All Things Tax

All Things Tax

Like the title says, from the filing process and tax questions to tax policy and reform, you can search and share All Things Tax here. This is the place to find answers to all your general questions that don't fall under the other categories. And just a reminder: questions about software or online filing should be posted in DIY Products.

Valued Pioneer
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎04-05-2017

457(b) and 401k limits when we have both a 457(b) and a 401k plan

Before we filed the 2016 taxes we thought our retirement contributions was 18k for our combined 401k and 457 plans.  Since the combined total was over 18k we got the "Excess Retirement Contribution" message from H&RBlock tax application which then treated the excess as income and resulted in tax on that excess income.  Now a few months after we filed, we reclarified the limits one more time with our Retirement Plan Administrators to make sure we don't go over again in our 2017 taxes. This is when we discovered we actually misunderstood the original explanation.  It turns out each plan had its own 18k limit and we, therefore, overpaid in taxes as a result. 


What can we do to correct this so that we can get back the taxes we overpaid?

Tax Pro
Posts: 5,725
Registered: ‎02-23-2016

Re: 457(b) and 401k limits when we have both a 457(b) and a 401k plan

Hi jenny_b_torres,


If you did in fact pay extra taxes then all you need to do is file an amended tax return to correct the error.  So long as it's within three years of the original due date for the return you'll get a refund of the excess amount.


The question that we need to answer though is whether or not an error was actually made.  There are limits on 401(K) plans that you may not have known about and weren't told about, so let's eliminate that possibility first if we can.  The overall limit for 401(K) elective deferral contributions (and this one is what catches people the most) is $54,000 in total between all of your accounts or an amount equal to your earned income, whichever is less.  If your earned (wage & salary) income is less than your total contribution amount then that could be how you were over the limit.


You are correct that the limit for 401(K) elective deferral contributions is $18,000 per account.


For a 457(B) plan the annual limit for elective deferral contributions is either $18,000 or an amount equal to your earned income, whichever is less.  The annual limit on 457(B) plans is significantly lower than a 401(K), so that is another possible reason why you paid tax on some of the distribution.


How much is your wage & salary income?  How much did you contribute to each plan?  With the answers to these two questions I'll be able to figure out if you were actually within the limits or not.




Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)

Posts: 1
Registered: ‎11-11-2017

Re: 457(b) and 401k limits when we have both a 457(b) and a 401k plan

     I adjunct teach at a Massachusetts college and they pull out money for "Alternate Retirement Plan".  In Massachusetts, stat workers don't pay into Social Security, but instead into Massachusetts' retirement plan. Last year's W2 listed this income as "G" in block 12 or 'elective referrals into a 457 (b) plan'. [elective is a strong word] This year, it is not much money, about $15k in wages and ~$1000 in this alternate retirement plan.

     I like to plan early to make sure there are no surprises at tax time, so I have put in projections into H&R Block 2017 (I have regular income streams, so my projections will be pretty close to actuals).  I selected "G" again this year for the "Alternate retirement" funds but the H&R Block 2017 program seems to be counting it against my 401(k) limit?  I will be right under the $18000 limit for 401(k) contributions but the program is telling me I put in $1000 too much?  it is a bug or am I really over?  Looking at the previous post, I am guessing a bug?