Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

View questions about:

Go and view FAQ information.
Attract and retain talented employees with a 401(k) designed for the needs of small businesses. On this page you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about small business 401(k) plans, rules, contribution limits and more.

See all Merrill Edge® Small Business 401(k) FAQs
What types of businesses can set up a Small Business 401(k)?

Corporations, partnerships and nonprofit organizations can establish Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k) plans. If you’re self-employed or a sole proprietorship, you may want to consider an Individual 401(k).

What are the potential tax benefits of a 401(k)?

Employer contributions are deductible by the business. Participant pre-tax contributions and earnings aren’t taxed until they’re withdrawn. For more information, read the Merrill Edge guide to tax benefits (PDF).

How much can employers contribute annually?
  • Employers may match employee salary deferrals
  • Employers may make a profit-sharing contribution for each eligible employee of up to the lesser of 25% of compensation or $54,000 for 2017 ($53,000 for 2016)
  • The maximum compensation on which contributions can be based is $270,000 for 2017 ($265,000 for 2016)
How much can employees contribute annually?
  • Employees may contribute up to $18,000 ($24,000 for those age 50 and older)
  • The maximum combined employer and employee contribution is the lesser of 100% of compensation or $54,000 for 2017 and $53,000 for 2016 (for those age 50 and older, $60,000 for 2017 and $59,000 for 2016) per participating employee
Individual 401(k)
Reduce your personal and business taxes while having access to your money through loans with an affordable plan for self-employed business owners and their spouses. On this page you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about Individual 401(k) plans, rules, contribution limits and more.

See all Merrill Edge® Individual 401(k) FAQs
Can I start a 401(k) if I’m self-employed without employees?

Yes, you can. An Individual 401(k) is designed for a business owner without W-2 employees and, if married, the owner’s spouse.

How much can I contribute annually?

You can make contributions as an employee, through salary deferrals and also as an employer, through contributions made by your business. As an employee, you can contribute up to $18,000 ($24,000 if age 50 or older). The employer contribution may not exceed 25% of the employee’s compensation (20% of self-employed net earnings). The maximum total contribution is $54,000 for 2017 ($53,000 for 2016), which includes the employee and employer contributions.

What are the potential tax benefits?

Employer contributions and plan expenses are generally tax deductible for the business. Pre-tax salary contributions and any earnings are not taxed until withdrawn, and Roth (post-tax) contributions may be withdrawn tax free after age 59½.

Can I withdraw funds or take a loan from my Individual 401(k) account?

Yes. Loans and withdrawals are available if you choose these features in your plan, though you may incur tax penalties and/or fees. For more information, read Merrill Edge’s “Know the facts about loans and withdrawals” (PDF).

SEP (simplified employee pension) IRA
Whether you are self-employed or have employees, benefit from the flexibility to contribute as your cash flow allows, the potential for tax-deferred retirement growth and contribution limits nearly 10 times higher than a Traditional IRA. On this page you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about SEP IRA plans, rules, contribution limits and more.

See all Merrill Edge® SEP IRA FAQs
Why should I consider opening a SEP IRA instead of a Traditional IRA?

With a SEP IRA, your business and employees (including you) can benefit. Contributions you make to the individual accounts under your plan are generally tax deductible by your business. You also have the opportunity to contribute nearly 10 times more to a SEP IRA than a Traditional IRA.

What are the contribution limits for a SEP IRA?

Employer contributions are limited to the lesser of $54,000 for 2017 ($53,000 for 2016) or 25% of eligible compensation (20% of self-employed net earnings).

Who can contribute to the account?

Contributions are made only by you as the employer.

Can I roll over funds from a retirement account with a previous employer?

Yes. You can consolidate your retirement assets by rolling over 401(k), 403(b) and 457 accounts into a SEP IRA. You can also roll over a SIMPLE IRA after you have participated in the account for 2 years.

A Rollover IRA isn't right for everyone. Consider all of your choices and learn if a rollover may be right for you. For additional information, call 888.637.3343 to speak with a Merrill Edge rollover specialist, 24/7.

You have choices about what to do with your employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts. Depending on your financial circumstances, needs and goals, you may choose to roll over to an IRA or convert to a Roth IRA, roll over an employer-sponsored plan from your old job to your new employer, take a distribution, or leave the account where it is. Each choice may offer different investment options and services, fees and expenses, withdrawal options, required minimum distributions, tax treatment, and different types of protection from creditors and legal judgments. These are complex choices and should be considered with care. Visit or call a Merrill Edge rollover specialist at 888.637.3343 for more information about your choices.

SIMPLE (savings incentive match plan for employees) IRA
Have 100 or fewer employees and predictable cash flow? Take advantage of easy plan-administration, while offering potential tax advantages to your business and employees. On this page you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about SIMPLE IRA plans, rules, contribution limits and more.

See all Merrill Edge® SIMPLE IRA FAQs
Who contributes to a SIMPLE IRA?

The plan is funded by employee salary deferrals and required employer contributions.

How much are employers required to contribute?

You can choose to contribute a flat 2% of compensation for each eligible employee regardless of participation, or a dollar-for-dollar match of employee salary-deferral contributions capped at 3% of compensation. If needed, the cap may be reduced as low as 1% for any 2 years during a 5-year period.

What are the employee contribution limits?

Employees, including business owners, can defer up to $12,500 ($15,500 for those age 50 or older) of compensation annually.

Who is eligible to participate in a SIMPLE IRA?

Any employee who received $5,000 or more in compensation in any 2 calendar years and is reasonably expected to earn $5,000 or more in the current year.

Profit Sharing Plan
How much can an employer contribute to a profit sharing plan each year?

The employer makes all contributions. Contributions are limited to the lesser of:

  • 100% of each participating employee’s compensation, or
  • $54,000 ($60,000 including catch-up contributions) for 2017; or $53,000 ($59,000 including catch-up contributions) for 2016

The percentage may vary each year, but in any given year the contribution percentage must be the same for all eligible employees.

Note: Contribution and tax deductions for self-employed individuals require a special computation. See IRS Publication 560, Retirement Plans for Small Business available at layer for more information.