IRS Contribution Limits

Understanding IRS contribution limits is important, especially when your goal is to contribute the maximum to your account. Even if you can’t do the max, consider increasing your contribution a little each year to potentially move closer to your retirement goals.

2016 and 2017 Deferral Limits1

Plan Contribution limit
457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan Up to 100 percent of your compensation, but no more than $18,000
401(a) Defined Contribution Plan Up to 100 percent of your compensation, but no more than $54,000

When participating in both the 457(b) and 401(a) Plans, your contribution is limited to $18,000 per year to the 457 Plan and $54,000 to the 401(a) Plan.

2016 and 2017 Plan Deferral Limits including 457 Catch-Up Provisions

For complete details, read more about catch-up contributions.

457 Catch-up Provision Standard deferral limit Deferral limit with Age 50 catch-up Deferral limit with Special 457(b) catch-up
If you’re under age 50 this year, you may defer as much as: If you’re age 50 or older this year, you may defer as much as: If you’re within three years of retirement, you may defer as much as:
457(b) plan $18,000 $24,000 ($18,000 + $6,000) $36,000 ($18,000 + $18,000)
401(a)* 100% of compensation, but no more than $54,000
Total allowable deferrals 457 and 401(a) Plans $71,000 $77,000 $89,000

* If not already actively making employee deferrals to 401(a), can only start deferrals if enroll within 31 days of hire.

How Much Should I Contribute to the 457 Plan?

Look at how much you would need to contribute each pay period if your goal is to contribute $18,000 for the year.

Pay frequency Contribution
Weekly (52 pays) $346.15
Bi-weekly (26 pays) $692.31
Semi-monthly (24 pays) $750
Monthly (12 pays) $1,500.00

To stay up-to-date on any changes to the IRS deferral limits, visit the Retirement Plans Community on the IRS website.

How do contributions to the 401(a) Plan differ from contributions to the 457 Plan?

Elections for employee contributions to the 401(a) Plan are irrevocable and cannot be changed or stopped once implemented. Elections must be made within the first 31 days following your hire date. Additionally, most employees have a negotiated benefit wherein employer contributions are made to the Plan on behalf of each eligible employee from each biweekly paycheck.

457 Plan contribution elections can be started/stopped/changed at any time; and can be for a flat amount or a percentage of pay.

Get the help you need

Talk with one of our Retirement Specialists for more information about planning for your retirement.


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