What Are the Different Types of Taxes?

What Are the Different Types of Taxes?

There are a variety of taxes you may have to pay, such as Income tax, capital gains tax, sales tax, and property tax. Whether you’re new to the workforce or a seasoned retiree, taxes can be complicated to understand and to pay.

This guide can help. Here, you’ll learn more about what taxes are, the different types of taxes to know about, and helpful tax filing ideas. Read on to raise your tax I.Q.

What Are Taxes?

At a high level, taxes are involuntary fees imposed on individuals or corporations by a government entity. The collected fees are used to fund a range of government activities, including but not limited to schools, road maintenance, health programs, and defense measures.

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Different Types of Taxes to Know

Here’s a detailed look at what are many of the different types of taxes that can be levied and the ways in which they’re typically calculated and imposed.

Income Tax

The federal government collects income tax from people and businesses, based upon the amount of money that was earned during a particular year. There can also be other income taxes levied, such as state or local ones. Specifics of how to calculate this type of tax can change as tax laws do.

The amount of income tax owed will depend upon the person’s tax bracket; it will typically go up as a person’s income does. That’s because the U.S. has a progressive tax system for federal income tax, meaning individuals who earn more are taxed more.

If you’re wondering “What tax bracket am I in?” know that there are currently seven different federal tax brackets. The amount owed will also depend on filing categories like single; head of household; married, filing jointly; and married, filing separately.

Deductions and credits can help to lower the amount of income tax owed. And if a federal or state government charges you more than you actually owed, you’ll receive a tax refund. It can be helpful to check the IRS website or online tax help centers to learn more about income tax.

Property Tax

Property taxes are charged by local governments and are one of the costs associated with owning a home.

The amount owed varies by location and is calculated as a percentage of a property’s value. The funds typically help to fund the local government, as well as public schools, libraries, public works, parks, and so forth.

Property taxes are considered to be an ad valorem tax, which means they are based on the assessed value of the property.

Payroll Tax

Employers withhold a percentage of money from employees’ pay and then forward those funds to the government. The amount being withheld will vary, based on a particular employee’s wages, with federal payroll taxes being used to fund Medicare and Social Security.

There are limits on the portion of income that would be taxed. For example, in 2024, a person’s income that exceeds $168,600 is not subject to a common payroll deduction, Social Security tax.

Because this tax is applied uniformly, rather than based on income throughout the system, payroll taxes are considered to be a regressive tax.

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Inheritance/Estate Tax

These are actually two different types of taxes.

•   The first — the inheritance tax — can apply in certain states when someone inherits money or property from a deceased person’s estate. The beneficiary would be responsible for paying this tax if they live in one of several different states where this tax exists and the inheritance is large enough.

•   The federal government does not have an inheritance tax. Instead, there is a federal estate tax that is calculated on the deceased person’s money and property. It’s typically paid out from the assets of the deceased before anything is distributed to their beneficiaries.

There can be exemptions to these taxes and, in general, people who inherit from someone they aren’t related to can anticipate higher rates of tax.

Regressive, Progressive, and Proportional Taxes

These are the three main categories of tax structures in the U.S. (two of which have already been mentioned above). Here are definitions that include how they impact people with varying levels of income.

What’s a Regressive Tax?

Because a regressive tax is uniformly applied, regardless of income, it takes a bigger percentage from people who earn less and a smaller percentage from people who earn more.

As a high-level example, a $500 tax would be 1% of someone’s income if they earned $50,000; it would only be half of one percent if someone earned $100,000, and so on. Examples of regressive taxes include state sales taxes and user fees.

What’s a Progressive Tax?

A progressive tax works differently, with people who are earning more money having a higher rate of taxation. In other words, this tax (such as an income tax) is based on income.

This system is designed to allow people who have a lower income to have enough money for cost of living expenses.

What’s Proportional Tax?

A proportional tax is another way of saying “flat tax.” No matter what someone’s income might be, they would pay the same proportion. This is a form of a regressive tax and proportional taxes are more common at the state level and less common at the federal level.

Capital Gains Tax

Next up, take a closer look at the capital gains tax that an investor may be responsible for paying when having stocks in an investment portfolio. This can happen, for example, if they sell a stock that has appreciated in value over the purchase price.

The difference in the increased value from purchase to sale is called “capital gains” and, typically, there would be a capital gains tax levied.

An exception can be when an investor sells increased-in-value stocks through a tax-deferred retirement investment inside of the account. Meanwhile, dividends are taxed as income, not as capital gains.

It’s also important for investors to know the difference between short-term and long-term capital gains taxes. In the U.S. tax code, short-term is one year or less, while long-term is anything longer. For tax year 2023, the federal tax rate on gains made by short-term investments are taxed as ordinary income. For long-term investment gains, the rates will be between 0% and 20%, based on filing status and taxable income.

Recommended: Capital Gains Tax Guide

Ideas For Tax-Efficient Investing

Ideas for tax-efficient investing can include to select certain investment vehicles, such as:

•   Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): These are baskets of securities that trade like a stock. They can be tax-efficient because they typically track an underlying index, meaning that while they allow investors to have broad exposure, individual securities are potentially bought and sold less frequently, creating fewer events that will likely result in capital gains taxes.

•   Index mutual funds: These tend to be more tax efficient than actively managed funds for reasons similar to ETFs.

•   Treasury bonds: There are no state income taxes levied on earned interest.

•   Municipal bonds: Interest, in general, is exempted from federal taxes; if the investor lives within the municipality where these local government bonds are issued, they can typically be exempt from state and local taxes, as well.

VAT Consumption Tax

In the U.S., taxpayers are charged a regressive form of tax, a sales tax, on many items that are purchased. In Europe, the system works differently. A VAT tax is a form of consumption tax that’s due upon a purchase, calculated on the difference between the sales price and what it cost to create that product or service. In other words, it’s based on the item’s added value.

Here’s one big difference between a sales tax and a VAT tax:

•   Sales tax is charged at the final part of the sales transaction.

•   VAT, on the other hand, is calculated throughout each supply chain step and then built into the final purchase price.

