The contribution limits for SIMPLE 401(k) plans are subject to annual inflation adjustments. For 2023, the contribution limit is expected to increase from the 2022 cap of $14,000. Those aged 50 and above can make additional catch-up contributions, providing an opportunity to bolster their retirement savings.

Employers also have a part to play. They can either:

  • Match employee contributions between 1% and 3% of compensation, or

  • Contribute 2% of each eligible employee's salary, regardless of the employee's own contributions.

The Benefits

The SIMPLE 401(k) plan comes with several advantages:

  • Contributions and earnings are tax-deferred until withdrawal.

  • Employees immediately vest 100% in all contributions, meaning they own all the money in their SIMPLE 401(k) accounts right away.

  • The plan is exempt from the complex nondiscrimination tests that apply to traditional 401(k) plans.

  • Employees may have the option for loans and hardship withdrawals, providing financial flexibility when needed.

Employer Considerations

While the plan offers simplicity, employers must note that:

  • They cannot maintain any other retirement plans alongside the SIMPLE 401(k).

  • The additional flexibility for withdrawals and loans can lead to extra administrative work.

Planning for 2023

As you plan for the year ahead, consider the following strategies:

  • Maximize your contributions early in the year to take advantage of compound growth.

  • If you’re approaching 50 or are older, utilize the catch-up contributions to increase your retirement savings.

Conflicting Strategies

Be aware of other retirement strategies that conflict with the SIMPLE 401(k), such as:


  • Traditional 401(k)

  • Roth 401(k)

  • Solo 401(k)


The SIMPLE 401(k) offers a compelling option for small businesses and their employees looking to prepare for retirement. With its higher contribution limits and straightforward administration, it's a worthy consideration for those eligible. As 2023 unfolds, take time to review your retirement strategies and consider if the SIMPLE 401(k) aligns with your financial goals. It's never too early—or too late—to plan for a secure and comfortable retirement.

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