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Self-Employed 401(k) Plans

Self-employed individuals and owner-only businesses and partnerships can save more for retirement through a 401(k) plan designed especially for them.

Plan features

Tax benefits

Tax-deferred growth

Tax-deductible contributions

Pre-tax employee deferral contributions

Learn more about the tax advantages of self-employed 401(k)s.
Fees

No setup or annual account fee1

Eligibility

Self-employed individuals and owner-only businesses and partnerships are eligible.

Owners’ spouses may also participate.

IRS maximum
contribution

Salary deferrals up to $17,500 for 2014 and $18,000 for 2015

See how much you may be able to contribute to your plan with our Self-Employed Contribution Calculator.

Catch-up contribution

Additional salary deferral of $5,500 for 2014 and $6,000 for 2015 (if age 50 or older)2

Profit sharing
contribution

Up to 25% of compensation,3 up to the annual maximum of $52,000 for 2014 and $53,000 for 2015

Establishment deadline

The deadline to open a new plan is December 31 (or fiscal year-end).

Administrative
responsibilities

Annual IRS Form 5500 filing after plan assets exceed $250,000

Withdrawals

Minimum required distributions starting at age 70½

10% early withdrawal penalty if under age 59½ and no exceptions apply

Investment options

A wide range of mutual funds, stocks, bonds, ETFs, and FDIC-insured CDs

Support and guidance

One-on-one guidance—in person, online, or over the phone

Research and tools to help you create a long-term plan and choose investments

Next steps

Open a Self-Employed 401(k).
Call 800-544-5373 and select option 3 to speak with a small-business retirement specialist.

