Can I Contribute to a Sep Ira and 401k

If you have access to both a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and a 401(k) plan through your employer, you may wonder whether you can contribute to both. The answer is yes, in most cases. However, there are some important rules to be aware of. First, you can only contribute to a SEP IRA if you are self-employed or own a business. Second, the total amount you can contribute to both a SEP IRA and a 401(k) is limited to the annual contribution limits set by the IRS. For 2023, the SEP IRA contribution limit is $66,000, and the 401(k) contribution limit is $22,500 ($30,000 if you are age 50 or older). If you contribute more than the allowable limit to either account, you may have to pay taxes and penalties on the excess contributions.

SEP IRA Eligibility and Contribution Limits

A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA is a retirement savings plan available to self-employed individuals, including sole proprietors, partners, and S corporation owners. SEP IRAs offer tax-advantaged savings, allowing individuals to save for retirement on a pre-tax basis.

To be eligible for a SEP IRA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be self-employed and have net self-employment income
  • Have a principal place of business in the United States

SEP IRA contribution limits are based on your net self-employment income and are set annually by the IRS. For 2023, the contribution limit is:

Income TypeContribution Limit
Net self-employment incomeUp to 25% of net income, or $66,000 ($73,500 for those age 50 or over)

401(k) Plan Eligibility and Contribution Limits

Both 401(k) and SEP IRAs are popular retirement savings plans. However, there are some key differences between the two plans, including eligibility and contribution limits.


To be eligible to contribute to a 401(k) plan, you must be an employee of a company that offers the plan. Most employers with more than 20 employees are required to offer a 401(k) plan. However, some smaller employers may also offer 401(k) plans.

There are no eligibility requirements to contribute to a SEP IRA. Anyone can open a SEP IRA, regardless of their employment status.

Contribution Limits

The maximum amount that you can contribute to a 401(k) plan in 2020 is $19,500. If you are age 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $6,500 in catch-up contributions.

The maximum amount that you can contribute to a SEP IRA in 2020 is $57,000. This includes both your contributions and your employer’s contributions. If you are age 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $6,000 in catch-up contributions.

Contribution Limit401(k) PlanSEP IRA
Employee Contributions$19,500$57,000
Employer Contributions25% of compensation$57,000
Catch-up Contributions (age 50 or older)$6,500$6,000

Comparing SEP IRA and 401(k) Plans

For self-employed individuals and small business owners, contributing to a retirement plan is essential for long-term financial security. Two common retirement plans for such individuals are Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA and 401(k) plans. Understanding the differences between these plans is crucial to make informed decisions about retirement savings.

Contribution Limits

  • SEP IRA: For 2023, the contribution limit is the lesser of 25% of net self-employment income or $66,000 (including employer contributions).
  • 401(k): For 2023, the employee contribution limit is $22,500, while the employer contribution limit is $66,000.


  • SEP IRA: Self-employed individuals with net self-employment income.
  • 401(k): Employers with at least one employee (including the owner).


  • SEP IRA: Employee contributions are always vested (100% ownership).
  • 401(k): Vesting schedules vary depending on the plan, but employee contributions are usually vested immediately.

Availability of Loan Options

  • SEP IRA: Loans are not available.
  • 401(k): Loans may be available, depending on the plan’s provisions.

Employer Contributions

  • SEP IRA: The employer (business owner) must contribute equally for all eligible employees on a non-discriminatory basis.
  • 401(k): Employers can make matching contributions, profit-sharing contributions, or both.

Additional Features

  • SEP IRA: Simpler to set up and administer than a 401(k).
  • 401(k): Allows for a wider range of investment options and more customization.
FeatureSEP IRA401(k)
Contribution Limit (2023)25% of net self-employment income (up to $66,000)$22,500 (employee) + $66,000 (employer)
EligibilitySelf-employed individualsEmployers with at least one employee
VestingEmployee contributions always vestedVesting schedules vary
Loan OptionsNot availableMay be available
Employer ContributionsMust contribute equally for all eligible employeesMatching contributions, profit-sharing, or both
Additional FeaturesSimple to set up and administerWider range of investment options, more customization

Tax Implications of Retirement Contributions

Understanding the tax implications of retirement contributions is crucial for informed decision-making. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown:

401(k) Contributions

  • Pre-tax contributions (Traditional 401(k)): Reduce your current taxable income, resulting in lower taxes today.
  • Withdrawals in retirement are taxed as ordinary income.
  • Roth 401(k) contributions: Made with after-tax dollars and grow tax-free. Withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

SEP IRA Contributions

  • Employer-funded: Tax-deductible for the business, reducing business income.
  • Employee contributions: Made on a pre-tax basis, reducing their taxable income.
  • Withdrawals in retirement are taxed as ordinary income.

Contribution Limits

Retirement Account2023 Contribution Limit
Traditional and Roth 401(k)

$22,500 ($30,000 for ages 50 and older)


Lower of 25% of net self-employment income or $66,000 ($73,500 for ages 50 and older)

Other Tax Considerations

The following additional factors can impact the tax treatment of retirement contributions:

  • RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions): Minimum amounts that must be withdrawn from retirement accounts starting at age 72, and these withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.
  • Early Withdrawals: Withdrawals before age 59½ may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty, in addition to ordinary income taxes.
  • Retirement Account Rollovers: Rolling over funds from one retirement account to another can preserve tax-advantaged status and avoid tax liabilities.

Well, there you have it, folks! Whether you’re a 401(k) veteran or just getting started with IRAs, I hope this article helped you navigate the waters of retirement planning. Remember, every little bit you save for your future counts. So, keep on contributing, and may your golden years be filled with financial security and relaxation. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check back later for more money-saving tips and retirement advice. Cheers!