2019 Contribution Limits Released


Call it an annual holiday tradition. Every year, the IRS publishes a new set of contribution limits for a variety of popular benefits, including flexible savings accounts and commuter plans. With a series of announcements spaced over the last several weeks, the agency has finally settled on all major limits for 2019.  

First, a primer for HR and payroll beginners. Because certain benefits, like 401(k) plans and health savings accounts, can be funded by employees on a pretax basis, the IRS caps how much employees can contribute to them. Many of these limits are subject to an annual review to account for changes in the cost of living, inflation, and other factors.

This year's series of limits came much later than expected, likely due to the backlog of work created by 2017's historic tax reform law. In similar fashion, the IRS was recently forced to push the Affordable Care Act reporting deadline back several months.

2019 Contribution Limits

Pretax Benefit 2019 Limit 2018 Limit
401(k) $19,000/year
(Catch-up contribution: $6,000)
(Catch-up contribution: $6,000)
Flexible Spending Accounts $2,700/year $2,650/year
Commuter Benefits $265/month $260/month
Adoption Assistance $14,080/year $13,810/year
Qualified Small Health Reimbursement $5,150/year (single)
$10,450/year (family)
$5,050/year (single)
$10,250/year (family)
Health Savings Accounts $3,500/year (single)
$7,000/year (family)
(Catch-up contribution: $1,000)
$3,450/year (single)
$6,900/year (family)
(Catch-up contribution: $1,000)

All changes go into effect on January 1. Note that the cap for HSA “catch-up” contributions, which enable individuals age 55 or older to contribute more, will not change next year. That higher limit is not tied to inflation or the cost of living, and instead requires legislative action to update.

HR teams who work with an outside payroll provider should reach out to their respective contacts to confirm that the correct limits are in place for 2019.


The content of this publication is provided for informational purposes only and does not contain or constitute tax or legal advice. You should not act on this information without seeking tax or legal professional counsel.

Topics: Payroll, Taxes

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