Frequently Asked Questions about the Uni-K Plan®

Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their financial, legal, tax and other appropriate advisers before making any investment or financial decisions or purchasing any financial, securities or investment-related product or service, including any product or service described in these materials. Amundi Pioneer does not provide investment advice or investment recommendations.

If I start my business during the year, can I set up my plan immediately?

Yes. You can start contributing immediately. The Uni-K Plan® must be established no later than the last day of the business's tax year.

Can I change to a Uni-K Plan if I already sponsor a plan for my business?

Yes. Uni-K can accept transfers or rollovers from your current plan, but the steps you need to take depend on the type of plan you own and whether you have funded it for the current tax year. Generally, profit sharing plan owners can amend their plans into a Uni-K while money purchase plan owners must terminate their plans first. SIMPLE IRA owners who have made contributions for the current year cannot start up a Uni-K until the following year. And SEP owners may be able to establish a Uni-K for the current year, depending on the type of SEP you have adopted. Check with your advisor or call Amundi Pioneer for more information.

If I own multiple businesses, is the Uni-K Plan® right for me?

Maybe. If you have ownership in more than one business and the businesses are considered to be under common control as defined by the IRS, then your businesses are viewed as a single entity for retirement plan purposes. This means that you must include all employees when setting up a plan and the Uni-K Plan® is designed for owner-only businesses. Consult your tax advisor to determine if the Uni-K Plan® is appropriate for your situation.

If I own multiple businesses, do I need to consider all employees in the Uni-K?

If you are the sole owner of more than one business, you will need to consider all of your employees when setting up a Uni-K Plan®. You may select to exclude employees who work less than 1,000 hours per year on the Uni-K Plan® Adoption Agreement. If you have employees that work more than 1,000 hours per year you should consider another plan for your business, as Uni-K is not an appropriate solution.

Depending on your ownership interest or affiliations with multiple businesses, the businesses may be considered under common control as defined by the IRS. This means that all employees must be considered when setting up a retirement plan. See “Control Group” for additional information on "controlled group" situations.

Controlled Group

A controlled group exists when there is a "parent-subsidiary" group with at least 80% stock ownership. A controlled group also exists when there is a "brother-sister" group in which the same five or fewer people own 80% or more of the stock of each corporation, and together own more than 50% of the value of the voting stock of each corporation.

A controlled group can also exist if one or more of the businesses are unincorporated. For example, ownership in a partnership is based on ownership of a capital or profits interest in the partnership. For a sole proprietorship, ownership is attributed 100% to the owner of the business.

Here are two additional questions to ask your client. If the answer is "yes" to either it may also result in aggregating the businesses for retirement plan purposes-even if the percentage tests described above are not met.

  1. Are services being provided between any of the entities?
  2. Is either entity a Management Corporation?

 

As rules regarding controlled groups and affiliated service organizations are complex; please contact a tax advisor for additional information. This information should not be the sole resource for determining business aggregation for retirement plan purposes.

Do I need to include part-time employees in the plan?

You may exclude any employee who works fewer than 1,000 hours per year.

Do I have to make contributions into the plan each year?

No. You have the flexibility to decide from year to year how much to contribute - up to the legal limits.

Can I contribute to the Uni-K Plan® for my sideline business if I participate in another employer-sponsored plan?

You can contribute to the Uni-K Plan®. However, if you make salary deferral contributions to another employer's plan, you must count those amounts along with any deferrals made to your Uni-K when determining the maximum deferrals that may be contributed for the year. This aggregation is not necessary for employer contributions.

Can the employer contribution vary by participant?

No. Each owner and spouse must receive the same percentage-of-pay contribution. So if you give yourself a 25%-of-pay employer contribution, all participants must receive a 25%-of-pay contribution. This rule does not apply to salary deferral contributions. Each participant may choose how much to defer.

You may elect to have your salary deferral contributions be made on either a pre-tax or Roth basis. Use the Uni-K Remittance Form to indicate the nature of your contribution. Contact your advisor for more information.

What is the difference between an employer contribution and a salary deferral contribution?

If your business is incorporated, the employer contribution is based on your W-2 income and is contributed by the business. The maximum employer contribution is 25% of pay. It is not subject to federal income tax or Social Security (FICA) taxes at the time of contribution. The salary deferral contributions are withheld from your pay and, if pre-tax, contributions are excluded from federal income tax. Both Roth and pre-tax salary deferrals are subject to FICA. The maximum salary deferral amount for 2019 is 100% of pay up to $19,000 – or $25,000 if you are age 50 or older. Your business receives a tax deduction for both salary deferral and employer contributions. Note: Your annual contributions to Uni-K Plan® cannot exceed the lesser of $56,000 or 100% of pay ($62,000 if you are age 50 or older).

If your business is unincorporated, the employer and salary deferral contributions are based on your net earned income. Pre-tax contributions are not subject to federal income tax, but are subject to self-employment taxes (SECA). You receive a tax deduction for both salary deferral and employer contributions on your Form 1040.

