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Last Updated February 23, 2009


An employer is usually the plan sponsor, i.e. the party that adopts the retirement plan. This includes sole-proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and non-profit organizations.

An employer typically has hirees  who perform any service, of whatever nature, as an employee. A sole proprietor is treated as his or her own employer for retirement plan purposes.

A partner is not an employer for retirement plan purposes.  Instead, the partnership is treated as the employer of each partner.

Referring Cite

IRC § 414, Publication 560

Additional Helpful Information

  • For employer-plan purposes, the employer can be more than one businesses, if there is a controlled group relationship or affiliated service group relationship between the businesses.