How to Become a Veterinarian 6 Steps_780x440

How To Become a Veterinarian: 6 Steps

If you’re considering pursuing a career as a veterinarian, you probably have tremendous affection and compassion for animals and want to help them via medical training. That probably means you’re considering attending veterinary school. Among the questions you may be wondering about are, How long is vet school? How do I apply? How much will vet school cost, and how can I afford it?

This guide will help you understand the process for how to become a vet and how you might afford this fulfilling career.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Veterinarian?

The cost for a four-year veterinary school for in-state residents is over $200,000 while students with out-of-state tuition may pay more than $275,000, depending on the school, according to the VIN Foundation Student Debt Center.

While that’s a lot of money, getting a doctorate in veterinary medicine (DVM) can lead to a median salary of $103,260 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A vet’s salary depends on what kind of practice they go into and where they are located.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Veterinarian?

The path to becoming a vet can vary, and the length of time it takes to become a vet can vary as well. In general, most vet schools are four-year programs for a DVM. Some, however, have accelerated programs and semesters and get the work done in three years.

Those pursuing a veterinary career path might also want to factor in how long it takes to complete the prerequisites. In general, that will require students to have a bachelor’s degree, which also takes around four years to complete. If you have already completed your bachelor’s degree but didn’t take the courses required for vet school, then you may need to pick up those credits as well before you start your applications.

That said, what follows are six key steps if you are wondering how to be a veterinarian.


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6 Steps to Become a Veterinarian

The steps to becoming a veterinarian are often as follows:

Step 1: Check Off The Prerequisites

These points can help you move towards your degree as a veterinarian:

•   The Veterinary Medical College Application Service resource will show you the list of prerequisite college courses that are generally required for students applying for veterinary school. Required courses for most veterinary schools include biology, chemistry, animal sciences, and advanced math.

•   Students interested in pursuing vet school who are currently enrolled in undergrad may want to review their current course of study to be sure they are on track for vet school prerequisites.

•   Another tip is to volunteer, get an internship, or do part-time work with an animal hospital, local business, or charitable organization that helps animals. See if your college has a prevet extracurricular club that could broaden your experience and help you learn more about the field.

Getting a lot of hands-on animal experience can help build your resume and help you make sure that you’re pursuing a career path that appeals to you.

Also, know that to file your vet school application, you’ll most likely be required to submit your undergraduate transcripts and provide a reference from a college professor or professional in the animal sciences.

Step 2: Determine How to Pay for School

Before you decide on which veterinary school you want to attend, consider evaluating what savings you have to put toward vet school and estimate what you may need to borrow in student loans or fund with grants and scholarships.

It’s important to think about veterinary school costs as you begin researching schools so you have a good idea of what your veterinary school debts may look like.

According to the most recent data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average educational debt among the 82% of US veterinary college graduates who take on debt was $179,505. While vets do earn a good salary once they find employment, that is a significant sum to consider.

Working a part-time job while attending school might help offset some of the vet school costs or the amount you have to take out in loans in order to cover living expenses, but it might be challenging to balance work and school, especially as your schoolwork increases.

Recommended: Why Your Student Loan Balance Never Seems to Decrease

Step 3: Research Veterinary Schools

Once you have an idea of how much money you have to pay for vet school, research the veterinary schools in the country. You’ll likely consider the location, costs, and the types of programs offered if you’re pursuing a specialty veterinary degree.

This step can be an important part of the journey on how to become a veterinarian. As you read above, it may be more affordable to attend a vet school in your state.

Also, check that the vet school(s) you are applying to are suited to the type of vet medicine you want to practice. For example, if you’d like to pursue a career working with horses, research schools that offer equine programs.

If you plan to pursue a general DVM degree, find an accredited veterinary program that fits the criteria most important to you, such as your budget or where you want to live.

Step 4: Apply to Veterinary Schools

Check out the schools’ admissions website to determine the specific graduate school application requirements. Some pointers:

•   Most vet schools require students to submit scores for either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Some schools may also require applicants to take the Biology GRE.

•   You also might need a letter of recommendation or two, as noted above.

•   Some applications may also require a personal essay.

•   Once your application is received, there may also be an in-person interview.

Yes, the vet school application process can be involved and long. It can get expensive, too. Vet schools often charge a non-refundable application fee; many schools follow the fee structure set by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, which sets the first application fee at $227, and then each additional application fee is $124.


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Step 5: Attend Veterinary School

A three- to four-year vet med school degree often involves a few semesters of coursework, followed by clinical training and intense clinical training to gain hands-on training at one of the college’s affiliates.

Students can apply for scholarships and grants to help alleviate some of the costs of a veterinary degree. By managing your budget and minimizing extraneous expenses, you may also lower the amount of student debt you end up borrowing.

In order to practice veterinary medicine and become a veterinary, students will also need to study for and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). Generally, vet students take the exam during their senior year.

Step 6: Begin The Job Search

The experiences you had during clinical rotations can help you determine which area of veterinary medicine you want to go in. Options include private veterinary practice, vet hospital, research, education, diagnostics, or even public health with a DVM degree.

In general, it can be helpful to start looking for a job in veterinary medicine before graduating from vet school. After passing the NAVLE and graduating from school, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running if you have a job in place.

Having a job secured before you graduate may also provide peace of mind as you start thinking about student loan repayment.

The Takeaway

A career in veterinary medicine can be a rewarding one. You’re helping sick or injured animals heal, providing preventative care, and getting to interact with animals all day long. When it comes to discovering how to become a veterinarian, the process takes planning, dedication, and hard work.

Attending veterinary school can be a challenging but fulfilling journey. It’s also typically an expensive one. After graduating, refinancing student loans may be an option that can lower the loan’s interest rate, and potentially reduce the cost of borrowing in the long term. However, you may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term. Also, refinancing federal student loans means you forfeit some borrower protections, such as loan forgiveness and deferment.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


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FAQ

Where do veterinarians work?

Veterinarians work across the country and around the world in a variety of settings, such a s private clinics, animal hospitals, and zoos, or they may operate out of an office and then visit homes or ranches.

What does a veterinarian do?

