How It Works & Investments


What Is a Thrift Financial savings Plan (TSP)?

A thrift financial savings plan (TSP) is a retirement funding program open solely to federal staff and members of the uniformed providers, together with the Prepared Reserve. It’s a defined-contribution (DC) plan that gives federal staff most of the identical advantages which are out there to employees within the personal sector.

A TSP carefully resembles a 401(ok) plan provided by personal employers.

Key Takeaways

  • A thrift financial savings plan is much like a 401(ok) plan for federal staff and uniformed providers personnel.
  • Individuals in a TSP can get an instantaneous tax break for his or her financial savings.
  • They’ll additionally select to spend money on a Roth for freedom from taxes after retirement.
  • Plan members can put their cash into any of six investing choices.
  • You’ll be able to roll over a 401(ok) and IRAs right into a TSP in case you go away the personal sector to work in a public one. When you go away a public service job with a TSP, you may also roll it over to a 401(ok) or IRA.

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How a Thrift Financial savings Plan (TSP) Works

There are a number of methods to spend money on a Thrift Financial savings Plan. These can embody:

  • Computerized payroll contributions
  • Company matching contributions
  • Tax-deferred contributions into a conventional TSP (withdrawals are taxed in retirement)
  • After-tax investments in a Roth TSP (withdrawals are untaxed in retirement)

Irrespective of the kind of TSP or contribution construction you select, the contribution restrict is $20,500 for 2022 and $22,500 in 2023 (the identical as for 401(ok) plans). Staff who’re age 50 and over also can make catch-up contributions of $6,500 in 2022 and $7,500 in 2023.

Staff new to federal employment can roll over 401(ok) and particular person retirement account (IRA) belongings right into a TSP. Rollovers can go in the other way if federal staff transfer to the personal sector.

A thrift financial savings plan (TSP) is a defined-contribution retirement plan that has a lot of some great benefits of private-sector plans.

The TSP Funding Choices

The TSP provides a alternative of six funds through which to speculate:

  • The Authorities Securities Funding (G) Fund
  • The Fastened-Revenue Index Funding (F) Fund
  • The Frequent-Inventory Index Funding (C) Fund
  • The Small-Capitalization Inventory Index Funding (S) Fund
  • The Worldwide-Inventory Index Funding (I) Fund
  • Particular Lifecycle (L) funds, designed to incorporate a mixture of securities held in every of the opposite 5 particular person funds

The F, S, C, and I funds within the TSP are index funds at present managed by the BlackRock Institutional Belief Firm underneath contract by the Federal Retirement Thrift Funding Board (FRTIB). This unbiased authorities company administers the TSP and acts as a fiduciary that’s legally liable to handle the TSP prudently and in one of the best pursuits of members and their beneficiaries.

Index funds within the TSP are designed to imitate the return traits of the corresponding benchmark index. For instance, the C Fund is invested in a inventory index fund replicating the S&P 500 Index, which is made up of the shares of 500 large- to medium-sized U.S. firms. L funds are invested within the 5 particular person TSP funds, and their asset allocations are primarily based on the person investor’s time horizon.


The utmost annual contribution to a Thrift Financial savings Plan in 2023. If you’re 50 or older, you may add an additional $7,500.

TSPs vs. IRAs

This isn’t an both/or proposition as a result of you may have each a TSP and an IRA on the identical time. One chief distinction between them is their respective contribution limits. For 2023, the annual restrict is $22,500 for a TSP ($27,000 for these over 50); for an IRA it’s a lot much less—$6,500 ($7,500 in case you are over 50)—and that may be a mixed complete in case you have a number of IRAs. Thus, a TSP lets you construct your retirement funds at a quicker tempo than an IRA does.

One other large distinction is within the employer match. The federal authorities supplies a sliding proportion scale of matching contributions on your TSP. Even in case you contribute nothing, it’s going to contribute 1% of your annual wage to your TSP. The dimensions tops out at a 5% authorities match in case you contribute 5% of your wage to your TSP, thus doubling the sum of money invested. As a result of an IRA is one thing you arrange for your self, with no employer concerned, there aren’t any matching contributions.

The funding charges additionally differ. TSP charges are fairly low, often round 0.05%, and clear. Within the personal sector, IRA funding charges can vary from 0.5% to 2.5%, relying on the form of fund, and it could actually typically be troublesome to know precisely how a lot they’re in combination. Nevertheless, IRAs provide a larger number of funding alternatives than TSPs do, restricted as they’re to the six funds mentioned above. This enables the IRA holder to be extra aggressive of their funding methods than the TSP holder.

Some closing variations need to do with withdrawals. Conventional IRAs and TSPs, in addition to Roth TSPs, have required minimal distributions (RMDs) that begin at age 72. (Solely Roth IRAs should not topic to RMDs.) With an IRA, you might be allowed to take no matter withdrawals you want, and not using a penalty, beginning at age 59½. TSPs solely mean you can withdraw month-to-month, quarterly, or yearly, and you may request that the cost be a particular greenback quantity or an quantity primarily based in your life expectancy and account stability that’s recomputed yearly.

IRAs have an early withdrawal penalty of 10% for any cash taken out if you end up youthful than 59½. Nevertheless, in case you retire at age 55 or older, TSPs will waive the ten% penalty. Even higher, in case you qualify underneath Federal Staff Retirement System (FERS) particular provisions, this age drops to 50.

How Do I Contact TSP Directors?

You’ll be able to name their toll-free Thriftline at 877-968-3778, Monday by means of Friday, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. There’s additionally a global telephone line at 404-233-4400 that’s not a toll-free line. The TDD (Telecommunications Machine for the Deaf) line for the listening to impaired is 877-847-4385.

The overall mailing deal with is Thrift Financial savings Plan, P.O. Field 385021, Birmingham, AL 35238. When you’ve got an internet account, there’s a Message Heart that lets you ship and obtain messages. Response time is 2 enterprise days.

Lastly, for particular inquiry classes (loans, demise advantages, court docket orders, federal tax levies, press requests, and extra) there are particular person publish workplace bins and/or e mail addresses listed on the TSP web site.

Is a TSP the Similar Factor As a 401(ok)?

Not precisely, although they’re structured equally and have the identical contribution limits. A TSP is what the federal authorities provides as an alternative of a 401(ok), which is the kind of plan provided by personal employers. It’s potential to have each in case you have labored for each a authorities and a non-public employer. Nevertheless, the full contribution to those retirement plans can’t exceed the annual contribution limits set by the Inside Income Code.

Is a TSP Higher Than an IRA?

TSPs and IRAs each have advantages. With a TSP, you may contribute significantly more cash every year, anticipate matching contributions from the federal authorities, and pay decrease funding charges.

You’ve gotten larger management over your investments with an IRA, and there aren’t any limits on withdrawals from it upon retirement. You’ll be able to borrow out of your TSP (as much as $50,000), however you can’t usually borrow from an IRA account.

In contrast to with an IRA, you may request a whole withdrawal of your TSP account in month-to-month funds, an annuity lifetime cost, or a lump sum quantity in case you go away your job in federal service. As well as, you may mix these choices.

What Occurs to My Thrift Financial savings Plan If I Give up My Job?

When you stop your job, your Thrift Financial savings Plan will stay as is that if the stability is $200 or extra, and it’ll proceed incomes. You’ll be able to management the account and make changes to your investments however you can’t make any extra contributions.

Correction—June 16, 2022. This text has been edited to spotlight that it’s potential to have each a 401(ok) and a TSP in some circumstances.

See also  Minimum Wage by State