This leads to another difference. Sales taxes are added onto the purchase price that’s listed; VAT contains those fees within the price and so nothing extra is added onto the price tag that a buyer would see.

Sales Tax

Ka-ching! You are probably used to sales tax being added to many of your purchases. It’s a method that governments use to collect revenue from citizens, and in America, it can vary by state and local area.

Funds collected via sales tax are frequently used for local and state budget items. These might include school, road, and fire department expenses.

Excise Tax

An excise tax is one that is applied to a specific item or activity. Some common examples are the taxes added to alcoholic beverages, amusement/betting pursuits, cigarettes (yes, the “sin taxes,” as they are sometimes called, gasoline, and insurance premiums.

These taxes are primarily paid by businesses but are sometimes passed along to consumers, who may or may not be aware that these taxes can be rolled into retail prices. Some excise taxes, however, are paid directly by consumers, such as property taxes and certain taxes on retirement accounts.

Luxury Tax

Luxury tax is just what it sounds like: tax on purchases that aren’t necessities but are pricey purchases. It can be paid by a business and possibly passed along to the consumer. Typical examples of items that are subject to a luxury tax include expensive boats, airplanes, cars, and jewelry.

The revenue that’s raised by these taxes may fund an array of government programs designed to benefit U.S. citizens.

Corporate Tax

Here’s another tax with a name that tells the story. Corporate tax is, quite simply, a tax on a corporation’s profits, or taxable income. This is based on a business’ revenue once a variety of expenses are subtracted, such as administrative expenses, the cost of any goods sold, marketing and selling costs, research and development expenses, and other related and operating costs.

Corporate taxes are specific to each country, with some having higher rates than others, and there are a variety of ways to lower them via loopholes, subsidies, and deductions.

Tariffs

Tariffs represent a protectionist tool that governments may use. That is, they are taxes levied on imported goods at the border. The idea is typically that this will help boost the cost of imports and hopefully nudge consumers to buy items made on home soil.

Surtax

A surtax is an additional tax levied by the government in addition to other taxes. It is typically paid by consumers when the government needs to raise funds for a specific program. For instance, a 10% surtax was levied on individual and corporate income by the Johnson administration in 1968. The funds were collected to help fund the war effort in Vietnam.

Tax Filing Ideas

Now that you know what are the different types of taxes, consider the event that makes many of us contemplate this topic: filing taxes. It’s an annual ritual that may trigger anxiety for many, but if you spend a little time educating yourself about the process, it’s not so scary. Here, a few ways to help make preparing for tax season easier:

•   Consider how you’d like to file. Choose the method that best suits your needs and comfort level. You might want to work with a professional tax preparer to assist you, or perhaps use tax software to help you through the process. (Some taxpayers will qualify for the IRS Free File service, which is a free guided software tool.)

Another option is to fill out either the IRS form 1040 or 1040-SR by hand and mail it in, but given how this can open you up to human error and handwriting or typing mistakes, it’s not recommended.

•   Gather all your paperwork. Being organized can be half the battle here. Develop a system that works for you (you might want to use a tax-preparation checklist) to collect such items as:

◦   Your W-2s and/or 1099 forms reflecting your income

◦   Proof of any mortgage interest paid or property taxes

◦   Retirement account contributions

◦   Interest earned on investments or money held in bank accounts

◦   State and local taxes paid

◦   Donations to charities

◦   Educational expenses

◦   Medical bills that were not reimbursed

•   Even if you are lower-income and don’t need to file, consider doing so. It may be to your financial benefit. For instance, you might qualify for certain tax breaks, such as the earned income tax credit (EITC) or, if you’re a parent, the child credit.

•   Whether you owe money or are getting a refund, know how to settle your account with the IRS. If you’ll be receiving a tax refund, you may want to request that it be sent via direct deposit to make the process as seamless and speedy as possible. If, on the other hand, you owe money, there are an array of ways to send funds, including payment plans. Do a little research to see what suits you best.

By getting ahead of tax filing deadlines in these ways, you can likely make this annual ritual a little less intimidating and time-consuming.

Recommended: Guide to Filing Taxes for the First Time

The Takeaway

Understanding the different kinds of taxes can help you boost your financial literacy and your ability to budget well. You’ll know a bit more about why you pay federal and any state and local taxes and also be aware of other charges like luxury taxes and sales taxes.

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FAQ

What are the most common taxes people use?

The most common taxes that Americans pay are income tax on their earnings, sales tax on purchases, and property tax on their homes.

How many categories of taxes are there?

There are easily more than a dozen kinds of taxes levied in the U.S. Which ones you are liable for will depend on a variety of factors, such as whether you are an individual or represent a business, whether you purchase luxury items, and so forth.

Will I use all of these forms of taxes?

Which forms of taxes you will be liable for will likely depend upon the specifics of your situation. For example, among the most common taxes are income, property, and sales taxes, but if you rent rather than own your home, you won’t owe property taxes. If you purchase a boat, you might pay a luxury tax; if you like to frequent casinos, you could be paying excise taxes.


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A Comprehensive Guide to Treasury Bills (T-Bills)

U.S. government-backed securities like Treasury bills (T-bills) provide a way to invest with minimal risk. These debt instruments are one of several different types of Treasury securities including Treasury notes (T-notes) and Treasury bonds (T-bonds).

Unlike other treasuries, however, T-bills don’t pay interest. Rather, investors buy T-bills at a discount to par (the face value).

Investors looking for a low-risk investment with a short time horizon and a modest return may find T-bills an attractive investment. T-bills have minimal default risk and maturities of a year or less. But Treasury bill rates are typically lower than those of some other investments.

Key Points

•   T-bills are short-term investments that offer a guaranteed rate of return.

•   Investors don’t receive coupon, or interest, payments. The return is the discount rate.

•   T-bills have a near-zero risk of default.

•   Investors can buy T-bills directly from TreasuryDirect.gov, or on the secondary market using a brokerage account.

What Is a Treasury Bill (T-Bill)?

Treasury bills are debt instruments issued by the U.S. government. They are short-term securities and are issued with maturity dates ranging from 4 weeks to one year. It may be possible to buy T-bills on the secondary market with maturities as short as a few days.