A veterinarian cares for the health of animals, whether pets, livestock, or other animals. They diagnose and work to heal issues animals endure and may protect public health by doing so.

What’s the salary and job outlook for a veterinarian?

The median salary for a veterinarian is currently $103,260 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The need for vets is seen as increasing, with a projected growth of 19.4% between 2021 and 2031.

What hours do vets work?

The hours a vet will work can vary tremendously depending on a specific job, type of employment, and location. Most vets work four to five days a week, eight to 10 hours a day.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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When Do You Pay Taxes on Stocks?

Investors usually need to pay taxes on their stocks when and if they sell them, assuming they’ve accrued a capital gain (or profit) from the sale. But there are other circumstances when stock holdings may generate a tax liability for an investor, too. This is important for investors to understand so that they can plan for the tax implications of their investment strategy. Knowing how your investments could impact your taxes may better prepare you for tax season and allow you to make more informed investment decisions.

First, an important note: The following should not be considered tax advice. Below, you’ll learn about some tax guidelines, but to fully understand the implications, it’s wise to consult a tax professional.

Key Points

•   Short-term capital gains tax rates for tax years 2023-2024 range from 10% to 37% based on taxable income.

•   Long-term capital gains tax rates for tax years 2023-2024 range from 0% to 20% based on taxable income.

•   Short-term capital gains tax rates for married couples filing jointly are higher than for single individuals.

•   Long-term capital gains tax rates for married couples filing jointly are the same as for single individuals.

•   The tax rates provided are for the specified tax years and are subject to change.

Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Stocks?

Do you need to pay taxes on stocks? It depends. Typically, as mentioned, investors would need to pay capital gains taxes when they sell a stock – the sale of which triggers a taxable event. But broadly speaking, yes, investors need to pay taxes on their stock holdings. The main question and what investors need to figure out, is when do you need to pay taxes on stocks, and what other actions or incidences, besides a sale, could trigger a taxable event.

When Do You Pay Taxes on Stocks?

There are several scenarios in which you may owe taxes related to the stocks you hold in an investment account. The most well known is the tax liability incurred when you sell a stock that has appreciated in value since you purchased it. The difference in value is referred to as a capital gain. When you have capital gains, you must pay taxes on those earnings.

Capital gains even have their own special tax levels and rules. To get a sense of what you might owe after selling a stock, you’d need to check the capital gains tax rate – more on that below.

You will only owe capital gains taxes if your investments are sold for more than you paid for them (you turn a profit from the sale). That’s important to consider – especially if you’re trying to get a sense of taxes and ROI on your investments, with taxes taken into account.

There are two types of capital gains tax:

Short-term Capital Gains

Short-term capital gains tax applies when you sell an asset that you owned for less than one year, and that gained in value within that time frame. These gains would be taxed at the same rate as your typical tax bracket, so they’re important for day traders to consider.

Short-Term Capital Gains Rates for Tax Years 2023 – 2024

Single Taxable Income

Married Couple Filing Jointly Taxable Income

2023

2024

2023

2024

10% $0 – $11,000 $0 – $11,600 $0 – $22,000 $0 – $23,200
12% $11,001 – $44,725 $11,6001 – $47,150 $22,001 – $89,450 $23,201 – $94,300
22% $44,726 – $95,375 $47,151 – $100,525 $89,451 – $190,750 $94,301 – $201,050
24% $95,376 – $182,100 $100,526 – $191,950 $190,751 – $364,200 $201,051 – $383,900
32% $182,101 – $231,250 $191,951 – $243,725 $364,201 – $462,500 $383,901 – $487,450
35% $231,251 – $578,125 $243,726 to $609,350 $462,501 – $693,750 $487,451 to $731,200
37% $578,126 or higher $609,351 or higher $693,751 or higher $731,201 or higher

Long-term Capital Gains

Long-term capital gains tax applies when you sell an asset that gained in value after holding it for more than a year. Depending on your taxable income and tax filing status, you’d be taxed at one of these three rates: 0%, 15%, or 20%. Overall, long-term capital gains tax rates are typically lower than those on short-term capital gains.

Long-Term Capital Gains Rates for Tax Years 2023 – 2024

Single Taxable Income

Married Couple Filing Jointly Taxable Income

2023

2024

2023

2024

0% $0 – $44,625 $0 – $47,025 $0 – $89,250 $0 – $94,050
15% $44,626 – $492,300 $47,026 – $518,900 $89,251 – $553,850 $94,051 – $583,750
20% $492,301 or higher $518,901 or higher $553,851 or higher $583,751 or higher

Capital Losses

If you sell a stock for less than you purchased it, the difference is called a capital loss. You can deduct your capital losses from your capital gains each year, and offset the amount in taxes you owe on your capital gains.

You can also apply up to $3,000 in investment losses to offset regular income taxes.

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Tax-loss Harvesting

The process mentioned above – which involves deducting capital losses from your capital gains to secure tax savings – is called tax-loss harvesting. It’s a common technique often used near the end of the calendar year to try and minimize an investor’s tax liability.

Tax-loss harvesting is also commonly used as a part of a tax-efficient investing strategy. It may be worth speaking with a financial professional to get a better idea of whether it’s a good strategy for your specific situation.

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Taxes on Investment Income

You may have taxes related to your stock investments even when you don’t sell them. This holds true in the event that the investments generate income.

Dividends

You may receive periodic dividends from some of your stocks when the company you’ve invested in earns a profit. If the dividends you earn add up to a large amount, you may be required to pay taxes on those earnings. Each year, you will receive a 1099-DIV tax form for each stock or investment from which you received dividends. These forms will help you determine how much in taxes you owe.

There are two broad categories of dividends: qualified or nonqualified/ordinary. The IRS taxes non-qualified dividends at your regular income tax bracket. The rate on qualified dividends may be 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your filing status and taxable income. This rate is usually less than the one for nonqualified dividends, though those with a higher income typically pay a higher tax rate on dividends.

Interest Income

This money can come from brokerage account interest or from bond/mutual fund interest, as two examples, and it is taxed at your ordinary income level. Municipal bonds are an exception because they’re exempt from federal taxes and, if issued from your state, may be exempt from state taxes, as well.

Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT)

Also called the Medicare tax, this is a flat rate investment income tax of 3.8% for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income exceeds $200,000 for single filers or $250,000 for filers filing jointly. Taxpayers who qualify may owe interest on the following types of investment income, among others: interest, dividends, capital gains, rental and royalty income, non-qualified annuities, and income from businesses involved in trading of financial instruments or commodities.

Recommended: Investment Tax Rules Every Investor Should Know

When Do I Not Have to Pay Taxes on Stocks?

Again, this should first and foremost be a discussion you have with your tax professional. But there are a few situations you should know about where you often don’t pay taxes when selling a stock. For example, if you are investing through a tax-deferred retirement investment account like an IRA or a 401(k), you won’t have to pay taxes on any gains when you buy and sell stocks inside the account. However, if you were to sell stock in one of these accounts and then withdraw it, you could owe taxes on the withdrawal.

4 Strategies To Pay Lower Taxes on Stocks

If the answer to “Do you have to pay taxes on stocks?” is “yes” for your personal financial situation, then the question becomes how to pay a lower amount of taxes. Strategies can include:

Buy and Hold

Holding on to stocks long enough for dividends to become qualified and for any capital gains tax to be in the long-term category because they are typically taxed at a lower rate.

Tax-loss Harvesting

As discussed, utilizing a tax-loss harvesting strategy can help you with offsetting your capital gains with capital losses.

Use Tax-advantaged Accounts

Putting your investments into retirement accounts or other tax-advantaged accounts may help lower your tax liabilities.

Refrain From Taking Early Withdrawals

Avoiding the temptation to make early withdrawals from your 401(k) or other retirement accounts.

Taxes for Other Investments

Here’s a short rundown of the types of taxes to be aware of in regards to investments outside of stocks.

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds come in all sorts of different types, and owning mutual fund shares may involve tax liabilities for dividend income, as well as capital gains. Ultimately, an investor’s tax liability will depend on the type and amount of distribution they receive from the mutual fund, and if or when they sell their shares.

Property

“Property” is a broad category, and can include assets like real estate. The IRS looks at property all the same, however, from a taxation standpoint. In short, property is subject to capital gains taxes (not to be confused with “property taxes,” which are something else entirely. In effect, if you buy a house and later sell it for a profit, that gain would be subject to capital gains taxes.

Options

Taxes on options trading can be confusing, and tax liabilities will depend on the type of options an investor has traded. But generally speaking, capital gains taxes apply to options trading activity – it may be wise to consult with a financial professional for more details.

Investing With SoFi

For most investors, paying taxes on stocks involves paying capital gains taxes after they sell their holdings, or paying income tax on dividends. But it’s important to keep in mind that the tax implications of your investments will vary depending on the types of investments in your portfolio and the accounts you use, among other factors.

That’s why it may be worthwhile to work with an experienced accountant and a financial advisor who can help you understand and manage the complexities of different tax scenarios.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

How much do you pay taxes on stocks?

How much an investor pays in taxes on stocks depends on several factors, including any applicable capital gain, how long they held the stock, and whether they received any income from the stock, such as dividend distributions.

Do you get taxed when you sell stocks?

Yes, investors do generate a tax liability when they sell a stock in the form of capital gains taxes. If the investor has generated a capital loss as the result of a sale, they can use it to offset tax liabilities generated by other capital gains.

How do you avoid taxes on stocks?

There are several strategies that investors can use to try and avoid or minimize taxes on stocks, including utilizing a buy-and-hold strategy, opting not to take early withdrawals, and utilizing tax-advantaged accounts.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Guide to Tax-Loss Harvesting

Tax-loss harvesting enables investors to use investment losses to help reduce the tax impact of investment gains, thus potentially lowering the amount of taxes owed. While a tax loss strategy – sometimes called tax loss selling — is often used to offset short-term capital gains (which are taxed at a higher federal tax rate), tax-loss harvesting can also be used to offset long-term capital gains.

Of course, as with anything having to do with investing and taxes, tax-loss harvesting is not simple. In order to carry out a tax-loss harvesting strategy, investors must adhere to specific IRS rules and restrictions. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Tax-Loss Harvesting?

Tax-loss harvesting is a strategy that enables an investor to sell assets that have dropped in value as a way to offset the capital gains tax they may owe on the profits of other investments they’ve sold. For example, if an investor sells a security for a $25,000 gain, and sells another security at a $10,000 loss, the loss could be applied so that the investor would only see a capital gain of $15,000 ($25,000 – $10,000).

This can be a valuable tax strategy for investors because you owe capital gains taxes on any profits you make from selling investments, like stocks, bonds, properties, cars, or businesses. The tax only hits when you profit from the sale and realize a profit, not for simply owning an appreciated asset.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re opening a brokerage account for the first time, consider starting with an amount of money you’re prepared to lose. Investing always includes the risk of loss, and until you’ve gained some experience, it’s probably wise to start small.

How Tax-Loss Harvesting Works

In order to understand how tax-loss harvesting works, you first have to understand the system of capital gains taxes.

Capital Gains and Tax-Loss Harvesting

As far as the IRS is concerned, capital gains are either short term or long term:

•   Short-term capital gains and losses are from the sale of an investment that an investor has held for one year or less.

•   Long-term capital gains and losses are those recognized on investments sold after one year.

Understanding Short-Term Capital Gains Rates

The one-year mark is crucial, because the IRS taxes short-term investments at the investor’s much-higher marginal or ordinary income tax rate. There are seven ordinary tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%.

For high earners, gains can be taxed as much as 37%, plus a potential 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT), also known as the Medicare tax. That means the taxes on those quick gains can be as high as 40.8% — and that’s before state and local taxes are factored in.

Understanding Long-Term Capital Gains Rates

Meanwhile, the long-term capital gains taxes for an individual are simpler and lower. These rates fall into three brackets, according to the IRS: 0%, 15%, and 20%. Here are the rates for tax year 2023, per the IRS.

The following table breaks down the long-term capital-gains tax rates for the 2023 tax year (for taxes that are filed in 2024) by income and filing status.

