- Employees are able to funnel $22,500 into 401k savings for the 2023 tax year. (This increases the 2022 contribution limit by $2,000.)
- The contribution limit for an individual retirement account (IRA) is $6,500 in 2023. (This increases the 2022 contribution limit by $500.)
If you contribute to your 401k, you may wonder how much money you can put toward this account every year. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets annual limits, and 2023 limits were recently announced.
As you contemplate how much of your paycheck to set aside, meeting the 401k contribution limit may be stressful to work into your monthly budget if a large portion of your income goes to saving for retirement. However, contributing the annual maximum 401k amount can have a huge impact on your nest egg.
Below, we’ll compare the 401k contribution limits for 2022 and 2023. We’ll also review employer-employee maximum combination contribution amounts and highly compensated employee contribution limits.
401k Contribution Limits in 2023
First, what are contribution limits? Contribution limits refer to the total amount an employee can contribute to a 401k allowable by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The maximum contribution amount, on the other hand, refers to the total amount of funds both the employee and employer can contribute during the year.
In the past, the 401k contribution limits have gone up incrementally, typically about $500 each year. This year, the 401k contribution limit increased by $2,000.
Let’s take a look at the most recent 401k contribution limits.
401k Contribution Limits in 2023 & 2022
|401k Plan Limits||2023||2022||Comparison Between the Two Years|
|Maximum deferral limit for employee salaries||$22,500||$20,500||$2,000|
|Catch-up contributions for workers 50+||$7,500||$6,500||$1,000|
|Maximum contribution amount||$66,000||$61,000||$5,000|
|Maximum contribution amount, including catch-up contribution||$73,500||$67,500||$6,000|
The amounts also apply to 403(b), most 457 and Thrift Savings Plans.
The IRS typically announces official limits for the coming year in late October or early November. You can check the IRS 401k contribution limits on the IRS website for all updates.
Employer and Employee 401k Contribution Limits
You cannot go over a specified limit for 401k contributions, which applies to the sum of elective deferrals (not catch-up contributions), employer matching contributions, employer nonelective contributions and allocations of forfeitures. We’ll define all of these below.
- Elective deferrals: Elective deferrals refer to amounts of money you elect to transfer from your pay and into your employer’s retirement plan.
- Employer matching contributions: Employer matching contributions refer to contributions your employer makes to your retirement plan account if you contribute to the plan from your salary. Here’s an example of a common 401k match plan formula: 50 cents on the dollar up to 6% of the employee’s pay. Not taking advantage of the match means you don’t get free money, so it’s always advantageous for you to contribute at least enough to get your full employer match.
- Employer nonelective contributions: When an employer makes a contribution to an employee in an employer-sponsored retirement plan (whether the employee contributes or not), these are employer nonelective contributions.
- Forfeitures: Forfeitures hold employer contribution amounts that accrue when you leave the plan and you’re not fully vested in the plan. Vesting means that you own the money in your plan. If you’re not fully vested and you leave your job, your company can take the money in your plan.
You can apply the catch-up contribution limit from the start of the year till the end of the year as long as you are 50 from when you start saving. Let’s say you happened to turn 50 on December 31, 2022. You can still take advantage of the catch-up contribution for the entire year.
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Getting a comprehensive overview of both the big picture and detailed snapshots shows you exactly what maxing out your contribution limit can do for you.
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Highly Compensated Employee 401k Contribution Limits
Highly compensated employees face different limits than non-highly compensated employees.
Who is a highly compensated employee (HCE) and how does it affect your 401k contribution limits? Here’s the scoop: If you own more than 5% of the interest in a business or receive compensation above a certain amount (more than $135,000 in 2022 or $150,000 in 2023, determined by the IRS), you’re considered a highly compensated employee for 401k retirement plan purposes.
You will have to follow more stringent contribution limits. You can take a look at the IRS tests to ensure that you participate in your company plan with the right amount of money.
Traditional vs. Roth 401k Contribution Limits
Some employers offer both a traditional 401k and a Roth 401k. Let’s walk through the differences between these account types so you can decide which may work best for your needs.
- Roth 401k: A Roth 401k refers to an employer-sponsored savings plan in which you can invest after-tax dollars for retirement. The perk to investing in a Roth 401k: You pay taxes on your money ahead of time, which means that you won’t pay any taxes on your contributions after you take withdrawals after you reach age 59 ½ as long as the account has been funded for at least five years. All of your accumulated contributions and earnings come out tax free.
- Traditional 401k: A traditional 401k refers to an employer-sponsored plan that gives you the option to defer paying income tax on the amount you contribute for retirement.
Wondering whether you should invest in both? You might want to take a tax-diversified approach if you’re not sure whether you’ll earn more in retirement vs now. You can contribute to both a Roth and a traditional 401k plan as long as your total contribution (as an employee) doesn’t go over $20,500 in 2022 or $22,500 in 2023.
What’s the 401k Contribution Deadline?
What is the 401k contribution deadline? The 401k contribution deadline does land at the very end of the calendar year on December 31, 2022.
However, the IRS will allow you to contribute to your IRA account right up to the tax filing deadline of the coming year — that is to say, April 15, 2024, of next year.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to take note of 401k contribution limits so you don’t go over the limit or contribute too little to meet your goals.
Many experts suggest saving at least 20% of your salary for your long-term investment goals. It’s also a good idea to at least contribute up to your employer match. Contributing even more beyond your employer’s match gives you a better chance of meeting your savings goals.
Read More: What is 401k Matching and How Does it Work?
Preparing for retirement is part of your overall financial plan. You can take a few actions now to get yourself on the right track.
- Download 65 Ways to Retire Smart, an actionable guide with insights from fiduciary financial advisors. The guide is free.
- Sign up for the Personal Capital Dashboard. Millions of people use these free and secure professional-grade online financial tools. You can use them to see all of your accounts in one place, analyze your spending, and plan for long-term financial goals.
- Consider talking to a fiduciary financial advisor for more detailed guidance on your retirement saving strategies.
Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation and is compensated as a freelance writer.
The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. Compensation not to exceed $500. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money. Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.