2020 401(k) Contribution and Tax-Deferral Limits Set to Increase

By Stuart Robertson

Good news for 401(k) retirement savers. The IRS increased the contribution and tax-deferral limits for 401(k) plans for 2020. Employees can now contribute up to $19,500 per year starting in 2020 – a $500 increase. Those over 50 years of age received an added increase. Those 50 or more may now make additional catch-up contributions of $6,500 per year in 2020 (or $26,000 per year in total) to their 401(k) accounts.

And if you receive company matching contributions or profit sharing, the all-in tax-deferral limit has been increased from $56,000 to $57,000 for 2020 with those over 50 years able to put in $63,500 with the catch-up. Here are the key 2020 401(k) changes to know as compared to 2019:

401(k) Limit Increases for 2020    
  2020 2019
Employee contribution limit $19,500 $19,000
Annual limit per individual $57,000 $56,000
Age 50+ catch-up amount $6,500 $6,000
Annual compensation limit $285,000 $280,000
Highly compensated employees $130,000 $125,000

401(k) Saving Advantages Over Traditional IRAs Is Growing

The tax advantages for 401(k) savers versus those opting to use IRAs or don't have access to a 401(k) plan is large and is now even a bit bigger. Note that IRS contribution limits remained unchanged from 2020.

401(k) Advantages Over Traditional IRAs in 2020    
  401(k) IRA
Annual limit per individual $51,000
(employee + employer contributions)
Age 50+ catch-up amount $6,500 $1,000
Roth income limit None $139K*
Penalty-free access, if needed Yes, via a loan No

*Beginning at $124K, the amount you are allowed to contribute begins to decrease, hitting $0 at $139K for singles (ranges is $196K to $206K for married couples filing joinly)

Refer to IRS cost-of-living adjustment for 2020 in Notice 2019-59 (PDF) for more.

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