Capital Gains Tax Rate

Income – Single

Married, filing separately

Head of household

Married, filing jointly

0% Up to $44,625 Up to $44,625 Up to $59,750 Up to $89,250
15% $44,626 – $492,300 $44,626 – $276,900 $59,751 – $523,050 $89,251 – $553,850
20% More than $492,300 More than $276,900 More than $523,050 More than $553,850

Source: Internal Revenue Service

So if you’re an individual filer, you won’t pay capital gains if your total taxable income is $44,625 or less. But if your income is between $44,626 to $492,300, your investment gains would be subject to a 15% capital gains rate. The rate is 20% for single filers with incomes over $492,300.

As with all tax laws, don’t forget the fine print. As noted above, the additional 3.8% NIIT may apply to single individuals with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $200,000 or married couples with a MAGI of at least $250,000.

Also, long-term capital gains from sales of collectibles (e.g, coins, antiques, fine art) are taxed at a maximum of 28% rate. This is separate from regular capital gains tax, not in addition to it.

Short-term gains on collectibles are taxed at the ordinary income tax rate, as above.

Recommended: Everything You Need to Know About Taxes on Investment Income

Rules of Tax-Loss Harvesting

The upshot is that investors selling off profitable investments can face a stiff tax bill on those gains. That’s typically when investors (or their advisors) start to look at what else is in their portfolios. Inevitably, there are likely to be a handful of other assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or different types of investments that lost value for one reason or another.

While tax-loss harvesting is typically done at the end of the year, investors can use this strategy any time, as long as they follow the rule that long-term losses apply to long-term gains first, and short-term losses to short-term gains first.

Bear in mind that although a capital loss technically happens whenever an asset loses value, it’s considered an “unrealized loss” in that it doesn’t exist in the eyes of the IRS until an investor actually sells the asset and realizes the loss.

The loss at the time of the sale can be used to count against any capital gains made in a calendar year. Given the high taxes associated with short-term capital gains, it’s a strategy that has many investors selling out of losing positions at the end of the year.

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Tax-Loss Harvesting Example

If you’re wondering how tax-loss harvesting works, here’s an example. Let’s say an investor is in the top income tax bracket for capital gains. If they sell investments and realize a long-term capital gain, they would be subject to the top 20% tax rate; short-term capital gains would be taxed at their marginal income tax rate of 37%.

Now, let’s imagine they have the following long- and short-term gains and losses, from securities they sold and those they haven’t:

Securities sold:

•   Stock A, held for over a year: Sold, with a long-term gain of $175,000

•   Mutual Fund A, held for less than a year: Sold, with a short-term gain of $125,000

Securities not sold:

•   Mutual Fund B: an unrealized long-term gain of $200,000

•   Stock B: an unrealized long-term loss of $150,000

•   Mutual Fund C: an unrealized short-term loss of $80,000

The potential tax liability from selling Stock A and Mutual Fund A, without tax-loss harvesting, would look like this:

•   Tax without harvesting = ($175,000 x 20%) + ($125,000 x 37%) = $35,000 + $46,250 = $81,250

But if the investor harvested losses by selling Stock B and Mutual Fund C (remember: long-term losses apply to long-term gains and short term losses to short term gains first), the tax picture would change considerably:

•   Tax with harvesting = (($175,000 – $150,000) x 20%) + (($125,000 – $80,000) x 37%) = $5,000 + $16,650 = $21,650

Note how the tax-loss harvesting strategy not only reduces the investor’s tax bill, but potentially frees up some money to be reinvested in similar securities (restrictions may apply there; see information on the wash sale rule below).

💡 Quick Tip: It’s smart to invest in a range of assets so that you’re not overly reliant on any one company or market to do well. For example, by investing in different sectors you can add diversification to your portfolio, which may help mitigate some risk factors over time.

Considerations Before Using Tax-Loss Harvesting

As with any investment strategy, it makes sense to think through a decision to sell just for the sake of the tax benefit because there can be other ramifications in terms of your long-term financial plan.

The Wash Sale Rule

For example, if an investor sells losing stocks or other securities they still believe in, or that still play an important role in their overall financial plan, then they may find themselves in a bind. That’s because a tax regulation called the wash sale rule prohibits investors from receiving the benefit of the tax loss if they buy back the same investment too soon after selling it.

Under the IRS wash sale rule, investors must wait 30 days before buying a security or another asset that’s “substantially identical” to the one they just sold. If they do buy an investment that’s the same or substantially identical, then they can’t claim the tax loss.

For an investment that’s seen losses, that 30-day moratorium could mean missing out on growth — and the risk of buying it again later for a higher price.

Matching Losses With Gains

A point that bears repeating: Investors must also be careful which securities they sell. Under IRS rules, like goes with like. So, long-term losses must be applied to long-term gains first, and the same goes for short-term losses and short-term gains. After that, any remaining net loss can be applied to either type of gain.

How to Use Net Losses

The difference between capital gains and capital losses is called a net capital gain. If losses exceed gains, that’s a net capital loss.

•   If an investor has an overall net capital loss for the year, they can deduct up to $3,000 against other kinds of income — including their salary and interest income.

•   Any excess net capital loss can be carried over to subsequent years and deducted against capital gains, and up to $3,000 of other kinds of income — depending on the circumstances.

•   For those who are married filing separately, the annual net capital loss deduction limit is only $1,500.

How to Use Tax-Loss Harvesting to Lower Your Tax Bill

When an investor has a diversified portfolio, every year will likely bring investments that thrive and others that lose money, so there can be a number of different ways to use tax-loss harvesting to lower your tax bill. The most common way, addressed above, is to apply capital losses to capital gains, thereby reducing the amount of tax owed. Here are some other strategies:

Tax-Loss Harvesting When the Market Is Down

For investors looking to invest when the market is down, capital losses can be easy to find. In those cases, some investors can use tax-loss harvesting to diminish the pain of losing money. But over long periods of time, the stock markets have generally gone up. Thus, the opportunity cost of selling out of depressed investments can turn out to be greater than the tax benefit.

It also bears remembering that many trades come with trading fees and other administrative costs, all of which should be factored in before selling stocks to improve one’s tax position at the end of the year.

