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A 403(b) plan is a tax-sheltered retirement plan for employees of many non-profit entities, including public safety and educational organizations. They're similar to 401(k) plans in several ways. Here are their top nine benefits.

1, contributions to 403(b) plans are tax deductible, meaning the money that goes into the plan is money that is not taxed.

2, taxes are not paid on the money in the 403(b) until distributions are made in retirement.  During retirement, most people find themselves in a lower tax bracket.

3, some 403(b) plans have a Roth option. Those contributions are not tax deductible, but withdrawals from a Roth account will not be taxed.

4, savings grow tax-free in a 403(b), eliminating the drag that taxes can impose.

5, loans can be taken against most 403(b) plans, which can be helpful in certain situations, such as buying a home.

6, employers can make matching contributions on a 403(b) plan, providing their employees with free money.

7, some 403(b) plans offer exposure to low-cost institutional funds that would otherwise require high investment minimums.

8, 403(b) plans have higher contribution limits than IRAs. The more money that can be saved in tax-sheltered accounts, the better.

And 9, some 403(b) plans allow for additional contributions for employees who have 15 years of service, and have not made excess contributions.

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