Owner Only Plans


Business owners seeking even larger contributions may wish to consider Cash Balance.

Benefits of Cash Balance

Cash Balance Plans are geared to allow business owners contribute $200,000 or more annually and maximize retirement savings and tax deductions.

Larger Contributions

Cash Balance Plans may allow business owners to contribute in excess of $200,000 in annual contributions and over $250,000 when paired with a SOLO 401(k) Plan.

Maximum Tax Savings

A $150,000 contribution to a cash balance plan would result in annual tax savings of over $50,000 assuming a marginal tax rate of 30% of more.

Multiple Owners

Cash Balance Plans work great for multiple owner companies and allow each owner to target their own contribution levels. Spouses can also participate.

Contribution Limits

Cash Balance Plans have much higher contributions than SEPs, SIMPLE Plans, and SOLO 401(k) Plans. For an owner-only business, the maximum contribution will vary by age of the owner as shown below.

Maximum Annual Contributions by Owner Age

  • $300,000
  • $240,000
  • $180,000
  • $120,000
  • $60,000
  • $0
  • $19,500
  • $19,500
  • $19,500
  • $26,000
  • $26,000
  • $26,000
  • $26,000

Who is a Good Fit?

While Cash Balance Plans allow larger contributions than traditional retirement plans, there are some important considerations employers must evaluate before adopting these plans.

Steady Cash Flow

Annual contributions are based on owners’ annual compensation or earned income. To ensure maximum funding, these plans require steady earnings to be most effective. Because contributions are required, steady cash flow is needed to ensure the plan can be funded each year.

Required Contributions

Contributions to Cash Balance Plans are not discretionary and must be funded annually until the plan is terminated. In some circumstances, the plan can be amended to lower contributions, but strict IRS Regulations apply and may require the plan to remain in place for up to 10 years.

Fluctuation in Contributions

Because Cash Balance Plans are a type of Defined Benefit Plan and fund to a target retirement benefit, annual contributions may fluctuate each year. Contributions can vary because of changes to investment earnings, interest rates, and other actuarial factors.

Cash Balance Resources

Below are some resources you may find helpful in evaluating Cash Balance Plans for you or your clients.

Setup and Ongoing Costs

Costs for setting up and operating a SOLO Cash Balance Plan are listed below.

Fee Details Amount
Initial Setup Fee To set up the plan and prepare plan documents $2,000
Annual Base Fee Base fee for annual calculations, compliance, and tax filing $2,000
Per Participant Additional annual fee for each spouse or owner $250
Distributions Calculation of participant benefits and processing distribution $300

Frequently Asked Questions

It is important to be informed about how Cash Balance Plans work and the impact they will have on your business. Below is a list of frequently asked questions about Cash Balance Plan to help you evaluate them as an option for your business.

Download Frequently Asked Questions

Any business can establish a Cash Balance Plan, including sole-proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and other types of entities. Cash Balance Plans are most suitable for highly profitable businesses with stable cash flow.
With the right demographics contributions between $100,000 and $200,000 for owners or high-compensated employees can be contributed. All contributions are fully deductible to the business for federal income tax purposes.
It is important to select investments that compliment your Cash Balance Plan because these plans are designed to target a specific rate of return between 4% and 7%. Choosing investments whose return fluctuates significantly from the target rate of return can cause an increase or decrease in the required annual funding of the plan.
Yes. Cash Balance Plans work best when combined with 401k Plan. This provides for flexibility to the employees and employer in funding contributions yet allows for maximum contributions. Owners and highly compensated employees may be able to receive $50,000 plus in the 401k plan plus much higher contributions ($100,000 plus) in the Cash Balance Plan.
Yes. Although it is possible for the minimum required contribution to be zero, annual contributions are not discretionary and are required to be made to fund the plan’s stated benefit each year.
No. Cash Balance Plans can be designed with different benefit levels for targeted groups of employees or specific individuals.
A properly designed Cash Balance Plan can be a great retirement savings plan, but it has several risks that should be evaluated carefully before implementing.

