403b Tax-Sheltered Annuity

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

What is a Tax-Sheltered Annuity?

A tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) is a retirement plan offered by public schools and specific tax-exempt organizations that allows employees to make pre-tax contributions, thereby reducing taxable income and providing tax-deferred growth. A TSA is also referred to as a 403b.

What is a 403b?

A retirement savings plan for nonprofit and public education employees, similar to a 401(k).

Helpful Tool: How Much Will My 403B Pay Me Per Month

Tax-Sheltered Annuity

How Does A 403b Work?

A 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) works as follows:

  1. Contributions: Employees of eligible organizations, such as schools and non-profit groups, can contribute a portion of their income to the 403(b) plan, typically through payroll deductions. These contributions are made pre-tax, reducing the employee’s taxable income.
  2. Tax Deferral: The money in the 403(b) account grows tax-deferred. This means that any interest, dividends, or capital gains accumulate without being taxed year over year.
  3. Investment Options: The 403(b) may offer various investment options, including mutual funds and annuities, allowing employees to tailor their investment strategy according to their risk tolerance and retirement goals.
  4. Withdrawals: Funds can be withdrawn from the 403(b) account upon age 59½, retirement, or in certain other circumstances. Withdrawals are then taxed as ordinary income. Early withdrawals (before age 59½) may incur additional taxes and penalties.
  5. Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Starting at age 73 (as of 2023), holders of 403(b) accounts must begin taking RMDs, which are minimum amounts that must be withdrawn annually to avoid penalties.

Who is Eligible for a Tax-Sheltered Annuity?

Not everyone can open 403b tax-sheltered annuities. Eligibility is restricted to employees of tax-exempt organizations operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This typically includes teachers, professors, doctors, nurses, and certain religious workers. If you fall into one of these categories, a 403b might be available to you through your employer.

Who is the Owner of a 403b Tax-Sheltered Annuity?

The individual who establishes and contributes to the 403b is the owner. This means you have control over how the funds are invested and when withdrawals are made (keeping in mind certain age and regulatory restrictions). In the event of the Owner’s death, assets within the 403b can be passed on to designated beneficiaries.


Benefits of the TSA Annuity Plan

  • Tax Advantages: The primary allure of tax-sheltered annuities is in its name – it’s tax-sheltered. Contributions are made pre-tax, reducing your taxable income for the year. This can lead to immediate tax savings.
  • Employer Match: Many employers offer a matching contribution up to a certain percentage. This is essentially “free money” added to your retirement savings.
  • Flexibility: Owners of a 403b tax-sheltered annuity plan can often choose from various investment options, tailoring their portfolio to their risk tolerance and financial goals.

Real-World Example

Let’s consider Sarah, a 30-year-old teacher. She contributes $300 monthly to her 403b annuity. Her school matches her contribution up to 5% of her salary, adding another $150 to her monthly account. By the time Sarah retires at 65, assuming a conservative 6% annual return, her account would have grown to over $600,000. And that’s just from a relatively modest monthly contribution!

403B Tax-Sheltered Annuity


The 403b tax-sheltered annuity is more than just a mouthful of financial jargon. It’s a powerful retirement savings tool for those in the non-profit sector. By understanding what it is, who’s eligible, and the benefits it offers, you can decide whether it’s right for you. Remember, planning is the key to a comfortable retirement, and the 403b TSA annuities might be the tool to help you get there.

Tax-Sheltered Annuity (Tsa) And 403B Retirement Plans

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 403b, and how does it work?

A 403b is a retirement savings plan designed for employees of public schools, non-profit organizations, and certain religious institutions. It allows participants to contribute pre-tax income into an account, which grows tax-deferred until withdrawal. Like a 401k, a tax-sheltered annuity offers various investment options, such as mutual funds or annuity contracts, helping employees build their retirement nest egg. Many employers also provide matching contributions, further enhancing the plan’s benefits.

What is a tax-sheltered annuity?

Tax-sheltered annuities (TSAs) are retirement savings plans that let employees of non-profit organizations, public schools, and certain religious institutions save for their later years by contributing pre-tax income. This allows funds to accumulate tax-deferred over time, providing long-accumulating advantages designed to boost future financial security. TSAs can be found in 403b plans, which provide similar benefits as 401k accounts but are purposely tailored for the needs of specific employee groups.

Are 403b contributions subject to FICA?

Yes, contributions to a 403b retirement plan are subject to FICA taxes. This means employer and employee contributions are subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. The current tax rate for FICA is 7.65%, with 6.2% of the rate going toward Social Security and 1.45% toward Medicare taxes. Contributions to a tax-sheltered annuity can be made pre-tax or after-tax, depending on the particular plan’s rules.

Does TSA have a pension?

Yes, a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) can have a pension. Pension payments from a TSA are typically based on the amount of money contributed to the plan and any employer contributions or other benefits provided. It is important to note that pension payments from a TSA are taxable, and taxes must be paid when they are received.

How does a 403b work when you retire?

