Retirement Plans

401(k) Contribution Limits For 2014

January 18, 2014
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Every year the IRS determines whether or not the annual contribution limit for various retirement plans can be increased. Its calculations are based on the official cost-of-living rates. These limits apply to retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, certain 457s, and the federal Thrift Savings Plan.

You can set aside pre-tax money if your employer sponsors one of these retirement savings accounts, but the government caps how much each person can shelter from taxes.

The IRS has announced that contribution limits for 401(k) plans and IRA accounts remain unchanged for 2014 but certain other limits have been increased.

All annual contribution limits are applied on a calendar year basis. Any reference here to a 401(k) plan also applies to any other applicable plans.

Benefits Financial Planning


The basic 401(k) contribution limit remains unchanged total of $17,500 for 2014. You can take advantage of the additional age-50 contribution if you turn 50 by the end of calendar year 2014. You’re eligible for the extra contribution amount if you were born on December 31, 1964 or earlier.  This catch-up limit remains at $5,500 for a grand total of $23,000.

Contact your benefits administrator if you want to maximize your contribution for 2014. Depending on how your employer administers the plan, you might have to complete a paper form or make your election online. You might also be limited to a certain number of changes per plan year. So make sure you understand the rules.

Year Under Age 50 Limit Age 50 and Over Catch-Up Total for Age 50 and Over
2009, 2010, & 2011 $16,500 $5,500 $22,000
2012 $17,000 $5,500 $22,500
2013 & 2014 $17,500 $5,500 $23,000

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Traditional IRA Limits

Tax-deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) are capped by a combination of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as calculated on your tax return and also a hard dollar amount. For 2014, the dollar limit is $5,500 with an additional $1,000 catch-up amount for those age 50 and over.  These amounts are unchanged for 2014.

The tax deduction for contributing to a traditional IRA starts phasing out at an AGI of $60,000 for single filers and $96,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly. Both of these thresholds are increases for 2014.

The thresholds at which the deduction starts phasing out are higher for filers not covered by a workplace plan.  See the IRS website and your financial adviser for more information as well as for the income-based contribution limits for Roth IRAs.


While the annual contribution limit can theoretically be as high as shown in the above chart, there are additional rules for certain retirement savings plans that might lower the amounts. Intended to prevent higher paid employees from benefiting disproportionately from the tax savings associated with 401(k) contributions, these rules are applied based on the circumstances at each employer.

If a company sponsors a 401(k) retirement savings plan with a matching feature (e.g., the employer gives a contribution to the plan based how much the employee contributes), it must test its population every year. Based on the participation rates at different salary levels, the employer might be required to cap how much its highest paid employees can contribute.

If you are affected by these testing rules, your employer has likely already notified you. But if you are new to the plan – or had never contributed at a high rate before – double-check with the administrator of your retirement savings plan. Your annual contribution limit might be lower than otherwise allowed.

Please also check with your tax adviser for how these limits apply in your situation.