The Internal Revenue Service has announced the 2020 limits that affect the operation of tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, and certain other types of employee benefit plans, including deferred compensation plans that may be subject to Internal Revenue Code §409A. The amount by which the limits are adjusted each year is based on a cost of living index. Not all limits increase every year.

The Social Security (OASDI) taxable wage base, which governs the amount of pay subject to Social Security tax withholding and affects plans that are "integrated" with Social Security, also is subject to adjustment annually. For 2020, the OASDI taxable wage base has been increased to $137,700.

Adjusted Limits

Limits increased from 2019 in red


2020 Limit

Maximum 401(k) Contributions


Maximum Compensation Limit


Highly Compensated Employees

Earning (in previous year) more than


Key Employee Compensation Limit


Annual Contribution Limit for Defined Contribution Plans


Annual Benefit Limit for Defined Benefit Plans


SIMPLE Plan Limit


Age 50 and Older Catch-Up Contribution Limit

All plans other than SIMPLE Plans


Annual Contribution Limit for Section 457 Deferred Compensation Plans (government and tax-exempt organizations)



Maximum account balance subject to five-year distribution period
Each incremental dollar amount in excess of account balance that adds one year to five-year distribution period


Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEPs)

Contributions must be made for employees earning at least


409A Minimum Specified Employee (Officer) Compensation Requirement


409A Involuntary Separation Pay Exception


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.