Get started on your own. Get a jump on the paperwork for your new plan.
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Rated 4.1 out of 5 by 125 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Great customer service on the phone Customer service on the phone is excellent. It is surprising they have such knowledgeable people ready to assist on the other end of the line! June 24, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easy set-up Customer service rep made it very convenient to call in my contribution and transfer funds. June 17, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by SPH review Well designed program for sole proprietors with numerous low cost investment options. May 27, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Good solid company Overall, very satisfied with the products and service. Customer service, specifically the livechat feature are top notch. May 14, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Convenient with flexible investment options Fidelity provides a very user friendly and flexible investment platform for any account type. The self-employed 401k plan has helped me maximize my annual contributions and invest these contributions using the Fidelity web site tools or with the assistance of an advisor. Fidelity is highly recommended! February 16, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easiest-to-administer, most flexible self-employed 401(k) I looked at 401(k) plans offered by several providers and chose Fidelity because my other retirement plan assets were with Fidelity and because of the range of choices, simplicity and low fees. Forms to ensure administrative compliance are readily available. I have referred others to the Fidelity personal 401(k) website and they found it straightforward as well. In fact, the information supplied has led people to have conversations with their accountants about their tax planning. February 15, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Fidelity self employed 401k This self employed 401 k plan has been perfect for me since I started consulting after retirement in January 2008. Easy to set up and administer and easy for my tax accountant to work with too. Has saved me taxes and helped to save for retirement as well. After looking at several options, this was obviously the best plan available for people like me. February 15, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Self-Employed 401K Plan and Fidelity After retiring in mid-2012 and deciding to do some part-time consulting work, I began searching for info on available savings plans for this income. While I did searching on the internet and IRS related to this subject, I also contacted Fidelity and found the best and quickest info from them. They provided immediate assistance with getting the account set-up, which only took approx. 30 minutes, and things were then ready for me to begin making some deposits. I have found Fidelity to be #1 in Customer Service and they have a Great web-page for user help. February 15, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by trustworthy I received excellent service and attention completing my first investment experience. My advisor took my professional and personal goals into account in guiding me through my financial security. July 1, 2015
Rated 1 out of 5 by 401K No one has ever contacted me since I invested. Guess I am not a big enough player. June 22, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Good plan Great options & flexibility of choices. My only complaint,..but it's a big one,..is that I can not make an online contribution to the account as I can with my IRAs or individual account. I must mail in a check to add funds to my 401k. I absolutely hate the delay and the inconvenience. Why not allow users to tie their bank accounts to their 401k for online contributions? Otherwise, I am pleased with my account. June 19, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by What more can you ask for? Almost unlimited investment selection and no fees. May 25, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Transition to Self-employment My Fidelity advisor looked at my changing situation and recommended a SE401(k) - best thing I did to save taxes last year and going forward. I will sequester the max for a few years before Social Security kicks in! May 11, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Fidelity solo 401(k) The account was easy to set up. Customer service representatives answered all of my questions about the plan documents. The full menu of funds and ETFs are available with no additional administrative fees. The only drawback is that contributions can't be made electronically. May 4, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Fantastic overall I have virtually no complaints about the Fidelity Solo 401(k). The customer service reps are knowledgeable and were very helpful in getting me set up. The information available on the website is great. I love being able to invest in any stock, bond, etf, etc. that Fidelity offers. My one and only complaint is that there's still no way to electronically deposit funds in the account. Fidelity takes online deposits for every other type of account, so it seems like they should be able to get this figured out. Come on, Fidelity! Apart from that, I have absolutely zero complaints. May 4, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Fidelity 401k excellent in all regards I'm VERY happy with my Fidelity 401. All the research, tools, investments, and customer service I could ask for. Customer service makes set up and administration a breeze. Couldn't ask for more. April 21, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by April 2015 look Overall, I'm delightfully satisfied so far. The Fidelity investment advisor was enormously helpful. April 17, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Solid solo 401k option Fairly easy to setup and administer. Deposits are processed fairly quickly although there is no electronic transfer available for this type of account. Very strange as I can do electronic transfers for my Fidelity IRAs. That is probably the best way for Fidelity to improve this product. April 14, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Excellent Plan for Self Employed The Fidelity Self-Employed 401(k) plan is easy to set up and is an excellent way to defer taxes for both your 401(k) and for profit sharing also. I was able to manage our tax liability by using the profit sharing feature within the IRS limits on top of the annual 401(k) limits. There are no annual costs for setting up or any ongoing maintenance fees that you find on most other plans. March 23, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Only one glaring omission This plan is great. Wide variety of offerings, no account fees, easy management through the same familiar web site. Unlike one of their main competitors they do accept incoming rollovers. But for the life of me I just can't figure out why they won't allow online contributions. They've been in the game long enough that this shouldn't be a big undertaking, so to me it just seems like they prefer to have clients mail checks to them. Why? March 16, 2015
Rated 3 out of 5 by Not easy to deposit money I like all the features of solo 401k, except i can't deposit via ACH. March 9, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Great, but needs Roth feature The phone representative who walked me through the account set-up did an excellent job. The rep made a process that could have been complicated, very easy. I was even able to physically drop the forms off at a local Fidelity "store", rather than mailing. The only feature that the Self Employment 401K lacks is the Roth possibility. It would be nice to be able to invest 50/50 into pre-tax and Roth for future tax diversification. March 9, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by IPOS I have yet to be able to be part of any IPO... It is insulting that you offer to your smaller customer (I have over $ 500K invested with Fidelity) and NEVER give us a opportunity. March 2, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Exactly what I needed As a self-employed software consultant with an LLC, I needed an easy and flexible option to save for retirement. Fidelity's Solo 401k met my needs and I'm thrilled with its ease. I already love Fidelity's customer service and when I needed help with a question (I overcontributed the first year by accident!) they helped me through the process to resolve my error. February 10, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Excellent Solo 401K tools and advisors I used this tool to give me directional insight into my contribution. I also spoke with the 401K specialist. I have a tax accountant who mapped this out for me, but it was great to get some quick answers on a few contribution questions January 24, 2015
Rated 3 out of 5 by Few challenges Their are two main issues I have with the account that need to be addressed. First, it doesn't allow me to transfer money into the account from the site. I have to go to a branch or call the 800 number. The other item I would like to see addressed is it doesn't show me my total contribution to the plan for the year. The Roth IRA I have shows this on the site so I can track it easily. Outside of theses two items, I am very happy with the account. January 6, 2015
Rated 1 out of 5 by Very difficult to get hold of custmer service agent I waited almost an hour with no response. I decided to give up and call back later to try my luck. December 22, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Convenient I like the convenience. and advice provided by the office in NYC and call center. October 21, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by Wish I could do ACH transfers I love the plan, the options, and I've had some great experiences with customer service at Fidelity. The thing that annoys me though is that for a solo-401K (as opposed to other plans I've had at FIdelity), I can't make a contribution electronically via ACH transfer - I have to send in a check. October 7, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by Secure and Many Investment Options Straightforward investment options and voluminous research available. Could be improved by offering ACH Deposits. September 3, 2014
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Although consultations are one on one, guidance provided by Fidelity is educational in nature, is not individualized, and is not intended to serve as the primary or sole basis for your investment or tax-planning decisions.
Note that the total of salary deferrals and profit sharing contributions cannot exceed $52,000 ($57,500 if age 50 or older) for 2014 and $53,000 ($59,000 if age 50 or older) for 2015.
1. There is no cost to open and no annual fee for Fidelity's Traditional, Roth, SEP, and Rollover IRAs. A $50 account close out fee may apply. Fund investments held in your account may be subject to management, low balance and short term trading fees, as described in the offering materials. For all securities, see the Fidelity commission schedule for trading commission and transaction fee details.
2. With catch-up provisions, individuals 50 and older may defer up to $23,000 in 2014 and $24,000 for 2015, subject to the combined deferral and employer contribution limit.
3. Maximum compensation on which contributions can be based is $260,000 for 2014 and $265,000 for 2015. If you are self-employed, compensation means earned income.
For further information on your specific situation, consult with your tax advisor.
The initial customer ratings and reviews for this product (those dated before 3/18/2013) were provided to Fidelity through an email solicitation for feedback on the product. All ratings and reviews are provided to Fidelity on a voluntarily basis and are screened in accordance with the guidelines set forth in our Customer Ratings and Reviews Terms of Use. For additional information on which ratings and reviews may be posted, please refer to our Customer Ratings and Review Terms of Use. Featured Reviews have been selected based on subjective criteria and reviewed by Fidelity Investments. The average rating is determined by calculating the mathematical average of all ratings that are approved for posting per the Customer Ratings and Reviews Terms of use and does not include any ratings that did not meet the guidelines and were therefore not posted. Ratings and reviews are added continuously to the website (after a delay for screening against guidelines) and average ratings are updated dynamically as reviews are added or removed.
The ratings and experience of customers may not be representative of the experiences of all customers or investors and is not indicative of future success. The accuracy of information included in the customer ratings and reviews cannot be guaranteed by Fidelity Investments. Customers who post ratings may be responsible for disclosing whether they have a financial interest or conflict in submitting a rating and review.
Please contact a Fidelity representative if you have additional questions or concerns about the ratings and reviews posted here.
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Tax Advantages of Self-Employed 401(k)s

