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Corporate Benefits

Retirement Plans

If you're self-employed, own a business, or are a key executive at your company and the organization does not have an established retirement savings plan, what are you waiting for? A retirement plan can help you and your employees save for the future. And, you will be in good company. More than one million small businesses with 100 or fewer employees currently offer workplace retirement savings plans.

Tax advantages

A retirement plan can have significant tax advantages:

  • Your contributions are deductible when made
  • Your contributions are not taxed to an employee until distributed from the plan
  • Money in the retirement program grows tax deferred (or, in the case of Roth accounts, potentially tax free)

Types of plans

Retirement plans are usually either IRA-based (like SEPs and SIMPLE IRAs) or "qualified" (401(k)s, profit-sharing plans, and defined benefit plans). Qualified plans are generally more complicated and expensive to maintain than IRA-based plans because they have to comply with specific Internal Revenue Code and ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) requirements in order to qualify for their tax benefits. Also, qualified plan assets must be held either in trust or by an insurance company. With IRA-based plans, your employees own your contributions immediately. With qualified plans, you can generally require your employees to work a certain numbers of years before they vest.

As an employer, you may want to establish one or more retirement plans for yourself and/or your employees. Having a plan can provide significant benefits for both you and your employees (if any). There are many different types of retirement plans. However, choosing the right one for your situation is a critical decision.You need a plan that will meet both your goals as the employer and the needs of employees. In addition, it is important to balance the cost of establishing and maintaining a plan against the potential benefits.

General benefits of retirement plans

By establishing and maintaining a retirement plan, you can reap significant benefits for both your employees and yourself as the employer. From your perspective as an employer, one of the main advantages of having and funding a retirement plan is that your employer contributions to the plan are generally tax deductible for federal income tax purposes. Contributing to the plan will reduce your organization's taxable income, saving money in taxes. The specific rules regarding deductibility of employer contributions are complex and vary by type of plan; you should consult a tax advisor for guidance.

For many employers, the greatest advantage of having a retirement plan is the appeal they have to large numbers of employees. In fact, offering a good retirement plan (along with other benefits, such as health insurance) may allow you to attract and retain the employees you desire. You will save time and money in the long run if you can hire quality employees and minimize your employee turnover rate. In addition, employees who feel well rewarded and more secure about their financial future tend to be more productive employees, further improving your business's bottom line. Such employees are also less likely to organize into collective bargaining units, which can cause major business problems for some employers.

So, why are retirement plans considered such a valuable employee benefit? From the employee's perspective, key advantages of a retirement plan may include some or all of the following:

  • Some plans (e.g., 401(k) plans) allow employee contributions. This offers employees a convenient way to save for retirement and their contributions are generally made on a pretax basis, reducing their taxable income. In some cases, the employer will match employee contributions up to a certain level. Plans such as 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) also allow participants to make after-tax Roth contributions. There is no upfront tax benefit, but qualified distributions are entirely free from federal income taxes.
  • Funds in a retirement plan grow tax deferred, meaning that any investment earnings are not taxed as long as they remain in the plan. The employee generally pays no income tax until he or she begins to take distributions. Depending on investment performance, this creates the potential for more rapid growth than funds held outside a retirement plan.

Caution: Distributions taken before age 59½ may also be subject to a 10% federal penalty tax (25% in the case of certain distributions from SIMPLE IRA plans).


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Raymond James financial advisors may only conduct business with residents of the states and/or jurisdictions for which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Please note that not all of the investments and services mentioned are available in every state. Investors outside of the United States are subject to securities and tax regulations within their applicable jurisdictions that are not addressed on this site. Contact your local Raymond James office for information and availability.

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Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA / SIPC

Investment advisory services at the New Haven, CT office are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc.

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