Tax-Loss Harvesting for Liquidity

There are years when investors need access to capital. It may be for the purchase of a dream home, to invest in a business, or because of unforeseen circumstances. When an investor wants to cash out of the markets, the benefits of tax-loss harvesting can really shine.

In this instance, an investor could face bigger capital-gains taxes, so it makes sense to be strategic about which investments — winners and losers — to sell by year’s end, and minimize any tax burden.

Tax-Loss Harvesting to Rebalance a Portfolio

The potential benefits of maintaining a diversified portfolio are widely known. And to keep that portfolio properly diversified in line with their goals and risk tolerance, investors may want to rebalance their portfolio on a regular basis.

That’s partly because different investments have different returns and losses over time. As a result, an investor could end up with more tech stocks and fewer energy stocks, for example, or more government bonds than small-cap stocks than they intended.

Other possible reasons for rebalancing are if an investor’s goals change, or if they’re drawing closer to one of their long-term goals and want to take on less risk.

That’s why investors check their investments on a regular basis and do a tune-up, selling some stocks and buying others to stay in line with the original plan. This tune-up, or rebalancing, is an opportunity to do some tax-loss harvesting.

How Much Can You Write Off on Your Taxes?

If capital losses exceed capital gains, under IRS rules investors can then deduct a portion of the net losses from their ordinary income to reduce their personal tax liability. Investors can deduct the lesser of $3,000 ($1,500 if married filing separately), or the total net loss shown on line 21 of Schedule D (Form 1040).

In addition, any capital losses over $3,000 can be carried forward to future tax years, where investors can use capital losses to reduce future capital gains. This is known as a tax loss carryforward. So in effect, you can carry forward tax losses indefinitely.

To figure out how to record a tax loss carryforward, you can use the Capital Loss Carryover Worksheet found on the IRS’ Instructions for Schedule D (Form 1040).

Benefits and Drawbacks of Tax-Loss Harvesting

While tax-loss harvesting can offer investors some advantages, it comes with some potential downsides as well.

Benefits of Tax-Loss Harvesting

Obviously the main point of tax-loss harvesting is to reduce the amount of capital gains tax on profits after you sell a security.

Another potential benefit is being able to literally cut some of your losses, when you sell underperforming securities.

Tax-loss harvesting, when done with an eye toward an investor’s portfolio as a whole, can help with balancing or rebalancing (or perhaps resetting) their asset allocation.

As noted above, investors often sell off assets when they need cash. Using a tax-loss harvesting strategy can help do so in a tax-efficient way.

Drawbacks of Tax-Loss Harvesting

While selling underperforming assets may make sense, it’s important to vet these choices as you don’t want to miss out on the gains that might come if the asset bounces back.

Another of the potential risks of tax-loss harvesting is that if it’s done carelessly it can leave a portfolio imbalanced. It might be wise to replace the securities sold with similar ones, in order to maintain the risk-return profile. (Just don’t run afoul of the wash-sale rule.)

Last, it’s possible to incur excessive trading fees that can make a tax-loss harvesting strategy less efficient.

Pros of Tax-Loss Harvesting Cons of Tax-Loss Harvesting
Can lower capital gains taxes Investor might lose out if the security rebounds
Can help with rebalancing a portfolio If done incorrectly, can leave a portfolio imbalanced
Can make a liquidity event more tax efficient Selling assets can add to transaction fees

Creating a Tax-Loss Harvesting Strategy

Interested investors may want to create their own tax-loss harvesting strategy, given the appeal of a lower tax bill. An effective tax-loss harvesting strategy requires a great deal of skill and planning.

It’s important to take into account current capital gains rates, both short and long term. Investors would be wise to also weigh their current asset allocation before they attempt to harvest losses that could leave their portfolios imbalanced.

All in all, any strategy should reflect your long-term goals and aims. While saving money on taxes is important, it’s not the only rationale to rely on for any investment strategy.

The Takeaway

Tax loss harvesting, or selling off underperforming stocks and then potentially getting a tax reduction for the loss, can be a helpful part of a tax-efficient investing strategy.

There are many reasons an investor might want to do tax-loss harvesting, including when the market is down, when they need liquidity, or when they are rebalancing their portfolio. It’s an individual decision, with many considerations for each investor — including what their ultimate financial goals might be.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

Is tax-loss harvesting really worth it?

When done carefully, with an eye toward tax efficiency as well as other longer-term goals, tax-loss harvesting can help investors save money that they can invest for the long term.

Does tax-loss harvesting reduce taxable income?

Yes. The point of tax-loss harvesting is to reduce income from investment gains (profits). But also when net losses exceed gains, the strategy can reduce your taxable income by $3,000 per year.

Can you write off 100% of investment losses?

It depends. Investment losses can be used to offset a commensurate amount in gains, thereby lowering your potential capital gains tax bill. If there are still net losses that cannot be applied to gains, up to $3,000 per year can be applied to reduce your ordinary income. Net loss amounts in excess of $3,000 would have to be carried forward to future tax years.


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Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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Can You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Taxes?

Tax Day appears dependably every year and, ideally, you don’t end up owing the IRS money. Or if you do, hopefully you can easily pay your taxes. But that’s not always the case. If you do end up owing money to the IRS after filing your taxes, you may have options. Of course, you can dip into your emergency fund, but if you don’t have one yet, there are other options available for borrowing money when you’re in a pinch.

Everyone’s financial situation is different, so there’s not one right answer for covering your tax bill. We’ll go through the pros and cons of using a credit card, an IRS payment plan, or even a personal loan to pay your tax bill.

We should, of course, mention that this article is a broad overview of this matter. It’s always a good idea to consult a licensed tax professional for questions and help with tax-related matters.

Can I Get a Loan to Pay Taxes?

You may be able to get a loan for taxes you owe as long as you can qualify for a loan with the lender you choose. If you can qualify for a loan, you may want to consider whether it’s the right choice for your financial situation or if there may be a different option that works better for you.


💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. SoFi personal loans come with no-fee options, and no surprises.

What Is a Tax Loan?

A loan for taxes is a personal loan that is used to pay taxes owed to the IRS. The borrower receives the funds in a lump sum and spends the personal loan funds to pay their tax debt.

