personal finance  |  february 4, 2021

2021 Key Financial Numbers That You Need to Know

Retirement contribution limits, tax rates, and more information to keep in mind throughout 2021.


Key Insights

  • Contribution limits for retirement accounts—including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Traditional and Roth IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs—will remain the same in 2021.

  • Reduced tax rates that were introduced in 2018 will remain in effect through 2025.

  • Annual retirement benefit amounts for Social Security are almost double if taken at age 70 rather than starting them when eligible at age 62.

Retirement Plan Deferral Limits

Plan Under Age 50 Age 50 and Over
401(k), 403(b), SAR-SEP, 457(b), TSP1 $19,5002 ($19,500 for 2020) $26,0002 ($26,000 for 2020)
Traditional and Roth IRAs $6,000 ($6,000 for 2020) $7,000 ($7,000 for 2020)
SIMPLE IRA and SIMPLE 401(k) $13,500 ($13,500 for 2020) $16,500 ($16,500 for 2020)

1The limit for 401(k), 403(b), governmental 457(b), and TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) plans includes pretax and designated Roth contributions. (Roth contributions are not permitted for SAR-SEP and nongovernmental 457(b) plans.) The limit for all 457(b) plans also includes employer contributions.

2Excludes nongovernmental 457(b) plans. Individual plan limits may be lower. Plans may also allow after-tax contributions above this amount.

Income Limits for Roth IRA Contributions3

Filing Status Eligibility
Single or Head of Household Phased out: $125,000–$140,0005 ($124,000–$139,000 for 2020)
Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)4 Phased out: $198,000–$208,0005 ($196,000–$206,000 for 2020)

3There are no income limits for converting Traditional IRA assets to a Roth IRA.

4For married taxpayers filing separately: If you did not live with your spouse at any time during the tax year, see the “single” filing status. Otherwise, your eligibility is phased out between modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $0 and $10,000.

5This amount refers to the taxpayer’s MAGI, which does not include amounts that were converted.

Income Limits (MAGI) for Traditional IRA Deductibility6

Filing Status Status
Single or Head of Household Not eligible to participate in an employer retirement plan Full
Eligible to participate in an employer retirement plan Phased out: $66,000–$76,000 ($65,000–$75,000 for 2020)
Married Filing Jointly7 Neither you nor your spouse is eligible to participate in an employer retirement plan Full
You are not eligible to participate in an employer retirement plan, but your spouse is eligible Phased out: $198,000–$208,000 ($196,000–$206,000 for 2020)
You are eligible to participate in an employer retirement plan Phased out: $105,000–$125,000 ($104,000–$124,000 for 2020)

6There are no income limits for contributing to a Traditional IRA—the limits only apply to determining whether that contribution is deductible.

7Consult IRS rules or a tax professional if your status is married filing separately or qualifying widow(er).

High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs)/Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

  HSA Contribution Limits Minimum Deductibles Out-of-Pocket Maximums
Individuals with self-only HDHP coverage $3,600 $1,400 $7,000
Individuals with family HDHP coverage $7,200 $2,800 $14,000
Annual Gift Exclusion Lifetime Gift and Estate Exclusion 529 Five-Year Forward Averaging
Each individual can gift $15,000 this year ($15,000 for 2020) per recipient without gift tax. Federal estate tax rate maximum is 40%.

Gifts over the annual gift tax exclusion amount are counted against the $11,700,0008 $11,580,000 for 2020) unified lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion amount.

State estate tax rates and structures may vary.
Each individual can contribute up to $75,000 (i.e., $15,000 annual gift tax exclusion amount times five) per beneficiary and “average” it for gift tax exclusion over five years, taking no additional gifts to that beneficiary during that time.

8Unused portions of predeceasing spouse’s exclusion amount may be used by surviving spouse.

Income Tax Rates

Marginal Tax Rate9
(aka Tax Bracket)
Taxable Income ($)10,11
Single Married filing jointly and
qualifying widow(er)s
10% $0–$9,950 $0–$19,900
$9,951–$40,525 $19,901–$81,050
22% $40,526–$86,375 $81,051–$172,750
24% $86,376–$164,925 $172,751–$329,850
32% $164,926–$209,425 $329,851–$418,850
35% $209,426–$523,600 $418,851–$628,300
37% Over $523,600 Over $628,300

9Certain individuals may also be subject to a 3.8% net investment income tax and a 0.9% additional Medicare tax.

10Generally, adjusted gross income minus deductions. Standard deduction amounts are $12,550 (single filers) and $25,100 (joint filers).

11Long-term capital gains/qualified dividends rate: A 0% rate applies to taxpayers with taxable income not over $40,400 (single filers) and $80,800 (joint filers). A 15% rate applies to taxpayers with taxable income not over $445,850 (single filers) and $501,600 (joint filers). A 20% rate applies to taxpayers with taxable income above those levels. Gains on assets held for more than 1 year realized by owner sale. Assets held for 1 year or less are short-term gains subject to ordinary income tax.

Social Security

Full Retirement Age (FRA)12 by Year Born

If you were born in: Then your FRA is:
1943 through 1954 Your 66th birthday
1955 through 1959 Between your 66th and 67th birthdays
1960 or later Your 67th birthday

Annual Retirement Benefit Amounts13

Age-initiating benefits Maximum
62 and 1 month (smallest benefit possible) $27,888
66 and 2 months (FRA if born in 1955) $37,776
70 (largest benefit possible) $46,740

Retirement Earnings Test

Before the year you reach FRA $18,960—$1 of benefits is withheld temporarily14 for every $2 earned above this amount
In the year you reach FRA, but before the month you reach FRA $50,520—$1 of benefits is withheld temporarily14 for every $3 earned above this amount
In the month you reach FRA and later No limit

12Someone initiating retirement benefits at full retirement age receives a 100% benefit, called the primary insurance amount (PIA). A person born in 1959 initiating benefits in 2021 at age 62 and 1 month would receive roughly 71% of PIA, whereas someone initiating benefits in 2021 at age 70 would receive 132% of PIA (adjusted for inflation).

13Calculated based on Social Security Administration: Workers with Maximum-Taxable Earnings, assuming retirement in January 2021. Note: The average annual benefit for all retired workers (not just those of certain ages or initiation dates) is $18,259 (based on the SSA Oct. 2020 Monthly Statistical Snapshot).

14Benefits are recalculated at FRA—to account for amounts withheld—and increased thereafter.

Important Information

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only and not intended to provide legal, tax, or investment advice. This material does not provide recommendations concerning investments, investment strategies, or account types; it is not individualized to the needs of any specific investor and not intended to suggest any particular investment action is appropriate for you, nor is it intended to serve as the primary basis for investment decision-making. Any tax-related discussion contained in this material, including any attachments/links, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding any tax penalties or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to any other party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please consult your independent legal counsel and/or tax professional regarding any legal or tax issues raised in this material.



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