How Treasury Bills Work

Essentially, when an individual buys a T-bill, they are lending money to the U.S. government. In general, T-bills are considered very low risk, since they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which has never defaulted on its debts.

T-bills are sold at a discount to their par, or face value. They are essentially zero-coupon bonds. They don’t pay interest, unlike other types of Treasuries (and coupon bonds); rather the difference between the discount price and the face value is like an interest payment.

T-Bill Purchase Example

While all securities have a face value, also known as the par value, typically investors purchase Treasury bills at a discount to par. Then, when the T-bill matures, investors receive the full face value amount. So, if they purchased a treasury bill for less than it was worth, they would receive a greater amount when it matures.

Example

Suppose an investor purchases a 52-week T-bill for $4,500 with a par value of $5,000, a 5% discount. Since the government promises to repay the full value of the T-bill when it expires, the investors will receive $5,000 at maturity, and realize a profit or yield of $500.

In the example above, the discount rate of the T-bill is 5% — and that is also the yield. But examples aside, the actual 52-week Treasury bill rate, as of Feb. 1, 2024, is 4.46%.

Recommended: How to Buy Treasury Bills, Bonds, and Notes

T-Bill Maturities

Understanding the maturity date of a T-bill is important. This is the length of time you’ll hold the bill before you redeem it for the full face value. Maturity dates affect the discount rate, with longer maturities generally offering a higher discount/return, but interest rates will influence the discount.

The government issues T-bills at regular auctions, in four-, eight-, 13-, 17-, 26-, and 52-week terms, in increments ranging from $100 to $10 million. The minimum T-bill purchase from TreasuryDirect.gov is $100.

Some investors may create ladders (similar to bond ladders), which allow them to roll their T-bills at maturity into more T-bills. Although T-bill rates are fixed, and because their maturities are so short, they don’t have much sensitivity to interest rate fluctuations.

💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

How to Purchase T-Bills

You can purchase T-bills at regular government auctions on TreasuryDirect, or on the secondary market, from your brokerage account.

Buying From Treasury Direct

Noncompetitive bids: With a noncompetitive bill, the investor accepts the discount prices that were established at the Treasuries auction, which are an average of the bids submitted.

Since the investor will receive the full value of the T-bill when the term expires, some investors often favor this simple technique of investing in T-bills.

Competitive bid: With a competitive bid, all investors propose the discount rate they are prepared to pay for a given T-bill. The lowest discount rate offers are selected first. If investors don’t propose enough low bids to complete the entire order, the auction will move onto the next lowest bid and so on until the entire order is filled.

Buying and Selling on the Secondary Market

Another option is to purchase or sell T-bills on the secondary market, using a standard brokerage account.

Investors can also trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds that may include T-bills that were released in the past.

Redemption and Interest Earnings on T-Bills

As noted above, although T-bills are debt instruments and an investor’s loan is repaid “with interest,” T-Bills don’t have a coupon payment the way some bonds do. Rather, investors buy T-bills at a discount, and the difference between the lower purchase price and the higher face value is effectively the interest payment when the T-bill matures.

When a T-bill matures, investors can redeem it for cash at Treasury.gov.

T-bill purchases and redemptions are now fully digital. Paper T-bills are no longer available.

Tax Implications for T-Bill Investors

Gains from all Treasuries, including T-bills, are taxed at the federal level; i.e. they are taxed as income on your federal income tax return.

Treasury gains are exempt from state and local income tax.

Comparing T-Bills to Treasury Notes and Bonds

The U.S. government offers a number of debt instruments, including Treasury Bills, Notes, and Bonds. The difference between them is their maturity dates, which can also affect interest rates and discount rates.

Treasury Notes

Investors can purchase Treasury notes (or T-notes) in quantities of $1,000 and with terms ranging from two to 10 years. Treasury notes pay interest, known as coupon payments, bi-annually.

Treasury Bonds

Out of all Treasury securities, Treasury bonds have the most extended maturity terms: up to 30 years. Like T-notes, Treasury bonds pay interest every six months. And when the bond matures the entire value of the bond is repaid.

Recommended: How to Buy Bonds: A Guide for Beginners

Considerations When Investing in T-Bills

Like any other investments, it’s important to understand how T-bills work, the pros and cons, and how they can fit into your portfolio.

What Influences T-Bill Prices in the Market?

Although any T-bill you buy offers a guaranteed yield at maturity, because T-bills are short-term debt the discount rates (and therefore the yield) can fluctuate depending on a number of factors, including market conditions, interest rates, and inflation.

The Role of Maturity Dates and Market Risk

Generally, the longer the maturity date of the bill, the higher the returns. But if interest rates are predicted to rise over time, that could make existing T-bills less desirable, which could affect their price on the secondary market. It’s possible, then, that an investor could sell a T-bill for lower than what they paid for it.

Federal Reserve Policies and Inflation Concerns

It’s also important to consider the role of the Federal Reserve Bank, which sets the federal funds target rate, for overnight lending between banks. When the fed funds rate is lower, banks have more money to lend, but when it’s higher there’s less money circulating.

Thus the fed funds rate has an impact on the cost of lending across the board, which impacts inflation, purchasing power — and T-bill rates and prices as well. As described, T-bill rates are fixed, so as interest rates rise, the price of T-bills drops because they become less desirable.

By the same token, when the Fed lowers interest rates that tends to favor T-bills. Investors buy up the higher-yield bills, driving up prices on the secondary market.

How Can Investors Decide on Maturity Terms?

Bear in mind that because the maturity terms of T-bills are relatively short — they’re issued with six terms (four, six, 13, 17, 26 and 52 weeks) — it’s possible to redeem the T-bills you buy relatively quickly.

T-bill rates vary according to their maturity, so that will influence which term will work for you.

💡 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.

Advantages and Disadvantages of T-Bills

Advantages of T-Bills

•   They are a low-risk investment. Since they are backed in the full faith of the U.S. government, there is a slim to none chance of default.

