457 Plan vs. 403(b) Plan: What’s the Difference?


457 Plan vs. 403(b) Plan: An Overview

The general public sector stands out as the final bastion of the defined-benefit plan—the old school pension funded by an employer and routinely paid to staff after retirement.

However these days, no single supply of revenue could also be sufficient to make sure a cushty retirement; individuals additionally want to save lots of on their very own to make ends meet in retirement. Sadly, public-sector and nonprofit organizations do not supply 401(okay) plans to which staff can contribute. Nonetheless, they will and do supply different employer-sponsored plans: the 403(b) and the 457.

Key Takeaways

  • Public-sector and nonprofit organizations do not supply their staff 401(okay) plans.
  • These organizations can supply different employer-sponsored plans, such because the 403(b) and the 457 plans.
  • There are two several types of 457 plans—the 457(b), supplied to state and native authorities staff, and the 457(f) for high executives in nonprofits.
  • A 403(b) plan is often supplied to staff of personal nonprofits and authorities employees, together with public college staff.
  • If you’re eligible for each plans, you’ll be able to cut up your contributions between them.

The 457 Plan

There are two varieties of 457 plans. A 457(b) is obtainable to state and native authorities staff, whereas a 457(f) is for top-level executives at non-profits.


In case you have a 457(b) plan, you’ll be able to contribute as much as $22,500 for 2023 (up from $20,500 in 2022). You may also contribute an extra $7,500 in 2023 (up from $6,500 in 2022) for those who’re 50 or older.

You may contribute much more in case you are inside three years of regular retirement age. You could possibly contribute as a lot as twice the restrict for those who’re inside three years of regular retirement age. This quantity is $45,000 for 2023, up from $41,000 in 2022. Nonetheless, your most contribution when you’re inside three years of regular retirement age is the lesser of twice the contribution restrict or the annual restrict plus the unused annual restrict from prior years.

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The 457(f) plans differ considerably from their 457(b) counterpart. They’re usually described as golden handcuffs as a result of they’re primarily used to recruit executives from the non-public sector, the place the pay tends to be larger and the advantages extra beneficiant.

Below a 457(f) plan, compensation is deferred from taxation. Nonetheless, this deferred compensation is topic to a “substantial threat of forfeiture,” which suggests executives threat dropping the profit in the event that they fail to satisfy particular necessities for size of service and efficiency.

When the compensation turns into assured and is not topic to the chance of forfeiture, it turns into taxable as gross revenue.

Except you grow to be the top of a nonprofit group (NPO), you are unlikely to run into the 457(f) plan. As a result of the deferred compensation shouldn’t be but paid and is sheltered from taxation, the advantages stay within the arms of the employer. Guidelines require that executives carry out companies for not less than two years to obtain advantages underneath a 457(f) plan.

In case you have a 457(f) plan, there is no such thing as a restrict on how a lot revenue could be deferred from taxation. Nonetheless, quantities deferred are topic to a considerable threat of forfeiture.

Execs and Cons of the 457 Plan


  • The 457(b) permits members to double their retirement plan contributions if they’re inside three years of regular retirement age. Those that fall into this class can contribute as much as $45,000 in 2023 (up from $41,000 in 2022).
  • You may also put in an additional $7,500 per 12 months in 2023 (up from $6,500 in 2022) for those who’re not less than 50 years outdated.
  • Whereas different plans don’t enable distributions till you might be 59½ years outdated, your 457(b) advantages grow to be obtainable if you not work for the employer offering the 457(b) plan. In any other case, distributions are permitted when you’re 72 (or 70½ years outdated for those who reached that age earlier than January 1, 2020) or if wanted for an unforeseeable emergency.
  • In the event you depart your job, you’ll be able to roll your account over right into a Roth IRA or 401(okay). That is an possibility for the 457(b) plan however not the 457(f) plan.


  • Not like the 401(okay), the match your employer contributes will rely as a part of your most contribution. For instance, in case your employer contributes $9,500 in 2023, you’ll be able to solely contribute $13,000 except you’re eligible for a catch-up technique.
  • There are a lot larger contribution limits in a 401(okay) plan. For instance, employer matching and worker regular and catch-up contributions are $73,500 for 2023 (up from $67,500 in 2022).
  • Few governments present matching applications throughout the 457(b) plan. It’s principally as much as the workers to verify they’re saving an ample quantity.
  • The 457(f) plan requires that staff keep on the job for no less than two years. Those that depart earlier forfeit their proper to the 457(f) plan.

The IRS makes annual changes to contribution and deduction limits based mostly on inflation.

The 403(b) Plan

A 403(b) plan is often supplied to staff of personal nonprofits and authorities employees, together with public college staff. Just like the 401(okay), 403(b) plans are defined-contribution plans that enable members to shelter cash on a tax-deferred foundation for retirement.

When these plans had been created in 1958, they may solely put money into annuity contracts. So, they had been referred to as tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) plans or tax-deferred annuity (TDA) plans.

These plans are mostly utilized by instructional establishments. Nonetheless, any entity that qualifies underneath IRS Part 501(c)(3) can undertake it.

Contribution and Deferral Limits

The contribution limits for 403(b) plans are actually equivalent to these of 401(okay) plans. All worker deferrals are made on a pretax foundation and cut back the participant’s adjusted gross revenue (AGI) accordingly.

