403b vs. 457: What’s the Difference? 

Employers in the public sector and other qualified organizations may offer 403b or 457 plans. Learn more about these plans to see which one is right for you.

Many people are familiarized with 401k plans. These plans are sponsored by employers. These plans are available to qualified employees who can defer part or all of their paycheck before taxes. In certain cases, the employer may match some contributions.

Public-sector institutions at the federal and state levels, like schools, cannot generally offer new plans under the 401k plan. However, this doesn't mean that public-sector workers are without employer-sponsored retirement savings options. There are two common options: 403b plans and 457 plans. Continue reading to find out more about 457b and 403b plans. Also, learn the difference between them as well as the contribution limits.

The 457 Plan

A 457 plan is one of the best options for public-sector employees. There are two types. You must work in a state or local government to be eligible for a 457 plan. Federal employers cannot offer these plans.

457b Plan

There are two types 457b plans. Tax-exempt and governmental. Sponsorship of governmental 457b plans by the state, local governments, or certain political organizations is possible. Employers that are not state, local or political governments or agencies but are tax-exempt can sponsor 457b plans. However, these plans are restricted to highly-paid employees or managers.

Participation in governmental 457b plans is open to any qualified employee or contractor. These plans don't tax contributions; money disbursed during retirement, or due to other events, is taxed.

You can receive distributions from your 457b plan for certain events:

  • When you turn 70 1/2, required distributions begin.
  • At 59 1/2, you can start taking optional distributions.
  • A qualifying emergency exists or you are in hardship.
  • You are not employed by the sponsoring employer when the plan ends.

Early withdrawal penalties are not applicable to 457b plans. You may be subject to a penalty if you withdraw non-457b funds from a plan 457b, such as a 401k, and roll them into a plan 457b.

457f Plan

Non-taxable entities, which aren't state or local employers, can opt for the 457f plan. This plan is only for those in high-paying positions or the top of the management. These plans are usually designed to offer a retirement perk to executives.

457b Plan Contribution Limits

Like other tax-deferred retirement plans 457b plans have contribution limits. You can only transfer a limited amount of your salary to a 457b account each year before taxes. How much depends on your age, how far you are from retirement, and what your contribution limits are.

The 2022 contribution limit for 457b plans is $20,500. This applies to most people. If your salary is less than $20,500, it can be included in the total. Each year, the contribution limits may change. They were $19,500 in 2020 and 2021. This total includes employer matching amounts.

Senior citizens who have not yet made retirement contributions can make greater annual contributions to their 457b plans through the IRS. Two situations allow extra contributions:

  • You are in your final three years before retirement. From 2022, you will be able to contribute up to $41,000 annually to a 257b pension plan.
  • You are 50 years old or older and wish to contribute to your retirement. You can contribute as much as $27,000 annually starting in 2022.

The 403b Plan

403b plans are also known as tax-sheltered annuity plan.

  • Certain types of ministries, churches or ministers
  • Qualifying 501(c), tax-exempt organizations
  • Organizations for public education
  • States regarding public school teachers

All eligible employees can join a 403b plan if an employer has it set up. Similar to 457b plans contributions to 403b plans below the annual threshold can be made before federal taxes will be deducted. This means that taxes are not paid until the beneficiary takes a distribution. This is usually in retirement, but sometimes earlier.

You can take distributions from your 403b plan at any one of these events:

  • You reach 59 1/2 years old (or any time thereafter).
  • You are permanently disabled and unable to work, or at the same level.
  • Your 403b benefits are transferred to your beneficiary when you die.
  • You can leave your employer sponsor for any reason. In this instance, you can roll 403b funds into a qualified retirement fund.

The IRS states that employers who set up 403b plans can create hardship distribution and loan parameters. This is not a requirement. However, employers are allowed to create parameters for hardship distributions and loans. It's important that you read the fine print in your 403b plan to ensure you know if you are eligible to access the money without penalty before you reach retirement age.

403b Plan Contribution Limits

There are several ways to contribute to a 403b program. First, elective deferrals are available. When people talk about retirement plan contribution, this is what they mean. A percentage of your salary is usually withheld from your paycheck to be deposited into your 403b account. This amount is withheld prior to taxes. It is not part of your income for tax calculations.

Employer contributions that are not elective refer to the amount the employer contributes to the fund. This could be a match, for example, your employer may match up 3% of your salary. This could be part of a benefit structure where the employer funds a specific amount of retirement.

After you have met the annual contribution limits, you are allowed to continue making after-tax contributions. These contributions can speed up your retirement fund's growth, but they do not provide tax deferral.

Each year, the IRS establishes contribution limits for 403b plans. The general contribution limit for 403b plans is $20,500 per year in tax-deferred contributions by employees as of 2022. The total contribution of both employer and employee cannot exceed $61,000 annually.