When looking for a lender that does tax loans, you might consider traditional banks, credit unions, or online lenders, among other financial institutions.

Recommended: How to Apply for a Personal Loan

How Does a Tax Loan Work?

If a taxpayer does not have the funds to pay the taxes they owe the IRS, one option to pay the debt is to borrow money to do so. Often, this is in the form of a personal loan, which can be either secured or unsecured. After receiving the loan proceeds, the borrower pays the IRS and begins making regular installment payments to the lender.

How to Qualify for Tax Loan

Qualifying for a tax loan is like qualifying for a personal loan intended to pay for any other expense.

Lenders will look at an applicant’s credit score, employment history, income, other debt, and possibly other lender-specific criteria. Generally, the more creditworthy an applicant is, the more favorable their loan terms and interest rate.

There are a variety of lenders who offer personal loans, so if you don’t qualify at one, you might consider looking at other places to get a personal loan.

Reasons For Tax Refund Loans

If you’re getting a tax refund, you might want the money sooner than the IRS sends it to you. For that reason, you might consider getting a tax refund loan. Also called a refund advance loan (RAL), this type of loan is a short-term loan based on the amount of tax refund you are expecting.

RALs are often offered by your tax preparation service right after you file. Similar to other loans, the interest and fees for a tax refund loan will vary by provider.

Reasons Against Tax Refund Loans

The key word in “tax refund loan” is loan — a debt. There are considerable reasons not to use this option to get an anticipated tax refund amount quickly.

•   While some tax preparers will offer tax refund loans without any interest or fees, these loans often come with costs.

•   Even if your tax refund is smaller than expected, you still have to repay the full loan amount, including any interest and fees charged by the lender.

•   If the IRS denies, delays, or garnishes your tax refund to pay another debt, you still owe the RAL — including any interest and any fees charged by the lender.

•   Interest rates on RALs offered by payday lenders tend to be high, with APRs sometimes 10 times higher than average credit card interest rates.

Filing your taxes electronically and getting your tax refund, if you’re getting one, via direct deposit generally results in you getting your money faster, often in less than 21 days.

What Happens if You Can’t Pay Your Taxes?

If you owe taxes, you may not have enough cash on hand to make that payment to the IRS, particularly if it’s a large amount. Paying a tax debt in full is ideal, but there are options if you cannot do that.

Options to Pay Tax Debt

IRS Payment Plans

The IRS offers payment plans and the potential for an “offer in compromise,” which may allow you to settle your debt for less than you owe if paying in full would create financial hardship. In some instances, you may also be able to temporarily delay collection until your financial situation improves. Depending on your situation, there can also be set-up fees, application fees, interest, and penalties that continue to accrue, increasing the amount you owe until it’s paid in full.

Credit Cards

Another option is to charge your tax expense to a credit card. The IRS charges a processing fee , which varies depending on the payment system you choose, if you pay with a credit card.

If you fail to pay off your credit card balance when it’s due, interest will accrue until the balance is paid in full. If you qualify for a credit card with a zero-percent introductory period and pay the full amount before the promotional period ends, you could pay your taxes with a credit card without incurring any interest charges.

Loved Ones

Asking a friend or family member for a loan for taxes is an option some people consider. Borrowing from someone you know generally means you won’t have to undergo a credit check. So if you don’t have great credit but are able to repay a loan, this may be an acceptable option. A close friend or family member who is confident you’ll repay the loan may not charge you interest, or charge a lower percentage rate than you might qualify for with a bank or other lender.

If you do choose to borrow money from friends or family, be clear about expectations from the beginning. For example, setting up a repayment plan could lessen the chance for miscommunication and hurt feelings.

Payday Loans

Payday loans are high-cost, short-term loans for small amounts that are often made to people who have bad or nonexistent credit. Unfortunately, this borrowing option often works in the best interest of the lender, not the borrower.

Interest rates on payday loans are much higher than other types of loans, sometimes up to 400% APR. Even using a credit card, with their relatively high-interest rates, is generally a better option than a payday loan.

The repayment term for a payday loan is small — typically, the loan needs to be repaid with the borrower’s next payday. If your tax bill is too large to pay by the time the payday loan is due, the loan may need to be renewed, adding additional fees and accruing more interest on the initial loan balance. This strategy could lead to a cycle of debt that is difficult to break.

Lines of Equity or Credit

Whereas a loan lets you borrow a set amount of money in one lump sum, a line of credit (LOC) gives you a maximum amount of credit from which you can borrow, repay, and borrow again, up to the credit limit. You make at least a minimum payment each month toward your balance due. LOCs can be secured or unsecured — a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is an example of a secured LOC, using your home as collateral.

One advantage to a LOC is the typically lower interest rates they offer compared to credit cards. However, interest rates on a LOC are often variable and can rise over the life of the loan. A drawback to a HELOC is that if you can’t repay the loan, you could lose your home.

Personal Loans

You can apply for either a secured or unsecured personal loan, the former requiring collateral to back the loan. A secured loan may have a lower interest rate because the lender can seize the collateralized asset if you default on the loan. Essentially, this lowers the lender’s perceived risk.

It’s a good idea to compare the interest rates on personal loans. They tend to start out lower than credit cards, but they can vary widely depending on your creditworthiness. The average personal loan interest rate was 11.91% as of Feb. 14, 2024. However, the rate can range anywhere from 6.40% to 35.99% depending on the lender and your unique financial circumstances.


💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the larger the personal loan, the bigger the risk for the lender — and the higher the interest rate. So one way to lower your interest rate is to try downsizing your loan amount.

Pros and Cons of Using a Personal Loan To Pay Taxes

Using a personal loan to pay taxes comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a look at how they stack up.

Pros of Paying Taxes With a Personal Loan

Cons of Paying Taxes With a Personal Loan

Typically unsecured, so no risk of losing an asset such as a car or home Some lenders may not lend small amounts
Potentially low interest rates if you have good credit Interest rate may be higher than an IRS repayment plan’s interest rate
With a fixed interest rate, monthly payments will be the same over the life of the loan Some lenders may not allow a personal loan for taxes

Recommended: Paying Tax on Personal Loans

The Takeaway

When Tax Day rolls around and you discover that you owe taxes to the IRS, it’s a good idea to consider multiple options to settle the bill. If you don’t have enough money in your bank account to pay your tax bill, you might turn to an IRS repayment plan, your credit cards, a loan from a loved one, or a personal loan.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

Can I get a loan to pay taxes?

