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Do my 401(k) contributions lower my income?

I contribute a large portion of my income into a 401(k). I recently applied for benefits that have income limits and I was denied these benefits because I make too much money. I was under the understanding that contributing to my 401(k) lowers my income because that portion will not count as income until in the future when I withdraw it. Am I wrong?

401(k), Retirement Plans
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April 2018

I see you already have eight answers and I'm hoping I'm not simply piling on what others have already shared with you. The point you may be missing is that there is a difference between income and taxable income. Taxable income from employment on your form W-2 includes your gross income less the 401(k) contributions and possibly less some other pretax items. So in effect, if you had an income of $70,000 this year and could put away $10,500 in your 401(k), your income for the year is still $70,000 but your taxable income is only $59,500. This may be the reason you were rejected and leads me to believe that you have to check the rules to determine what each organization uses to qualify or fail to qualify for benefits. What you are doing with the 401(k) plan is shifting income from the current tax year into a year in which you may well be retired. In theory, the typical goal involves moving money out of a higher tax bracket with the expectation that when you retire you will be in a lower tax bracket. I frankly don't know where this theory has come from because in the best of all situations, you've had the use of money that would've gone to Uncle Sam (taxes) over your working lifetime and this money earns additional funds that you would never have had. Paying it back after age 70 1/2 is simply the price you pay for the deduction in the years in which he worked. In the best of all worlds, your retirement income would be much higher but this is often not the case. Hope this helps a little and good luck

March 2018
March 2018
March 2018
March 2018