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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.

Reasons to consider Self-Employed 401(k) Plans

  • Access to Fidelity retirement professionals to help with your plan
  • Wide range of investments
  • Contributions by phone or by mail
  • No setup or annual account fee1

Call us at 800-544-5373

Select option 3 to speak with a small-business retirement specialist.

Or start the paperwork on your own first.

Self-Employed Contribution Calculator
Answer five simple questions to see how much you may be able to contribute to your plan.

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
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


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

Owners’ spouses may also participate.

IRS maximum contribution

Salary deferrals up to $18,000 for 2015 and 2016

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 $6,000 for 2015 and 2016 (if age 50 or older)2

Profit sharing contribution

Up to 25% of compensation,3 up to the annual maximum of $53,000 for 2015 and 2016

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


Minimum required distributions starting at age 70½

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

Account fees

No annual fees, no establishment fees*

*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.

Trading fees

$7.95 for online U.S. equity trades

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.
Rated 4.1 out of 5 by 143 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Better than most company 401k offerings When I switched jobs, I took the opportunity to start a solo 401k with Fidelity, and say goodbye to the limited investment options and high expense ratios of my previous employer's plan. It only took a few easy calls to the helpful service representatives to answer all of my questions and complete all of the necessary paperwork to directly roll my external accounts into Fidelity. Now I have access to the extensive options of Fidelity with lower costs that will help my money grow into a comfortable retirement! November 29, 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 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 4 out of 5 by Helpful but inconvenient The product is good and customer service excellent however without access to electronic transfer to my account it is very inconvenient to regularly transfer funds into my account. June 21, 2016
Rated 4 out of 5 by Solid plan Good plan, Website needs to be easier to navigate. June 20, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easy setup and cost efficient Fidelity made setting up my Solo 401(k) very easy, relatively fast, and doesn't charge fees every time I turn around like my former brokerage firm did. June 20, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Solo 401k with Fidelity Fidelity is always cutting edge with technology and it makes for an ease of doing business. June 20, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easy and very useful Received wonderful assistance from Fidelity in setting up the account. Establishment was fast, easily beating the Dec. 31 deadline even though I had not started long enough beforehand. They were also helpful in funding the account before I submitted my taxes for the prior year, helping me identify the maximum amount allowable under IRS rules. And purchasing holdings was as easy as usual with Fidelity. The account saved me several thousand dollars on taxes just in the first year, and having had a zero balance last Dec. 31, I will have no minimum withdrawal in this tax year. Hurray for Fidelity!!! June 20, 2016
Rated 3 out of 5 by Nice to have, but not yet modern - can only deposit by postal mail While it's nice to have the option for a self-employed 401k with Fidelity, this account does not accept electronic deposits, even from other Fidelity accounts. Instead, you must physically write a check and send it through the postal service with a printed form. So it's quite inconvenient. I only recommend it for people who have many Fidelity accounts already and prefer to keep this one at Fidelity. June 8, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easy to Open and Manage The Self-Employed 401K plan was easy to open and is easy to manage. I can trade the account with various securities and stay in cash whenever I see it. The customer service is always stellar. June 8, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Customer Support people are awesome!!! The person at the local branch was very well informed and helped me open the account with ease. I had to call the Customer Service Department for help on one occasion (not the fault of Fidelity) and they knew exactly what to do and the issue was quickly resolved. One item that would be nice to have is better record keeping meaning it would be nice to have contributions by year tracked and displayed on the website. In addition, display the realized and un-realized capital gain/loss in a separate tab and track gain/loss by year. May 2, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Typical Fidelity - Perfect! There is some paperwork. My Fidelity rep told me he'd walk us through it and he did. We actually went to a branch in Colorado while on vacation to finish up the paperwork and we live in Texas. Just doesn't matter where you are or who you call at Fidelity, they come through. December 29, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Great support but annoying to deposit Several times I have contacted Fidelity representatives for various questions and they have always been quick and helpful. It is also convenient that the account allows incoming Traditional IRA rollovers. However, the process to make a deposit is extremely annoying and inconvenient. You must use a paper check in-person or by mail. Optionally, you can setup a separate account to do ACH transfers, however you must then initiate a transfer between accounts with a representative and for some reason it takes about a week for the ACH to even clear. December 14, 2015
Rated 3 out of 5 by Behind the Times Having my SE 401k account with my other Fidelity investment accounts in one place along with the wide array of available investment options is a plus. However, not having the ability to EFT money directly to my SE 401k account is inexcusable in 2015. Not to mention Fidelity does not offer a Roth option. Sadly, I cannot recommend getting a SE 401k with Fidelity unless you already have other accounts with them and feel that having all your accounts in one place outweighs convenience and tax flexibility. October 21, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Best Customer Service & Support Had a great satisfactory experience and valuable advise when I recently met the financial consultant for my account review October 6, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Needs ACH Th 401k is fine, but having to cut a manual check and not have it integrated with our payroll system is a bit of a pain. I'd really like to just transfer the money directly from the account electronically. October 6, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Excellent plan I used over two years. No fee and easy maintenance. I am doing on my investment and research. There is no need of professional help. It is very good for someone who knows a little bit about investment about mutual fund, ETF and stocks trading. October 5, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Good 401(k) plan designed for Small Businesses Good 401(k) plan designed for Small Businesses like mine September 30, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by A The profit sharing Keogh 401k plan exceeded expectations. August 24, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Great for self-employed This is an economical plan for a sel-employed person. The only drawback is I can't do direct transfer from my checking account into the plan. I can transfer from a nonqualified Fidelity Account or I can mail in a check. One too many hoops. July 12, 2015
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
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Investing involves risk, inlcuding risk of loss.
† $7.95 commission applies to online U.S. equity trades in a Fidelity account with a minimum opening balance of $2,500 for Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC retail clients. Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee (from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal). Other conditions may apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for details.
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 $53,000 ($59,000 if age 50 or older) for 2015 and 2016.
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 $24,000 for 2015 and 2016, subject to the combined deferral and employer contribution limit.
3. Maximum compensation on which contributions can be based is $265,000 for 2015 and 2016. 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.

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.