2022 Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits and Rules – Deployed Contributions, Agency Match and More

TSP participants can contribute up to $20,500 of their paycheck to the TSP this year, plus another $6,500 in catch up contributions if they are age 50 or older.
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Thrift Savings Plan rules and limits
Table of Contents
  1. 2022 Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits
    1. Elective Deferral Limit: $20,500
    2. Catch-up Contribution Limit: $6,500
    3. Annual Addition Limit: $61,000
  2. Explanation of Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits
  3. Current & Historic Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits
  4. Types of Thrift Savings Plan Contributions
    1. Regular Contributions (Elective Deferral Contributions)
    2. Catch-up Contributions
    3. Annual Addition Limit Contributions
  5. Two Thrift Savings Plans – Uniformed Services & Federal Service
    1. Uniformed Services TSP Contributions
    2. TSP Federal Agency Contributions
  6. Matching TSP Contributions Chart
  7. How Contribution Limits Are Impacted With Multiple Retirement Accounts
    1. Military TSP + Federal TSP
    2. TSP + 401k (or similar retirement account).
  8. Other Notes about TSP Contributions

The Internal Revenue Service released the 2022 Thrift Savings Plan contribution limits. Thrift Savings Plan contribution limits are calculated on an annual basis based on the cost of living indexes and can increase based on rules set by the IRS.

The 2022 TSP contribution limits are set at $20,500 for elective deferrals with a total maximum annual addition of $61,000. If you’re over 50, you can make up to $6,500 in catch-up contributions, with a total maximum annual addition of $67,500. 

While contribution limits seem straightforward on the surface, this is actually a very interesting topic. Certain members may have complicated situations that deserve special attention (multiple TSP accounts, multiple retirement accounts, contributions while deployed, participating in both the Roth and traditional TSP, etc.).

2022 Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits

The 2022 TSP contribution limit for employee deferrals is $20,500, a roughly 5% increase from the $19,500 limit in 2020 and 2021. 

The catch-up contributions also remain the same as last year, set at $6,500 per year. (Catch-up contributions are only available to persons aged 50 and up.)

There is also a $3,000 increase in the 2022 total contribution limit, which increased to $61,000 from $58,000 for individuals under 50 and to $67,500 from $64,500 for individuals over age 50. 

The 2022 Thrift Savings Plan contribution limits are as follows:

Elective Deferral Limit: $20,500

This is the limit employees can defer from their paychecks. It applies to traditional and Roth TSP accounts (which share the same limit, so you can’t contribute $20,500 to each). This includes your base pay, special pay and bonuses.

To max out your TSP, you would need to contribute $1,625 per month from your paychecks. That is very aggressive, but it can be possible for some, depending on your rank, pay grade and living expenses.

Catch-up Contribution Limit: $6,500

Members aged 50 and over can contribute an additional $6,500 per year to their elective deferral limit (total of $27,000) and annual addition limit ($67,500).

Annual Addition Limit: $61,000

This is the maximum amount you can put into your Thrift Savings Plan from all sources (except catch-up contributions). Deployed military members can exceed the $20,500 annual elective deferral limit through payroll deductions while deployed. Excess contributions made while deployed count toward the annual addition limit (contributions above $20,500 automatically go into the traditional TSP). This limit also includes agency contributions (matching contributions made by the Civil Service or matching contributions from the military as part of the blended retirement system, starting in 2018).

Explanation of Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits

Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits

The following chart displays the 2022 Thrift Savings Plan contribution limits, with notes about each type of contribution. The combined maximum one can contribute, including all agency matching contributions, contributions from special pay and bonuses and contributions while deployed, is $61,000 ($67,500 for those who are eligible for catch-up contributions).

2022 Thrift Savings Plan Limits
Max. ContributionInternal Revenue CodeNotes
Elective Deferral Limit*$20,500IRC §402(g)Applies to the combined total of traditional and Roth contributions. For members of the uniformed services, it includes all traditional and Roth contributions from taxable basic pay, incentive pay, special pay and bonus pay, but does not apply to traditional contributions made from tax-exempt pay earned in a combat zone.
Max. Annual Addition Limit$61,000IRC §415(c)An additional limit imposed on the total amount of all contributions made on behalf of an employee in a calendar year. This limit is per employer and includes employee contributions (tax-deferred, after-tax and tax-exempt), agency/service automatic (1%) contributions and matching contributions. For 415(c) purposes, working for multiple federal agencies or services in the same year is considered having one employer.
Catch-Up Contribution Limit$6,500IRC §414(v)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.
2021 TSP Contribution Limits

Current & Historic Thrift Savings Plan Contribution Limits

YearAnnual Contribution LimitMax Catch-Up Contribution LimitAnnual Addition LimitAnnual Addition Limit w/ Catch-Up
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
2015 – 2016$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
2009 – 2011$16,500$5,500$49,000$54,500
2007 – 2008$15,500$5,000$46,000$51,000
Historic TSP Contribution Limits

Types of Thrift Savings Plan Contributions

There are three types of TSP contributions:

  • Regular employee contributions (including automatic enrollment contributions)
  • Catch-up contributions (for participants age 50 or older)
  • Annual-addition limit contributions

Regular Contributions (Elective Deferral Contributions)

Eligible TSP participants can begin making regular employee contributions at any time. These contributions — also known as elective-deferral contributions — are made from basic pay.

Traditional contributions are made before taxes are withheld, and Roth contributions are made after taxes have been paid. Your contribution election 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 aged 50 and older. 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 make regular and catch-up contributions at the same time.