•   They have a low barrier to entry. In other words, investors who don’t have a lot of money to invest can invest a small amount of money while earning a return, starting at $100.

•   They can help diversify a portfolio. Diversifying a portfolio helps investors minimize risk exposure by spreading funds across various investment opportunities of varying risks and potential returns.

Disadvantages of T-Bills

•   Low yield. T-bills provide a lower yield compared to other higher-yield bonds or investments such as stocks. So, for investors looking for higher yields, Treasury bills might not be the way to go.

•   Inflation risk exposure. T-bills are exposed to risks such as inflation. If the inflation rate is 4% and a T-bill has a discount rate of 2%, for example, it wouldn’t make sense to invest in T-bills—the inflation exceeds the return an investor would receive, and they would lose money on the investment.

Using Treasury Bills to Diversify

Investing all of one’s money into one asset class leaves an investor exposed to a higher rate of risk of loss. To mitigate risk, investors may turn to diversification as an investing strategy.

With diversification, investors place their money in an assortment of investments — from stocks and bonds to real estate and alternative investments — rather than placing all of their money in one investment. With more sophisticated diversification, investors can diversify within each asset class and sector to truly ensure all investments are spread out.

For example, to reduce the risk of economic uncertainty that tends to impact stocks, investors may choose to invest in the U.S. Treasury securities, such as mutual funds that carry T-bills, to offset these stocks’ potentially negative performance. Since the U.S. Treasuries tend to perform well in such environments, they may help minimize an investor’s loss from stocks not performing.

The Takeaway

Treasury bills are one investment opportunity in which an investor is basically lending money to the government for the short term. While the return on T-bills may be lower than the typical return on other investments, the risk is also much lower, as the US government backs these bills.

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

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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Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


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 457 Retirement Plans

Guide to 457 Retirement Plans

A 457 plan — technically a 457(b) plan — is similar to a 401(k) retirement account. It’s an employer-provided retirement savings plan that you fund with pre-tax contributions, and the money you save grows tax-deferred until it’s withdrawn in retirement.

But a 457 plan differs from a 401(k) in some significant ways. While any employer may offer a 401(k), 457 plans are designed specifically for state and local government employees, as well as employees of certain tax-exempt organizations. That said, a 457 has fewer limitations on withdrawals.

This guide will help you decide whether a 457 plan is right for you.

What Is a 457 Retirement Plan?

A 457 plan is a type of deferred compensation plan that’s used by certain employees when saving for retirement. The key thing to remember is that a 457 plan isn’t considered a “qualified retirement plan” based on the federal law known as ERISA (from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974).

These plans can be established by state and local governments or by certain tax-exempt organizations. The types of employees that can participate in 457 savings plans include:

•   Firefighters

•   Police officers

•   Public safety officers

•   City administration employees

•   Public works employees

Note that a 457 plan is not used by federal employees; instead, the federal government offers a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) to those workers. Nor is it exactly the same thing as a 401(k) plan or a 403(b), though there are some similarities between these types of plans.

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How a 457 Plan Works

A 457 plan works by allowing employees to defer part of their compensation into the plan through elective salary deferrals. These deferrals are made on a pre-tax basis, though some plans can also allow employees to choose a Roth option (similar to a Roth 401(k)).

The money that’s deferred is invested and grows tax-deferred until the employee is ready to withdraw it. The types of investments offered inside a 457 plan can vary by the plan but typically include a mix of mutual funds. Some 457 retirement accounts may also offer annuities as an investment option.

Unlike 401(k) plans, which require employees to wait until age 59 ½ before making qualified withdrawals, 457 plans allow withdrawals at whatever age the employee retires. The IRS doesn’t impose a 10% early withdrawal penalty on withdrawals made before age 59 ½ if you retire (or take a hardship distribution). Regular income tax still applies to the money you withdraw, except in the case of Roth 457 plans, which allow for tax-free qualified distributions.

So, for example, say you’re a municipal government employee. You’re offered a 457 plan as part of your employee benefits package. You opt to defer 15% of your compensation into the plan each year, starting at age 25. Once you turn 50, you make your regular contributions along with catch-up contributions. You decide to retire at age 55, at which point you’ll be able to withdraw your savings or roll it over to an IRA.

Who Is Eligible for a 457 Retirement Plan?

In order to take advantage of 457 plan benefits you need to work for an eligible employer. Again, this includes state and local governments as well as certain tax-exempt organizations.

There are no age or income restrictions on when you can contribute to a 457 plan, unless you’re still working at age 73. A 457 retirement account follows required minimum distribution rules, meaning you’re required to begin taking money out of the plan once you turn 73. At this point, you can no longer make new contributions.

A big plus with 457 plans: Your employer could offer a 401(k) plan and a 457 plan as retirement savings options. You don’t have to choose one over the other either. If you’re able to make contributions to both plans simultaneously, you could do so up to the maximum annual contribution limits.

Pros & Cons of 457 Plans

A 457 plan can be a valuable resource when planning for retirement expenses. Contributions grow tax-deferred and as mentioned, you could use both a 457 plan and a 401(k) to save for retirement. If you’re unsure whether a 457 savings plan is right for you, weighing the pros and cons can help you to decide.

Pros of 457 Plans

Here are some of the main advantages of using a 457 plan to save for retirement.

No Penalty for Early Withdrawals

Taking money from a 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account before age 59 ½ can result in a 10% early withdrawal tax penalty. That’s on top of income tax you might owe on the distribution. With a 457 retirement plan, this rule doesn’t apply so if you decide to retire early, you can tap into your savings penalty-free.

Special Catch-up Limit

A 457 plan has annual contribution limits and catch-up contribution limits but they also include a special provision for employees who are close to retirement age. This provision allows them to potentially double the amount of money they put into their plan in the final three years leading up to retirement.

Loans May Be Allowed

If you need money and you don’t qualify for a hardship distribution from a 457 plan you may still be able to take out a loan from your retirement account (although there are downsides to this option). The maximum loan amount is 50% of your vested balance or $50,000, whichever is less. Loans must be repaid within five years.

Cons of 457 Plans

Now that you’ve considered the positives, here are some of the drawbacks to consider with a 457 savings plan.

