Some Anti-Theist Religious Bits & Pieces: Round Fifteen

Of all of those Big Questions central to philosophical concepts that surround life, the universe and everything, the realms of theology and religions and the nature of deities continue to fascinate. Opinions proliferate in books, articles, videos, conversations in bars and pubs, and in fact anywhere and everywhere two or more humans are in proximity. There’s the pro side; there’s the anti-side. There aren’t too many fence-sitters. I’m still in the anti-camp as the following bits and pieces illustrate.Regarding Religion*The massive diversity of religious faiths is a major argument against religious faith.*Religions of necessity creates an “us-and-them” mentality.*Christians are in favour of freedom of religion as long as it’s their religion.*If you ever want to know what is wrong with your religion, just ask somebody from an alternative religion. They’ll be very pleased to tell you.*Teach a child one religion and you indoctrinate them. Teach them many religions and you inoculate them.Regarding Religion vs. Science*If the Bible is so all scientifically spot-on, then Galileo and Copernicus would never have gotten into theological hot water so to speak. Even the Pope, John Paul II finally had to confess centuries later in October 1992 that Copernicus and (specifically) Galileo got it right and that the Church was wrong and had done these scientists an extreme disservice and injustice.*When examining a few of my history of science tomes, what do I find?The Ancient Greeks were known for their mathematics, observations in natural history and physics. They also came up with the idea of an academic institution of higher learning, and albeit no science, they are clearly associated with the concept of the Olympic Games.The Arabs excelled at mathematics and astronomy.The Polynesians were masters at maritime and celestial navigation.The Ancient Egyptians are associated with massive achievements in engineering and also mummification.The Mayans were superb observational astronomers even without any instrumentation.The Incas are renowned for their engineering construction and for metallurgy.The Chinese are known for numerous discoveries from chemistry to geophysics to astronomy and medicine.The Vikings were master seafarers.Several ancient cultures independently came up with the aerodynamic principles governing the invention of the boomerang – not associated with the Bible of course.Alas, the Bible and Biblical characters do not rate any mention at all. Historians of science do not acknowledge any contribution to science from the Bible or via the characters associated with the Bible. If anything, the ‘science’ in the Bible gets a massive thumbs down.Regarding Faith & Belief*A belief system that hasn’t changed in 2000 years that isn’t self-correcting isn’t worth squat because it isn’t capable of learning anything new.*I’d rather not know the answer than make stuff up.*Now I realise that the world is a very terrifying place, therefore you feel very insecure and alone and small within this sea of humanity that’s totally cold and indifferent and uncaring about you. So, it’s no wonder that you choose to live as much as possible in a la-la-land wonderland inhabited by an invisible magic man in the sky, a Big Brother figure who will look after you.*Christian theists represent just one faith among many numerous faiths. I have no more reason to believe in that faith and to accept that faith than both you and I both do with respect to any of the other faiths. The only tiny difference between us is that you’re an atheist when it comes to all faiths but one; I’m an atheist when it comes to all faiths full stop. So to recap, I don’t believe in your faith in the same way that you don’t believe in all the others who have their faith tied up in all the other faiths that aren’t your faith.*You may claim to have actual ‘knowledge’ that God exists as opposed to just a degree of personal faith or belief that God exists, but regardless of the term used, you cannot convey that ‘knowledge’ to me in such a way or form that I can independently verify that ‘knowledge’ for myself. Therefore, your ‘knowledge’ is worthless to me until such time as you do just that. This inability; your lack to give me ‘knowledge’ that I can independently verify, speaks volumes.*But, speaking of ‘knowledge’, I’ll give you a plausible reason why you believe you have ‘knowledge’ of God’s existence, the (near) infallibility of the Bible and in the reality of a supernatural Jesus. It’s all because that was the theology that was taught in the culture / society / community / family you were born and raised into, although indoctrinated / brainwashed might be more to the point and a more appropriate term(s). Now you know, and I know, that had you been born and raised in another time and in another place your theological indoctrination would have been drastically different. You’d bet the family farm on Ra, The Book of the Dead and on Horus. You’d have belief in your ‘knowledge’ of the theology part and parcel of ancient Egypt and you know this to be true.*So just because you claim to have some ‘knowledge’ of something (i.e. – God & Jesus) does not in and of itself; of necessity, make that alleged ‘knowledge’ correct. Many a person has had knowledge that later proved wrong.*Faith is not scepticism.*Assuming that both Satan and God are real, how did you actually figure out that God is the good guy and Satan is the bad guy? What mechanism did you use to figure that out? You have to use your own self-generated morality to decide the issue. If you use God’s morality that’s imposed on you, then you aren’t going to be able to use your own independent judgement. God is obviously going to be biased in favour of God.Regarding Prayer & Miracles*Hands that help are far more important than hands that pray.*It doesn’t count when you pray for rain today when yesterday’s weather forecast said tomorrow it’s going to rain!Regarding the Bible


