Advice for Savvy Retirement Planning

401K Max Contribution Limits For 2016

401K Contribution LimitsEach year the IRS publishes updated Maximum 401K contribution limits, as well as catch-up contribution limits for the new year. Typically, the limits the IRS sets each year is based on inflation factors (with minimum $500 increases), so they do not necessarily increase the limit each year.

The 401K Max Contribution Limit for 2016 has now been set, with NO increases over 2015, and will remain at $18,000. The Maximum 401K contribution Limit for 2013 and 2014 was $17,500.

Don’t Buy-and-Forget the Investments in Your 401K Plan

IRA Contribution Limits 2016 and Previous Years

History of 401K Max Contribution Limits:

As you can see, the Maximum 401K contribution limits do not rise dramatically each year. Although over time, if investors are diligent about increasing their contributions, it can certainly make a difference.

  • 2016 – $18,000
  • 2015 – $18,000
  • 2014 – $17,500
  • 2013 – $17,500
  • 2012 – $17,000
  • 2011 – $16,500
  • 2010 – $16,500
  • 2009 – $16,500
  • 2008 – $15,500

Age-50 401K Catch Up Maximum Contribution Limits

For those of you that are over age 50 (or turn age 50 before the end of the year), you are allowed an additional 401K catch-up contribution. These limits also adjust for inflation, but at a much slower pace. The $500 increase to $6,000 for 2015 was the first 401K catch up increase since 2009:

  • 2016 – $6,000
  • 2015 – $6,000
  • 2014 – $5,500
  • 2013 – $5,500
  • 2012 – $5,500
  • 2011 – $5,500
  • 2010 – $5,500
  • 2009 – $5,500
  • 2008 – $5,000

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Employer Match and Total Maximum 401K Contributions

In addition to total allowable employee 401K contributions, there is a maximum total contribution allowed into your 401K (when factoring in employer match). For 2015, the maximum allowed to be contributed into your 401K is $53,000 (or 100% of income, whichever is greater) and will remain at $53,000 in 2016 (with minimum $1,000 increases thereafter). Therefore, with employee standard contributions, potential over-50 “catch-up” contributions, plus employer contributions, the maximum overall contributions are $59,000 in 2015 and 2016.

For IRS Limits on Other Types of Retirement Plans (ie. SIMPLE, SEP, etc.), please see IRS Retirement Plans Guide


Robert Henderson is the President of Lansdowne Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only advisory firm in Mystic, CT. His firm specializes in financial planning and investment management for retirement, with a special focus on the particular needs of women that are divorced or widowed. He is an Accredited Asset Management Specialist and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Mr. Henderson can be reached at 860-245-5078 or You can also view his personal finance blog, The Retirement Workshop at and the firm’s website at

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