Not Everyone Is Eligible

If you don’t work for an eligible employer then you won’t have access to a 457 plan. You may, however, have other savings options such as a 401k or 403(b) plan instead which would allow you to set aside money for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis. And of course, you can always open an IRA.

Investment Options May Be Limited

The range of investment options offered in 457 plans aren’t necessarily the same across the board. Depending on which plan you’re enrolled in, you may find that your investment selections are limited or that the fees you’ll pay for those investments are on the higher side.

Matching Is Optional

While an employer may choose to offer a matching contribution to a 457 retirement account, that doesn’t mean they will. Matching contributions are valuable because they’re essentially free money. If you’re not getting a match, then it could take you longer to reach your retirement savings goals.

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening any investment account, consider what level of risk you are comfortable with. If you’re not sure, start with more conservative investments, and then adjust your portfolio as you learn more.

457 Plan Contribution Limits

The IRS establishes annual contribution limits for 457 plans. There are three contribution amounts:

•   Basic annual contribution

•   Catch-up contribution

•   Special catch-up contribution

Annual contribution limits and catch-up contributions follow the same guidelines established for 401(k) plans.

The special catch-up contribution is an additional amount that’s designated for employees who are within three years of retirement. Not all 457 retirement plans allow for special catch-up contributions.

Here are the 457 savings plan maximum contribution limits for 2023 and 2024.

2023

2024

Annual Contribution Up to 100% of an employees’ includable compensation or $22,500, whichever is less Up to 100% of an employees’ includable compensation or $23,000, whichever is less
Catch-up Contribution Employees 50 and over can contribute an additional $7,500 Employees 50 and over can contribute an additional $7,500
Special Catch-up Contribution $22,500 or the basic annual limit plus the amount of the basic limit not used in prior years, whichever is less* $23,000 or the basic annual limit plus the amount of the basic limit not used in prior years, whichever is less*

*This option is not available if the employee is already making age-50-or-over catch-up contributions.

457 vs 403(b) Plans

The biggest difference between a 457 plan and a 403(b) plan is who they’re designed for. A 403(b) plan is a type of retirement plan that’s offered to public school employees, including those who work at state colleges and universities, and employees of certain tax-exempt organizations. Certain ministers may establish a 403(b) plan as well. This type of plan can also be referred to as a tax-sheltered annuity or TSA plan.

Like 457 plans, 403(b) plans are funded with pre-tax dollars and contributions grow tax-deferred over time. These contributions can be made through elective salary deferrals or nonelective employer contributions. Employees can opt to make after-tax contributions or designated Roth contributions to their plan. Employers are not required to make contributions.

The annual contribution limits to 403(b) plans, including catch-up contributions, are the same as those for 457 plans. A 403(b) plan can also offer special catch-up contributions, but they work a little differently and only apply to employees who have at least 15 years of service.

Employees can withdraw money once they reach age 59 ½ and they’ll pay tax on those distributions. A 403(b) plan may allow for loans and hardship distributions or early withdrawals because the employee becomes disabled or leaves their job.

Investing for Retirement With SoFi

When weighing retirement plan options, a 457 retirement account may be one possibility. That’s not the only way to save and invest, however. If you don’t have a retirement plan at work or you’re self-employed, you can still open a traditional or Roth IRA to grow wealth.

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.

FAQ

How does a 457 plan pay out?

If you have a 457 savings plan, you can take money out of your account before age 59 ½ without triggering an early withdrawal tax penalty in certain situations. Those distributions are taxable at your ordinary income tax rate, however. Like other tax-advantaged plans, 457 plans have required minimum distributions (RMDs), but they begin at age 73.

What are the rules for a 457 plan?

The IRS has specific rules for which types of employers can establish 457 plans; these include state and local governments and certain tax-exempt organizations. There are also rules on annual contributions, catch-up contributions and special catch-up contributions. In terms of taxation, 457 plans follow the same guidelines as 401(k) or 403(b) plans: Contributions are made pre-tax; the employee pays taxes on withdrawals.

When can you take money out of a 457 plan?

You can take money out of a 457 plan once you reach age 59 ½. Withdrawals are also allowed prior to age 59 ½ without a tax penalty if you’re experiencing a financial hardship or you leave your employer. Early withdrawals are still subject to ordinary income tax.


Photo credit: iStock/Nomad

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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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How Soon Can You Refinance Student Loans?

Typically, student loan borrowers cannot refinance their debt until they graduate or withdraw from school. At that point, federal student loans and the majority of private student loans have a grace period, so it can make sense to refinance right before the grace period ends.

Depending on your financial situation, the goal of refinancing may be to snag a lower interest rate and/or have lower monthly payments. Doing so can alleviate some of the stress you may feel when repaying your debt. In this guide, you’ll learn when you can refinance and what options are available, plus the potential benefits and downsides of each.

What Do Your Current Loans Look Like?

Before deciding whether or not to refinance your student loans, you need to know where your loans currently stand. Look at the loan servicers, loan amounts, interest rates, and terms for all loans before making a decision.

Contact Info for Most Federal Student Loans

The government assigns your loan to a loan servicer after it is paid out. To find your loan servicer, visit your account dashboard on studentaid.gov, find the “My Aid” section, and choose “View loan servicer details.” You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.

Loans Not Owned by the Department of Education

Here’s how to get in touch:

•   If you have Federal Family Education Loan Program loans that are not held by the government, contact your servicer for details. Look for the most recent communication from the entity sending you bills.

•   If you have a Federal Perkins Loan that is not owned by the Education Department, contact the school where you received the loan for details. Your school may be the servicer for your loan.

•   If you have Health Education Assistance Loan Program loans and need to find your loan servicer, look for the most recent communication from the entity sending you bills.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are not given by the government, but rather banks, credit unions, and online lenders. You’ll need to find your specific lender or servicer in order to find out your loan information.

Can You Refinance Student Loans While Still in School?

You may be able to refinance your student loans while still in school with certain lenders, but doing so may not make the most sense for your situation.