Yes, a personal loan can be used to pay taxes in most cases. Applicants must meet qualification requirements like any other personal loan, which typically include a credit check, employment and income verification, and other criteria.

What is a tax loan?

A tax loan is a personal loan used to pay taxes owed.

How does a tax loan work?

Tax loans are personal loans, either secured or unsecured. The borrower uses the loan proceeds to pay the IRS and then makes loan payments to the lender.


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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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What Is a SIMPLE IRA? How Does it Work?

The Ultimate Guide to SIMPLE IRAs for Employees and Small Businesses

If you’re exploring retirement plans, you may be wondering, what is a SIMPLE IRA? A SIMPLE IRA is one type of tax-advantaged retirement savings plans to help self-employed individuals and small business owners put money away for their future.

You may already be familiar with traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs). A SIMPLE IRA, or Saving Incentive Match Plan for Employees, is one type of IRA.

What Is a SIMPLE IRA?

SIMPLE IRA plans are employer-sponsored retirement accounts for businesses with 100 or fewer employees. They are also retirement accounts for the self-employed. If you’re your own boss and self-employed, you can set one up for yourself.

For small business owners, SIMPLE IRAs are an easy-to-manage, low-cost way to contribute to their own retirement while at the same time helping employees to contribute to their savings as well.

How Does a SIMPLE IRA Work?

Now that you know the answer to the question, what is a SIMPLE IRA?, you are probably wondering how this plan works. A SIMPLE IRA is one of the different types of retirement plans available. In order for an employee to participate, they must have earned at least $5,000 in compensation over the course of any two years prior to the current calendar year, and they must expect to make $5,000 in the current calendar year.

It is possible for employers to set less restrictive rules for SIMPLE IRA eligibility. For example, they could lower the amount employees are required to have made in a previous two-year time. However, they cannot make participation rules more restrictive.

Employers can exclude certain types of employees from the plan, including union members who have already bargained for retirement benefits and nonresident aliens who don’t receive their compensation from the employer.

💡 Quick Tip: Want to lower your taxable income? Start saving for retirement with a traditional IRA. The money you save each year is tax deductible (and you don’t owe any taxes until you withdraw the funds, usually in retirement).

Boost your retirement contributions with a 1% match.

SoFi IRAs now get a 1% match on every dollar you deposit, up to the annual contribution limits. Open an account today and get started.


Only offers made via ACH are eligible for the match. ACATs, wires, and rollovers are not included.

SIMPLE IRA vs Traditional IRA

When it comes to a SIMPLE IRA vs. Traditional IRA, the two plans are similar. However, there are some key differences between the two. A SIMPLE IRA is for small business owners and their employees. A traditional IRA is for anyone with an earned income.

The eligibility criteria is different for the two plans. To be eligible for a SIMPLE IRA, an employee must have earned at least $5,000 in compensation over the course of two years prior — and expect to make $5,000 in the current calendar year. With a traditional IRA, an individual must have earned income in the past year.

And while both types of IRAs are tax deferred, a traditional IRA allows individuals to make tax deductible contributions, while only an employer or sole proprietor can make tax deductible contributions to a SIMPLE IRA.

One of the biggest differences between the two plans is the contribution amount. Individuals can contribute $6,500 in 2023 to a traditional IRA (or $7,500 if they are age 50 or older) and $7,000 in 2024 (or $8,000 if they are 50 or over), while those who have a SIMPLE IRA can contribute $15,500 in 2023 and $16,000 in 2024 (plus an extra $3,500 for those age 50 and older for both 2023 and 2024).

SIMPLE IRA vs 401(k)

SIMPLE IRAs have some similarity to 401(k)s. Both are employer-sponsored plans that eligible employees can contribute to. Contributions made to both are made with pre-tax dollars, and the money in the accounts grows tax-deferred. Both types of plans give the employer the option to make matching contributions to employees’ plans.

One major difference between the two plans is that while self-employed individuals can’t open a 401(k), they can set up a SIMPLE IRA for themselves.

Additionally, individuals can contribute much more to a 401(k) than they can to a SIMPLE IRA. In 2023, those with a 401(k) can contribute $22,500 to the plan, plus an extra $7,500 for those 50 and older. In 2024, they can contribute 23,000 to their 401(k) and an additional $7,500 if they’re 50 or older. In comparison, in 2023, individuals can contribute $15,500 to a SIMPLE IRA, plus $3,500 extra for those 50 and up. For 2024, they can contribute $16,000, plus an additional $3,500 if they are 50 or older.

SIMPLE IRA Contribution Rules

Employer Contribution and Matching Rules

When an employer sets up a SIMPLE IRA plan, they are required to contribute to it each year. They have two options: They can either make matching contributions of up to 3% of an employee’s compensation, or they can make a nonelective contribution of 2% for each eligible employee, up to an annual limit of $330,000 in 2023 and $345,000 in 2024.

If the employer chooses the latter option, they must make a contribution to their employees’ accounts, even if those employees don’t contribute themselves. Contributions to employee accounts are tax deductible.

Employee Contributions

Eligible employees can choose to contribute to the plan, as well. In 2023, SIMPLE IRA contribution limits are up to $15,500 in deferrals. Those 50 and older can contribute an extra $3,500 in catch-up contributions, which brings their annual maximum contributions up to $19,000. In 2024, eligible employees can contribute up to $16,000, while those 50 and older can contribute an additional $3,500. Those contribution levels may change over time, as the government adjusts them to account for inflation.

Contributions reduce employees’ taxable income, which gives them an immediate tax benefit, lowering their income taxes in the year they contribute. Contributions can be invested inside the account and may grow tax-deferred until the employee makes withdrawals when they retire.

IRA withdrawal rules are particularly important to pay attention to as they can be a bit complicated. Withdrawals made after age 59 ½ are subject to income tax. If you make withdrawals before then, you may be subject to an additional 10% or 25% penalty. Account holders must make required minimum distributions from their accounts when they reach age 73.

