401(k) Contribution Limits

401(k) contribution limits historical data

The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is updated each year, in $500 increments based on inflation.

What is the 401(k) contribution limit? And 403(b), 457, & TSP

For 2020, the employee contribution limit is $19,500, an increase of $500 over 2019.

Additionally, employees age 50+ may make an additional Catch Up contribution of $6,500 (also a $500 increase over 2019) for a total contribution limit of $26,000.

The total employee contribution cannot exceed total compensation.

Employers may also make a contribution, including a contribution match. The limit for ALL / total contributions in 2020 is $57,000.

Additionally, individuals may make IRA contributions. See IRA contribution limits.

Data source. (IRS, external link)

Historical 401(k) Contribution Limits

YearIndividual LimitCatch-Up LimitTotal Limit
2020$19,500$6,500$57,000
2019$19,000$6,000$56,000
2018$18,500$6,000$55,000
2017$18,000$6,000$54,000
2016$18,000$6,000$53,000
2015$18,000$6,000$53,000
2014$17,500$5,500$52,000
2013$17,500$5,500$51,000
2012$17,000$5,500$50,000
2011$16,500$5,500$49,000
2010$16,500$5,500$49,000
2009$16,500$5,500$49,000
2008$15,500$5,000$46,000
2007$15,500$5,000$45,000
2006$15,000$5,000$44,000
2005$14,000$4,000$42,000
2004$13,000$3,000$41,000
2003$12,000$2,000$40,000
2002$11,000$1,000$40,000
2001$10,500$35,000
2000$10,500$30,000
1999$10,000$30,000
1998$10,000$30,000
1997$9,500$30,000
1996$9,500$30,000

The 401(k) was created in the Revenue Act of 1978. Historical data provided as far back as 1996, the first year I had access to a 401(k).

Catch up contributions created in the  Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

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