It’s a relatively small change, but it’s a change for payroll administrators to take notice of. As of November 2018, your employees’ contribution limits for their 401(k) increased to $19,000 from $18,500. The increase raises the total annual contribution amount (employee plus employer contribution) to $56,000 or 100% of the employee’s salary if they make less than that. Most companies typically offer 3-6% in matching funds, but there is no limit to the amount an employer can contribute as long as the annual cap isn’t reached.
2018 & 2019 401(k) Match Limits
|Defined Contribution Plan Limits||2019||2018||Difference|
|Maximum employee contribution||$19,000||$18,500||+$500|
|Catch-up contribution for employees aged 50 or older||$6,000||$6,000||No change|
|Total contribution maximum (employer + employee)||$56,000||$55,000||+$1,000|
|Total contribution maximum (employer + employee) for employees aged 50+||$62,000||$61,000||+$1,000|
|Employee compensation limit||$280,000||$275,000||+$5,000|
|Key employee salary threshold||$180,000||$175,000||+$5,000|
|Highly compensated employee salary threshold||$125,000||$120,000||+$5,000|
401k Contribution Limits
A very important aspect of your 401(k) program for you and your company’s employees to keep in mind: The total annual contribution amount is an individual limit meaning that it applies to all 401(k) plans an employee has. It’s important to make sure they’re keeping a close eye on their annual total if they have multiple accounts.
No matter how much money an employee makes, only the first $280,000 is eligible for an employer match. This cap was put in place to help ensure retirement savings are equitable across the board for all employees.
What’s a 401(k) Catch-Up Contribution?
The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) created the catch-up contribution provision so older employees could set aside enough savings for retirement. Your employees who are 50 and older qualify to contribute an extra $6000 a year to their account.
What Are Highly Compensated and Key Employees?
The IRS defines a highly compensated employee as:
- Someone who owns more than 5% interest in the company regardless of how much compensation that person earned, or
- Someone whose salary is $125,000 or greater
Key employees are either:
- A company officer who makes more than $180,000
- A 5% owner of the business, or
- An employee who owns more than 1% of the business and makes more than $150,000
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires employers to undergo 401(k) discrimination testing every year to ensure plans are not favoring higher-income employees over those who earn less.
How to Help Ensure 401(k) Compliance
Many companies struggle with the administrative burden required for handling the recordkeeping and payroll data involved in 401(k) management. If that sounds like you, check out our 401(k) plan administration. Critical information like deferral changes, loans, matches and demographic data can be accessed and updated without the need for time-consuming manual processes.
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