When must contributions be made in order to take a deduction for a given year?

Employer contributions must be made by the business tax filing deadline plus extensions.

Generally, employee contributions (salary deferrals) should be deposited by the earliest date on which they can reasonably be segregated from the employer’s general assets, but no later than the 15th business day following the month in which they are withheld from pay or business income. There are varying interpretations concerning how this general rule applies with regards to salary deferral contributions made on behalf of unincorporated business owners. Accordingly, unincorporated business owners are advised to seek guidance from a competent attorney or a qualified tax advisor when determining the date by which salary deferral contributions should be remitted.

What are my administrative responsibilities?

Since your plan covers only owners, spouses, children and other qualifying family members, your administrative requirements are minimal. In addition to remitting contributions to the plan, the IRS requires an annual filing of the Form 5500-series. Generally, no filing is required for the year until total plan assets exceed $250,000 (or you terminate the plan (regardless of plan size)).

Form 5500-series filing services

Effective April 1, 2017 – Amundi Pioneer now provides an IRS Form 5500 filing service to the following plans:

  • Uni-K Plans® with a total plan value exceeding $250,000 on December 31st of the preceding calendar year:
    • Participants in Uni-K Plans® with total plan assets exceeding $250,000* - will incur an additional $25 administration fee for preparation of the IRS Form 5500-series. (Note: this service is effective with the 2017 filing year)
  • Uni-K Plans® that fully terminate (Plan Termination) during the year will receive signature-ready IRS Form 5500-series.

The signature-ready form will be made available to the Plan Sponsor 30-days prior to the IRS filing deadline.

What happens if my business grows and I hire employees?

The Uni-K Plan® is designed for businesses that employ only owners, spouses, children and other qualifying family members. Additional IRS requirements must be met if the plan includes employees. If you hire any full-time employees (employees who work over 1,000 hours per year) who are not co-owners of the business, the Uni-K Plan® will no longer be suitable for your business when those employees become eligible to participate in the plan. You should consult with a qualified tax advisor if your business circumstances change.

Amundi Pioneer offers a broad array of retirement plans designed for businesses with employees, including age-based plans and 401(k) solutions for any size business.

Who should consider the Uni-K Plan®?

The Uni-K Plan® is designed for businesses that employ only owners, their spouses, children and other qualifying family members. Additional IRS requirements must be met if the plan includes employees. If you hire any full-time employees (employees who work over 1,000 hours per year) who are not co-owners of the business, the Uni-K Plan® will no longer be suitable for your business when those employees become eligible to participate in the plan. You should consult with a qualified tax advisor if your business circumstances change.

Can a business with multiple partners establish a Uni-K Plan®?

It depends. As long as each partner owns more than 5% of the business, the business would qualify for Uni-K since all partners (and other qualifying family members) would be considered "highly compensated employees", thereby avoiding non-discrimination tests and other issues that affect plans with “rank and file” employees.

Can I establish a Uni-K Plan® if I have leased employees?

Leased employees may be excluded if they work for the business less than 1,000 hours per year. Full-time leased employees may also be excluded if they are covered by a safe harbor plan of the leasing organization and if they do not constitute more than 20 percent of the business owner's non-highly compensated employee (NHCE) workforce [IRC § 414(n)(5)].

Note the requirement-"that they do not constitute more than 20 percent of the recipient's non-highly compensated workforce". If the leased employees do not constitute more than 20 percent of the recipient's NHCE workforce this means that there are other NHCEs to consider and therefore Uni-K would not be an appropriate retirement plan.

What is a "safe harbor plan" as mentioned in the previous question?

Generally, a safe harbor plan is a money purchase plan sponsored by the leasing organization that meets all of the following requirements:

  1. The plan provides for immediate participation;
  2. Contributions are allocated at a rate of at least 10 percent of compensation;
  3. Contributions are given to an individual whether or not the individual is employed by the leasing organization on the last day of the plan year and regardless of the number of hours of service; and
  4. The plan provides for immediate vesting.

 

[IRC § 414(n)(5); Prop Treas Reg § 1.414(n)-2(f)(1)]

What is considered income for purposes of making contributions to a Uni-K Plan®?

Only income that is considered "earned" through employment can be counted as compensation for contribution purposes. You cannot make a contribution based on passive income.

Is the interest from a participant loan tax deductible?

Interest is not deductible for participant loans to "key employees" which include owners spouse, children and other qualifying family members employed by the business. Section 72(p)(3)(A) of the Code disallows a deduction for interest paid on plan loans to key employees. [Other reference points are G.C.M. 39753 and Private Letter Ruling 8933018]

Provided that the terms of the loan are satisfied. Failure to repay the loan according to the terms may result in its being treated as a deemed distribution and, if under age 59½, being subject to a 10% federal tax penalty.

If a business owner makes a 2018 tax year contribution to a SEP-IRA, can they also fund a Uni-K for 2018? And if so, what is the maximum contribution into Uni-K?