The annual contribution restrict, additionally referred to as the elective deferral, is $22,500 for 2023 (up from $20,500 in 2022). People can make investments an extra catch-up contribution of $7,500 for 2023 and $6,500 for 2022 in the event that they’re 50 or over.

These plans supply a particular further catch-up contribution provision referred to as the lifetime catch-up provision or 15-year rule. Workers who’ve not less than 15 years of tenure are eligible for this provision, which permits for an additional $3,000 cost a 12 months. Nonetheless, this provision additionally has a lifetime employer-by-employer restrict of $15,000.

Employers could make matching contributions, however the whole contributions from employer and worker can’t exceed $66,000 for 2023 (up from $61,000 for 2022).

After-tax contributions are allowed in some circumstances, and Roth contributions are additionally obtainable for employers who go for this function. Like with 401(okay) plans, employers can institute automated 403(b) plan contributions for all employees, though the workers could decide out at their discretion. Eligible members can also qualify for the Retirement Saver’s Credit score.

When calculating 403(b) contribution limits for a person, the IRS applies them in a selected order. First, they apply the elective deferral. The IRS then makes use of the 15-year service catch-up provision. These are adopted by the catch-up contribution. It’s an employer’s accountability to restrict contributions to the right quantities.


The principles for rolling over 403(b) plan balances have been loosened significantly over the previous few years. Workers who depart their employers can now take their plans to a different employer. They’ll roll their plans over into one other 403(b), a 401(okay), or one other certified plan. They’ll additionally select to roll their plans over right into a self-directed IRA as an alternative.

This implies staff can preserve one retirement plan all through their careers as an alternative of getting to open a separate IRA account or depart their plans with their outdated employers.


Notably, 403(b) plan distributions resemble these of 401(okay) plans in most respects:

  • You can begin taking distributions at age 59½, whether or not or not you’re nonetheless working at that group.
  • Distributions taken earlier than age 59½ are topic to a ten% early-withdrawal penalty except a particular exception applies.
  • All regular distributions are taxed as extraordinary revenue.
  • Roth distributions are tax-free. Nonetheless, staff should both contribute to the plan or have a Roth IRA open for not less than 5 years earlier than having the ability to take tax-free distributions.
  • Required minimal distributions (RMDs) should start at age 72. The age for RMDs was 70½ till it was raised by the SECURE Act of 2019. Traders can keep away from RMDs in the event that they roll the plan right into a Roth IRA or different Roth retirement plan. Failure to take a required minimal distribution will lead to a 50% excise tax on the quantity that ought to have been withdrawn.
  • Mortgage provisions can also be obtainable on the employer’s discretion. The mortgage guidelines are additionally principally the identical as these for 401(okay) plans. Members can’t entry greater than the lesser of $50,000 or half of the plan steadiness. Any excellent mortgage steadiness not repaid inside 5 years is handled as a taxable or untimely distribution.

Distributions are reported annually on Type 1099-R, which is mailed to plan members.

Funding Decisions

Funding choices in 403(b) plans are restricted in comparison with different retirement plans. Funds could be invested in an annuity contract supplied by an insurance coverage firm or in a mutual fund by way of a custodial account.

This case is a supply of ongoing debate within the monetary and retirement planning neighborhood. Annuities are tax-deferred automobiles in and of themselves, and there’s no such factor as double tax deferral.

Most plans now supply mutual fund decisions as properly, albeit inside a variable annuity contract typically. However mounted and variable contracts and mutual funds are the one varieties of investments permitted inside these plans.

Miscellaneous Points

Importantly, 403(b) plans differ from their 401(okay) counterparts in that, in idea, the contributions are instantly vested and can’t be forfeited. In follow, nevertheless, employers can contribute to a separate account and, as advantages vest, retroactively apply them to the 403(b) plan.

As well as, as a result of Chapter Abuse Prevention and Shopper Safety Act of 2005, 403(b) plans additionally now obtain the identical degree of safety from collectors as certified plans.

Plan members must also pay attention to all of the charges charged by their plan and funding suppliers. The plan administrator should present all plan members an entire breakdown of those charges.

Which Is Higher a 403(b) or a 457(b)?

A 457(b) plan is healthier for those who want extra time to earn cash to make use of towards your retirement. A 403(b) could be higher if you would like extra funding choices.

Ought to I Contribute To Each a 403(b) and 457(b)?

You may contribute to each, however you might be nonetheless sure by the entire contribution limits set by the IRS. In the event you’re questioning whether or not it advantages your state of affairs to contribute to each, it is best to speak to a monetary planning skilled to see if it is sensible.

What Is The Distinction Between a 401(okay), a 403(b), and a 457(b)?

The primary distinction is who provides these plans. Non-public employers supply 401(okay)s, and 403(b)s and 457(b)s are typically supplied by public sector employers.

The Backside Line

In the event you want extra time to place apart cash for retirement, a 457(b) plan is finest for you. It has a greater catch-up coverage and can help you save more cash for retirement.

A 403(b) is probably going your finest guess if you would like a bigger array of funding choices. Nonetheless, there’s a 3rd possibility for some individuals—for those who’re eligible for each plans, you’ll be able to cut up your contributions between them.

Meaning you’ll be able to put away $45,000 in 2023 (up from 41,000 in 2022) between the 2 plans, not together with any catch-up contributions for those who’re eligible. This would possibly attraction extra to these with larger incomes who’re attempting to cut back their taxes.