401k Contribution Limits by Year

The 401(k) contribution limits are updated by the Internal Revenue Service every year. Usually, the IRS increases the limits every year for the same reason as other tax provisions. The increases are usually between $500 and $1,000. From 2020 to 2021, 401(k) contribution limits have been increased by $500.

In 2021, you will be able to contribute as much as $20,000 to your 401(k) retirement plan. There is also the catch-up contribution for those who are aged 50 and over. This amount is also increased by the IRS but not as often as the contribution limit for the under 50. Last year, the catch-up contribution was increased to $6,500. So it remains the same this year. The catch-up contribution is likely to be higher in the upcoming years, but as of 2021, it is the same as last year.

The table below shows the contribution limits for the last 20 years.

YearContribution LimitCatchup Contribution
2021$20,000$6,500
2020$19,500$6,500
2019$19,000$6,000
2018$18,500$6,000
2017$18,000$6,000
2016$18,000$6,000
2015$18,000$6,000
2014$17,500$5,500
2013$17,500$5,500
2012$17,000$5,500
2011$16,500$5,500
2010$16,500$5,500
2009$16,500$5,500
2008$15,500$5,000
2007$15,500$5,000
2006$15,000$5,000
2005$14,000$4,000
2004$13,000$3,000
2003$12,000$2,000
2002$11,000$1,000

Although the contribution limit is $20,000 this year, with employer match, it can be as high as $57,500. This is because your employer can contribute more to your 401(k) than you. With that being said, the above contribution limits represent the maximum contribution amount for employees.

Self-employed individuals, on the other hand, will get to contribute both the employee and the employer portion of this limit. So they can contribute as much as $57,500 if under the age of 50. Added with the catch-up contribution, a self-employed individual should be able to contribute up to $64,000 to their solo 401(k) retirement plan.

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