What are the 401(k) contribution limits in 2023?

1 min readLast updated December 4, 2023by Rachel Carey

Regular 401(k) contributions are essential for maximizing the value of your retirement savings. Find out all about the 401(k) contribution limits for 2023 and how to avoid double taxation.

Summary: 

  • The maximum 401(k) contribution for 2023 is $22,500. 

  • 401(k) contribution limits increase over the years. 

  • There are tax repercussions for exceeding the max 401(k) contribution for 2023. 

  • If you are over 50, your 401(k) contribution limit can be increased. 

  • It's best to start contributing to a 401(k) as soon as possible. 

What are the 2023 401(k) contribution limits? 

A 401(k) plan is one of the most sought-after employment benefits for working Americans. These long-term, high-yield savings plans allow you to make substantial savings each year based on contribution limits set by the IRS – limits that are prone to change on a regular basis.  

The 401(k) contribution limits for 2023 are $22,500 – up $2,000 from the $20,500 contribution limit for 2022. The new contribution limit for 401(k) contributions includes elective employee salary deferrals and any post-tax contributions made to designated Roth accounts. However, regardless of whether you choose the Roth 401(k) plan or a traditional one, the limits remain the same. 

Learning the current and future contribution limits for 401(k) benefits plans is key to getting the most value out of your plan.  

Does the IRS affect 401(k) contribution limits?   

Yes, the IRS is the only authority on adjusting 401(k) contribution limits.  

The IRS typically changes 401(k) contributions every year. The slightly irregular nature of the IRS’s contribution limit changes is part of why it is so important to keep track of them. If you don’t follow the changes, you or your employer might under or over-contribute.  

The IRS changes the contribution limits for 401(k) plans to accommodate inflation and make general updates to the greater US economic system. Knowing the 2023 max 401(k) contribution limits is essential for making the most of your benefits both for this year and every year thereafter. 

How much has the employee annual 401(k) contribution limit increased? 

The IRS must make annual increases to 401(k) contribution limits to match the pace of inflation. It is also to ensure that employees across the board are able to contribute to their savings fairly.  

Let’s take a look at the 401(k) contribution limit for 2022 and the recently updated limit for 2023: 

  • 2022: $20,000  

  • 2023: $22,500 

Even though the limit increase was $2,000 between 2022 and 2023, the limit increase for 2024 is expected to be just $500. This puts the 401(k) maximum contribution limit in 2024 at $23,000.  

If you are an employee who is over the age of 50, your 401(k) contribution limit can be further increased, allowing you to make additional savings known as “catch-up” contributions for retirement. The maximum 401(k) catch-up contributions limit for over-50-year-old employees is as follows:  

  • 2022: $6,500  

  • 2023: $7,500 

How much has the employer & employee annual 401(k) contribution limit increased? 

Some employers offer 401(k) matching contributions as part of a job benefit. This compounds your annual 401(k) contributions and allows you to reach your savings targets faster. In order for this to happen, your employer must agree to duplicate a portion of your contribution.  

The 401(k) 2023 contribution limits for employers and employees cannot exceed $66,000. Let’s take a look at the changes between 2022 and 2023 for comparison: 

  • 2022: $61,000  

  • 2023: $66,000 

By 2024, the employer-employee contribution limit will reach $68,000. But if you are 50 or older, the total limit for catch-up contributions increases further: 

  • 2022: $67,500  

  • 2023: $73,500 

The total contribution limit for employer and employee catch-up contributions is projected to reach $75,000 in 2024. 

What happens if I contribute too much to my 401(k)? 

If you contribute too much to your 401(k), you will be double-taxed and possibly receive a penalty for your mistake. However, there are ways to resolve the issue if this happens. Some of the best ways to handle the accidental over-contribution to your annual 401(k) include: 

  • Notify officials – The first thing you need to do if you overcontribute is to alert your employer and plan administrator. The sooner you do this, the less likely you are to receive a penalty.

