2023 401(k) Plan Contribution Limits – Maximum You Can Contribute

2023 401(k) plan contribution limits increased to $22,500. Catch-up contributions increased to $7,500. View all 401(k) contribution limits from 2007-2023.
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401k plan contribution limits
Table of Contents
  1. How Much Can I Contribute to My 401(k) in 2023?
  2. Maximum 401(k) Contribution Limits: 2007-2023
  3. These Contribution Limits Apply to 401(k), 403(b), 457, 401(a) Plans and Thrift Savings Plan
  4. Maximize Your 401(k) Contributions If You Can
    1. Maximize Your 401(k) Through Fixed Contributions
    2. Maximize Your 401(k) With Percentage-Based Contributions
    3. What If I Contribute Too Much to My 401(k)?
  5. IRA or 401(k)/TSP? – Which Is Better for Retirement Planning?
    1. Where Should You Invest First – IRA or 401(k)?
    2. Why Contribute to an IRA?
  6. Managing Your 401(k) With Your Other Investments
    1. Tools to Help Manage Your 401(k) Plan

Update: The IRS announced the 2023 401(k) contribution limits. The employee elective deferral limit increased to $22,500, and the catch-up contributions increased to $7,500 for those who are aged 50 and older.

Investing in your 401(k) plan or other retirement account is one of the easiest and best ways to prepare for retirement. These accounts offer a valuable tax advantage for investors, but there are some limitations. Each year the IRS releases updated 401(k) plan contribution limits. You must pay a tax penalty if you exceed the IRS limit for your age group.

How Much Can I Contribute to My 401(k) in 2023?

The maximum an employee can contribute to their 401(k) plans in 2023 is $22,500. This is a $2,000 increase from the 2022 tax year. 

There is also a maximum catch-up contribution of $7,500 that is only available to participants who are at least 50 years old. This is an increase of  $1,000 from the 2022 limit of $6,500.

The IRS also increased the 2023 total contribution limit by $5,000 to $66,000. This limit includes employee contributions, matching contributions, bonuses and other deferred compensation. If you are at least 50 years old, you can add your catch-up contributions to this total, bringing the 2023 maximum to $73,500.

Let’s look at all these numbers in more detail and discuss what they mean for investors.

Maximum 401(k) Contribution Limits: 2007-2023

The following chart lists the maximum 401(k) plan contribution limits and contribution limits from previous years.

Employee Contributions apply to persons under the age of 50. 

Catch-up Contributions apply to people aged 50 and older.

Total Contribution Limit is the maximum you can apply to your 401(k) plan in any given year if you are under the age of 50. This includes all possible contributions, including employee contributions, employer contributions, profit-sharing and any other allowable contributions.

The final column is the total contribution limit from all sources for those aged 50 or older.

YearEmployee ContributionsCatch-Up Contributions (Age 50+)Total Contribution LimitTotal Contribution Limit With Catch-Up
2023$22,500$7,500$66,000$73,500
2022$20,500$6,500$61,000$67,500
2021$19,500$6,500$58,000$64,500
2020$19,500$6,500$57,000$63,500
2019$19,000$6,000$56,000$62,000
2018$18,500$6,000$55,000$61,000
2017$18,000$6,000$54,000$60,000
2016$18,000$6,000$53,000$59,000
2015$18,000$6,000$53,000$59,000
2014$17,500$5,500$52,000$57,500
2013$17,500$5,500$51,000$56,500
2012$17,000$5,500$50,000$55,500
2001$16,500$5,500$49,000$54,500
2010$16,500$5,500$49,000$54,500
2009$16,500$5,500$49,000$54,500
2008$15,500$5,000$46,000$51,000
2007$15,500$5,000$46,000$51,000

These Contribution Limits Apply to 401(k), 403(b), 457, 401(a) Plans and Thrift Savings Plan

These contribution limits apply to the 401(k) plan, as well as to several retirement plans that are written into the tax code, such as the Thrift Savings Plan, Roth and Traditional versions of the 401(k) plan and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans. These limits also apply to Individual 401(k) Plans, also known as the Solo 401(k), which is a small business retirement plan).

Look into your specific plan, as there may be slight differences in employer contribution rules, profit sharing or other plan-specific topics.

Maximize Your 401(k) Contributions If You Can

If you can maximize your 401(k) contributions, you will be well on your way to setting up a solid retirement fund. There are two easy ways to determine how much to contribute to maximize your 401(k) account this year.

Maximize Your 401(k) Through Fixed Contributions

If your company allows contributions of a flat dollar amount per month or per check, then you can contribute that amount from your paycheck. If you are under age 50, you could contribute up to $1,875 per month or $937.50 per check if you are paid bimonthly.

