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I am in a somewhat similar but different situation. Similar in that I had contributed(approx. $5K) to a company 401K with my previous employer, also I became an independent contractor/consultant in the middle of this year. The difference is that unfortunately, I have only turn a small profit for my LLC.

OK, now we know, based on previous questions and answers, that your LLC is a disregarded entity, and for tax purposes you are essentially the same as a sole proprietorship. You will report the LLC's activity on Schedule C of your personal tax return.

Question - does it make sense for me to open a 401K Solo before the year end?

Probably not, for this year, even if you can get it done by Monday. Generally, a solo 401(k) is for people who want to really put a lot away. Otherwise, the extra administrative and accounting work isn't worth it.

Can I contribute the balance of $11.5K (Individual contribution limit - the 5K above) even though my profit from the LLC is much less that that.

I don't think so, though I've never had that exact question come up.
You're right about the overall limit in the tax law, but I also think that any plan document would limit the amount of employee deferral to the amount of earned income from the business sponsoring the plan.

And obviously can I still add the 20% contribution from what little profit I made as the LLC?

Yes, you could also do that.

But if your income from the business is "much less than" $11,500, are you eligible to make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA this year? You might be able to shelter most of the income from the business, and do it more simply, than with a solo 401(k).

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