The Catch Up

Updated January 5, 2021.

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).

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Changes to catch-up contributions

The process for catch-up contributions is now easier for TSP participants. If you’re turning 50 or older, you’ll no longer need to make separate catch-up elections to your TSP account to contribute toward the catch-up limit.

Here’s how it will work

  • If you’re turning 50 or older and exceed the IRS elective deferral (or annual addition) limit, then your contributions will automatically start counting toward the IRS catch-up limit. Just add any contributions toward the catch-up limit in the same place as your other TSP contributions.

  • Your election will carry over each year unless you submit a new one. For instructions on changing your contribution amount, see Start, change, or stop contributions.

  • If you’re eligible for an agency or service match, contributions spilling over toward the catch-up limit will qualify for the match1 on up to 5% of your salary.

  • You may start, stop, or change your contributions at any time. If you choose not to contribute toward the catch-up limit, you should adjust your TSP contributions accordingly.

Important note for members of the uniformed services

The Catch Up Movie

If you are a uniformed services member and enter a combat zone, your contributions toward the catch-up limit must be Roth. (The TSP cannot accept traditional tax-exempt contributions toward the catch-up limit.) You also cannot contribute toward the catch-up limit from incentive pay, special pay, or bonus pay.

If you are contributing to both a civilian and uniformed services account, the limits apply to the total you contribute to both accounts during the year.

  1. For Blended Retirement System (BRS) participants: If you have reached the annual addition limit, your contributions toward catch-up will not be matched. (The IRS does not allow participants who have reached the annual addition limit to receive any more matching for the year.)

The Basics on Catch-Up Contributions in 401k Plans

Congress added the new catch-up contribution option to retirement plans out of concern that baby boomers hadn't been saving enough for retirement. This new option enable savers age 50 and over to increase contributions at a time when retirement draws near. Age-50 catch-up contributions are possible in 401k, 403b and 457 plans, and IRAs, but the rules differ among plans. This article focuses on 401k rules.

We have put together the answers to some of the most common questions we have been getting regarding the catch-up provision.

Questions:

What is a catch-up contribution?
What is the maximum catch-up contribution allowed?
Who is eligible to make a catch-up contribution?
How many retirement plans offer this feature?
Are we required to provide this additional elective deferral to our plan participants?
If we want to offer the catch-up provision, does our plan have to be amended?
Does the catch-up contributions have to be made from payroll deductions?
Does the employer have to match these catch-up contributions?
Do we need to show these contributions separately on W-2 forms?
How will catch-up contributions impact plan testing?
How are these contributions treated for hardship withdrawals, loans or distributions purposes?
If one of our plans permits catch-up contributions to be made, do all of our plans have to permit them?

A catch-up contribution is any elective deferral made by an eligible participant that is in excess of the statutory limit ($18,500 in 2018), an employer-imposed plan limit, or any limit applied in order for the plan to satisfy the ADP nondiscrimination test for the year.

The maximum amount of catch-up contributions that can be contributed in 2018 is $6,000.

Plan participants who are or will turn 50 years of age during the calendar year are eligible to make catch-up contributions. However, the participant's regular plan contributions must reach at least one of the following limits before catch-up contributions can begin: the annual deferral limit, the plan's deferral limit, or the annual ADP limit for Highly Compensated Employees.

According to the Plan Sponsor Council of America (www.psca.org), 97.1% of all 401k plans permit catch-up contributions.

No, a plan is generally not required to provide for catch-up contributions.

There is a high likelihood that your plan will need to be amended in order for you to allow catch-up contributions. The IRS has provided model amendment language that can be used, but you should immediately check with your legal counsel or recordkeeper on what your specific plan needs.

Yes, contributions must be made by payroll deduction.

No, an employer does not have to match these contributions. According to the Plan Sponsor Council of America (www.psca.org), only 36% of plans allowing catch-up contributions match the contributions. If you don't match, it would be wise to communicate this to your plan participants

No, the IRS has indicated that regular and catch-up contributions can be reported together on W-2 forms.

Among other testing issues, catch-up contributions are not considered when doing the ADP test and they are not considered in determining the amount of the minimum contribution required for a top-heavy plan.

Catch Up Vs Catch Up

Catch-up contributions to a plan are treated for plan purposes as any other pre-tax contribution would be. For example, catch-up contributions would be treated as any other elective deferral when calculating available balances for loans.

Yes, if one plan of an employer permits catch-up contributions to be made, then catch-up contributions must be permitted in all plans of the employer permitting elective deferrals ('universal availability' requirement). See IRS Notice 2002-4 for more information.

TheThe catch up model

The information provided here is intended to help you understand the general issue and does not constitute any tax, investment or legal advice. Consult your financial, tax or legal advisor regarding your own unique situation and your company's benefits representative for rules specific to your plan.

Additional Resources

401k Plan Catch-up Contribution Eligibility - Abstract: Elective deferrals by a participant in excess of limits imposed under the plan document or by statute are commonly referred to as 'catch-up' contribution. This article analyzes who is eligible to make a catch-up contribution and includes examples.

401k Catch-up Contributions and How They Work - Abstract: For employees who have attained their 49th birthday by December 31 of the previous year, an additional 'catch-up' contribution for the calendar year may be made. The catch-up limit is subject to annual Cost of Living adjustments. For 2018, the calendar year limit is $6,000. The catch-up limit applies not only to the Section 402(g) limit, but also to any other limit imposed by the Plan or the IRC.

Who Is Eligible to Make 401k Plan Catch-up Contributions? - Abstract: Under certain circumstances, elective deferrals by a plan participant in excess of limits imposed under the plan document or by law are allowed. This article is limited to a discussion of who is eligible to make these 'catch-up' contribution to a 401k plan.

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