Is the salary-deferral contribution max an aggregate number or per plan?
The short answer - it is an aggregate number. So no matter how many 401(k)s you are participating in the maximum contribution you can make for 2012 is $17,000 (plus $5,500 catch-up contribution for those over age 50).
Excellent question. Yes. However, salary-deferral contributions are generally limited to a single aggregate amount for the year. For instance, for tax year 2012, you can make salary-deferral contributions of up to $17,000. And if you're over 50 at any time in 2012 (even if you turn 50 on December 31st 2012), you can contribute an additional catch up contribution of $5,500, for a total of $22,500.
This amount can be split among multiple retirement plans in which you participate, provided your aggregate salary-deferral contributions to all the plans do not exceed $17,000 plus catch-up.
The 401(k) limit applies to all 401(k) accounts you might have for the current year. If you work at two or more jobs or switch jobs in the middle of the year, then you may need to track your 401(k) contributions yourself to ensure that you don't contribute over the limit.
Hi Mason, All these answers are correct the only thing I would add is if you are working more than one job and have more than one 401(k) plan. You might want to contribute what ever amount gets you the employer match in each plan. Then if you have the ability to invest more than that, then figure out which plan has better performing investment options or lower cost and invest the rest in that plan. You can call and ask the plan administrator for this information or do the research yourself online. Good Luck.
Hi Mason the contribution limit is an aggregate number. For 2012 it is $17000 plus $5000 for those who turn 50 before end of year.
$5500 not $5000