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Updated on Wednesday, December 9, 2020
SIMPLE IRAs are tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts that benefit small business owners and the people who work for them. In addition, you can use the SIMPLE IRA to save for retirement if you are self-employed. Like many other retirement savings vehicles, SIMPLE IRAs are subject to annual contribution limits.
SIMPLE IRA contribution limits
The annual SIMPLE IRA contribution limits for employees and employers in 2021 are as follows:
Annual SIMPLE IRA Contribution Limits
Employees under the age of 50
Employees 50 years and older
$13,500, plus $3,000 in catch-up contributions
Employer matching contributions
Up to 3% of employee’s salary
Employer non-elective contributions
2% of the employee’s salary
SIMPLE IRA contribution limits 2020 for employees
For 2021, the amount employees may contribute to a SIMPLE IRA plan is capped at $13,500 per year. This is the same as the 2020 limit but an increase from 2019’s limit of $13,000, and an even bigger leap from the $12,500 limit imposed from 2015 to 2018.
It’s worth noting that for employees who are also participating in other employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans, aggregate annual contributions to all plans cannot exceed $19,500 in 2021. For those 50 and older, the overall annual limit for catch-up contributions is $6,500 for 2020, for a total ceiling of $26,000.
SIMPLE IRA contribution limits 2021 for employers
If a small business owner chooses to offer a SIMPLE IRA plan, they are required to make contributions to their employees’ accounts. They may choose to either match their employees’ contributions, up to a certain limit, or make non-elective contributions.
If an employer chooses matching contributions, their match is capped at 3% of an employee’s annual compensation. While an employer can make matching contributions of less than 3%, the match cannot be less than 1% of the employee’s annual compensation — and it cannot be less than 3% for more than two out of five consecutive years.
If an employer chooses non-elective contributions, they are required to put money into their employees’ SIMPLE IRAs regardless of whether the employees themselves make contributions. With non-elective contributions, the employer must make fixed contributions of 2% of their employees’ compensation. For 2021, the maximum amount of an employee’s total compensation that can be considered for calculating a non-elective contribution is capped at $295,000, up from 2020’s cap of $285,000.
What are the contribution deadlines for a SIMPLE IRA?
Employers are required to deposit their employees’ SIMPLE IRA contributions within 30 days after the end of the month in which those contributions were withheld. Employers are required to make their matching or non-elective SIMPLE IRA contributions by their tax return filing deadline, including extensions.
For people who are self-employed, the deadline for depositing SIMPLE IRA contributions for a calendar year is 30 days after the end of year, or Jan. 30.
SIMPLE IRA contribution limits vs. Roth contribution limits
While SIMPLE IRA contributions are capped at an annual limit of $13,500, annual Roth IRA contribution limits are much lower. For 2021, Roth IRA contributions are capped at $6,000, with an additional $1,000 allowed for catch-up contributions for those 50 and older.
Another differentiating factor of Roth IRAs is that they have income phaseout limits. Depending on how much you make, you may be limited to how much you can contribute or whether you can contribute at all. For 2021, single filers cannot contribute to a Roth IRA if they make more than $140,000, and if married and filing jointly, you’re only able to contribute if you earn less than $208,000.
Can you contribute to both a SIMPLE IRA and a Roth IRA?
You can contribute the maximum allowed amounts to both a SIMPLE IRA and a Roth IRA, as their contribution limits are not cumulative. In fact, most financial advisors recommend you max out both your SIMPLE IRA and Roth IRA if you can afford to do so, as they offer different tax benefits.
While SIMPLE IRA contributions are made pre-tax, and therefore lower your taxable income, your Roth IRA contributions are made with after-tax dollars, so qualified distributions are tax-free.
“Advisors talk about diversification all the time, and usually they are talking about stocks and bonds,” said Gregory Kurinec, a certified financial planner with Bentron Financial Group in Downers Grove, Ill. “But investors will want to diversify their accounts into different tax categories as well. By having a combination of pre-tax (SIMPLE IRA), after-tax advantage (Roth IRA) and non-qualified, this will allow the investor to pick and choose which account to take funds from to best impact their tax situation.”
What is a SIMPLE IRA?
A SIMPLE IRA is an effective retirement savings match plan, especially for small business owners. SIMPLE IRAs are available to small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.
SIMPLE IRAs require employers to make contributions on behalf of their employees, either up to 3% of their employee’s compensation as an employer match or a flat 2% of the employee’s compensation.
As with most financial products, when it comes to saving for your golden years, a SIMPLE IRA is just one of the many options available to you. Explore all of the options at your disposal when deciding how to build your nest egg.