Defined Benefit Plan
Beacon Capital Management Advisors provides defined benefit plan services to small business owners and to corporations ranging from 1 to 1,000 employees. Defined benefit plans can be very cost effective for self employed individuals or small business owners with up to five W-2 employees.
Corporate defined benefit clients with more than five employees typically have unique needs and require more custom solutions. Corporate clients should contact us to receive a specific proposal for a Defined Benefit Plan.
Self Employed and Small Business Owners (5 or less W-2 employees)
Defined benefit pension plans are retirement plans that can offer substantial tax deductible retirement contributions and significant future retirement income to the self employed and small business owners. The Defined Benefit Plan is appropriate for those age 45 or older who wish to make tax deductible contributions in excess of the maximum limits of the Individual 401k or SEP IRA. Defined benefit plans offer substantial tax deductible retirement contributions and significant future retirement income. Depending on your age and income the annual contribution to a Defined Benefit Plan can exceed $100,000.
Defined benefit plans have greater administrative fees and more rigid annual funding requirements, but may be ideal for business owners who wish to shelter the largest percentage of their income and/or who want to make the largest retirement plan contribution permitted by IRS rules. Compared to an Individual 401k or SEP IRA, a defined benefit plan is more expensive administratively, but for the business owner who has a goal of maximizing their retirement contributions and is looking for a way to quickly increase their accumulated retirement assets, a defined benefit pension plan can be an ideal retirement plan solution. Within IRS limits, contributions into a defined benefit pension plan are 100% tax deductible.
How does a Defined Benefit Plan work?
A defined benefit plan is a qualified retirement plan in which annual contributions are made to fund a chosen level of retirement income at a predetermined future retirement date. Contributions are made according to an actuarial formula to meet the target retirement income benefit. In 2014, the annual benefit payable at retirement can be as high as $210,000 per year. As a result, annual contributions into a defined benefit plan can be even larger than $210,000 in some cases in order to meet that level of retirement income target. There are a number of factors involved with this calculation.
How are the contributions into a Defined Benefit Plan determined?
Calculating the annual dollar amount that can be contributed requires a mathematical calculation performed by an actuary involving the following factors:
- Client's age - In general, the older the client then the larger the annual contribution that can be made into the plan.
- Client's income - The calculation is based on the average of the client's highest 3 years of income. The greater the income then the greater the annual contribution can be (up to certain limits). Depending on a client's income, the annual benefit payable at retirement can be as high as $210,000 per year in 2014.
- Planned retirement age - In general, at least 5 years from the year the plan is adopted.
- Investment performance - In the years after the defined benefit plan has been established an annual actuarial calculation is made based on the performance of the investments in the plan. The actual performance of the portfolio can impact the annual contribution amount that will need to be made so therefore having a portfolio that minimizes volatility is often prudent. When a defined benefit plan is established there is an rate of return assumption that is factored into the actuarial calculation to determine the annual contribution amount that is necessary in order to fund the future retirement income benefit. Each year the actual return of the portfolio will be compared to the rate of return assumption. When the portfolio's actual return is greater than rate of return assumption then there will be a smaller required annual contribution. Conversely, when the actual return is less than the rate of return assumption then the annual contribution will need to be increased to make up the shortfall. On an annual basis, an actuary makes calculations to determine the amount needed to be contributed into the plan to ensure the future target retirement income goal is reached.
Who is a good candidate for a Defined Benefit Plan?
Defined benefit plans are ideal for clients with high earned income and are either self-employed or small business owners with 4 or less full time employees.
- Age 45 or older
- Clients who would like to maximize their retirement contributions in excess of the limits of the Individual 401k or SEP IRA.
- Clients with stable and predictable income (because of the large tax deductible funding commitment). You are obligated to make annual contributions once your plan is established. Funding a defined benefit plan involves a commitment to invest significant amounts each year for the life of the plan. Within certain IRS limits, clients can decide how much of their current income they can comfortably afford to contribute to the plan, but once this annual contribution amount is established then funding a defined benefit plan is fairly rigid and must be made annually.
Defined benefit plans may be beneficial to older employees who may feel they are behind with their accumulated savings for retirement and need (or want) to make significant contributions to accumulate assets rapidly over a relatively short period of time.
Another scenario when a defined benefit plan may be a good choice is for a dual income household, with one spouse that is self employed, and is in the fortunate position of being able to live off of one income. As a result, they may be able to afford to make a retirement contribution using a significant portion the self employed spouse's income into a defined benefit plan.
Another scenario when a defined benefit plan may be a good choice is for someone that is working full time with one employer and then has a separate self employed one person consulting business. This individual may be able to contribute a significant portion of their self employed income into a defined benefit plan.
Who is eligible for a Defined Benefit Plan?
Defined benefit plans can be broken down into two main groups.
1) Defined benefit plans for businesses with W-2 employees
Small businesses and corporations can establish defined benefit plans. Contributions are made by the company to eligible business owners and to W-2 employees based on an actuarial formula.
2) Defined benefit plans for a one person business, an owner and spouse business, or a partnership with no W-2 employees
An owner only business, an owner and spouse business and partnerships are eligible for a defined benefit plan. Independent contractors, self employed individuals and small business owners frequently setup defined benefit plans. Sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and corporations (including both subchapter S and C corporations) would qualify. You are eligible to establish a defined benefit plan for a side business even if you participate in a 401k, 403b or 457 plan through your primary employer.
A partial listing of some of the occupations that might qualify
- Financial Planners
- Graphic Designer
- Independent Corporate Director
- Independent Insurance Agent
- Manufacturer's Rep
- Mortgage Broker
- Real Estate Agent
- Software Developer
Learn more about the benefits of the Defined Benefit Plan
- Defined Benefit Plan Rules - Rules and frequently asked questions about the Defined Benefit Plan.
- Defined Benefit Plan Calculator - Use the calculator to show a comparison of how much could be contributed into a Defined Benefit Plan, Individual 401k, SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA based on your income and age.
- Defined Benefit Contribution Limits - Learn about how contribution limits are determined in a Defined Benefit Plan.
- 401k Defined Benefit Plan - In addition to having a defined benefit plan you may be able to establish a 401k. A salary deferral may allow an additional $17,500 contribution ($23,000 if age 50+) in 2014.