When you retire from a 403b plan, the money saved in the account can be used to provide income during Retirement. Depending on the type of plan, distributions may begin as soon as you retire, or they may begin later, such as when you reach a certain age. When distributions are taken from the plan, income taxes are due on the money withdrawn. The taxes payable will depend on federal and state tax rates at the withdrawal time.

How much tax do you pay on 403b withdrawal?

The taxes payable on a 403b withdrawal will vary depending on the tax rates at the withdrawal time. Additionally, you may be subject to an IRS early withdrawal penalty if you take any money out before you reach age 59 1/2.

Are 403b contributions subject to social security taxes?

No, contributions to a 403b plan are not subject to Social Security taxes. However, any money withdrawn from the plan at Retirement is taxable as ordinary income.

How are contributions to a tax-sheltered annuity treated about taxation?

Contributions to a Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) are pre-taxed and taxed when withdrawn in Retirement. This means that contributions are not taxed currently, and the growth on the contributions is tax-deferred until withdrawal. However, when the funds are withdrawn, they are taxed as ordinary income at the taxpayer’s current tax rate.

What is a TSA retirement plan?

A Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) is a type of retirement plan offered to certain employees, such as teachers and nonprofit workers. Contributions are made pre-tax and grow tax-deferred until withdrawal when they are taxed as ordinary income.

Who is eligible for a tax-sheltered annuity?

Eligibility for a Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) is typically limited to employees of tax-exempt organizations, such as public schools, colleges, and universities, and specific nonprofit organizations, such as teachers, professors, and staff members. In some cases, ministers and employees of specific state and local government organizations may also be eligible.

What are the disadvantages of a 403b?

Disadvantages include limited investment options compared to 401k plans, as they often focus on annuity contracts and a smaller range of mutual funds. In addition, early withdrawals before age 59½ may incur a 10% penalty and be subject to income tax. Additionally, 403b plans may have less flexibility regarding employer contributions and vesting schedules. Finally, participants must take required minimum distributions (RMDs) starting at age 73, potentially impacting tax planning in Retirement.

Is a 403b better than a 401k?

Whether a 403b is better than a 401k depends on individual circumstances and employer offerings. Both plans provide pre-tax contributions, tax-deferred growth, and possible employer matching. However, 403b plans may have fewer investment options and are limited to employees of public schools, non-profit organizations, and certain religious institutions. Meanwhile, 401k plans are available to private-sector employees and often have a broader range of investment choices.

What are the benefits of a 403b?

Benefits include pre-tax contributions, reduced taxable income, and lowered current tax liability. In addition, the plan offers tax-deferred growth, allowing investments to compound over time without incurring taxes until withdrawal. Many employers provide matching contributions, further boosting retirement savings. A 403b plan is specifically designed for employees of public schools, non-profit organizations, and certain religious institutions, catering to their unique needs. Finally, catch-up contributions are available for participants aged 50 or older.

Is a 403b like a pension?

A 403b is not a pension but a defined contribution retirement plan. Unlike a pension, which guarantees a specific income in Retirement based on factors like years of service and salary, a 403b allows employees to contribute pre-tax income into an account with various investment options. The retirement income from a tax-sheltered annuity depends on the performance of the investments and the amount contributed. Pensions, defined-benefit plans, offer more predictable income in Retirement.

Can contributing to a 403b plan reduce my income tax liability?

Yes, contributing to a 403b plan can reduce your income tax liability by lowering your taxable income, which can decrease the taxes you owe.

Can employees of a tax-exempt organization contribute to a 403b plan?

Yes, employees of tax-exempt organizations can contribute to a 403b plan, a retirement savings plan for employees of specific tax-exempt organizations and public schools.

Are there any age limits for employee contributions for a 403b plan?

No, there are no age limits for employee contributions to a 403b plan. As long as the employee is still working, they can continue contributing to the plan.

Can employees deduct their contributions to a 403b plan from their pay income tax?

Yes, employees can deduct their contributions to a 403b plan from their pay income tax, reducing their taxable income and lowering their tax liability.

Who is usually considered to be the owner of a 403b tax-sheltered annuity?

The owner of a 403b tax-sheltered annuity is typically the employee who participates in the plan. A 403b plan is a retirement savings plan for employees of certain public schools, tax-exempt organizations, and ministers, allowing them to contribute pre-tax dollars, which can grow tax-deferred until withdrawal.

What is the 403(b) distribution tax rate?

The 403(b) distribution tax rate is based on your ordinary income tax rate. When you withdraw from a 403(b), the distribution is treated as ordinary income and is taxed at your current marginal tax rate. The exact rate depends on your total taxable income and the prevailing tax brackets.

How are 403b withdrawal taxes calculated?

403b withdrawal taxes are calculated based on your ordinary income tax rate. When you withdraw from a 403(b), the amount is added to your other income for the year and is taxed at your current marginal tax rate. The total tax liability depends on your taxable income and the applicable tax brackets for that year.

How are contributions to a tax-sheltered annuity treated with regard to taxation?

Contributions to a tax-sheltered annuity (403(b)) are typically made pre-tax, reducing the taxable income for the year contributed. The funds then grow tax-deferred, with taxes paid upon withdrawal in retirement, often at a lower rate.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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