7.   Excess Contributions

If your actual contributions are greater than your MAC, you have an excess contribution. Excess contributions can result in income tax, additional taxes, and penalties. The effect of excess contributions depends on the type of excess contribution. This chapter discusses excess contributions to your 403(b) account.

How Do I Know If I Have Excess Contributions?

At the end of the year or the beginning of the next year, you should refigure your MAC based on your actual compensation and actual contributions made to your account.

If the actual contributions to your account are greater than your MAC, you have excess contributions. If, at any time during the year, your employment status or your compensation changes, you should refigure your MAC using a revised estimate of compensation to prevent excess contributions.

What Happens If I Have Excess Contributions?

Certain excess contributions in a 403(b) account can be corrected. The effect of an excess 403(b) contribution will depend on the type of excess contribution.

Types of excess contributions.   If, after checking your actual contributions, you determine that you have an excess, the first thing is to identify the type of excess that you have. Excess contributions to a 403(b) account are categorized as either an:
  • Excess annual addition, or

  • Excess elective deferral.

Excess Annual Addition

An excess annual addition is a contribution that is more than your limit on annual additions. To determine your limit on annual additions, see chapter 3 (chapter 5 for ministers or church employees).

In the year that your contributions are more than your limit on annual additions, the excess amount will be included in your income.

Excise Tax

If your 403(b) account invests in mutual funds, and you exceed your limit on annual additions, you may be subject to a 6% excise tax on the excess contribution. The excise tax does not apply to funds in an annuity account or to excess deferrals.

You must pay the excise tax each year in which there are excess contributions in your account. Excess contributions can be corrected by contributing less than the applicable limit in later years or by making permissible distributions. See chapter 8 for a discussion on permissible distributions.

You cannot deduct the excise tax.

Reporting requirement.   You must file Form 5330 if there has been an excess contribution to a custodial account and that excess has not been corrected.

Excess Elective Deferral

An excess elective deferral is the amount that is more than your limit on elective deferrals. To determine your limit on elective deferrals, see chapter 4.

Your employer's 403(b) plan may contain language permitting it to distribute excess deferrals. If so, it may require that in order to get a distribution of excess deferrals, you either notify the plan of the amount of excess deferrals or designate a distribution as an excess deferral. The plan may require that the notification or designation be in writing and may require that you certify or otherwise establish that the designated amount is an excess deferral. A plan is not required to permit distribution of excess deferrals.

Correction of excess deferrals during year.   If you have excess deferrals for a year, a corrective distribution may be made only if both of the following conditions are satisfied.
  • The plan and either you or your employer designate the distribution as an excess deferral to the extent you have excess deferrals for the year.

  • The correcting distribution is made after the date on which the excess deferral was made.

Correction of excess deferrals after the year.   If you have excess deferrals for a year, you may receive a correcting distribution of the excess deferral no later than April 15 of the following year. The plan can distribute the excess deferral (and any income allocable to the excess) no later than April 15 of the year following the year the excess deferral was made.

Tax treatment of excess deferrals not attributable to Roth contributions.   If the excess deferral is distributed by April 15, it is included in your income in the year contributed and the earnings on the excess deferral will be taxed in the year distributed.

Tax treatment of excess deferrals attributable to Roth contributions.   For these rules, see Regulations section 1.402(g)-1(e).


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