For 403b plans, catch-up contributions can be made. As of 2022, those 50 years old and older can contribute an additional $6,500 annually. Catch-up contributions are also possible for those who have 15 years of service with the exact same employer and same 403b plan. This catch-up limit is $3,000. The maximum catch-up amount allowed in this case is not more than $3,000. This depends on the number of years the individual has served and the amount they have contributed.

Which plan should you choose?

You may not be able to choose whether you wish to join an employer-sponsored, tax-deferred retirement program. Your employer may limit your options. In that case, you need to consider whether you have other options.

To help you choose the right plan for you, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of both 403b or 457b plans.

The pros and cons of 457b plans

The best thing about 457b plans? You can access your funds immediately after you retire or have a qualified emergency.

You can also catch up on your retirement savings by these plans, which allow you to double your contributions over the last three years. You also get the usual catch-up contributions opportunities once you reach 50. If you are a participant in a 457b plan you can roll your funds into a qualified 401k or Roth IRA if your employer is no longer available.

The downside is that any employer contribution counts towards the applicable contribution limits. These plans are less likely to offer great match scenarios, making it more difficult to maximize your retirement savings.

The pros and cons of 403b plans

If your employer contributes, you can usually have a higher annual contribution to a 403b plan. The employer contribution is not counted towards the maximum contribution you can make. In 2022, for example, the maximum amount employees can contribute to a 403b plan was $20,500. You and your employer can each contribute $61,000 annually.

You can make catch-up contributions to a 457b plan. However, you may not be eligible for the maximum 457b plan catch up allowances. If your employer has emergency withdrawal or loan options, you can only access funds in a 403.b plan before age 59 1/2.

How to choose the right plan for you

The 457b plan's catch up contribution limits make it more appealing if you are looking to save more for retirement. If your employer matches your contributions well, you might be able to make more in a 403b plan.

Can you have both a 403b or a 457b?

You can have both a 403b or 457b plan in certain cases. If your employer offers both types, and allows you to contribute to them both, this is possible.

You can maximize your retirement savings by having both types. By diversifying your retirement savings, you can reap the benefits of both plan types while minimizing some of the risks and maximizing the pros.

Our Take

It is up to you to decide what retirement plan works best for you. You should consider your options, your ability and future financial goals. A single retirement fund won't be enough in many cases to ensure your success in the future. You may want to look at wealth-building and investment opportunities beyond those offered by your employer as part of your retirement planning.

Personal Capital can help you learn more about your options, and to manage your financial life in a way that is more informed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much are gold IRA fees?

An average annual fee for an individual retirement plan (IRA) is $1,000. There are many types of IRAs available, including traditional, Roth, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs. Each type has its own set requirements and rules. If the earnings are not tax-deferred you could be subject to taxes. Also, consider how long the money will be kept. You will save money if you intend to keep your funds longer than a Roth IRA.

A traditional IRA allows for contributions up to $5500 ($6,500 if older than 50). A Roth IRA allows you to contribute unlimited amounts every year. The difference between the two is simple. A traditional IRA can be withdrawn after retirement without any taxes. With a Roth IRA, however, any withdrawals will be subject to taxes.

Can I get physical ownership of gold in my IRA

Many people are curious if they can possess physical gold in an IRA. This is a valid question as there is no legal route to it.

But when you look closely at the law, nothing stops you from owning gold in an IRA.

Most people don’t realize just how much they could save by putting your gold in an IRA, rather than keeping it at home.

It's easy to throw away gold coins but not so easy to put them in an IRA. If you decide to keep your gold in your own home, you'll pay taxes on it twice. One for the IRS, and one for your state.

Of course, you can also lose your gold in your house and pay taxes twice. Why would you keep your gold in the house?

You may argue that it is necessary to have the assurance that your gold safe in your home. It is important to store your gold somewhere safer in order to prevent theft.

If you are planning to visit frequently, your gold should not be left at home. If your gold is left unattended, thieves could easily steal it when you're away from home.

You can store your gold in an insurance vault. Your gold will be safe from fire, flood and earthquake as well as robbery.

Another advantage to storing your gold in a vault is that you won't have to worry about paying property tax. Instead, you will have to pay income tax for any gains you make selling your gold.

You may be interested in an IRA if you don't want to pay taxes on your gold. An IRA allows you to keep your gold free from income taxes, even though it earns interest.

You don't have to pay capital gains taxes on gold. This means that you can cash out the entire value of your investment at any time you like.

And because IRAs fall under federal regulation, you won’t have any problems getting your gold transferred to another institution if you move.

Bottom line: You can have gold in an IRA. Your fear of it being stolen is what holds you back.

What are the 3 types of IRA?

There are three types: Roth, Traditional, and SEP. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks. We'll go over each of them below.

Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

A traditional IRA allows you contribute pretax money to an account which can be used to defer taxes and earn interest. The account can be withdrawn tax-free once you are retired.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs allow for you to make after-tax deposits into an account. The earnings are tax-free. When you withdraw funds from the account for retirement purposes, withdrawals are also exempted from tax.


This is similar to a Roth IRA, except that it requires employees to make additional contributions. These extra contributions are subject to income tax but any earnings will grow tax-deferred again. The entire amount can be converted to a Roth IRA if you are leaving the company.

Is gold IRAs a good way to invest?

Purchase shares in mining companies to invest in precious metals like gold. You should buy shares in these companies to make money from investing in gold and other precious metals such as silver.

But, owning shares in direct form has two downsides:

The first is that you could lose money if your stock is held on for too long. Stocks can fall more than their underlying asset (like, gold) when they decline. That means you could end up losing money instead of making it.

Second, waiting for the market to recover before selling your gold holdings could result in you missing out on potential profits. It is possible to wait until the market recovers before selling your gold.

But if you prefer to keep your investments separate from your finances, you can still benefit from owning physical gold. An IRA with gold can diversify and protect your portfolio against inflation.

Visit our website to learn more about gold investment.


  • If you accidentally make an improper transaction, the IRS will disallow it and count it as a withdrawal so that you would owe income tax on the item's value and, if you are younger than 59 ½, an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty. (forbes.com)
  • Silver must be 99.9% pure • (forbes.com)
  • The maximum yearly contribution to an individual's IRAs is currently $6,000 ($7,000 for those 50 years or older), or 100% of earned income, whichever is less. (monex.com)
  • To qualify as IRA allowable precious metals and be accepted by STRATA, the following minimum fineness requirements must be met: Gold must be 99.5% pure, silver must be 99.9% pure, and platinum and palladium must both be 99.95% pure. (stratatrust.com)

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How To

How to Open a Precious Metal IRA

Precious Metals are one of today's most desired investment vehicles. They are so popular because they allow investors to earn higher returns than traditional investments like stocks and bonds. However, you need to be careful when investing in precious materials. This is what you need to know before you open your precious metal IRA.

There are two main types to precious metal accounts. The physical precious metallic accounts and the paper gold-silver certificates (GSCs). Each type has advantages and drawbacks. GSCs can be traded and access physical precious metals accounts, which offer diversification benefits. Continue reading to learn more about each of these options.

Physical precious Metals accounts consist of bullion, bullion, and bars. Although this option can provide diversification benefits, there are some drawbacks. You will need to pay a lot of money for precious metals, whether you are buying, selling, or storing them. Their large size makes it difficult to transport them between locations.

However, paper silver and gold certificates are relatively cheap. These certificates can also be traded online, and they are easy to access. They're a great choice for people who don’t want precious metals. However, they aren't as diversified as their physical counterparts. They are also backed by government agencies like the U.S. Mint so their value could decline if inflation rates rise.

Choose the best account for you financial situation when opening a precious metal IRA. Before you make that decision, here are some things to consider:

  1. Your risk tolerance level
  2. Your preferred asset allocation strategy
  3. How long do you have to spend?
  4. Consider whether you will use the funds to trade short-term.
  5. What type of tax treatment do YOU prefer?
  6. Which precious metal would you like to place your money in?
  7. How liquid can your portfolio have to be
  8. Your retirement age
  9. Where will you store your precious metals?
  10. Your income level
  11. Your current savings rate
  12. Your future goals
  13. Your net worth
  14. Special circumstances that might affect your decision
  15. Your overall financial picture
  16. Preference between paper and physical assets
  17. Your willingness to take on risks
  18. Your ability to deal with losses
  19. Your budget constraints
  20. You desire to be financially independent
  21. Your investment experience
  22. Your familiarity with precious metals
  23. Your knowledge of precious metals
  24. Your confidence and faith in the economy
  25. Your personal preferences

After you have determined the type of precious metal IRA that best suits you, you can open an account with a reputable dealer. These companies can also be found online, through word-of mouth or referrals.

Once your precious metal IRA has been opened, you'll need decide how much money you wish to invest. Every precious metal IRA account will have a different minimum initial deposit amount. Some require only $100, while others will allow you to invest up to $50,000.

You can invest as much or as little money in your precious metal IRA as you like. A larger initial deposit is better if you are looking to build wealth over a longer period of time. If you are planning to invest small amounts each month, a lower initial investment might be better.

There are many types of investments that can be purchased, as well as precious metals you can use in your IRA. These are the most commonly used:

  • Bullion bars, coins, and rounds in gold
  • Silver – Rounds & coins
  • Platinum – Coins
  • Palladium-Bar and Round Forms
  • Mercury – Round and bar forms


By: Personal Capital
Title: 403b vs. 457: What’s the Difference? 
Sourced From: www.personalcapital.com/blog/retirement-planning/403b-vs-457/
Published Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2022 00:17:07 +0000

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