If you’re worried about interest accruing on your unsubsidized federal loans and/or private student loans while in school, you can most certainly make interest-only payments on them in order to keep the interest from capitalizing.

One important note: With federal student loans, any payments you make while still in school or during the grace period will not count as a qualifying payment toward loan forgiveness, if you plan on using that.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? With SoFi’s no-fee loans, you could save thousands.

Which Loans Can Be Refinanced While Enrolled?

You can refinance any type of student loan while enrolled in school, assuming that the lender allows it. If you’re still in school and want to refinance, a lender will want to make sure you have a job or job offer on the table, are possibly in your last year of school, and have a solid credit profile. You could also consider refinancing your student loans with a cosigner if you do not meet the lender’s requirements on your own.

A couple of important points if you are considering refinancing federal student loans with a private lender:

•   Doing so means you will forfeit federal benefits and protections, such as forbearance and forgiveness, among others.

•   If you refinance for an extended term, you may have a lower monthly payment but pay more interest over the life of the loan. This may or may not suit your financial needs and goals, so consider your options carefully.

Which Loans Can’t Be Refinanced While Enrolled?

If you find a lender willing to refinance your student loans while still in school, they most likely won’t exclude a certain type of loan. However, it is best not to refinance federal student loans while enrolled. Federal Subsidized Loans, for example, do not start earning interest until after the grace period is over. Since you aren’t paying anything in interest, it doesn’t make sense to refinance and have to start paying interest on your loans immediately.

If you plan on using federal benefits, such as income-driven repayment plans or student loan forgiveness, refinancing student loans could be a bad idea. Refinancing gives you a new loan with a new private lender, thereby forfeiting your eligibility to federal benefits and protections, as noted above.

Is It Worth Refinancing Only Some of Your Loans?

Yes, it can be worth refinancing only some of your loans. The student loans you may want to focus on refinancing may include ones that have a variable rate (and you prefer a fixed rate), ones with a relatively high interest rate, or ones where you’ve had a less-than-ideal relationship with the servicer and are looking for a new experience.

When you might want to think twice about refinancing:

•   If you have federal loans and plan on using an income-based repayment plan, for example, it makes sense not to include those loans in the refinance.

•   If you have a low, fixed interest rate currently, you should probably keep those loans as is. The main reason to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate or a lower payment. Keep in mind, though, that by lowering your payment, you typically are extending your term. This can mean that you end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

Pros and Cons of Refinancing Student Loans

Pros Cons

•   Possibly lower your monthly payment

•   Possibly lower your interest rate

•   Shorten or lengthen the loan term

•   Switch from variable to fixed interest rate, or vice versa

•   Combine multiple loans into one

•   Lose access to federal benefits and protections

•   Lose access to remaining grace periods

•   May be difficult to qualify

•   May end up paying more in interest if you lengthen the term

Examples of Refinancing Before Earning a Degree

As stated above, there are some lenders that may allow you to refinance before you graduate or withdraw from school. These lenders may currently include Citizens Bank, Discover, RISLA, and Earnest.

Graduate students are also eligible to refinance their undergraduate student loans, assuming they meet the lender’s requirements or use a cosigner. Parents with Parent PLUS Loans are also typically allowed to refinance their loans prior to their child graduating. Rules will vary by lender, so make sure to do your research and choose a lender that will work with your unique situation.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal parent PLUS loans might be a good candidate for refinancing to a lower rate.

Alternatives to Refinancing

If refinancing your student loans isn’t the right option for you, there are alternatives to refinancing you can explore.

•   The main alternative is student loan consolidation, which combines your federal student loans into one loan with one monthly payment. The main difference between consolidation and refinancing is the interest rate on a federal loan consolidation is the weighted average of the rates of the loans you are consolidating, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage.

•   You typically won’t save on interest, but you can lower your monthly payment by extending the loan term. Doing this, however, means you’ll probably pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

•   Student loan refinancing refers to paying off current loans with a new loan from a private lender, preferably with a lower rate. This rate is not the weighted average of the loans, but rather is based on current market rates, your credit profile, and your debt-to-income ratio.

•   Other alternatives to refinancing include making interest-only payments while still enrolled in school or requesting a student loan forbearance if you’re struggling to make your payments. Forbearance means you can reduce or pause payments for a designated period of time.

You’ll want to know all your student loan repayment options — and the pros and cons of consolidating or refinancing your loans, prior to making a decision.

A calculator tool for student loan refinancing can come in handy when estimating savings, both monthly and over the life of your loan.

Weighing Perks and Interest Rates

Before deciding whether refinancing is right for you, it’s important to again highlight this important point: If you refinance your federal student loans with a private lender, those loans will no longer be eligible for programs like income-driven repayment plans, federal forbearance, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

But if you can get a lower interest rate, refinancing may be a good fit. Most refinancing lenders offer loan terms of five to 20 years. Shortening or elongating your loan term can affect your monthly payment and the total cost over the life of your loan.

For some borrowers, lengthening the term and lowering the monthly payment will be a valuable option, even though it can mean paying more interest over the life of the loan. Only you can decide if this kind of refinancing makes sense for your personal finances.

The Takeaway

When can you refinance student loans? As soon as you establish a financial foundation or bring a solid cosigner aboard. Can you refinance your student loans while in school? Yes, however, not all lenders offer this and it may not make sense for your situation. It’s also important to understand the implications of refinancing federal student loans with a private lender. If you do not plan on using federal benefits and protections and are comfortable with the possibility of paying more interest over the loan’s term, it might be a move worth considering.

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.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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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.


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

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.

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.

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Comparing Personal Loans vs Business Loans

Comparing Personal Loans vs Business Loans

If you’re looking to start or grow a side hustle or small business, you might think a business loan is the right next step. A personal loan, however, is another popular financial product that you also might be able to use. Or it could free up some cash by covering expenses elsewhere in your budget, so you can put more of your income toward funding your business.

Because there are potential benefits and disadvantages to both types of financing, it’s important to understand the differences. You’ll find that information here and be better equipped to decide whether a business loan vs. personal loan might work best for you.

What Is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is a source of financing that a borrower typically can use for just about anything. (That said, you may need to get approval from your lender if you plan to use the money directly for your business. This is not always possible.)

