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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 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
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
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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.