Your 401(k) limits may be much higher than you think

If you participate in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, you can contribute up to $19,500 to your retirement in 2021. But did you know some plans allow you to contribute up to $38,500 more?

If you’re looking for increased savings options, find out if your existing plan allows additional after-tax 401(k) contributions. In 2021, after-tax 401(k)s have a total plan maximum of $58,000, including traditional contributions, employer contributions and after-tax contributions. As is true for traditional 401(k)s, these limits are higher ($64,500) if you’re age 50 or older.

Be aware that after-tax contributions are not tax deductible. The contributions grow tax-deferred, meaning the earnings will be taxed as income when you withdraw them. (This differs from Roth 401(k) contributions in which the entirety of the account balance grows tax-free.)

Benefits of after-tax contributions: After-tax 401(k) accounts are beneficial for high-income earners looking to put away extra funds in a tax-advantaged investment account. Your contributions will grow tax deferred, and the compound value of those tax savings, over time, can provide a sizable boost to your retirement account.

In-plan Roth rollovers: If your 401(k) plan allows you to move your after-tax money, you can boost your tax advantages with an in-plan Roth rollover. Dubbed by some as the “mega backdoor Roth,” this strategy allows you to get funds into a Roth IRA regardless of your income.

Per the IRS, once your income exceeds a certain milestone, you can no longer contribute directly to a Roth IRA. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to make after-tax contributions to a 401(k) first and then roll those into a Roth IRA. The sooner you make the rollover, the more years you get of tax-free earnings.

Note, however, that in-plan Roth rollovers will be subject to required minimum distribution rules when you retire, unless you move the in-plan Roth funds to a regular Roth IRA outside your retirement plan after you leave your employer but before you turn 70 ½. If you don’t already have a Roth IRA account outside your retirement plan at that time, you may be subject to a five-year holding period.

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