If you are 50 or over, you can contribute up to $2,500 per month or $1,250 per check if you are paid twice a month.

Remember, these are the numbers to max out your contributions. You can contribute less than that if that works better for your budget.

Maximize Your 401(k) With Percentage-Based Contributions

If your company doesn’t allow you to make a flat-rate contribution, you need to do some math. 

Divide the maximum you can contribute ($22,500 or $30,000, if you are over 50) by your total salary. This gives you the percentage you should contribute every paycheck.

For example, if you earn $100,000 per year and can contribute up to $22,500 to your 401(k), you will need to contribute 22.5% of your salary ($22,500 / $100,000 = 22.5%) to maximize your contribution.

If you cannot afford to contribute the maximum, try to at least contribute up to your employer’s match, if your employer makes matching contributions.

Employer matches are free money you can put toward your future. Don’t leave these dollars on the table. You should be able to change your 401(k) contribution amount, your tax withholding and other payroll deductions through your human resources department.

What If I Contribute Too Much to My 401(k)?

If you exceed the annual contribution limit, you must withdraw the excess by April 15 of the following year or face a 10% early distribution tax, according to the IRS. 

You may also need to report the withdrawal as income and face other penalties, which may include retirement plan disqualification.

Luckily, many HR offices and 401(k) plans have systems that prevent over-contributions or automatically refund the overage. You shouldn’t owe extra penalties in these cases.

However, those systems only work if you remain employed by the same company for the entire year. Pay special attention to the annual 401(k) contribution limitations if you change jobs during the year.

If you do happen to contribute too much, work with your HR department or 401(k) plan administrator to correct the issue as soon as you notice it. You may also want to consult with a tax professional to determine if there will be any long-term ramifications or if you will owe any additional taxes or penalties.

IRA or 401(k)/TSP? – Which Is Better for Retirement Planning?

Employees with access to 401(k) plan may also be able to contribute to another type of retirement plan, the Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA).

Where Should You Invest First – IRA or 401(k)?

Should you contribute to your 401(k) plan at the expense of contributing to a Roth or traditional IRA? I covered this topic in a previous article, Where Should You Invest First – IRA or 401(k)/TSP?

First, make sure you’re contributing enough to your 401(k) or Thrift Savings Plan to maximize employer-matching contributions. Then, try to max out a Roth IRA if you are eligible to contribute to one.

This ensures you take advantage of the free money through your employer’s matching contributions while providing you the best of both worlds regarding current and future taxes. Tax flexibility is an important retirement planning tool.

If your company doesn’t offer 401(k) matching contributions, you may consider contributing to a Roth IRA first, and then contributing to your 401(k).

Why Contribute to an IRA?

For the most part, IRAs have similar tax rules as 401(k) plans, but they have different contribution limits.

IRAs also have a few important benefits. They are more flexible, as you control how and where you invest your money, giving you more freedom and control over your investment types–and, more importantly, investment costs.

Roth IRAs also don’t have required minimum distributions (RMDs), which exist in all 401(k) plans, including the Roth 401(k).

If you can afford to maximize both investments, read up on how to invest after maxing out your retirement accounts. You may have options, such as investing through a health savings account, a taxable investment account, peer-to-peer loans, real estate and more.

Managing Your 401(k) With Your Other Investments

Many people manage their investments on their own, without the help of a professional. This includes managing the investments within their 401(k) plans and any outside investments, such as IRAs, taxable investment accounts, etc.

Tools to Help Manage Your 401(k) Plan

There are several online tools to help you get the most out of your defined-contribution plans such as the 401(k), 401(a), 403(b), 457 and Thrift Savings Plan.

Personal Capital is one option. You can learn more in our Personal Capital Review, or visit their site for more information.

Blooom is another online 401(k) robo-advisor. Blooom oversees your 401(k) account and analyzes investing opportunities that you may not be aware of.

Blooom can help investors analyze their investment fees; improve their diversification and find the right mix of stocks, bonds and other investments.

More About Robo-Advisors: Robo-advisors are automated platforms that use algorithms to guide your investment choices or manage your portfolio on your behalf. Learn more about them in our article, Best Robo-Advisors for Military Members.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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  1. Leonard Elbon says

    Catch up contributions do not count toward the 56,000 dollar contribution limit for 401k’s but does the catch up contribution count toward the 100% of compensation limit (for a profit sharing 401K)?’

    Example: S corp Salary = 30,000 with an employee contribution of 24,500- (18,500 employee contribution plus a catch up contribution of 6,000).

    Can I do an employer profit sharing contribution of 7,500 or am I limited to 5,500 (30,000 – 24,500) which would be 100% of salary.

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