*Anyone can write words in a book like the Bible. But is there any independent verification for all of the Bible’s alleged supernatural happenings? Just because I read a book in quantum physics doesn’t make quantum physics true, however much I might believe the author. But I can go out and do the experiments / observations (or watch the experiments being done) and convince myself that quantum physics is indeed true as the book and authorship stated. That’s independent verification.*Here’s a Biblical analogy: I very recently watched the 15 episode TV miniseries on DVD “North & South” – before, during and after the American Civil War. Now nearly all of the locations where the stories take place actually exist. Many of the events (i.e. – Civil War battles; Lincoln’s assassination, Harper’s Ferry, etc.) actually happened. Some of the supporting cast played really real historical characters like General Lee and General Grant and President Lincoln, etc. However, a few of the places, many of the events, and all of the major characters were entirely made up. Thus, “North & South” is a work of historical fiction so just because one place / event / character was real doesn’t translate into the entire miniseries being something a high school student could watch in preparation for an American history exam.*Consider Genesis 2: 24 (King James Version)”Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”The only two humans present and accounted for at this point in time were Adam and Eve and they didn’t have a mum and a dad (in the traditional sense). So where did this concept of parenthood come from out of the blue; all of a sudden? Well obviously this is just pure evidence that Genesis was all the product of human authorship; authorship that knew perfectly well that humans come from humans and that humans have mums and dads. Said authors needed to clarify that after their imaginative rendering of the initially humanly parent-less creation myth of Adam and Eve.*I don’t have neither the time nor the inclination to go through over 600 Biblical contradictions, one by one. I will mention one however. There are two separate and apart Ten Commandments which are not complementary; they do not agree one with the other (apart from the very first commandment) – compare and contrast Exodus 20: 3-17 and Exodus 34: 11-28 (and take especially careful note of the final three words in Exodus 34: 28). Suffice it be to say that I am convinced the Bible is chock-a-block full of internal contradictions. That’s in addition to all the other nonsense I’ve already touched on and gone through.*Who said that the Bible was God’s word? A human said that!Regarding that Biblical Talking Snake:*I’ll also note that it is easy to try to identify Satan with the talking snake in retrospect since Genesis and Revelation are eons apart; as far apart as it is possible to get. Revelation was written much, much later and could be twisted to adapt to previous Biblical chapters and verses.Faced with an Ockham’s Razor choice between the Genesis talking snake really being a supernatural entity (i.e. – Satan) for which there is no actual independent evidence that he even exists, or the talking snake being the product of pure human imagination, which is a more rational decision?Regarding the ExodusWe all know the tall tale of how God commanded Moses (and later Aaron – Exodus 4) to go to the Egyptian pharaoh (curiously unnamed in the Bible) with a request, well demand actually, to let God’s Chosen People (the Israelites / Hebrews) leave their alleged enslavement in Egypt so they could travel to the Promised Land – the Burning Bush myth of The Exodus (Exodus 3).God tells Moses that pharaoh will not listen to him when he requests, actually demands is more the case in point, that pharaoh let the Hebrew ‘slaves’ go out of Egypt, even after God has given the Egyptian nation (note, not pharaoh) nine plagues to deal with.Despite giving Moses and Aaron a bag full of magic tricks with which to convince the Egyptian establishment of their holy mission bona-fides, God also told Moses (and Aaron) that pharaoh wouldn’t listen to them (Exodus 7: 