  • Calculate your excess contributions – Your plan administrator will likely do this for you, but showing up prepared will help expedite the process and allow you to fact-check. Use this IRS formula to calculate your overcontributions.  

  • File or amend your return – If you have already submitted your taxes for the year, you’ll need to amend them to factor in the overcontribution.  

  • Be proactive – Now is not the time to dawdle. If you’ve exceeded your 401(k) 2023 contribution limits, the tax will pile up, and you’ll stand to lose a sizable chunk of what you’ve worked so hard to save. 

  • Double-check in the future – If you make this mistake once, don’t let it happen again. Use the experience as an incentive to be extra diligent in the future.  

The penalties for exceeding your 401 contribution limit in 2023 can cost you time, money, and a fair degree of stress. Practice caution and thoroughness when it comes to your annual contributions. If you exceed your 401(k) 2023 contribution limit and need assistance rectifying the issue, a financial advisor can help you reduce the financial impact of any repercussions. 

Tips for making the most of your 401(k) 

When it comes to maximizing your annual income and meeting the requirements of 401(k) contribution limits, there are some best practices everyone can follow, such as: 

1. Maximize employer match  

When job-seeking, look for companies that offer full or partial contribution matching. This is an excellent savings opportunity that can grow your 401(k) plan by as much as double. Don’t be afraid to ask potential employers about their 401(k) so that you know what benefits you’ll be eligible for.  

2. Hire a financial advisor  

Hiring a professional financial advisor is one of the best ways to ensure your 401(k) contribution limits are legally aligned and consistent over time.  

The US tax and savings system can be complex and difficult to navigate, but a qualified, SEC-regulated financial advisor can take an enormous amount of pressure off.  

3. Open an IRA 

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can help you expand your 401(k) savings and stabilize your retirement fund going forward, so opening an IRA in addition to your 401(k) is a popular option. IRAs also allow you to defer taxes until you withdraw your retirement savings, ultimately allowing you to make more money in the interim.  

4. Automate savings  

Automatic savings are a great idea no matter what kind of financial goal you are working towards. Some 401(k) plans offer the option to automatically increase your contributions by 1% every year, making your savings more consistent without even needing to spare a second thought.  

5. Borrow sparingly  

Some 401(k) plans allow you to borrow from your own savings pool for repayment at a later stage. But while this can be handy in certain emergencies, it should always be used as a last resort.  

When you pay the loan back, interest bounces back into your retirement account instead of going to the original lender. But while that might sound appealing, very few 401(k) loans are ever paid back in full – so be aware you may not fully recover what you use once it’s been taken out. It’s always best to speak to a financial advisor before you make any major decisions regarding your 401(k).  

When should I start contributing to a 401(k)? 

If you have the privilege of a 401(k), it is beneficial to start contributing to it as soon as possible.  

Remember, the maximum contribution limits provided by the IRS are there as guidelines. You don’t need to contribute the full 401(k) 2023 contribution limit of $22,500 to your 401(k). But aiming for it will certainly help push you forward financially and exponentially increase your savings later on down the line.  

This is the most effective way to make the most of your 401(k). Even just increasing your contributions by 1-5% each year can mean thousands of dollars more in retirement savings.  

If you change jobs and get a new employer, it is crucial that you transfer your existing 401(k) so that you don’t lose the savings you may have made thus far.  

If you forget, you may forfeit your money and have to start from scratch at your new job. You can work out the transfer with your current and future employer’s administration office.  

Want to learn more about 401(k) contribution limits in 2023? 

Knowing the current and future 401(k) contribution limits for your age and employment status is key to maximizing your annual earnings and taking charge of your finances. 

It is also necessary to avoid the penalties and additional tax that come with over-contributing to your plan. Understanding 401(k) basics, contribution limits, and best practices can be difficult on your own – but Unbiased can help.  

We connect people with expert financial advisors who can provide professional, informative, and confidence-inspiring financial advice. Find a financial advisor who can assist you with everything from maximizing your 401(k) benefits to investment strategies.

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.