Thrift Savings Plan officials recently release the 2016 Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits, as stated by the TSP. Thrift Savings Plan contribution limits are calculated on an annual basis based on cost of living indexes and can change based on rules set by the IRS.
There is no change to the TSP contribution limits in 2016. The limits for employee deferrals or for catch-up contributions continue to be $18,000 and $6,000, respectively. (Catch-up contributions are only available to persons aged 50 and up).
The following chart displays the 2016 Thrift Savings Plan contribution limits, with notes about each type of contribution. The combined maximum one can contribute, including all agency matching contributions or contributions from special pay and bonuses, is $53,000 ($59,000 for those who are eligible for catch-up contributions).
2016 Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits
|2016 Thrift Savings Plan Limits
|Elective Deferral Limit*||$18,000||Elective deferral contributions only apply to regular employee contributions that are made in before-tax (i.e., tax-deferred) dollars. For members of the uniformed services, this includes all tax-deferred contributions from taxable basic pay, incentive pay, special pay, and bonus pay.|
|Max Annual Addition Limit||$53,000||An additional limit imposed on the total amount of all contributions made on behalf of an employee in a calendar year. Uniformed service members become subject to this limit when tax-exempt contributions are made to their TSP accounts. This limit includes employee contributions (both tax-deferred and tax-exempt), Agency Automatic (1%), and Agency Matching Contributions.|
|Catch-up Contribution Limit||$6,000||The maximum amount of catch-up contributions that can be contributed in a given year by participants age 50 and older. It is separate from the elective deferral and annual addition limit imposed on regular employee contributions.|
Historic Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits
|Year||Annual Contribution Limit||Max Catch-Up Contribution Limit||Annual Addition Limit||Annual Addition Limit w/ Catch-Up|
Types of Thrift Savings Plan Contributions
There are two types of TSP contributions:
- Regular employee contributions (including automatic enrollment contributions)
- Catch-up contributions (for participants age 50 or older)
Regular contributions. Eligible TSP participants can begin making regular employee contributions at any time. These contributions are made from basic pay before taxes are withheld. Your contribution will remain in place until you elect to stop or change the contribution amount, reach the contribution limit, or take a Thrift Savings Plan financial hardship withdrawal.
Catch-up contributions. Catch-up contributions are only available to those age 50 and above. You must elect to make catch-up contributions each calendar year. If you don’t elect to make catch-up contributions each year, they will automatically stop. You can made regular and catch-up contributions at the same time. If you plan the amounts you contribute carefully, you will maximize both the $18,000 regular contributions and the $6,000 in catch-up contributions during the last pay period of the year. This is much simpler than having to keep track of when your regular TSP contributions will max out, stopping the regular contributions, and then starting catch-up contributions.
Uniformed Services TSP Contributions
The Thrift Savings Plan is available to all military members. Military members are eligible to contribute any whole percentage of basic pay, as long as the annual total of the tax-deferred investment doesn’t exceed the maximum contribution limit. Military members also have the option of contributing any portion of their incentive pay, bonuses, or special pay so long as they contribute a portion of their basic pay.
Roth TSP Contributions for TSP members. Roth Thrift Savings Plan contributions are limited to the $18,000 elective deferral limit. All additional contributions toward the Annual Additions Limit must be made into a Traditional TSP account, even if the contributions come from tax-exempt pay.
Tax free combat zone contributions. Military members serving in tax-free combat zones are allowed to contribute up to $53,000. This total includes regular deferred contributions, tax-exempt combat zone contributions and special pay and bonuses.
Note regarding catch-up contributions and tax free pay: Military members who are receiving tax-exempt pay while serving in an eligible combat zone must make catch-up contributions into a Roth Thrift Savings Plan account.
TSP Federal Agency Contribution Chart
FERS Employees receive an automatic 1% contribution from the federal government, then a 100% match for the first 3% they contribute, followed by an additional 0.5% match for the next 2% the contribute, bringing the maximum agency contribution to 5%. Federal employees can contribute as high of a percentage of their salary as they wish, so long as they don’t exceed total contribution limits, including the catch-up limits allowed for those age 50 and above.
The following chart can be used by Federal Employees to determine the total amount of their contributions including agency match.
Other notes about TSP contributions
The following information should help you determine how to allocate your TSP contributions:
- Contributing by percentage of pay. If you elect to contribute a percentage of pay to the TSP and the amount is more than your remaining salary after mandatory deductions (e.g. Federal income tax, state taxes, TSP loan payments, etc.) and other voluntary deductions that are processed before TSP contributions, then the resulting pay will be the amount withheld and contributed to your TSP account.
- Contributing by dollar amount. If you designate a whole dollar amount that is greater than your remaining salary, then no employee contributions will be made for that pay period, and if you are FERS you will not receive Agency Matching Contributions for that pay period. If this occurs, you will need to lower your contribution level by electing to contribute either a lower percentage or dollar amount. No TSP contributions will be withheld from your pay until your new election is effective. Neither the new election or any matching contributions will be applied retroactively.
- Automatic contributions. The Thrift Savings Plan recently began Automatic TSP Contributions for New Employees.
- Roth TSP. The Roth TSP account is on it’s way and should be here within a year. Here is more information about the Roth Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).
The Thrift Savings Plan is a great opportunity to save money for retirement and you should take advantage of it if you are eligible to participate. You can read more about the contribution rules at the TSP page.