4; 11: 9) and let His people go (Exodus 3: 19; 11: 9). In fact God knew before-the-fact that He would have to get downright nasty with Egypt (the Egyptians in general instead of the pharaoh specifically) in order to achieve His aims (Exodus 3: 20). So an immediate issue arises, why bother sending Moses (and Aaron) to chin-wag with pharaoh in the first place? It was doomed from the get-go.In fact God deliberately and on numerous occasions, hardened pharaoh’s heart to ensure Moses and Aaron wouldn’t be listened to[#] and to ensure pharaoh wouldn’t let His Chosen People go (Exodus 4: 21; 7: 3; 7: 13-14; 7: 22; 8: 15; 8: 19; 8: 32; 9: 7; 9: 12; 9: 34-35; 10: 1; 10: 20; 10: 27; 11: 10; 14: 4; 14: 8; and also all Egyptians to boot Exodus 14: 17). What was the point of asking pharaoh to let His people go and then hardening pharaoh’s heart to ensure the exact opposite result? Perhaps that just then gives God the sadistic pleasure of inflicting cruel and unusual punishments on the Egyptian people via those ten plagues – note, not just on pharaoh, the only person to which He had an initial beef. In fact several times pharaoh was willing to let His people go and basically told the Hebrews to piss off (Exodus 9: 28; 10: 10; 10: 24; 12: 31-33), but no, God hardened pharaoh’s heart instead.What God should have done, what God should have told pharaoh directly god-to-man (face-to-face), assuming God was going to be fair-dinkum about His one and only one true objective which was getting pharaoh to let His Chosen People leave Egypt (instead of trying to prove Himself to all Egyptians as an all-round sadistic tyrant by inflicting the ten plagues), would have been that unless pharaoh let His people go, pharaoh was going to take a very long walk off a the top of a very tall and steep stone pyramid. End of discussion; end of problem.[#] And pharaoh didn’t listen to (or hearken unto) Moses or Aaron (Exodus 7: 13; 7: 22; 8: 15; 8: 19; and 9: 12).Issues Arising 1: What was the point of sending Moses and Aaron to talk to the pharaoh when God knew pharaoh wouldn’t listen and let the Israelites / Hebrews leave Egypt and God Himself would ensure this on numerous occasions by hardening pharaoh’s heart? It was all an exercise in absolute futility if you were Moses and Aaron.Issues Arising 2: What was the point of God inflicting punishment on the Egyptian people and livestock (i.e. – the ten plagues) when it was pharaoh and pharaoh alone who was the obstacle – an obstacle God wished to be an obstacle so God could strut His stuff and make damn sure that all and sundry knew without doubt that He was a read bad-ass.Regarding God*If there really is an outstanding argument for the actual existence of God, why aren’t theists using it?*Even if God actually exists, that in and of itself doesn’t mean that this God is worthy of being worshipped.*By the way, a flawed world implies a flawed creator.*If you’re trying to prove the existence of God, which god are you trying to prove and why? Can you give me any actual evidence that supports your God that doesn’t also support another god(s)?*God said it; I believe it; that settles it.*If you are really worthy of worship, you wouldn’t demand to be worshipped. And just because God (may have) created you doesn’t mean of necessity that you are obliged to worship Him.*If God created a women to be a companion to the male of the species, why didn’t God create a female deity to be a companion to Him?Regarding God’s Creation & the First Cause Argument*I propose that God is actually a magical flying pink elephant how farted the Universe into existence. Justification? We know that farting exists, even in the animal kingdom (my cats pass wind for example); we know that flying exists, from insects to pterosaurs to birds to bats to airplanes; we know that pink exists (quite apart from the entertainer); we know that elephants exist too. So a flying pink elephant that farted the Universe into existence is way more rational that presupposing any invisible magic man in the sky did the deed since we have no actual knowledge that such a creator deity actually even exists.