The answer depends on the type of SEP the business owner has adopted. For example, if the SEP is a "prototype" plan, then they may fund a Uni-K and a SEP in the same tax year. Keep in mind that the aggregation rules don't permit the business owner to contribute two plans than they are able to fund into the Uni-K Plan® alone. So if they fund a 15% of pay employer contribution into the SEP, they may also fund an additional 10% of pay employer contribution plus salary deferral contributions into the Uni-K (Maximum contribution for 2018: $55,000, $61,000 if age 50 or older.).

If the business owner had adopted a model SEP (e.g. IRS Form 5305-SEP), they would not be able to fund the Uni-K for 2017, as this plan type does not permit funding to another plan in the same tax year. And of course, once the business owner is eligible to establish a Uni-K, they can roll the SEP into it and consolidate assets.

Can a business owner set up a Uni-K for the 2018 tax year, even if they make their 2017 SEP contribution during 2018?

Absolutely. This scenario makes for a great Uni-K prospect. A business owner makes his 2017 SEP contribution (by the business owner's tax filing deadline plus extensions) and establishes a Uni-K for 2018 and then, if they choose, they can roll over the SEP assets into the Uni-K.

If the business owner had adopted a model SEP (e.g. IRS Form 5305-SEP), they would not be able to fund the Uni-K for 2018, as this plan type does not permit funding to another plan in the same tax year. And of course, once the business owner is eligible to establish a Uni-K, they can roll the SEP into it and consolidate assets.

Are a business owner's Uni-K assets protected from creditors if they declare bankruptcy?

It depends. Qualified plans-including 401(k), profit sharing and money purchase plans - that cover employees are subject to ERISA, which protects plan assets from creditors.

If a qualified plan covers only participants who are owners (including the spouse, children and other qualifying family members employed by the business) the plan is not given ERISA protection. Instead the plan would be subject to state law. In many cases the courts have concluded that plan assets are exempt from creditors provided that the IRS has not disqualified the plan. And, the courts have taken it one step further and concluded that they do not have to step into the shoes of the IRS to make this determination. If the business owner had adopted a model SEP (e.g. IRS Form 5305-SEP), they would not be able to fund the Uni-K for 2016, as this plan type does not permit funding to another plan in the same tax year. And of course, once the business owner is eligible to establish a Uni-K, they can roll the SEP into it and consolidate assets.

Is a fiduciary bond required for Uni-K?

If a qualified plan covers only the owner (i.e., sole proprietor), or the owner and the owner’s spouse, children or other qualifying family members employed by the business, the qualified retirement plan is not subject to the bonding requirements. Furthermore, if a partnership's qualified retirement plan covers only partners (or partners and their spouses, children or other qualifying family members), the qualified retirement plan is not subject to the bonding requirements [DOL Reg § 2510.3-3].

Therefore, since Uni-K participants are only owners and their spouses, children or other qualifying family members, bonding is not required.

Can a business owner who adopts a Uni-K take advantage of the new plan tax credit?

The maximum credit is up to 50% of the first $1,000 in plan expenses. So the maximum credit would be $500 per year for the first three years.

It is available to businesses that have not maintained any retirement plan during the past 3 years and have no more than 100 employees who received $5,000 or more in compensation during the preceding year. The other key eligibility feature is that the plan must cover at least one non-highly compensated employee.

Uni-K participants consist of only owners, their spouses, children or other qualifying family members who are considered highly compensated employees, so the business would not qualify for the credit.

I'm looking at the example on the Uni-K self-employed contribution guide and comparing it to the maximum contribution amounts in the Uni-K Sales Brochure. Why don't the figures match up for an individual who makes $125,000?

You are looking at two different scenarios. The sales brochure defines the $125,000 unincorporated income as "net business profit minus one-half of self-employment tax". The worksheet shows the $125,000 as the net profit before one-half of self-employment (SECA) tax is deducted.

We presented it this way to avoid showing such awkward numbers as $116,705-which is $125,000 of net profit adjusted for the deduction of one-half of SECA tax.

What are some of the key Internal Revenue Code (IRC) sections that make-up Uni-K?

  • §402(g) Increased the salary deferral limit to $18,500 (2018).
  • §414(v) Availability of salary deferral catch-up contributions for individuals age 50 or older: $6,000 in 2018
  • §415(c) Individual limit increases to 25% of pay, maximum $55,000 to 100% of pay, maximum $61,000 for individuals age 50 or older (2018).
  • §404(a) Increased the employer deduction limit from 15% to 25% of pay. Salary deferrals do not count towards this limit (but may be deductible).

Before investing, consider the product's investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Contact your advisor or Amundi Pioneer for a prospectus or summary prospectus containing this information. Read it carefully. To obtain a free prospectus or summary prospectus and for information on any Pioneer fund, please download it from our  literature section.

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60 State Street, Boston, MA. 02109. 
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