Retirement Pages

Pension Plan Contribution Limits

Pension plans, also called annuities, are a type of employer-sponsored retirement plan, but they are not the same as a 401(k), an IRA, or other retirement plans. A pension is a defined benefit plan which means that it provides a specific payment amount to you upon retirement. See IRS Publication 939, General Rule for Pensions and Annuities.
Pension Plan

Each tax year, the IRS announces cost of living adjustments for pension plan dollar limitations annually. Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code provides dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans and requires that the IRS annually adjust these limits for inflation and increases in cost-of-living. You can use the information below to guide you in the planning for your tax return, but remember, when you prepare your return on, all you need to do is enter the information from the income your received from your pension plan(s) and we will do all the work for you to report your pension income and calculate any tax amounts.

Pensions Are Taxable Income

In general, pension income is always taxable on the federal level while some states vary. Depending on the pension, it may be fully taxable or partially taxable. Your pension income - a monthly fixed payment issued by an employer you worked for - is taxed based on a few simple criteria:

  • Fully taxable: you made no investments or contributions to the plan, only your employer did.
  • Fully taxable: you made pre-tax contributions to your pension account.
  • Partially taxable: you made after-tax contributions to your pension account.

To calculate the taxable portion of your pension, simply enter your information in your eFile account and taxes will be calculated and assessed based on your entries. The 1099-R you receive should also note the taxable amount in Box 2a; when you enter this form, the rest is done for you.

Retiring soon? See this helpful IRS Tax Guide for the Retiree.

As an employee, depending on your situation, consider making contributions to your pension or other tax-deductible retirement accounts in order to reduce your taxable income. When you contribute pre-tax dollars to your traditional IRA pr pension, these are deductible in the year of the contribution; for after-tax pension and Roth IRA contributions, it will decrease your taxes when you take money from the account. When you contribute to a Roth IRA, the contributions are not deductible, but your distributions when you retire are fully tax-free. See more details on taxable and nontaxable income.

Related: Which states have no pension tax?

When taking pension distributions, this income, along with all your other income, is taxed as regular income at your effective tax rate. If you take an early distribution, there is a penalty on any pension or retirement account taken prematurely. As a retiree, you may earn income as a wage or salary worker; or, you may still be self-employed while collecting retirement income. If you change your income situation when you retire, consider filling out and submitting a new W-4 to your employer. This way, you can withhold the right amount of taxes combined with your other income.

You can also withhold money from your pension payments by submitting a W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments; for Social Security, submit a W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. These can help keep your taxes balanced so you do not owe too much when you file nor be owed a large tax refund made up of money you could have had all year.

Dollar Amount Limits on Pension Plan Contributions

The information below is relevant for 2022 Returns and shows how most of the amounts increased over three years. The table includes information for 2023 to assist in planning.

There are limitations to many parts of retirement plans. Under a defined benefit plan, there are limits to how much can be taken out as well as contributed. Certain 401 or 404 plans have annual compensation limits and many plans are variable if an employer is involved with these contributions. Generally, these amount are fairly high and many taxpayers will not have to worry about reaching them in a given tax year.

Retiree Tax Guide

Below, find contribution limits for various type of retirement plans. Each is organized by the type of limit and tax year (annual limit); additional information can be found below the table.

Limit Type
Defined Benefit
Defined Contribution
457 Elective Deferrals or 401(k), 403(b)
Annual Compensation
Key Employee or
"Top Heavy"
Highly Compensated
"Catch-up" for 401(k), 403(b) or 457 savings
for employee age 50+
SEP Compensation
State & Local Gov't
& Tax-Exempt
"Control Employee"

You can use these amounts to plan your retirement year-to-year, this way you do not go over any limits. Thought notably, these amounts are generally very high and most taxpayers will not need to worry about them.

  • The dollar amount for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a 5 year distribution period is $1,230,000 in 2022, up from $1,165,000 in 2021. The dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the 5 year distribution period is $245,000, up from $230,000 in 2021.
  • The annual compensation limitation for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost of living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan to be taken into account, is $450,000. This was $425,000 in 2020 and $430,000 in 2021.
  • The annual "catch up" contribution limit has not changed for Individua Retirement Accounts or IRAs for those over 50, which is a limit of $1,000.
  • The "catch-up" contribution limit for SIMPLE plans at age 50 or more is $3,000, which has not changed.
  • The deductible amount for an individual making qualified retirement contributions is $6,000.The deductible amount has been the same since 2018.
  • The applicable dollar amount for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) is $109,000 for 2022, up from $105,000 in 2021. The applicable dollar amount for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $66,000 in 2021 to $68,000 in 2022. The applicable dollar amount for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is $204,000 in 2022, up from $198,000 in 2021.
  • The adjusted gross income limitation for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for taxpayers filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) is $204,000 in 2022, up from $198,000 in 2021. The AGI for a married filing separately taxpayer is no subject to the annual adjustment and remains at $0. The adjusted gross income limitation for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is $129,000 in 2022, up from $125,000 in 2021.
    • The phaseout AGI range for taxpayers filing a joint return is from $204,000 - $214,000 in 2022, up from $198,000 - $208,000. The range for heads of household and singles is $129,000 - $144,000 in 2022, up from $125,000 - $140,000 in 2021. For married filing separately taxpayers, the range remains $0 - $10,000.

There are limitations on annual benefit amounts as well as how much can be contributed each year. These change from tax year to tax year, typically by small amounts. Of course, there are various types of plans and the limits for each often vary. The annual compensation limits apply to 401(a)(17)/404(l) plans, for example. Elective deferrals are often for 401(k) plans, but can be for other plans as well.

Saver's Tax Credit Limits

The Saver's Tax Credit has more detailed limits and phaseout thresholds. Below, find a simple table for these figures. These are based on IRS filing status and a taxpayer's adjusted gross income, or AGI.

Filing Status
Single; MFJ

The Saver's Tax Credit is a government inventive which encourages people to contribute to their retirement. The credit is geared towards low-to-moderate income earners and can help save you money on taxes. You can claim this tax credit and other applicable tax savings when you file your taxes online through See how compares to H&R Block® and TurboTax® before you eFileIT.

Related Information about Pensions and Retirement Income