Typically, you’ll find unsecured personal loans, with the borrower agreeing to pay back the full amount, plus interest, in fixed monthly payments within a predetermined time frame.

Some lenders also offer secured personal loans, however,which means some form of collateral is involved. Also, some offer personal loans with variable interest rates.

How Personal Loans Work

When you apply for a personal loan, you can expect the lender to review your personal financial information — including your credit score, credit reports, and income — to determine your eligibility. In general, the better your credit, the better your chances of receiving a lower interest rate.

Personal loan amounts vary, but some lenders offer personal loans for as much as $100,000.

Although most personal loans have shorter repayment terms, the length of a loan can vary from a few months to several years. Typically, they last from 12 to 84 months.


💡 Quick Tip: Some personal loan lenders can release your funds as quickly as the same day your loan is approved.

What is a Business Loan?

A business loan is a type of financing used specifically to pay for business expenses. It could be used to purchase equipment or inventory, for example, or to fund a new project.

There are many kinds of small business loans available — with different rates and repayment terms — including Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, equipment loans, micro loans, and more. Rates, terms, and loan requirements also can vary significantly depending on the lender.

How Business Loans Work

Applying for a business loan tends to be more complicated than getting a personal loan. For one thing, you’ll likely have to submit more paperwork to back up your application, including your business’s financial statements and an up-to-date business plan. The lender also usually will want to review your personal and business credit scores. And you may have to be more specific about what the loan will be used for than you would with a personal loan.

If your business is brand new, lenders may be reluctant to give you a business loan. Some lenders might ask you to put up some type of collateral to qualify.

Differences Between Business and Personal Loans

There are several factors you may want to evaluate if you’re trying to decide between a personal loan vs. a business loan, including the loan costs, how you plan to use the money, and how much you hope to borrow. Here’s a look at a few basic differences.

Cost Differences Between Business and Personal Loans

Whether you’re considering applying for a business loan or a personal loan to use for your business, it’s important to be clear about how much it could cost you upfront and over the life of the loan.

Interest Rates

Interest rates for business loans can be lower than for the interest rates for personal loans, but the rates for both can vary depending on the type of loan, the lender you choose, and your qualifications as a borrower.

Fees

Fees also can affect the upfront and overall cost of both personal and business loans, so it’s a good idea to be clear on what you’re paying. Some of the more common fees for business loans and personal loans that you might see include origination, application, packaging, and underwriting fees, and late payment and prepayment penalties.

Some fees may be subtracted from the loan amount before the borrower receives the money. But fees also may be folded into a loan’s annual percentage rate (APR) instead, which can increase the monthly payment.

Down Payment

Business loans may be available for larger amounts than a personal loan. For a larger business loan — a substantial SBA loan or commercial real estate loan, for example — you could be required to come up with a down payment. This amount can add to your upfront cost. However, just as with a mortgage or car loan, a larger down payment can help you save money over the long term, because you’ll pay less in interest.

Whether you’ll need a down payment, and the amount required, may depend on your individual and business creditworthiness.

Different Uses for Business and Personal Loans

One of the biggest differences between business vs. personal loans is the way borrowers can use them.

•   A business loan can be used to finance direct business costs, such as paying for supplies, marketing, a new piece of equipment, business debt consolidation, or a business property. But it typically can’t be used for indirect business costs, which means a borrower can’t pay off personal debts with the money or buy personal property with it.

•   Some business loans have a very specific purpose, and the borrowed money must be used for that purpose. For example, if you get an equipment loan, you must buy equipment with it. Or, if you get a business car loan, you must buy a business car with the money.

•   Because you may be able to use the influx of cash for both business and personal expenses, the uses of a personal loan can be very flexible. But personal loans are typically smaller than business loans, and they generally come with a shorter repayment term. It can be helpful to have a clear intent for how the money will be spent and to keep separate records for business and personal expenses.

•   It’s also important to note that some lenders put restrictions on how personal loans can be used, so you should read the fine print before applying and share your plans with the lender if asked.

Differences When Applying for Business and Personal Loans

The criteria lenders look at can be very different when approving a small business loan vs. a personal loan. Here’s what you can expect during the application process.

Applying for a Personal Loan

When you apply for a personal loan, your personal creditworthiness usually plays a large role in the application and approval process.

•   Lenders typically will review a borrower’s credit scores, credit reports, and income when determining the interest rate, loan amount, and repayment term of a personal loan.

•   Generally, you can expect to be asked for a government-issued photo ID, your Social Security number, and/or some other proof of identity.

•   You also may be asked for proof of your current address. And the lender will want to verify your income.

Applying for a Business Loan

When you apply for a business loan, your personal finances still will be a factor, though other aspects of your application will be reviewed carefully.

•   The loan underwriters also will evaluate your business’s cash flow, how long you’ve been in business, your profitability, the exact purpose of the loan, trends in your industry, your business credit score, and more.

•   The lender may ask for a current profit-and-loss statement, a cash-flow statement, recent bank statements and tax returns for the business, your business license and a business plan, and any other current loan documents or lease agreements you might have.

•   You also will have to provide information about your collateral if you are applying for a secured loan.

Recommended: Understanding Credit Score Ranges

Structural Differences in Business and Personal Loans

Knowing the differences in how personal loans vs. business loans are structured could help you decide which is right for you and your business. A few factors that might affect your choice include:

Loan Amount

A business loan may be more difficult to apply for and get than a personal loan, especially if your business is a startup or only a few years old. But if you can qualify, you may be able to borrow more money with a business loan. While personal loan amounts typically top out at $50,000 to $100,000, some SBA loans can go as high as $5.5 million.

Loan Length

You’ll likely find personal and business loans with both short and long repayment terms. But generally, personal loans have shorter terms (typically one to seven years), while some business loan repayment periods can be up to 25 years.

Tax Advantages

If you have a business loan, deducting the interest you pay on the loan may be possible when filing income taxes if you meet specific criteria.