Establishing and Operating a SIMPLE IRA Plan

SIMPLE IRAs are relatively easy to put in place, since they have no filing requirements for employers. Employers cannot offer another retirement plan in addition to offering a SIMPLE IRA.

If you’re interested in opening a SIMPLE IRA, banks and brokerages may have a plan, known as a prototype plan, that’s already been approved by the IRS.

Otherwise you’ll need to fill out one of two forms to set up your plan:

•   Form 5304-SIMPLE allows employees to choose the financial institutions that will receive their SIMPLE IRA contributions.

•   You can also fill out Form 5305-SIMPLE, which means employees will deposit SIMPLE IRA contributions at a single financial institution chosen by the employer.

Once you have established the SIMPLE IRA, an account must be set up by or for each employee, and employers and employees can start to make contributions.

Notice Requirements for Employees

There are minimal paperwork requirements for a SIMPLE IRA. Once the employer opens and establishes the plan through a financial institution, they need to notify employees about it. This should be done by October 1 of the year the plan is intended to begin. Employees have 60 days to make their elections.

Eligible employees need to be notified about the plan annually. Any changes or new terms to the plan must be disclosed. At the beginning of each annual election period, employers must notify their employees of the following:

•   Opportunities to make or change salary reductions.

•   The ability to choose a financial institution to receive SIMPLE IRA contribution, if applicable.

•   Employer’s decisions to make nonelective or matching contributions.

•   A summary description provided by the financial institution that acts as trustee of SIMPLE IRA fund, and notice that employees can transfer their balance without cost of penalty if the employer is using a designated financial institution.

Participant Loans and Withdrawals

No loans are allowed to participants in a SIMPLE IRA. Withdrawals made before age 59 ½ are subject to a possible 10% or 25% penalty.

Rollovers and Transfers to Other Retirement Accounts

For the first two years of participating in a SIMPLE IRA, participants can only do a tax-free rollover to another SIMPLE IRA. After two years, they may be able to roll over their SIMPLE IRA to other non-Roth IRAs or an employer-sponsored plan such as 401(k).

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening an investment account, know your investment objectives, time horizon, and risk tolerance. These fundamentals will help keep your strategy on track and with the aim of meeting your goals.

The Advantages and Drawbacks of a SIMPLE IRA Plan

While SIMPLE IRAs may offer a lot of benefits, including immediate tax benefits, tax-deferred growth, and employer contributions, there are some drawbacks. For example, SIMPLE IRAs don’t allow employees to save as much as other retirement plans such as 401(k)s and Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRAs.

In 2023, employees can contribute up to $22,500 to a 401(k) account, with an extra $7,500 in catch-up contributions for those 50 and older. In 2024, they can contribute up to $23,000 to a 401(k), plus an additional $7,500 for those 50 and over. Individuals with a SEP IRA account can contribute up to 25% of their employee compensation, or $66,000, whichever is less, in 2023. They can contribute up to $69,000 or up to 25% of their compensation, whichever is less in 2024.

The good news is, employees with SIMPLE IRAs can make up some of that lost ground. Employers may be wondering about the merits of choosing between a SIMPLE and traditional IRA, but they can actually have both.

Employers and employees can open a traditional or Roth IRA and fund it simultaneously. For 2023, total contributions to IRAs can be up to $6,500, or $7,500 for those ages 50 and older. For 2024, total IRA contributions can be up to $7,000, or $8,000 for those 50 and over.

Here some pros and cons of starting and funding a SIMPLE IRA at a glance:

Pros of a SIMPLE IRA

Cons of a SIMPLE IRA

Easy to set up, with less paperwork than other retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s. Lower contribution limits than other plans, such as 401(k)s and SEP IRAs.
Employers have lower upfront and management costs to run the plan. Withdrawals made before age 59 ½ are subject to a possible 10% or 25% penalty.
Contributions are tax deductible for employers and employees. There is no Roth option that would allow employees to fund the retirement account with after-tax dollars that would translate to tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
There are no filing requirements with the IRS.

Eligibility and Participation in a SIMPLE IRA

As mentioned previously, there are some rules about who can participate in a SIMPLE IRA. Here’s a quick recap.

Who Can Establish and Participate in a SIMPLE IRA?

Small business owners with fewer than 100 employees and self-employed individuals can set up and participate in a SIMPLE IRA, along with any eligible employees.

Employers can’t offer any other type of employer-sponsored plan if they set up a SIMPLE IRA.

Employees’ Eligibility and Participation Criteria

In order for an employee to be eligible to participate, they must have earned at least $5,000 in compensation over the course of any two years prior to the current calendar year, and they must expect to make $5,000 in the current calendar year.

Employees can choose less restrictive requirements if they choose. They may also exclude certain individuals from a SIMPLE IRA, such as those in unions who receive benefits through the union.

Investment Choices and Account Maintenance

The employer chooses investment options for the SIMPLE IRA and maintains the plan. Employees then select the investment options they want.

Investment Choices Under a SIMPLE IRA

Typically, there are more investment choices with a SIMPLE IRA than there with a 401(k). Investment options can include stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and bonds.

Understanding SIMPLE IRA Distributions

There are particular rules for SIMPLE IRA distributions, and it’s important to be aware of them. This is what you need to know.

Withdrawal Rules and Tax Consequences

As discussed previously, withdrawals made before age 59 ½ are subject to income tax plus a potential 10% or 25% penalty. Withdrawals made after age 59 ½ are subject to income tax only and no penalty. Account holders must make required minimum distributions from their accounts when they reach age 73.

The 2-Year Rule and Early Withdrawal Penalties

There is a two-year rule for withdrawals from a SIMPLE IRA. If you make a withdrawal within the first two years of participating in the plan, the penalty may be increased from 10% to 25%.

The Takeaway

SIMPLE IRAs are one of the easiest ways that self-employed individuals and small business owners can help themselves and their employees save for retirement, whether they’re experienced retirement investors or they’re opening their first IRA.

These accounts can even be used in conjunction with certain other retirement accounts and investment accounts to help individuals save even more.

Ready to invest for your retirement? It’s easy to get started when you open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.


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SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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