  • Required Contributions – Contributions to a Cash Balance Plan are not discretionary and are required to be funded each year until the plan is terminated. IRS Regulations generally require these plans to be setup with “permanency” in mind which can require a commitment for ten or more years.
  • Fluctuation in Contributions – Several actuarial factors can cause contribution amounts to fluctuate from year-to-year. If the actual return from the plan’s investment portfolio differs significantly from the plan’s target rate of return, the required contribution can vary significantly from year-to-year. In addition, changes to the company’s employee makeup can cause contributions to fluctuate. A third factor that can cause contributions to fluctuate is an increase or decrease in interest rates. As interest rates decrease, required contributions increase and vice versa.
Contributions are required to be funded by the earlier of the filing of the company’s federal income tax return or 8 ½ months following the end of the plan year. For a calendar year corporation the latest date that the contribution can be funded is September 15th.
Contributions not funded by the due date will incur an automatic 10% non-deductible IRS excise tax. The IRS may increase the tax up to 100% at its option.
Many plans have minimum quarterly contributions that must be made; however, if your plan is 100% funded then you may be allowed to fund contributions less frequently.
A Cash Balance Plan must cover the smaller of (1) 50 employees, or (2) 40% of the group. Each employee in the plan must receive a “meaningful benefit”. According to the IRS a meaningful benefit is equal to at least ½ percent of pay at retirement for each year of service which often approximates a 2% to 3% annual employer contribution.
Compensation is generally defined as income from employee’s W-2. For sole proprietors or owners of entities taxed as a partnership, compensation is defined as the owner or partner’s Net Earnings from Self Employment (Income from Schedule C or K-1).
Yes. An enrolled actuary is required to calculate contribution range, to certify the annual valuation, and to calculate participant distribution options. The JULY enrolled actuarial team will provide these services for your plan.
Cash Balance Plans are generally required to carry two types of insurance to cover the plan:

  • PBGC Insurance – The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is the federal corporation that insures most defined benefit plans, including Cash Balance Plans. Plans are required to obtain coverage from the PBGC and premiums generally cost about $35 per participant. Some exceptions apply to this rule, including, (1) Owner-Only Plans, and (2) Professional Service Firms with 25 or fewer participants
  • Fidelity Bond Insurance – Plans are required to obtain Fidelity Bond Coverage in theamount of 10% of plan assets with a maximum of $500,000. This policy is to protect against fraud or dishonesty. Owner-Only Plans are exempt.
The plan generally expresses retirement benefits in the form of a lifetime annuity at retirement, but lump sum payment options are also permitted.
Yes. Any vesting schedule can be chosen as long as participants are fully vested after 3 years.
Forfeitures of unvested benefits reduce future employer contributions. They are not reallocated among the participant’s hypothetical account balance.
It is possible to amend the plan to reduce or freeze benefits (and contributions) in any given year; however, action must be taken early in the year to make the change effective for the year in question. Once participants have worked 1,000 hours during the year, they are generally entitled to benefits at the higher level.
Defined Benefit plans, including cash balance plans, are required to satisfy a Permanence Requirement. IRS guidance states that a DB plan may be terminated for a legitimate business reason such as:

  • Business restructuring, such as a merger, change in stock ownership, or bankruptcy reorganization,
  • A change in law affecting qualified plans,
  • The substitution of another plan,
  • Financial Hardship.

Apart from these reasons IRS has issued guidance stating that they interpret 10 years as satisfying the permanence requirement. Some believe a shorter timeline could be permanent in some situations. Because of the fact that the only written guidance states 10 years, if you anticipate maintaining your plan for a shorter time we recommend that before adopting the plan you consider discussing this with your attorney to the extent you consider appropriate or necessary.
Plans should only be amended to increase or decrease the benefits and contributions for valid economic reasons. As a result, plan sponsors with unpredictable cash flow and profits should carefully consider adopting these plans to avoid running afoul of this rule. If valid economic reasons exist, the plan can be amended.
The annual participant statement for each participant will show the beginning balance, contribution credit, interest credit, distributions, and ending balance. It will also show the vested portion of the participant’s benefit.