*Maybe God caused the Big Bang event but in doing so blew Himself up – oops.Regarding God’s Omniscience*If God is all-knowing then how can He be upset at you for sinning when He knew even before you were born that you would sin?*Some say that there is no contradiction in being all-knowing and having free will. But if you know for absolute certain, and you are bound by that knowledge, of what you are going to have for breakfast tomorrow morning, then of necessity you must have that breakfast. Otherwise you didn’t know for absolute certain what was to happen before-the-fact and you weren’t all-knowing. If you are all-knowing then you have no free will in the matter if you do what you knew for absolute certain what you would do. Now either a deity has free will OR else it is all-knowing. The deity cannot be both since that would be a logical fallacy or contradiction. Of course the deity in question could be neither all-knowing AND have no free will, which suggests that there might not even be a deity present and accounted for at all. Further, if God is NOT all-knowing, then I’ll suggest that He doesn’t know how to create an absolute something from absolute nothingness.Rebuttal: Omniscience (knowing all) does not include knowing the future, because the future does not exist (by the very grammar of the sentence, it would make no sense to say that the future exists). So, just as an omniscient being doesn’t need to know the number of hairs on Harry Potter’s head (there is no such number, so there’s nothing to know), likewise He would not have to know the future (since there is no such thing).”Rebutting the rebuttal: Some dictionary definitions to start with of “omni”. Omni means “indicates all”; “denoting all”; “an element of Latin origin meaning ‘all’”. If you are ALL-knowing, the word ALL means just that – ALL. ALL encompasses ALL that is past; ALL that is present; ALL that is future; ALL is ALL that there is to know about life, the Universe and everything. The phrase is “all-knowing” NOT “all (except for the future)-knowing. Argue with the use of the word “all”, not with me. And by the way, the future is deterministic given the laws, principles and relationships that rule the roost. One example: solar and lunar eclipses can be predicted with certainty thousands of years into the future. You could write a list of future events, events you know must happen.Rebuttal 2: Omni does indeed mean “all”, but the future does not exist, and so it is not part of “all” any more than the number of hairs on Santa Claus’ beard is part of “all”. There is no such number, so even an omniscient person is not required to know it.Rebutting the rebuttal 2: Again, the phrase is “all-knowing” NOT “all (except for the future)-knowing”. Further, given theist’s belief that the Bible is the absolute word of God, the Book of Revelation is all about the future. Further, what about all of those Biblical prophets who had absolute knowledge of the future? Finally, I have convinced myself through rational thought processes that free will and omniscience are incompatible and contradictory terms.Regarding God’s Will*Since we weren’t allowed to eat from the Tree of Knowledge that would suggest that God wished to keep us in a state of pure and perpetual ignorance. Methinks knowledge, even knowledge of good and evil, is preferable to ignorance and so the talking snake, Even and Adam ultimately did the right thing.*Now just why would God all humans to have free will if He then will not allow said humans to exercise their free will without punishing them for it? That’s all the more the case when if exercising one’s free will the exercise of that free will harms no other humans. There are many “thou shall nots” in the Bible that if you do any of those “nots” God will get you for that even though no person was harmed or inconvenienced in even the slightest way.Regarding God’s ‘Morality’*If you think God is Mr. Morality personified, then please allow me to read certain adult-only Biblical stories to your young children!For example (one of many):1 Samuel 15:2-3 (King James Version)2 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.”


