Retirement Plan FAQs Regarding Contributions - Are Retirement Plan Contributions Subject to Withholding for FICA, Medicare or Federal Income Tax?


It depends on the type of contribution. Generally, these withholding rules apply:

  Social Security (FICA) and Medicare Federal income tax
Employee elective salary deferrals – pre-tax Yes No
Employee elective salary deferrals – Roth Yes Yes
Employer matching and nonelective contributions No No

See Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide PDF, for details and special rules for plans sponsored by government or nonprofit organizations.

Form W-2 reporting for retirement plan contributions

  • Box 1 (Wages) – Don’t include pre-tax contributions made under a salary reduction agreement.
  • Box 3 & 5 (Social Security and Medicare wages) - Include all employee pre-tax, after-tax and designated Roth contributions.
  • Box 12 (Codes) - Enter appropriate codes to show elective deferrals and designated Roth contributions to different plan types.  Separate codes indicate excess elective deferrals. See the Code Reference Chart in the form instructions.
  • Box 13 (Checkboxes) – Check the box if the employee was an active participant in a retirement plan. See the decision chart in the form instructions for help making this determination.
  • Box 14 (Other) – You may enter the amount of employer matching and nonelective contributions made to the plan and the amount of voluntary or mandatory employee after-tax contributions (not including Roth).

See the Instructions PDF for Forms W-2 and W-3 for details.