A Self-Employed 401(k) may substantially reduce your current income taxes because generally, you can deduct the entire amount of your plan contributions from your taxable income each year.

  • If your business is unincorporated, you can deduct contributions for yourself from your personal income.
  • If your business is incorporated, you can generally deduct contributions as a business expense.
  No Plan Self-Employed 401(k)
Net Business Profits $100,000 $100,000
Less Deduction for ½ Self-Employment Tax -7,065 -7,065
Less Max. Contribution (25% of earned income)3 -0 -18,587
Less Salary Deferral -0 -17,000
= Taxable Income = $92,935 = $57,348
Taxes Due4 $19,937 $11,256
Taxes Saved $0 $8,681

How a Self-Employed 401(k) contribution can add up

As you can see from the example below, for 2012 a self-employed business owner who is age 50 with $100,000 in compensation may save up to $20,500 more with a Self-Employed 401(k) than with a SEP-IRA or Profit Sharing Plan.

2012 Example No Plan Self-Employed 401(k)
Employer's Tax Deductible Contribution Up to 25%3 of compensation (not to exceed $50,000) $18,587 $18,587
(25% x $74,348)
Employee's Deferral Option (not to exceed $17,000) Not applicable $17,000
Employee's Catch-Up Deferral Option if age 50 or older (not to exceed $5,500) Not applicable $5,500
Final Total Contribution $18,587 $41,087

Note: Fidelity also offers a Profit Sharing Plan which lets you contribute the same amount as a SEP-IRA. A Profit Sharing Plan may be better suited for your needs if you have multiple employees and want more restrictive eligibility requirements to participate in the plan. Please contact a Fidelity retirement representative at 800-544-5373 and select option 3 for more information.