With a personal loan, it might get a little more complicated. If you use the borrowed money only for business costs, you may be able to deduct the interest you paid. But if you use the loan for both business and personal expenses, you would only be able to deduct the percentage of the interest that was used for qualifying business costs.

And you should be prepared to itemize deductions, documenting exactly how you spent the money. Your financial advisor or tax preparer can help you determine what’s appropriate.

Support

Along with the traditional banking services you might expect to get with any type of loan, a business loan also may come with operational support and online tools that can be useful for owners and entrepreneurs.

Risk

When you’re deciding between a personal vs. business loan, it’s also a good idea to think about what could happen if, at some point, the loan can’t be repaid.

•   If your business has financial problems and you have a personal loan, you (and your cosigner, if you have one) could be held responsible for the debt. You could lose your collateral (if it’s a secured loan) or damage your personal credit.

•   If your business defaults and it’s a business loan, the impact to your personal credit would depend on how the loan is set up.

◦   If you’re listed as a sole proprietor or signed a personal guarantee, it’s possible you could be sued, your personal and/or business credit scores could take a hit, and your personal and business assets could be at risk.

◦   If your business is set up as a distinct legal entity, on the other hand, your personal credit score might not be affected — but your business credit score could suffer. And it could be more difficult for you to take out a business loan in the future.

Structural Differences in Business and Personal Loans

Business Loans Personal Loans
Loan Amount Typically come in larger amounts (up to $5 million) Generally are limited to smaller amounts (up to $100,000)
Loan Length Usually have longer repayment periods (up to 25 years) Generally have shorter terms (a few months to a few years)
Tax Advantages Interest paid on a business loan is often tax-deductible Interest paid on a personal loan used for business expenses may be tax-deductible
Support Lenders may offer operational support and online business tools to borrowers with business loans Lenders may offer more personal types of support to borrowers with personal loans
Risk Defaulting on a business loan could affect the borrower’s business credit score or business and personal credit scores (based on how the loan is structured) Defaulting on a personal loan could affect the borrower’s personal credit score

Pros and Cons of Business Loans

There are advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind when deciding whether to apply for a business loan vs. personal loan.

•   A business loan can be more difficult to get than a personal loan, especially if the business is new or still struggling to become profitable.

•   If you qualify for a business loan, you may be able to borrow a larger amount of money and get a longer repayment term.

•   A business loan also could make it easier to separate your business and personal finances.

•   There could be fewer personal consequences if the business defaults on the loan.

Pros of Business Loans

Cons of Business Loans

Borrowers may qualify for larger amounts than personal loans offer Applying can require more time and effort
Longer loan terms available Qualifying can be difficult
Interest rates may be lower Collateral and/or a down payment may be required
Interest is usually tax deductible Loan must be used for business purposes only
Lenders may offer more business-oriented support New businesses may pay higher interest rates
Debt may be the responsibility of the business, not the individual (depending on loan structure) Responsibility for the debt could still land on individual borrowers

Recommended: Can You Refinance a Personal Loan?

Pros and Cons of Personal Loans

A personal loan vs. business loan can have advantages and disadvantages to consider if you are wondering if you can use one to fund a business.

•   Personal loans can offer borrowers more flexibility than business loans in terms of usage.

•   They’re generally easier to qualify for and may have lower interest rates.

•   One major hurdle may be tracking whether the funds were used for business or personal expenses, which can be crucial, especially for income taxes.

Pros of Personal Loans

Cons of Personal Loans

Application process is usually quick and easy Lending limits may be lower than business loans
Qualifying can be less challenging than with a business loan because it’s based on personal creditworthiness Borrower doesn’t build business credit with on-time payments
Can use funds for both personal and business expenses (unless there are lender restrictions) Defaulting can affect personal credit score/finances
Most personal loans are unsecured Interest rates are generally higher than for a business loan
Interest may be tax deductible (when funds are used for business) Shorter loan terms than business loans typically offer



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Is a Business or Personal Loan Right for You?

Considering the differences between a personal loan and a business loan can help you decide which is right for your needs. You may want to do some online research, compare rates and terms, and/or ask a financial professional or business mentor for advice before moving forward with this important decision. Here are some things to think about as you look for a loan that’s a good fit for your personal and professional goals.

A business loan may make sense if:

•   You’re seeking a lower interest rate and/or repayment term.

•   You want to keep personal and business expenditures separate.

•   You’ve been successfully running your business for a while.

•   You need more money than you can get with a personal loan.

•   You hope to build your business credit.

•   You want to limit your liability.

A personal loan may make sense if:

•   Your goal is to grow your startup or new business and the loan allows this usage.

•   You plan to use the money for both business and personal expenses.

•   You can find a personal loan with a lower interest rate than a comparable business loan, and the lender approves the loan for business expenses.

•   You want to get the money as quickly as possible.

•   You are seeking a shorter repayment term.

•   You don’t want to secure the loan with collateral.

•   You feel confident about your personal ability to repay the loan.

Recommended: Can I Pay Off a Personal Loan Early?

The Takeaway

If you’re seeking funding to start or grow your business, you may have to decide between personal and business loans. Personal loans are typically easier to apply for and offer quicker access to funds, but often at a somewhat higher interest rate and shorter term vs. business loans. Also, business loans usually offer significantly higher loan amounts and the interest can be tax-deductible. It’s worthwhile to consider the tax and credit implications of each type of loan too, among other factors.

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

Are business loans more expensive than personal loans?

Business loans typically have lower interest rates than personal loans. Still, it’s probably worth comparing both types of loans and the rates lenders are willing to offer you and/or your business before making a final decision between the two.

Is it illegal to use personal loans for business?

Most (but not necessarily all) personal loans can be used for just about anything. Your lender may not even ask how you intend to spend the money. But it’s a good idea to check the lending agreement in case there are any restrictions. And if the lender wants to know the purpose of the loan, you should be honest about your intentions.

Are startup loans personal loans?

There are a few different options for funding a startup, including SBA loans, family loans, or crowdfunding platforms. But if you have good credit and are confident you can make the monthly payments, taking out a personal loan could be an effective strategy for funding a startup, if the loan permits that usage.


Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

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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.

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.

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

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