by Phoebe Chongchua
The Solo 401(k) is not the most common method for investing in real estate but it is perhaps the best kept secret.
“It is a powerful tool that most people don’t know about but should. There are at least four distinct advantages over an IRA (Individual Retirement Account),” says Jeff Moormeier co-founder of IRA Association of America, an alternative investment educational institution.
Moormeier teaches a program to real estate agents, CPAs, and investors on investing using the Solo 401(k). He says the advantages make this method of investing superior to a standard IRA.
He lists the following as the top reasons to set up a Solo 401(k) plan.
- You can get money into a Solo 401(k) plan faster than IRA or SEP/IRA. ·
- You can use mortgage financing as leverage without triggering Unrelated Business Taxable Income.
- You can defer income into a Tax Free Roth account, inside the Solo 401(k).
Getting money into a Solo 401(k) plan faster is a huge benefit. Let’s use a scenario to show the actual numbers: You have $100,000 of earned income, and you operate your business as a corporation with no employees.
“The maximum profit-sharing plan is 25% of earned income, which amounts to $25,000. Plus the maximum salary deferral is $15,000 and if you are over the age of 50 you may defer an extra $5,000. This is called a catch-up provision. In this example the total new money deposited into the Solo 401(k) is $45,000,” explains Moormeier.
“In the more common SEP account, the maximum contribution on the same income is $25,000. There is no employee deferral or catch-up provision in a SEP. The difference is $20,000 per year of additional money that may be added to a Solo 401(k) vs. SEP,” says Moormeier.
Many people are used to contributing to an IRA or a 401(k) plan, but not as many understand that they can actually have a 401(k) that can buy investment real estate with the money. In addition, you are able to borrow on a non-recourse basis to finance the purchase, thereby creating leverage in your retirement account. If you have leveraged property in an IRA there is a tax known as Unrelated Business Taxable Income. When the same transaction transpires in a Solo 401(k) this tax doesn’t apply.
“Now, what I am about to tell you, in my opinion, is far and away the greatest tax benefit the government has ever given us — as of January or February of this year the $15,000 salary deferral and the $5,000 catch-up provision can now go into a Roth account inside of this 401(k) plan and grow tax free. Tax free verses tax deferred growth is a monumental benefit to the Solo 401(k)” explains Moormeier.
He says the current Roth contributions have income limits.
“In other words if you make too much money you are unable to contribute to a Roth IRA. As of now regardless of your income, you are able to contribute to a Roth inside a Solo 401(k),” says Moormeier.
The IRA Association of America, online at iraaa.org, is where you can get the help you need to start a Solo 401(k) plan. Moormeier and co-founder Jeff Nabers have joined together to help people understand and make use of Solo 401(k) investing.
“We’ve created a company that helps you think. Quite frankly, there just aren’t a lot of tools out there to help people keep it all straight,” says Moormeier.
“We now offer a turnkey 401(k) package. We handle everything including determining eligibility, establishing the administration paperwork, opening a bank account, and handling your rollovers,” says Jeff Nabers, founder of IRAAA.
This 401(k) package will also soon be available directly through the many local IRAAA branches opening in early 2007. Remember, if you plan to have the Solo 401(k) plan help you by reducing your taxable income, then you will need to establish your plan by December 31 in order to claim a 2006 tax deduction. In 2006, if you are over the age of 50 you can contribute up to $49,000 for each participant, and jointly you and your spouse can deduct up to $98,000. If you are under the age of 50 you can contribute up to $44,000 for each participant, and jointly you and your spouse can deduct up to $88,000.
Phoebe is writer, speaker, and author. She is the Director of Business Development for Quality Service Certification and a trainer in customer service for the real estate industry. She is a Realtor with The Guiltinan Group, a division of Prudential California Realty.
Her articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, and Rancho Santa Fe Review in San Diego. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. She is also the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success available atBarnes&Noble.com, Amazon.com, and at PhoebeChongchua.com.