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Compare Your Employer-Sponsored Retirement Account Contributions to Others (Without Being Rude)

Curious about how your annual retirement deposits compare to other US taxpayers?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Through the magic of governmental data you can see where you rank without making impolite inquiries to friends and coworkers.

This post covers employer-sponsored retirement accounts such as 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), 408(p) and Roth 401(k) plans. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) involve different data sources and therefore will be covered in a separate post.

Statistics of Income Program

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collects random individual tax returns pursuant to its Statistics of Income (SOI) program. The SOI includes a review of W-2 forms known as the “Individuals, Form W-2 Tabulations Program.”  In the latest available W-2 program, which was conducted for tax year 2013, the IRS sampled 332,040 tax returns. See Statistics of Income—2013, Individual Tax Returns, Description of Sample at Table B.

Using W-2 data, the IRS reports annual employee contributions to various types of employer-sponsored retirement plans, including:

  • 401(k) Plans. This popular type of retirement plan is commonly offered by for-profit employers.
  • 403(b) Plans. Similar to 401(k) plans, but offered by qualifying nonprofit employers such as schools, hospitals, churches, and charities.
  • 457(b) Plans. Also similar to 401(k) plans, but offered by state and local governments to their employees or by non-governmental organizations to their top-level managers.
  • 408(p) Plans (also known as SIMPLE IRAs). This simplified version of a 401(k) plan is available to employers with fewer than 25 employees.
  • Roth 401(k) Plans. A less common type of 401(k) plan in which employees contribute after-tax dollars and make tax-free withdrawals.

Using IRS SOI data as expanded by a process of linear interpolation, this post presents percentile rankings for contributions made into the above-listed accounts. The percentiles appear in two formats: (1) as an online interactive calculator; and (2) as a six-column chart. All data is drawn from wage earners who actually contributed to retirement accounts in 2013. Those who didn’t contribute aren’t counted.

Retirement Contribution Ranking Calculator

To use the calculator, simply check the type of account you have, enter the amount of your contribution, and click the “Show Percentiles!” button. Not only will you see your percentile rank, you’ll also see a chart that compares the amount you entered to the mean contribution, the median contribution, the maximum contribution allowed for those under age 50, and the maximum contribution allowed for those age 50 or older.

As is the case with all my other calculators, any information you enter is completely confidential. Nothing you enter is recorded or stored.

Input Account Type:
401(k)
403(b)
457(b)
408(p)
Roth 401(k)

Input Annual Contribution:
$


Your retirement contribution ranking among all W-2 recipients for your type of account will appear in this space.

 

Retirement Contribution Ranking Table

To use the table, simply select the column that describes your type of retirement account and scroll down until you find the row that contains the amount that is closest to but not over the amount of your annual contribution. Your percentile ranking appears in the last column of that same row.

If your contribution is x dollars, then y percent of wage earners contributed a lesser amount:

401(k) 403(b) 457(b) 408(p) Roth 401(k) Percentile
$178 $205 $113 $215 $120 5
$214 $244 $138 $256 $141 6
$250 $283 $164 $297 $162 7
$286 $322 $189 $338 $183 8
$322 $361 $215 $379 $204 9
$358 $400 $240 $420 $225 10
$401 $439 $267 $452 $253 11
$444 $479 $295 $484 $282 12
$487 $518 $322 $516 $310 13
$530 $557 $349 $548 $338 14
$573 $596 $377 $580 $367 15
$616 $636 $404 $612 $395 16
$659 $675 $431 $644 $423 17
$702 $714 $459 $676 $452 18
$745 $753 $486 $708 $480 19
$788 $793 $513 $740 $508 20
$831 $832 $541 $772 $537 21
$874 $871 $568 $804 $565 22
$917 $910 $595 $836 $593 23
$960 $950 $623 $868 $622 24
$1,003 $989 $650 $900 $650 25
$1,063 $1,040 $696 $932 $693 26
$1,123 $1,091 $742 $965 $736 27
$1,184 $1,143 $788 $997 $780 28
$1,244 $1,194 $834 $1,030 $823 29
$1,304 $1,245 $880 $1,062 $866 30
$1,364 $1,296 $926 $1,094 $909 31
$1,425 $1,347 $973 $1,127 $952 32
$1,485 $1,399 $1,019 $1,159 $996 33
$1,545 $1,450 $1,065 $1,192 $1,039 34
$1,605 $1,501 $1,111 $1,224 $1,082 35
$1,666 $1,552 $1,157 $1,256 $1,125 36
$1,726 $1,603 $1,203 $1,289 $1,168 37
$1,786 $1,655 $1,249 $1,321 $1,212 38
$1,846 $1,706 $1,295 $1,354 $1,255 39
$1,907 $1,757 $1,341 $1,386 $1,298 40
$1,967 $1,808 $1,387 $1,418 $1,341 41
$2,027 $1,859 $1,433 $1,451 $1,384 42
$2,087 $1,911 $1,479 $1,483 $1,428 43
$2,148 $1,962 $1,526 $1,516 $1,471 44
$2,208 $2,013 $1,572 $1,548 $1,514 45
$2,268 $2,064 $1,618 $1,580 $1,557 46
$2,328 $2,115 $1,664 $1,613 $1,600 47
$2,389 $2,167 $1,710 $1,645 $1,644 48
$2,449 $2,218 $1,756 $1,678 $1,687 49
$2,509 $2,269 $1,802 $1,710 $1,730 50
$2,655 $2,388 $1,922 $1,814 $1,825 51
$2,801 $2,508 $2,042 $1,919 $1,920 52
$2,947 $2,627 $2,162 $2,023 $2,015 53
$3,093 $2,746 $2,282 $2,128 $2,110 54
$3,238 $2,866 $2,402 $2,232 $2,205 55
$3,384 $2,985 $2,522 $2,336 $2,300 56
$3,530 $3,104 $2,641 $2,441 $2,396 57
$3,676 $3,224 $2,761 $2,545 $2,491 58
$3,822 $3,343 $2,881 $2,650 $2,586 59
$3,968 $3,462 $3,001 $2,754 $2,681 60
$4,114 $3,582 $3,121 $2,858 $2,776 61
$4,260 $3,701 $3,241 $2,963 $2,871 62
$4,405 $3,820 $3,361 $3,067 $2,966 63
$4,551 $3,939 $3,481 $3,172 $3,061 64
$4,697 $4,059 $3,601 $3,276 $3,156 65
$4,843 $4,178 $3,721 $3,380 $3,251 66
$4,989 $4,297 $3,841 $3,485 $3,346 67
$5,135 $4,417 $3,961 $3,589 $3,441 68
$5,281 $4,536 $4,080 $3,694 $3,537 69
$5,427 $4,655 $4,200 $3,798 $3,632 70
$5,572 $4,775 $4,320 $3,902 $3,727 71
$5,718 $4,894 $4,440 $4,007 $3,822 72
$5,864 $5,013 $4,560 $4,111 $3,917 73
$6,010 $5,133 $4,680 $4,216 $4,012 74
$6,156 $5,252 $4,800 $4,320 $4,107 75
$6,707 $5,813 $5,335 $4,832 $4,405 76
$7,258 $6,373 $5,870 $5,344 $4,703 77
$7,809 $6,934 $6,405 $5,856 $5,002 78
$8,359 $7,494 $6,940 $6,368 $5,300 79
$8,910 $8,055 $7,475 $6,880 $5,598 80
$9,461 $8,615 $8,010 $7,392 $5,896 81
$10,012 $9,176 $8,545 $7,904 $6,194 82
$10,563 $9,736 $9,080 $8,416 $6,493 83
$11,114 $10,297 $9,615 $8,928 $6,791 84
$11,665 $10,857 $10,150 $9,440 $7,089 85
$12,216 $11,418 $10,685 $9,952 $7,387 86
$12,766 $11,978 $11,220 $10,464 $7,685 87
$13,317 $12,539 $11,755 $10,976 $7,984 88
$13,868 $13,099 $12,290 $11,488 $8,282 89
$14,419 $13,660 $12,825 $12,000 $8,580 90
$15,035 $14,538 $13,760 $12,400 $10,064 91
$15,651 $15,416 $14,695 $12,800 $11,548 92
$16,268 $16,293 $15,630 $13,200 $13,032 93
$16,884 $17,171 $16,565 $13,600 $14,516 94
$17,500 $18,049 $17,500 $14,000 $16,000 95
$18,875 $19,287 $18,875 $14,125 $17,750 96
$20,250 $20,525 $20,250 $14,250 $19,500 97
$21,625 $21,762 $21,625 $14,375 $21,250 98
$23,000 $23,000 $23,000 $14,500 $23,000 99

Source: IRS, Statistics of Income Division, Form W-2 study, January 2017.

A Note re: Using 2013 SOI Data in 2017

As of this writing, the IRS data you’re using is four years old. Is it still reliable in 2017?

The short answer is “yes.”

The chart below reports the SOI 401(k) plan results for tax years 2008-2013, plus an additional column for 2017, which duly reports the data is not yet available (“N/A”).

The chart shows that despite increases over time in the legal maximum allowable contribution (see “max” row) and extra allowable contributions for those 50 and older (see “catch-up” row), the reported “mean” average contributions have remained fairly level. So too have the reported contributions for the 5th through 90th percentiles. However, the 95th percentile figure has invariably increased to match the given year’s maximum allowable contribution (compare the “95th” row to the “max” row). Likewise, the 99th percentile has invariably increased to match the maximum allowable amount for those age 50 and older (compare the “99th” row to the “total” row).

Bottom line: the 2013 SOI data should be generally reliable for use in 2017 except that the 95th percentile amount will likely increase $500 to $18,000 and the 99th percentile amount will likely increase $500 to $24,000.

401(k) Plan Contributions: 2008-2013

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2017
mean $4,501 $4,442 $4,558 $4,681 $4,772 $4,817 N/A
5th  $192 $167 $169 $184 $179 $178 N/A
10th $394 $341 $347 $365 $366 $358 N/A
25th $1,026 $953 $976 $1,004 $1,013 $1,003 N/A
50th $2,474 $2,397 $2,429 $2,465 $2,512 $2,509 N/A
75th $5,924 $5,649 $5,826 $6,000 $6,133 $6,156 N/A
90th $13,325 $12,951 $13,627 $14,180 $14,350 $14,419 N/A
95th $15,500 $16,500 $16,500 $16,500 $17,000 $17,500 N/A
99th $20,500 $22,000 $22,000 $22,000 $22,500 $23,000 N/A
max $15,500 $16,500 $16,500 $16,500 $17,000 $17,500 $18,000
catch-up $5,000 $5,500 $5,500 $5,500 $5,500 $5,500 $6,000
total $20,500 $22,000 $22,000 $22,000 $22,500 $23,000 $24,000

Source: IRS, Statistics of Income Division, Form W-2 study, January 2017.

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2 Responses to Compare Your Employer-Sponsored Retirement Account Contributions to Others (Without Being Rude)

  1. cato June 12, 2017 at 11:13 AM #

    Pretty shocking statistics. People are not contributing enough.

    • A Noonan Moose June 12, 2017 at 8:29 PM #

      Agreed!

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