3 “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”Now how are you going to explain to your young child why God ordered infants and babies to be slaughtered? And what was the point of killing all of the livestock? God’s insane!*More about God’s crimes? God says “do not kill”; God kills. Enough said! For elaboration I recommend you watch on YouTube DarkMatter2525′s clip on “God goes on a mass murder spree”. He gives 41 Biblical references to back up his claims.*We do not, or we certainly should not get our morality from God on the grounds that He’s very much a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ sort of dude. Any positive association between God and morality is a major oxymoronic association. I’m ready, willing and able to pass judgement on God and God’s alleged ‘morality’, especially on grounds that God, after all, was created in the image of humans. So I’m ultimately in judgement of fellow humans, albeit humans – humans who wrote the Bible hence defined God’s ‘morality’ – long since turned to dust and ashes.*If you accept God’s version of morality unreservedly, then you are passing judgement upon God. If you do not accept God’s version of morality unreservedly, either in part or in its entirety, then you are also passing on God. In either case, you are using your own internally derived concepts of morality to either agree or disagree with God’s morality.*Morality must come from some authority. We (the people) ARE that authority.Regarding Jesus*Can Christian theists cite for me at least one inscription or document – NOT the Bible – that has been dated and authenticated to the era between 1 AD and say 50 AD, an inscription or document that mentions Jesus, especially a supernatural Jesus, one who performed miracles and who was resurrected from the dead? Can you do that? If not then please keep quiet about the existence of contemporary evidence for the actual existence of Jesus.Because here’s the point. Did any of the alleged (500 or so) witnesses (1 Corinthians 15: 6) to the resurrected Jesus, or any of the women or any of the disciples who saw an animated version of him post-crucifixion ever pen their own first person account of this miracle? The answer is an absolute “no”.And ancient historian Josephus wasn’t born until after-the-fact (37 AD – 100 AD). He makes no mention of Jesus until around 93-94 AD in his “Antiquities of the Jews”, failing to mention Jesus in earlier works, and then gives only two brief mentions which have merited much scholarly debate (i.e. – not everyone is convinced of the authenticity of what Josephus allegedly wrote. Further, there are no originals – of course. The earliest copies date to the 11th Century, so we’re dealing with copies of copies of copies; translations of translations of translations. Who can really say what alterations were or might have been made by those Christian monks into whose care was placed the relevant Josephus manuscript?Even if despite all of the copies and all of the translations and all of the opportunities for those with vested interests to add and/or subtract from what Josephus wrote, what Josephus wrote only gives historical credibility to Jesus the mortal person, not Jesus the supernatural being.*Christian theists do go on, and on, and on, and on, and on about all of this evidence for the existence of a supernatural Jesus and a resurrected Jesus (and an invisible Jesus, but never mind that). Yet two of the three major monotheistic religions give the concept of a supernatural / resurrected Jesus the absolute thumbs down. So why doesn’t their alleged evidence for Jesus cut any ice with the True Believers of these two other major faiths? Methinks something is downright screwy with theist’s alleged evidence – like it doesn’t actually even exist.*Regarding the alleged resurrection of Jesus, can you imagine the debacle that would arise if modern major news stories in the here-and-now weren’t reported anywhere until 50 years after-the-fact. What degree of accuracy could you expect especially if everything were just reported by word-of-mouth? Fifty years after-the-fact? Talk about alternative facts emerging and utterly fake news.*Hercules is the real new resurrection story and Jesus is the fake news story. The resurrection of Jesus was a slightly reworked plagiarism of the Hercules resurrection. Now prove me wrong!*The alleged “empty tomb” is not an argument for the resurrection of Jesus. Just because my cookie jar is empty doesn’t mean I don’t have any cookies. Or, just because I have an empty wallet doesn’t mean that I’m broke.*Sexual abstinence didn’t help the Virgin Mary now, did it?*knock, knock
–”Who is it?”
-”It’s me, Jesus. Let me in.”
–”Why do you want in?”
-”I want to save you.”…
–”Save me from what?”
-”From what I’ll do to you if you don’t let me inRegarding Atheists & Atheism*Theists might just benefit by watching on YouTube the call-in TV show “The Atheist Experience” (out of Austin, Texas) which is actually designed specifically for theists to call in and give their theism their best shot. I’d love to see theists go up again Matt Dillahunty who nearly became a Christian minister (before he saw the light) and thus probably knows more about Christian theology and the Bible better than most theists do. I certainly wouldn’t want to go up against him in a theological debate! So due warning: Dillahunty holds nothing back and pulls no punches and takes no prisoners.

