403b Plan Contribution Limits

Individuals can save up to $18,000 through a 403(b) plan.

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The most a person can contribute as an elective deferral to a 403(b) plan for the year 2017 is $18,000. 

For persons age 50 or older, they can contribute an additional $6,000 as a catch-up contribution.

Employers can contribute up to 25% of an employee's salary for the year as a matching contribution.

The total of elective deferrals and matching contributions is limited to $54,000 for 2017.

403(b) Contribution Limits by Year
YearElective Salary Deferral LimitCatch-up contributions if age 50 or olderTotal Possible Employee Contribution LimitSource
2017$18,000$6,000$24,000
2016$18,000$6,000$24,000IR-2015-118
2015$18,000$6,000$24,000
2014$17,500$5,500$23,000
2013$17,500$5,500$23,000IR-2012-77
2012$17,000$5,500$22,500IR-2011-103
2011$16,500$5,500$22,000IR-2010-108
2010$16,500$5,500$22,000IR-2009-94
2009$16,500$5,500$22,000IR-2008-118

 

These limits apply across all 403(b) and 401(k) accounts a person might have during the year. In other words, if a person works at two or more jobs or switch jobs in the middle of the year, then they may need to track their contributions to their 401(k) and 403(b) plans to ensure that they do not contribute more than the amount allowed.

For people who plan to contribute the maximum allowed, it may be easiest to break the annual limit into equal dollar amounts per pay period. That way, you'll be saving the same amount each pay period and will be dollar-cost-averaging into your retirement investments. You can do this by taking your annual contribution amount and dividing by the number of pay periods during the year.

Elective deferrals are treated separately from the employer's matching contributions, each with its own limits and tax treatment.

Elective salary deferrals can be placed into a tax-deferred traditional 403(b) or into a post-tax Roth 403(b) account, or a combination of traditional and Roth as long as the total of all salary deferrals are equal to or less than the annual maximum.

Matching contributions from the employer are limited to 25% of your salary. Matching funds are always contributed to the tax-deferred portion of your 403(b) plan.

The total of your elective salary deferral plus employer matching contributions is limited to $54,000 for 2017. This amount is up $1,000 from the $53,000 limit that applied in the years 2016 and for 2015.

Resources from the IRS Web site

  • (pdf)
  • (IR-2016-141)