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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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5508tridion
Rated 4.1 out of 5 by 127 reviewers.
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
Rated 4 out of 5 by Great...except for one thing The ability for my business partner and I to contribute both profit sharing and payroll contributions are great. As stated elsewhere - Come On Fidelity. I should not have to send you a paper check every month. You are the only company I cut a paper check to now. Let's get with the times - give us ACH! August 18, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Paper Checks Required? Why? I am generally very pleased with my Fidelity retirement plan and the supporting services, with one major exception: Why do I have to print, sign and mail a paper check with really useless paper form? I know you can do this on-line. Why not for this kind of account? August 14, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by On Line contributions would be nice.... The Self Employed 401(k) plan is great in every respect. However, it would be perfect if I could make contributions on line rather than via checks and snail mail. August 13, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by great option for self employed The 401k for self employed persons isa great option. My only complaint is I wish I didn't have to mail a paper check with a remittance form every month. Get electronic transfer! August 13, 2014
Rated 3 out of 5 by Fidelity SE 401(k) I wish the account allowed online or etf deposits instead of requiring everything to be sent via the mail. I also wish it qualified as a real 401(k) account under ERISA and would therefore be protected from personal lawsuits like ERISA-qualified accounts. August 6, 2014
Rated 1 out of 5 by Incompetent service I called trying to get the form to amend my plan to add another affiliated business. They send me an email supposedly that has a link to the form, but it just gets me to the main retirement page. After 3 days of calling and searching, I still can't locate the form. July 10, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by Inexpensive and Diverse Would be nice to make transfers from my banking account without having to call a rep to do it for me. I do love that IRA rollovers are possible. June 12, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easy I am the admin and only participant. Easy to set up, easy to use. I wish I could make deposits electronically and not be limited to hard checks only. May 14, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by A great little solo 401k plan This is a great plan for very small businesses. It has no fees, and employees can invest in whatever they want, including several index ETFs with no transaction fees. There are a few areas where they could improve: 1. Electronic contributions. Right now, contributions are on pencil and paper and snail mail. Would be nice if it could integrate with some of the major small business payroll vendors. 2. Automatic fund purchases. Employees have to remember to purchase their ETFs regularly or they'll just have cash sitting around in their accounts. 3. Offer a Roth 401k option. But other than that, this is a great plan! Highly recommended! January 22, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by need online deposits need online deposits vs. checks. And the ability to separate employee/employer contributions online October 9, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Super fast self employed 401K setup Fidelity helped me setup a self employed 401K plan within no time. The paperwork was minimal and within 30 mins, my account was ready. They were very helpful in explaining how contributions can be made along with limits etc. September 20, 2013
Rated 1 out of 5 by 401(k) Solo Fidelity Solo 401(k) plan is set up as a Keogh plan and this will not allow access to loans. I found this out the hard way. The plan documents do not allow the loan. When I set up the account with Fidelity this was one of the major objectives was to have the safety of a plan loan. I was told by a fidelity rep that is was available. He was wrong. If you are setting up a Solo 401(k) and want a loan don 't use Fidelity. September 18, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by 401k Fidelity advisors were all well versed in the investment product, were very cordial and helpful. Answered all my questions & more. May 27, 2013
Rated 3 out of 5 by Service. A phrase not a reality! In early January 2013 I called with questions about Roth 401k plans. I was transferred around and talked to 3 different people who said that they were not the right person. It was a waste of time. February 23, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by self employed owner My main issue is reporting. You never furnish accounting by year as to the EE contri. and the company's contribution by acct. year. You sent out forms for plan contributions, but nothing to help us out on how much we have put in or how much we can put in. I manage 5 other Trad. IRA and Roth IRA's for our family and the same thing that I mentioned above applies to each one of them. February 22, 2013
Rated 3 out of 5 by Awful statement reporting of fixed rate CD earnings Overall, the account and service is okay. However, the way you report the earnings on fixed rate CD investments on statements is absolutely awful as I have documented to you in calls and comments many times. This is why I will probably close and move my account when the up-coming matuturity dates are satisfied. February 21, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Flexibility and Choice The Self-Employed 401(k) generally meets my needs in terms of ease of use and flexibility of the account. The two minor issues that I have regarding convenience of the account include the requirement to visit a branch to deposit money and the ability to trade on multiple stock exchanges. In the age of the Internet it seems absurd that one would have to visit a branch to deposit money into the account, instead of being able to move it by electronic means. Secondly, the self-employed 401(k) is, not surprisingly, focused on the US stock markets when there are myriad other opportunities out there. Trading on other stock exchanges isn't easy, if even possible. February 20, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by SE 401k It is pretty good, but would be nice if there was a ROTH 401k option. February 20, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Ease of investing The Fidelity account is very easy to maintain and offers numerous investing options. February 19, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easy and flexible The account was easy to set up as there was little paperwork required and Fidelity handled everything quickly. It is easy to manage the account. Deposits are a breeze. There are many investment options as it behaves like a brokerage account. I'm glad I have the account and I'm glad that Fidelity manages it! February 18, 2013
Rated 1 out of 5 by I have no idea what you mean here You may think I have a self-employed 401K but beyond a few initial recommendations, which I ended up changing, I receive no additional services from Fidelity. I do have an account for my self-employed 401K but it really is managed by me. So short of holding it for me, there is nothing "designed" for me. February 18, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Easy to use Low cost, easy to use account for our business. The only thing that would improve the account for us would be the option of a Roth. February 18, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Secure and Reliable I have been using it for the past 3 years and I like everything about it . The only bad thing is that you cannot do a direct transfer of funds into the account. February 18, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Easy to Use, Convenient, and Flexible Having a Fidelity self-employed 401K has given me the opportunity to manage my investments as much or as little as I please. I can invest in mutual funds, ETFs, equities, options etc backed by the research which Fidelity offers. Moving money from one asset to another couldn't be easier and I can add money to my account through the mail or at my local Fidelity location for quicker deposit. This works for my schedule and availability. February 18, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Awesome tool to save for retirement I love the fact that there is a profit-sharing as well as an employee contribution component to this plan. Since i am a sole proprietor, that means i can max out my plan for saving more towards retirement. My only peeve is that i have to mail my contribution check or go to a local center to contribute money to this plan, rather than wiring money from my bank account. It would be great if Fidelity can arrange a money line so that investors can directly funnel funds into the 401K account. February 18, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Good Support Account access is easy through the web. Tax related documents well defined. Would be nice to have a "Stable Value" fund investment option similar to company 401k plans. February 17, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by President Other Brokerage/Investment services, allow for monthly contributions to be automaticly transferred from company checking account to 401k account.. In using the same your location in Naperville, I receive inconsistent service when I make my monthly contribution. Sometimes there is confusion on the part of the employee on how to process the contribution even though I hand in the same paper documentation month to month. February 17, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Recommended to all my clients This is the best value out there for small 401(k) plans. I am a CPA. I use the plan for my own small business and regularly recommend it to all my small business clients. February 16, 2013
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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.