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A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees Individual Retirement Account, commonly known by the abbreviation "SIMPLE IRA", is a type of tax-deferred employer-provided retirement plan in the United States that allows employees to set aside money and invest it to grow for retirement. Specifically, it is a type of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that is set up as an employer-provided plan. It is an employer sponsored plan, like better-known plans such as the 401(k) and 403(b) (Tax Sheltered Annuity plans), but offers simpler and less costly administration rules, as it is not subject to ERISA and its associated regulations. Like a 401(k) plan, the SIMPLE IRA can be funded with pretax salary reduction, but those contributions are still subject to Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Unemployment Tax Act taxes. Contribution limits for SIMPLE plans are lower than for most other types of employer-provided retirement plans as compared to conventional defined contribution plans like Section 402(g), 401(k), 401(a), and 403(b) plans.
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- Only an "eligible employer" may establish a SIMPLE IRA. An eligible employer is one with no more than 100 employees. An employer who has already established a SIMPLE IRA may continue to be "eligible" for two years after crossing the 100 employee limit.
- Employees are not required to make regular IRA contributions to their SIMPLE IRA account.
- The plan requires a certain minimum contribution from the employer. The employer may either (see https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Choosing-a-Retirement-Plan-SIMPLE-IRA-Plan) match the contributions of employees dollar for dollar up to 3% of the employee's compensation (subject to certain rules that allow for lower contributions—see IRC Sec. 408) or the employer may contribute a flat 2% of compensation for each employee with at least $5,000 in compensation for the year, regardless of the amount the employee contributes.
- The employee contribution limit is $12,500 for 2015, increased from $12,000 for 2014.
- A catch-up provision is available for participants over the age of 50. The extra catch-up contribution allowed is $3,000 for 2015, as compared to $6,000 catch up available in a 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans.
- The SIMPLE plan can technically be funded with either an IRA or a 401(k). There is almost no benefit to funding it with a 401(k), since the lower contribution limits of the SIMPLE are required as is the expensive extra administration of the 401(k).
- Unlike a 401(k), a SIMPLE IRA cannot be rolled over to a Traditional IRA without a waiting period (two years from the date the employee first participated in the plan).
- SIMPLE IRAs allow for smaller contribution limits than 401(k) or Deferred Contribution Plans.
- SEP IRAs and Traditional IRAs (among other retirement plans) cannot be "rolled over" into a SIMPLE IRA.
Early withdrawal penalty
If a participant under the age of 59.5 wishes to take a distribution and it has been less than two years since their first contribution into the plan, they could be penalized up to 25% (10% if more than two years) by the Internal Revenue Service. This two-year rule applies to all distributions, including rollovers from the SIMPLE IRA. Any amount withdrawn and not rolled over, regardless of age, is also be subject to ordinary income tax for the year in which the distribution is made.
- "IRS FAQ on SIMPLE IRA Contributions". Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- "IRS Announces 2015 Pension Plan Limitations; Taxpayers May Contribute up to $18,000 to their 401(k) plans in 2015". Internal Revenue Service. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "IRS FAQ on SIMPLE IRA Contributions". Retrieved January 5, 2015.
- Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. Publication 590: Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) 2004 Pages 62–65 100 pg pdf file
- Littell, David and Tacchino, Kenn. Planning for Retirement Needs 5th ed. 2002, The American College, Bryn Mawr PA. ISBN 1-57996-039-1