Jul 8

My wife’s company just added a 401k and I am considering contributing to it but was wondering if there are limits to max 401k contributions if we file married/jointly? I currently max out my 401k account and I know with our combined income status IRA contributions are no longer tax deductible so I am worried adding to her 401k will bring the same limitation.

5 comments so far...

  • bmwdriver11 Said on July 8th, 2010 at 8:35 pm:

    No such limits on 401k’s. Its $15,500 per person (and more if you’re old and doing the catch up contributions). Contribute the max to both if you can and plan for an early retirement!

  • src50 Said on July 8th, 2010 at 8:50 pm:

    Each stands on its own. For 2008 $15.5K/year or $20.5K if age 50 or older.

  • TaxMan Said on July 8th, 2010 at 9:32 pm:

    As you probably know, a 401(k) can only be owned by one person. There is no such thing as a joint 401(k) or IRA. The most one can contribute to all of their own 401(k) plans in calendar year 2008 is $15,500. If you turn 50 prior to the end of 2008, then the max becomes $20,500. The same limits hold true for your wife. Being married and filing jointly have no impact on these limits.

    There is a second consideration too. The most money that can be contributed to all of your pension (defined contribution) plans for 2008 is $46,000 ($51,000 if you turn 50 prior to the end of 2008). Since a 401(k) (as well as a SEP) is a defined contribution plan, you have to take into consideration any other defined contribution plans to which you may belong. If, for example, your employer contributes $40,000 to your defined benefit plan, then the most you can put into your 401(k) is only $6,000. If you have no employer pension plan, you can disregard this paragraph.

  • ninasgramma Said on July 8th, 2010 at 10:31 pm:

    The other answers are fine, but you are wise to be aware of the maximum contribution limits. Do not assume you each can contribute $15,500 (or $20,500). Each plan document plus the compensation of the employee may further limit the maximum contribution .

    Your filing status and the spouse’s compensation have no bearing on the contribution limit to your 401k’s.

    You can make nondeductible contributions to traditional IRAs and then move that money into a Roth IRA in 2010 with no tax due. The income limits are lifted for Roth conversions in 2010.

  • The Tax Institute at H&R Block Said on July 8th, 2010 at 10:58 pm:

    Both you and your wife can each contribute up to $15,500 to your respective employer 401(k) plans, assuming that these are the only employer retirement plans you participate in during the year. She can contribute up to $15,500 to her 401(k) and you can still contribute up to $15,500 to your 401(k) plan. If either of you will be age 50 or over by the end of the year, you may also be eligible to make a $5,000 catch-up contribution to either or both plans. Check with your employer plan to be sure they allow catch-up contributions if you would like to contribute the additional amount and are old enough to do so.

    There is often an employer matching contribution available for employees who contribute to the employer 401(k) plan. If your wife’s employer offers a matching contribution, she should generally try to contribute at least the minimum amount that would qualify her for the employer match. Otherwise, she may be leaving some valuable retirement benefits behind.

    You may want to consider reducing your own contribution to allow your wife to reduce her take home pay to enable her to fund at least the amount needed to obtain any available employer matching contribution. You’ll want to verify the terms of your plans so that you maximize the benefit that you can obtain as a couple for retirement.

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