If you plan the amounts you contribute carefully, you will maximize both the $19,500 regular contributions and the $6,500 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.

In addition, if you are eligible to make catch-up contributions and you are deployed to a designated combat zone, you will not be able to make any traditional catch-up contributions from your tax-exempt pay. Roth catch-up contributions from tax-exempt pay are allowed.

Annual Addition Limit Contributions

Annual-addition limit contributions include all contributions made on behalf of the employee during the applicable calendar year. This limit includes all employee contributions, as well as employer-matching contributions.

The annual-addition limit also applies to contributions above the annual elective-deferral limit (contributions above $20,500, in 2021) made by service members who are deployed to a tax-exempt zone.

The Internal Revenue Code §415(c) states the annual addition limit is per employer. However, for 415(c) purposes, working for multiple federal agencies or services in the same year is considered having one employer. This would apply to members of the Guard or Reserves who are also employed by a federal agency or those who change jobs in a given calendar year.

Two Thrift Savings Plans – Uniformed Services & Federal Service

There are two separate Thrift Savings Plan accounts –

  • one for military members
  • one for those employed by the federal government

It is possible for members to have both accounts. This can even be common for members of the Guard or Reserves who also serve as technicians in the civil service.

These two plans share the same annual contribution limits across both accounts. So it is important to understand how to balance having multiple retirement accounts. See the section below, “How Contribution Limits Are Impacted With Multiple Retirement Accounts.”

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 $20,500 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 $61,000. 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 Contributions

Federal Civil Service members can also participate in the traditional or Roth TSP. They have the same contribution limits. The section above regarding tax-free combat zones does not apply.

Matching TSP Contributions Chart

Members of the uniformed services only receive matching contributions if they participate in the blended retirement system. Otherwise, they do not receive matching contributions. FERS employees are eligible for matching contributions from the government.

Thrift Savings Plan participants who are eligible to receive a matching contribution 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% they contribute, bringing the maximum agency contribution to 5%.

Participants can contribute as high of a percentage of their salary as they wish, as 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 military members and federal employees to determine the total amount of their contributions, including agency match.

TSP Agency Contribution Chart
TSP Matching Contribution Chart

How Contribution Limits Are Impacted With Multiple Retirement Accounts

The TSP is similar to a 401(k) plan, and they share the same annual contribution limit per person. This means that you cannot contribute more than $19,500 ($26,000 with catch-up contributions) across both accounts in any given calendar year.

This doesn’t impact most active-duty members or civil service employees with only one job. It is important for anyone who transitions to or from the military or civil service in any given year and for traditional members of the Guard and Reserves, as they often have another retirement plan through their full-time job.

TSP participants should be careful not to exceed their annual contribution limits across whichever retirement accounts they have. The TSP system will not allow you to contribute too much to the TSP. If you do, the TSP will refund you the difference and reject future contributions through the end of the calendar year. But the TSP doesn’t have insight into your other retirement accounts.

NoteBe careful! TSP participants should be careful not to exceed their annual contribution limits across whichever retirement accounts they have. The TSP system will not allow you to contribute too much to the TSP. If you do, the TSP will refund you the difference, and reject future contributions through the end of the calendar year. But the TSP doesn’t have insight into your other retirement accounts.

Military TSP + Federal TSP

Many members of the Guard and Reserves are also technicians with access to both a military TSP account and a civil service TSP account. They can make contributions to both TSP accounts in the same tax year. However, these accounts share the same annual limit. It’s important not to exceed these contribution limits.

The only time you can go above the annual employee-deferral limit is when you are called to active duty and deploy to a tax-exempt zone. At this point, you will be able to contribute up to the annual addition limit shown above ($61,000; or $67,000 with catch-up contributions).

TSP + 401k (or similar retirement account).

Again, the TSP and 401k plans share the same annual limit. In theory, it seems like one should be able The TSP and 401(k) plans share the same annual limit. In theory, it seems like one should be able to contribute up to the annual-addition limit if you have contributed to the maximum allowed between your other retirement account and the TSP. But the TSP won’t be able to track this on their own. So you will need to contact them and verify that it is possible, and request they allow it. Again, this is a theory. I have not seen it in practice.

Other Notes about TSP Contributions

The following information should help you determine how to allocate your TSP contributions:

  • TSP Contributions by a Percentage of Your 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.

  • TSP Contributions by Dollar Amount

If you designate a whole dollar amount 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 TSP Contributions

The Thrift Savings Plan offers automatic TSP contributions for new employees. The military will also have automatic enrollment for members participating in the blended retirement plan.

  • Roth TSP

 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.

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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.

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  1. Randall says

    Ryan-

    I have a civilian employer 401k with 3% match as well as the TSP under BRS with 5% match from the ANG.

    I am unclear about the limits on contributions I have among the two accounts.

    My understanding is that I get $19.5k employee contribution across the two accounts with an additional $38.5k annual additional limit for a total of $58k per unrelated employer. My drilling ANG pay is not enough to max out the $19.5k annually but has the better 5% match. Therefore my thinking is to contribute as much of ANG pay as possible to TSP for the match and the remainder of the $19.5k limit to the civilian 401k.

    Where most of my uncertainty lies is in the annual additional limit and the rules between the two unrelated employer accounts. Am I able to contribute $38k to each?

    How can I maximize my retirement savings across the two accounts? What to do with multiple accounts? What strategies are there to utilize both?

    Thank for your insight!

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