Choosing A Retirement Plan For Your Small Business

A qualified retirement plan can be beneficial to employers and employees alike, yet for a small business owner who is busy with daily operations, the time and effort involved in choosing a plan can seem daunting. It does not have to be.

Retirement plans come in two flavors: qualified and non-qualified. A qualified plan is desirable because it provides a vehicle for tax-deferred retirement savings for both the business’ employees and its owner, with allowable contributions in excess of those permitted for IRAs. A qualified plan also provides the employer an immediate deduction for the contributions made. Depending on the plan, it can encourage employees to maximize the business’ profits and to remain with the employer. Plans can be customized with optional features.

Non-qualified plans do not have to meet many of the requirements imposed on qualified plans, and have a wider range of features and provisions as a result. However, in most cases the employer does not get an immediate tax deduction for a non-qualified plan. Such arrangements also have to avoid “constructive receipt” by the employee in order to defer the employee’s taxes until the money is actually distributed. This usually exposes the employee to credit risk if the business fails before the deferred compensation is paid out. Non-qualified plans are sometimes useful, but most small businesses will prefer one of the qualified plan arrangements described in this article.

All of this can leave your head swimming, especially if personal finance is not your area of expertise. To simplify the exercise, think of finding a retirement plan that fits your small business like buying a new car. You should consider what retirement plan vehicle will fit your business’ size, needs and budget, as well as offering any special features you want. The more “tricked out” your retirement plan, the more costly it will be to establish and maintain.

The SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) IRA is the bare-bones model that gets you from point A to point B. It is easy to adopt, and typically custodians like Schwab or T. Rowe Price offer a basic form to start one. A SEP can be established as late as the employer’s income tax filing deadline, including extensions. After the initial set-up, the employer has no further filing requirements.

With a SEP, the employer makes contributions for all eligible employees. The common threshold for eligibility is an employee who is at least age 21 and who has been employed by the employer for three of the last five years, with compensation of at least $550 during the year. Eligibility standards can be less strict than this if the employer chooses. Contributions are an equal percentage for each employee’s income. The maximum contribution for 2013 is 25 percent of compensation, but no more than $51,000 total ($52,000 in 2014). (The same limits on contributions made to employees’ SEP-IRAs also apply to contributions if you are self-employed. However, special rules apply when figuring the maximum deductible contribution.) In a year where cash is limited, an employer does not have to make a contribution. SEP contributions are due by the employer’s tax filing deadline, including extensions.

A SEP is a great choice for a sole proprietor or a small business with a few employees, where the employer would like to have a retirement savings vehicle that allows larger, tax deductible contributions than does a traditional IRA with minimal fuss and maximum flexibility.

A SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) IRA is also easy to establish and has no ongoing filing requirements for employers. SIMPLE IRAs are only available to businesses with fewer than 100 employees and no other retirement plan in place. These plans operate on a calendar-year basis and can be established as late as October 1.

While only the employer can contribute to a SEP IRA plan, a SIMPLE IRA allows employees to contribute to their own accounts, up to $12,000 in 2013 and 2014. Also, participants age 50 and older can make additional contributions, up to $2,500. The employer can either match employee contributions up to 3 percent of compensation (not limited by an annual compensation limit) or make a 2 percent of compensation nonelective contribution for each eligible employee (limited to an annual compensation limit of $255,000). The employer’s matching contribution can go as low as 1 percent when cash is constrained; however, the employer can use this option no more than 2 years out of a 5-year period. Unlike a SEP, a SIMPLE plan requires that the employer contribute each year.

An employer must deposit employees’ salary reduction contributions within 30 days of the end of the month in which the money is withheld from employee paychecks. The matching or nonelective contributions are due by the due date of the employer’s federal income tax return, including extensions.

All employees who have earned income of at least $5,000 in any prior 2 years and are reasonably expected to earn at least $5,000 in the current year must be eligible to participate in a SIMPLE IRA.

A SIMPLE can be a good choice for a small employer who would like to benefit from the tax deduction for employer contributions while encouraging his or her employees to save for retirement. Many employees will find this sort of plan attractive because it allows for higher contributions than a traditional IRA and requires employer contributions. It entails a greater administrative burden than a SEP, although this burden is still relatively small, and offers less flexibility. If cash flow is not an issue, a SIMPLE plan might be for you.

Once an employer makes a contribution to a SEP or SIMPLE plan, the employee is 100 percent vested in that contribution. Employees can take their contributions with them, even if they quit the next day. If employee retention is a concern, a plan that allows for deferred vesting, such as a Money Purchase Plan (MPP) or Profit Sharing Plan (PSP), may be a better fit. Vesting can either be graduated over a period of years of service or take effect all at once after a certain period of years. These plans are the middle-of-the-line models that provide more features than the most basic plans.

Similar to a SEP, a PSP allows for discretionary contributions by the employer. This is a beneficial feature if the business’ cash flow is a concern. The employer contributes what he or she can and the contributions are divided among employees based on a formula set by the plan. This is commonly based on an individual employee’s compensation relative to total compensation. Employer contributions are limited to the lesser of 100 percent of the employee’s compensation or $51,000 for 2013 ($52,000 for 2014). An employer can deduct amounts that do not exceed 25 percent of aggregate compensation for participants. A plan must be established by the last day of the business’ fiscal year. Contributions are due by the business’ tax filing deadline, including extensions.

A PSP is a good choice if cash flow is variable. It can motivate workers to increase profits and the likelihood of receiving a contribution. However, many employees might not find it as beneficial as a plan with guaranteed contributions. These employees may prefer a Money Purchase Plan (MPP).

