401(k) Contribution Limits 2024: What You Need To Know

For 2024, the employee contribution limit for 401(k) plans is $23,000, up from $22,500 in 2023. Those 50 and older can contribute an additional $7,500.
June Sham
Arielle O'Shea
By Arielle O'Shea and  June Sham 
Updated
Edited by Pamela de la Fuente

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Nerdy takeaways
  • The IRS may adjust 401(k) contribution limits annually to account for inflation and cost-of-living increases.

  • In 2024, employees under age 50 can contribute a maximum of $23,000 to their 401(k) plan.

  • Employees over age 50 can put aside an extra $7,500 in their 401(k) plan as a catch-up contribution in 2024.

Contributing enough to your 401(k) plan to get your employer's match is an easy way to save for retirement, but that doesn't mean you can't contribute more.

When planning how much to contribute to your 401(k) plan, keep in mind that the IRS sets a limit on how much you can add to your 401(k) plan, and exceeding that could result in penalties if not addressed.

401(k) contribution limits 2024

The 401(k) contribution limits for 2024 are $23,000 for people under 50, and $30,500 for those 50 and older. Retirement contribution limits are adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases.

2024 401(k) contribution limits

Employee contribution limit

$23,000.

Catch-up contribution limit for individuals age 50 and older

$7,500.

Maximum employee and employer contribution

Cannot exceed the lesser of $69,000 for those under 50 ($76,500 for those 50 and up) or 100% of employee compensation.

» Learn more: Use NerdWallet's free 401(k) calculator to see how your contributions add up.

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Does my employer match count toward 401(k) limits?

No. If your employer offers a match for 401(k) contributions, those contributions don't count toward your individual limit. However, the total of your contributions and your employer's can't exceed the combined IRS limit. The 2024 combined limit for employee and employer contributions is $69,000 for those under 50 and $76,500 for those 50 and older.

Can I max out both my 401(k) and Roth 401(k)?

If you have a traditional 401(k) plan and Roth 401(k) plan, you can contribute to both every year as long as the total contributions don't exceed the IRS limit for the year. That means between the two accounts, you can contribute a combined max of $23,000 if you're under 50, or $30,500 if you're 50 or older.

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Are there income limits for 401(k)s?

While there's no universal income limit on 401(k) contributions, in some cases the IRS does impose contribution limits on "highly compensated employees" when a company encounters disproportionate contribution levels among its workers.

The IRS has a test that helps employers who sponsor 401(k) plans to assess whether employees are participating in their plan at levels proportionate to their compensation.

If the test determines that people across compensation levels aren't participating in a manner the IRS deems proportionate, employee contribution levels for highly compensated employees can be lowered. In these cases, your employer may need to return some of your excess contributions

.

The IRS defines a highly compensated employee in one of two ways:

  1. An individual who either owned more than 5% of the interest in a business at any time during the year or the preceding year, no matter how much they were paid.

  2. An individual who received over $155,000 in 2024, and, if the employer ranks employees by compensation, was in the top 20%.

Can I have a 401(k) and an IRA?

Yes. You can have both a 401(k) and an IRA. IRAs can be a good supplement to retirement savings, especially if you’re contributing enough to receive a full match from your employer, or you’re planning on maxing out your 401(k).

The annual contribution limit for an IRA in 2024 is $7,000, or $8,000 if you’re 50 or older. You can make contributions to a 2024 IRA for the current year until the tax filing deadline in 2025.

» Ready to get started? Find the best IRA account for you.

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Can I contribute 100% of my salary to my 401(k)?

It depends on what your salary is. The maximum individuals can contribute is $23,000 for those under 50, and $30,500 for people 50 and older.

What happens if I exceed my 401(k) limit by mistake?

If you contribute too much to your 401(k) and notice your mistake before the tax filing deadline, you can probably correct it with your employer. You’ll need to notify your plan administrator. If your plan allows excess deferral distributions, the plan administrator will return the money, and any earnings, to you, and file a 1099-R for the year the excess contribution was distributed.

» Learn more about what to do when you contribute too much to a 401(k)

If you don’t catch the mistake before the tax-filing deadline, you may have to pay taxes twice on the amount you contributed over the limit. That’s because the excess contribution is taxable in the year it was made, and because the IRS will still count that money as taxable in the year it’s distributed, too. Any earnings are also taxable in the year they are distributed, the IRS says

.

» Looking to cash out? Learn the 401(k) withdrawal rules.

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