Saving for retirement has always been that aspect of employment workers look forward to. And you probably have felt pretty satisfied with your retirement savings because of the 401k limits. As a result, the tax deferral of this type of retirement savings makes it so attractive.
401k limits are the maximum amount of earning which an employee can move over to a 401k plan. In addition, there are two types of 401k plans- traditional or Roth.
This article talks about the 401k limits for highly compensated employees, what a 401k is, and why it is relevant. To find out more about these limits, especially in 2021, keep reading.
High contribution limits are one of the features that make tax-deferred retirement accounts like 401k limits plans so appealing. This becomes even more tempting if your company provides a 401k employer match. Some plans, however, prohibit highly compensated workers (HCEs) from making the maximum contribution.
Nonetheless, you can sidestep these constraints and increase your retirement funds. But first, establish whether you are a highly compensated employee. Consider engaging with a financial professional for assistance with retirement savings and planning.
What is a 401k and How Does it Work?
A 401k is a savings plan for retirement that an employer sponsors. Essentially, the workers or employees either save or invest part of their paycheck before taxes are taken out. It gives employees a tax break that usually depends on the time of contribution or withdrawal during retirement. The pre-tax deductions for contribution into the 401k account are usually for investment. Examples of such investments include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc., depending on the employee’s choice.
Why Should You Care About a 401k Plan?
The real benefit of a 401k is the tax benefit or tax break. The reason for the tax break is because the contribution or deduction is usually before taxation. As a result, the final taxation is usually when you withdraw it at retirement. The earliest age for retirement should be 59 years at least. Additionally, your 401k contribution is not regarded as income. Therefore, your tax bill will be smaller. And your savings can increase gradually with deferred taxation. It means that your money grows free of taxation and has the quality of growing progressively.
Who are Highly Compensated Employees?
The internal revenue service defines highly compensated employees as those who fulfill the following:
- During the previous or present year, owned more than 5% of the business interest irrespective of the quantity of compensation.
- Been selected by their employers as among the top 20% of workers by compensation ranking. And received above $130 000 from the enterprise as compensation either in 2020 or 2021.
The IRS defines a highly compensated employee as someone who fits one of the two criteria listed below:
- In 2022, a worker who earned $135,000 or more from the employer that sponsors his or her 401k plan. This threshold will be raised to $150,000 in 2023.
- A person who owns more than 5% of the company sponsoring the plan at any point in the previous year, regardless of pay.
Compensation is more than just the recurring salary you receive from your company. Overtime, bonuses, commissions, and salary deferrals to cafeteria plans and 401k limits are all included. According to the IRS, your company may designate you as an HCE if you are among the top 20% of employees in terms of compensation.
That 5% guideline can also be a little ambiguous. It is based on the value of the company’s stock. However, it is not limited to what you own. It also includes the ownership of your spouse, children, and grandchildren who work for the same company. So, if your stake in the company is worth 3% and your son owns 2.2%, you are classified as an HCE. This is because your overall ownership is 5.2%.
What are 401k Limits For Highly Compensated Employees?
Some 401k plans come with limits for highly compensated employees. However, for employers with a safe Harbour 401k plan, this rule might not apply to you as a high earner. Typically, highly compensated employees (HCEs) can contribute no more than 2% more of their salary to their 401(k) than the average non-highly compensated employee contribution. That means if the average non-HCE employee is contributing 10% of their salary, an HCE 401k limit will be a maximum of 12% contribution. In addition to the federal limit, your company may have specific caps established to remain compliant.
Contribution Limits for Highly Paid Employees in 401k Plans
Before we get into how restrictions can apply to you, let’s go through the maximum 401k contribution requirements that apply to everyone. A single 401k limited participant can contribute up to $22,500 in 2023. A 401k participant filing a single tax return in 2022 may contribute up to $20,500. If you are above the age of 50, you can make an additional $7,500 in “catch-up” payments ($6,500 in 2022). When you consider an employer match, you could be looking at significant tax breaks.
Employers undertake non-discrimination tests on the 401k plans they sponsor each year. These are required by the IRS to ensure that plans do not favor HCEs over the rest of the organization.
To pass the criteria, HCEs’ average contributions must be more than two percentage points more than non-highly compensated employees’ average contributions. So, if the average contribution made by non-HCEs is 4% of their wages, the average contribution made by HCEs cannot exceed 6% of their incomes.
Furthermore, total HCE contributions cannot exceed total non-HCE contributions by more than 2%. As you can see, how much you should contribute to your 401k limits is greatly influenced by how much non-HCEs contribute and how many participate at all.
Maximizing Your 401(k) Retirement Savings
There are several ways you can maximize your 401k retirement savings. Here are a few tips for average earners and highly compensated employees.
- Start a 401k contribution immediately. The first step into maximizing your retirement savings and making the most of the 401k limit is to start immediately if you haven’t already.
- Set your contribution level to the 401k limit of your employer’s 401(k). If your employer maintains a certain percentage of contribution, make sure you are paying to the maximum percentage available otherwise you are leaving money on the table.
- Increase your 401(k) contribution percentage as often as you can. The 401k limit changes from time to time and when it does you should increase your contribution. For those who can’t afford to pay the maximum, also adopt this strategy of increasing your contribution by at least one percent regularly.
- When you switch jobs, roll over your 401(k). Each year, hundreds of thousands of workplace retirement plans are misplaced or forgotten by employees. If you like your current 401(k), make sure you keep up with its login information and check in regularly. If your plan will charge you high fees when you’re no longer with the company or you don’t like the investment options, roll it over into your next job’s retirement plan or an IRA.
What to Do If Your 401k Contributions Have Been Depleted
Companies have until March 15 to complete the previous year’s test. As a result, if you were an HCE who maxed out your contributions the previous year, you might not know if the company failed the test until the following year. If this is the case, your company will almost certainly repay you the excess contributions you made. This will be taxable income. As a result, it may increase your tax liability for the current year. Furthermore, the money returned diminishes the tax savings and returns potential of your 401k limits.
As a result, you may wish to set aside some funds to cover a future tax increase. You can also pay an estimated tax payment. And, in some cases, deferring reaching your 401k limits contribution until you know whether you will face restrictions is a good idea.
How Paystubsnow Can Help You Maximize the 401K Limits
Paystubsnow is your one-stop financial solution for businesses, startups, and employees. You can create invoices for free with the click of a few buttons for clients, create paystubs for employees with ease, create 1099, and W-2 forms. All of the services you will need to make the most of your retirement savings.
What is The 401k limits for 2021 and beyond
The limit on employee elective deferrals to a SIMPLE 401(k) plan was $13,000 in 2019 and $13,500 in 2020 and 2021 respectfully. The amount may be increased in the future according to the IRS.
What happens if I exceed the 401k limits?
You can exceed your 401k limit under the right circumstances and what happens then? Ideally, in cases like this, you should notify your employer or administrator immediately. This notification should be made before March 1st of the following year. The excess is then to you and put back into your taxable income. The excess returns are taxed at 6% for every year it remains with the IRA.
Max 401k contribution for 2023
The max 401k contribution for 2023 is $22500, $20500 in 2022, $19,500 in 2021 and 2020 and the catch-up limit rises to $7,500. This was made known by The Internal Revenue Service in late 2022 and not much has changed since then.