A MPP is similar to a PSP, but it requires an annual contribution of a specific percentage of employee compensation, up to 25 percent. This creates a liability for the business, and thus may not be a good choice if cash flow is uncertain. An MPP must be established by the last day of the business’ fiscal year. Contributions must be made by the due date of the employer’s tax return, including extensions.

Standard eligibility requirements for both a PSP and an MPP are employees over age 21 and who have at least one to two years of service with the employer. If two years of service are required for participation, contributions vest immediately.

MPPs and PSPs also may allow loans to participants, a feature that employees often find attractive. Loans are usually limited to either (1) the greater of $10,000 or 50 percent of the vested balance or (2) $50,000, whichever is less. Loans must be repaid, with interest, over 5 years, unless they are used to purchase the employee’s principal residence.

The vesting and loan features make MPPs and PSPs more difficult to establish and maintain than SEP or SIMPLE plans. Both types of plan require employers to file Form 5500 with the IRS annually. These plans also both require testing to ensure that benefits do not discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees. Employers may also find the administration of plan loans to be burdensome. The added features of MPPs and PSPs make them more costly and complicated than the standard model SEP and SIMPLE plans.

You may choose an MPP or PSP if you would like a plan that encourages employee retention and you can handle the extra paperwork. Whether you choose an MPP or a PSP depends mainly on your cash flow.

The fully loaded model retirement plan is the traditional 401(k). These plans allow employee and employer contributions, vesting of employer contributions (employee contributions are always fully vested), and other options such as loans. These plans can be as basic or as complex as the employer wants. However, with complexity comes cost.

Annual employee contributions for a 401(k) are limited to $17,500 for 2013 and 2014. Participants age 50 and older can contribute an additional $5,500. Combined, the employer and employee contributions can be up to the lesser of either 100 percent of compensation or $51,000 for 2013 ($52,000 for 2014). Employers can deduct contributions up to 25 percent of aggregate compensation for participants and all salary reduction contributions. A 401(k) must be adopted by the end of the business’ fiscal year, and contributions are due by the business’s tax filing deadline, plus extensions.

An employer’s contribution to a traditional 401(k) plan can be flexible. Contributions can be a percentage of compensation, a match for employee contributions, both or neither. However, the plan must be tested annually to determine that it does not discriminate against rank-and-file employees in favor or owners and managers. A Safe Harbor 401(k) does not require discrimination testing but does require the employer to make either a specified matching contribution or a 3 percent contribution to all participants.

Commonly, 401(k) plans must be offered to all employees over age 21 who have worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous year.

A 401(k) is a good option for an employer who would like a plan with salary deferral, like a SIMPLE IRA, but also allows for vesting of employer contributions. An employer considering this sort of plan should be able to afford the contributions and the additional administrative work required. A 401(k) is a good option for larger businesses, where the maintenance of such a plan is less burdensome.

The plans I have described in this article are all defined contribution plans. This mean that the plan determines the contributions made, not the ultimate benefits received. Once the contribution is made, the employee invests it however he or she sees fit. At retirement, the amount the employee can withdraw is dictated by the performance of those investments. Poor investments lead to smaller retirement savings.

Defined benefit plans, in contrast, are the Rolls Royces of the retirement plan world. These plans include traditional pension plans, which pay out a set amount to an employee in retirement. The employer, not the employee, takes on the investment risk and will have to make up most shortfalls if the money originally set aside does not cover the ultimate expense.

While in theory an employee could do better with a defined contribution plan, depending on investment results, the certainty of a set payout in retirement makes defined benefit plans highly attractive to participants. However, such plans are costly and administratively complex. On top of annual filings, the plan needs to be tested by an actuary. The required future payments become a liability of the company. The burdens of these plans have made them unattractive for many businesses, and they have become much less common in recent years. In most cases, especially for small businesses with employees, it is not economical to adopt a defined benefit plan.

Adopting a qualified plan for your small business need not be a hassle, even if you want to adopt one for the 2013 tax year. However, be prepared for the administrative complexity, and cost, to grow in step with the plan’s features. In general, though, the benefits of tax-deferred savings and contribution deductions for employers make setting up and maintaining one of these vehicles worth the price tag.