Self-employed retirement options
I'm trying to figure out the best way to save for retirement with my 1099 income. Some background:
I receive both W2 and 1099 income, the 1099 income tends to fluctuate year-to-year, and I anticipate at least one or two years with no 1099 income in the future. I'm a sole-proprietor, I don't pay myself a salary. I have a 401k through work that I contribute to, and an IRA with rollovers from prior employers as well.
I currently have a SEP IRA, mainly because of simplicity. I'm wondering whether it makes sense, in the future, to move to a sole 401k or simple IRA because of the higher contribution limits.
My main questions are below:
1) The SEP IRA max contribution is $54,000 for 2017, correct? I am currently making contributions as an "employer" (right?) since I don't pay myself a salary. These contributions are capped at 18% of net profit, correct? My understanding is that I can make "individual" contributions as well. How does the cap for those work? Am I even able to make those contributions without being an employee? That is, if I max out my contributions as an "employer," can I make additional contributions as an individual without being paid a salary?
2) If I were to open a simple IRA, the max contribution is $12,500 IIRC. Can I max out those contributions while being self-employed? Or do they have to be made as salary deferrals?
Thanks in advance!