What is a Qualified Plan?
Qualified retirement plans set up by self-employed individuals are sometimes called Keogh or H.R.10 plans. The plan must be for the exclusive benefit of employees or their beneficiaries. A qualified plan can include coverage for a self-employed individual.
As an employer, you can usually deduct, subject to limits, contributions you make to a qualified plan, including those made for your own retirement. The contributions (and earnings and gains on them) are generally tax free until distributed by the plan.
There are two basic kinds of qualified plans—defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans.
Defined Contribution Plan: A defined contribution plan provides an individual account for each participant in the plan. It provides benefits to a participant largely based on the amount contributed to that participant's account. Benefits are also affected by any income, expenses, gains, losses, and forfeitures of other accounts that may be allocated to an account. A defined contribution plan can be either a profit-sharing plan or a money purchase pension plan.
Defined Benefit Plan: A defined benefit plan is any plan that is not a defined contribution plan. Contributions to a defined benefit plan are based on what is needed to provide definitely determinable benefits to plan participants. Actuarial assumptions and computations are required to figure these contributions. Generally, you will need continuing professional help to have a defined benefit plan.