What does a safe harbor 401(k) cost?

A safe harbor 401(k) is the most popular type of 401(k) plan. They're designed to help your business avoid IRS nondiscrimination testing—and the costly consequences if you were to fail.

Employers must match or contribute to their employees' 401(k) accounts using one of three formulas. Enter your information to find out the costs of a safe harbor plan.

Match optionsCost to employer
(per year)
Cost to employer
(per pay period)
Basic matching: The company matches 100% of all employee 401(k) contributions, up to 3% of their compensation, plus a 50% match of the next 2% of their compensation.$13,600.00$261.54
Enhanced matching: The company matches at least 100% of all employee 401(k) contributions, up to 4% of their compensation (not to exceed 6% of compensation).$13,600.00$261.54
Non-elective contribution: The company contributes at least 3% of each employee’s compensation, regardless of whether employees make contributions.$30,000.00$576.92


The Safe Harbor Match Calculator and results should not be considered tax or legal advice. The Safe Harbor Match Calculator is intended to illustrate the cost of different employer match options in a Safe Harbor 401(k) plan. The calculator’s results should be considered estimates.

We offer various types of safe harbor 401(k) plans:

  • You can use any of the above matching options on a "per payroll" basis.

  • You can opt for a plan that gives a match only to non-highly compensated employees on an end-of-year basis.

  • Note that a 4% non-elective contribution is also available in addition to the 3% modeled in the calculator above.

How Human Interest can help

Technology has streamlined 401(k) plan administration. This is great news for small business owners. Rather than having to worry about the nuts and bolts of plan design, Human Interest can help reduce your administrative burden, driving costs down in the process. That way you can spend more time on what matters the most: running your business.

Want to learn more?

  • Learn why many companies choose a safe harbor plan (hint: it's because they fail IRS non-discrimination testing—but if you fail or are worried you might fail, we can help!).

  • Read more about safe harbor plans.

  • Review the deadlines for starting a safe harbor plan this calendar year:

    • Oct. 1 - The deadline to launch a new safe harbor 401(k) plan for the current calendar year

    • Nov. 1 - The deadline to notify your provider regarding changes (so they can prep employee notices)

    • Dec. 1 - The deadline for all safe harbor plans to distribute employee notices (at Human Interest, we take care of this for our clients)


Investment advisory services are offered through Human Interest Advisors LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser and subsidiary of Human Interest Inc. An investment advisory fee is paid to Human Interest Advisors (HIA) of 0.01% of plan assets and a separate fee for recordkeeping services and custody-related expenses is paid to Human Interest Inc. (HII) of 0.05% of plan assets. Both fees are deducted on a monthly basis from the employee's account according to the HII and HIA Terms of Service. All prices are exclusive of applicable taxes. If the plan sponsor elects to hire an external investment advisor, the plan sponsor will pay such advisor as agreed between the plan sponsor and advisor. For more information, please see our pricing page. Similar services may be available at a lower cost from other vendors. Average fund fees as of 3/31/24. Asset-weighted average of mutual fund annual operating expenses ("expense ratio") for all plan participants invested in Human Interest Advisors' Model Portfolios ("Models"). Provided for illustrative purposes only. Actual, average fund expenses a participant experiences vary based on the specific Model selected, allocation changes to Models, whether participants opt out of Models and choose their own investments and allocations, or allocation drift, especially in volatile markets. Model allocations and underlying mutual fund expenses are subject to change. Before investing, carefully review the fund’s prospectus, which includes, among other things, a description of fees and expenses a fund will charge.