How to Open Solo 401k

Opening a solo 401k is a straightforward process. Firstly, determine your eligibility based on self-employment status and income requirements. Choose a reputable custodian or financial institution that offers solo 401k accounts. Complete the account setup process and provide necessary documentation, such as proof of self-employment and income. Set up your contribution plan, determining the frequency and amount of contributions. You can also consider investment options to align with your financial goals. Regularly review and adjust your solo 401k plan as needed to maximize its benefits and ensure it meets your changing financial needs.

Choosing an Employer-Sponsored Retirement Account

When selecting an employer-sponsored retirement account, there are several factors to consider to ensure it aligns with your financial goals and retirement needs.

  • 401(k) Plan: A common choice that allows employees to make pre-tax contributions, reducing their current taxable income. Employer matching contributions may also be available.
  • 403(b) Plan: Similar to a 401(k) but specifically designed for employees of public schools and certain non-profit organizations.
  • SEP IRA: A Simplified Employee Pension plan designed for self-employed individuals and small businesses. Contributions are made by the employer solely on behalf of the employees.
  • SIMPLE IRA: Another plan for small businesses, which involves mandatory contributions from both employers and employees.

What is a Solo 401k?

A solo 401k is a retirement savings plan that is available to self-employed individuals who do not have any employees. Solo 401ks offer several advantages, including tax deductions for contributions, tax-deferred growth of investments, and the ability to make catch-up contributions.

How to Open a Solo 401k

To open a solo 401k, you will need to:

  • Choose a financial institution that offers solo 401ks.
  • Complete a solo 401k application.
  • Fund your solo 401k.

Funding Your Solo 401k

There are two ways to fund a solo 401k:

  1. Employer contributions: You can make employer contributions to your solo 401k up to the lesser of 25% of your net self-employment income or $66,000 (for 2023). Employer contributions are tax-deductible.
  2. Employee contributions: You can also make employee contributions to your solo 401k. Employee contributions are not tax-deductible, but they are made on a pre-tax basis, which means that they reduce your taxable income.

Contribution Limits

The total amount that you can contribute to your solo 401k each year is limited to $66,000 (for 2023). This limit includes both employer and employee contributions.

Investment Options

You can invest your solo 401k in a variety of investment options, including:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • ETFs
  • Real estate

Investment Fees

Most financial institutions charge fees for investing in their solo 401ks. These fees can vary depending on the type of investment option you choose and the amount of money you invest. It is important to compare the fees charged by different financial institutions before choosing one.

Investment Returns

The returns on your solo 401k investments will vary depending on the investment options you choose and the performance of the market. It is important to remember that all investments carry some risk, and you should only invest money that you can afford to lose.


Solo 401ks are tax-advantaged retirement savings plans. This means that you can deduct contributions to your solo 401k from your taxable income, and you will not pay taxes on the growth of your investments until you withdraw the money. When you withdraw money from your solo 401k, it will be taxed as ordinary income.


You can start taking withdrawals from your solo 401k without paying a penalty when you reach age 59½. However, if you withdraw money before age 59½, you will pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty. There are some exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty, such as if you become disabled or if you use the money to pay for medical expenses.

Selecting a Custodian

Choosing the right custodian is crucial for your Solo 401(k) plan. Here are key factors to consider:

  • Fees: Compare fees for account setup, annual maintenance, investment options, and transactions.
  • Investment Options: Ensure the custodian offers a wide range of investment options that align with your risk tolerance and financial goals.
  • Customer Service: Look for custodians with responsive and knowledgeable customer support.
  • Reputation: Research the custodian’s track record, financial stability, and any regulatory actions against them.
  • Technology: Consider the custodian’s online platform and mobile app for easy account management.

To assist in your decision, use the table below to compare the fees of different custodians:

CustodianAccount Setup FeeAnnual Maintenance FeeInvestment Option Fee
Fidelity$50$500.05% – 0.10%
Charles Schwab$100$500.06% – 0.10%

Solo 401k Rollovers

A Solo 401k is an excellent retirement savings vehicle for self-employed individuals and small business owners. You can contribute pre-tax funds to your plan, reducing your current income taxes. The money then grows tax-free until you retire. One of the benefits of a solo 401k is you can roll over funds from other retirement accounts.

There are two main types of rollovers: direct rollovers and indirect rollovers. A direct rollover is when the funds are transferred directly from your old retirement account to your new Solo 401k. This is the most straightforward method and ensures that your money stays invested and continues to grow tax-free.

An indirect rollover is when you receive the funds from your old retirement account, then deposit them into your Solo 401k. You have 60 days to complete an indirect rollover, or you will be subject to income taxes and penalties. If you roll over $100,000 or more via indirect rollover, the payment will be subject to a 20% mandatory withholding tax, regardless of your age, unless you meet an exception. You can avoid this withholding by having a direct rollover done.

Solo 401k Distributions

When you reach retirement age, you can start taking distributions from your Solo 401k. You must start taking distributions by April 1 of the year after you reach age 72 (70 ½ if you turned 70 ½ before January 1, 2020). If you do not take the required minimum distribution (RMD), you will be subject to a 50% penalty on the amount that you should have taken.

There are several different ways to take distributions from your Solo 401k. Below are some of the most common distribution options:

  • Lump sum distribution: You can take a lump sum distribution of your entire account balance. This is the simplest distribution option, but it can also trigger a large tax bill.
  • Period certain: You can take distributions over a period of years, such as 5 or 10 years. This can help you spread out the tax burden and avoid a large tax bill in one year.
  • Installments: You can take monthly or quarterly installments from your Solo 401k. This is a good option if you need a steady stream of income in retirement.
Distribution OptionTax Implications
Lump sum distributionTaxed as ordinary income in the year you receive it
Period certainTaxed over the period of years you choose
InstallmentsTaxed as ordinary income in the year you receive them

Thanks for taking the time to read our guide on how to open a Solo 401k! We hope you found it helpful. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. In the meantime, be sure to check back later for more financial tips and advice. We’re always adding new content to help you reach your financial goals.