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401K/Keogh/SEP plans

401(k) Plan

A qualified retirement plan available to eligible employees of companies. 401(k) plans allow eligible employees to defer taxation on a specific percentage of their income that is to be put toward retirement savings; taxes on this deferred income and on any earnings the account generates are deferred until the funds are withdrawn—normally in retirement. Employers may match part or all of an employee’s contributions. Employees may be responsible for investment selections and enjoy the direct tax savings.

Keogh Plan

A tax deferred pension plan available to self-employed individuals or unincorporated businesses for retirement purposes. A Keogh plan can be set up as either a defined-benefit or defined-contribution plan, although most plans are defined contribution. Contributions are generally tax deductible up to 25% of annual income with a limit of $47,000 (as of 2007). Keogh plan types include money-purchase plans (used by high-income earners), defined-benefit plans (which have high annual minimums) and profit-sharing plans (which offer annual flexibility based on profits).  Also known as an HR(10) plan, Keogh plans can invest in the same set of securities as 401(k)s and IRAs, including stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit and annuities.

SEP Plan

An SEP is a retirement plan established by employers, including self-employed individuals (sole proprietorships or partnerships). The SEP is an IRA-based plan to which employers may make tax-deductible contributions on behalf of eligible employees, including the business owner. The employer is allowed a tax deduction for plan contributions, which are made to each eligible employee's SEP IRA on a discretionary basis.