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401k and Retirement Plan Limits for the Tax Year 2019

The Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2019. The IRS issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2018-83.

Highlights of Changes for 2019

The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.

The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.


Chart of Select Limits              
               
401k Plan Limits for Year 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
401k Elective Deferrals $19,000 $18,500 $18,000 $18,000 $18,000 $17,500 $17,500
Annual Defined Contribution Limit $56,000 $55,000 $54,000 $53,000 $53,000 $52,000 $51,000
Annual Compensation Limit $280,000 $275,000 $270,000 $265,000 $265,000 $260,000 $255,000
Catch-Up Contribution Limit $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $5,500 $5,500
Highly Compensated Employees $125,000 $120,000 $120,000 $120,000 $120,000 $115,000 $115,000
 
Non-401k Related Limits
403b/457 Elective Deferrals $19,000 $18,500 $18,000 $18,000 $18,000 $17,500 $17,500
SIMPLE Employee Deferrals $13,000 $12,500 $12,500 $12,500 $12,500 $12,000 $12,000
SIMPLE Catch-Up Deferral $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,500 $2,500
SEP Minimum Compensation $600 $600 $600 $600 $600 $550 $550
SEP Annual Compensation Limit $280,000 $275,000 $270,000 $265,000 $265,000 $260,000 $255,000
Social Security Wage Base $132,900 $128,400 $127,200 $118,500 $118,500 $117,000 $113,700


Download a PDF of this chart.

Detailed Description of Adjusted and Unchanged Limitations

Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. Section 415(d) requires that the Secretary of the Treasury annually adjust these limits for cost of living increases. Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415. Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made following adjustment procedures similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $220,000 to $225,000. For a participant who separated from service before Jan. 1, 2019, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant's compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2018, by 1.0264.

The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2019 from $55,000 to $56,000.

The next page contains more details on both the unchanged and adjusted limitations for 2019.

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