2015 401k 403b IRA Contribution Limits

Understanding your retirement

The government released the Consumer Price Index for August 2014. Inflation is higher this year but still low by historical standard. Although we don’t have all the necessary numbers yet, because the way rounding works, I’m able to comfortably project the 2015 contribution limits for 401k/403b/457 plans. I’m also able to calculate the contribution limit for traditional and Roth IRAs, which only depends on the inflation numbers through August.

401k/403b/457 Elective Deferral Limit

401k/403b/457 contribution limit will increase by $500 to $18,000 in 2015. If you are age 50 or over, the catch-up contribution limit will also increase by $500 to $6,000.

If you are self-employed, the total employer plus employee contributions to all defined contribution plans by the same employer will go up by $1,000 from $52,000 to $53,000 in 2015.

SIMPLE 401k and SIMPLE IRA Contribution Limit

SIMPLE 401k and SIMPLE IRA plans have a lower limit than 401k plans. It will also go up by $500 to $12,500 in 2015. If you are age 50 or over, the catch-up contribution limit will also increase by $500 to $3,000.

Traditional and Roth IRA Contribution Limit

Traditional and Roth IRA contribution limit will stay the same at $5,500 in 2015. The age 50 catch up limit is fixed by law at $1,000.

All Together

  2014 2015 Increase
Limit on employee contributions to 401k, 403b, or 457 plan $17,500 $18,000 $500
Limit on age 50+ catchup contributions to 401k, 403b, or 457 plan $5,500 $6,000 $500
Traditional and Roth IRA contribution limit $5,500 $5,500 None
Traditional and Roth IRA age 50+ catchup contribution limit $1,000 $1,000 None
SIMPLE 401k or SIMPLE IRA contributions limit $12,000 $12,500 $500
SIMPLE 401k or SIMPLE IRA age 50+ catchup contributions limit $2,500 $3,000 $500
Maximum annual additions to all defined contribution plans by the same employer $52,000 $53,000 $1,000
Highly Compensated Employee definition $115,000 $120,000 $5,000

[Photo credit: Flickr user SalFalko]

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  1. KD says

    Thanks for the heads up! Prospect lower take home on account of maximizing contributions to increased 401k limit seems closer.

  2. John says

    Don’t forget the Normal Retirement Age/ Pre-Retirement Catch Up provision for the 457b accounts. This will allow up to a $36,000 contribution.

  3. JD says

    I have never been able to figure out the actual calculation used to derive the 401k and catch-up contribution limits. On my own I *think* the calculation is based on the following:

    1) Uses the 2005 3Q CPI-W average (192.7) as a basis with a 15,000 contribution limit.
    2) compares the current 3Q CPI-W average to the basis, and adjust the limit accordingly. However, the limits can only increase in increments of $500, and the limit is not increased unless the calculation is within $50 of the next limit. (In other words, if the exact calculation shows 17,929, the limit would be 17,500, not 18,000.

    Is that correct?

    In any case I agree that based on the Jul and Aug CPI-W numbers, it virtually guaranteed that we will have 401k contribution limit of 18,000 and Catch-up Provision limit of 6,000.

    • Mathematician says

      Here’s a simple calculation for age 50+ catchup contributions. Just take the regular 401k/403b (or 457b) max contribution, divide by 3, and round down to a multiple of $500.

      This works because they started at $15000 and $5000 and are scaled up by the same factor, then rounded down.

      BTW you can get the CPI-U numbers here
      then select
      U.S. All items, 1982-84=100 – CUUR0000SA0

    • JD says

      Thanks for the replies, Harry Sit and Mathemetician. Something still doesn’t look exactly right though. I assume the base year is Tax year 2006, when the 401k limit was first $15,000 and catch-up was $5,000. CPI-U in 3Q 2005 calendar year was 192.767.

      Based on your comments, every subsequent year from 2007 to present does agree with your calculation except for the current tax year (2014):

      2013 3Q CPI-U was 232.018 average. This would make 401(k) limit at 18,054 (rounded down to 18,000) and the catch-up limit at 6,113 (rounded down to 6,000). However, the actual limits in 2014 are 17,500 and 5,500.

      What am I missing?

      EDIT: Nevermind, I was incorrectly using the entire year average for CPI-U, not 3Q CPI-U. So 3Q 2005 was actually 196.867 and 3Q 2014 was 233.874. It all works out now. Thanks again!

    • JD says

      One final correction so I don’t confuse anyone more than I already have:

      3Q 2005 CPI-U = 196.867
      3Q 2013 CPI-U = 233.874

      So now I correctly calculate tax year 2014 401(k) limits to be 17,500 and 5,500 by calculating the percent increase and rounding down to the nearest 500.

      As stated in the original article, 2015 limits will almost certainly be 18,000 and 6,000, though this won’t technically be official until the sept CPI-U numbers are released in the upcoming week.

  4. JB says

    I’m over 50 and just started a new job with a small business which offers a simple IRA instead of a 401K like I had at my prior job. It looks like I can only contribute $15,500 in 2015 with the simple IRA where in 2014 at my old job I could contribute $23,000. Can I also contribute $6500 to a traditional or Roth IRA?

    • Harry Sit says

      Yes, you can also contribute $6500 to a traditional or Roth IRA (if within income limit). You may or may not be able deduct your traditional IRA contribution depending on your income.

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