Comparing 401(k), 403(b) and 457 Plans

RSS
Please rate this page.
  401(k)
(for comparison only)
403(b) 457 Roth 403(b)
Who is eligible? Employees whose employers offer the plan (private employers, some nonprofit employers) Employees of nonprofits such as public schools and some hospitals, charitable organizations State and local government employees Employees of nonprofits such as public schools and some hospitals, charitable organizations
Pre-tax contributions? Yes Yes Yes No
Limits on employee contributions (2015) Up to $18,000 Up to $18,000 Up to $18,000 Up to $18,000
Age 50+ catch-up contributions $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000
Other catch-up No Yes – 15-year rule* Yes – final 3-year provision** Yes – 15-year rule*
Distributions while still employed(in-service distributions) Only on hardship if under age 59½ Only on hardship if under age 59½ Only on account of unforeseeable emergency Only on hardship if under age 59½
Distributions without tax penalties
  • Retirement after age 55
  • Death or disability
  • Payments after age 59½
  • Lifetime annuity or installments
  • Rollover to other qualified plan or IRA
  • Retirement after age 55
  • Death or disability
  • Payments after age 59½
  • Lifetime annuity or installments
  • Rollover to other qualified plan or IRA
  • Termination from employment at any age
  • Death or disability
  • Unforeseeable emergency
  • Age 59½ and hold account at least five years
  • Other provisions same as 403(b)
Distributions with penalties 10% prior to age 59½, except as above 10% prior to age 59½, except as above None Same as 403(b)
Required minimum distributions April 1 following the year participant reaches age 70½ April 1 following the year participant reaches age 70½ April 1 following the year participant reaches age 70½ Same as 403(b)
Tax treatment of distributions Ordinary income tax Ordinary income tax Ordinary income tax Tax-free if qualified distributions
Rollovers allowed to other plans
  • Yes – to 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan (allowed but not required)
  • Yes – to IRA
  • Yes – to 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan (allowed but not required)
  • Yes – to IRA
  • Yes – to 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan (allowed but not required)
  • Yes – to IRA
To another designated Roth account, but only by direct rollover (allowed but not required)

* Eligible employees with 15 or more years of full-time service may be able to contribute up to $3,000 more for five years, or a maximum of $15,000.
** May be eligible to defer up to two times the contribution limit in effect for the final three years of service. Employees cannot participate in the 3-year catch-up and the 457 plan age 50+ catch-up during the same tax year.