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Are Retirement Contributions Subject to Withholdings for Railroad Retirement, Medicare or Federal Income Tax? Thumbnail

Are Retirement Contributions Subject to Withholdings for Railroad Retirement, Medicare or Federal Income Tax?

Tier 1 Tier 2 Video Retirement Taxes


Railroad workers enjoy unique retirement benefits, including annuities and the option to contribute to a 401k plan. However, understanding the taxation of these contributions is crucial for maximizing retirement savings. In this paper, we will explore the taxes associated with railroad retirement contributions, including tier one and tier two taxes, Medicare tax, federal income tax, and potential state taxes.

Elective Salary Deferred (e.g., 401k)

Contributions to a 401k or similar retirement plan are considered elective salary deferred, meaning taxes are deferred until withdrawal. Railroad workers must pay tier one and tier two taxes, totaling 6.2% and 1.45%, respectively, along with Medicare tax. However, there is no federal income tax on these contributions, offering a tax-deferred growth strategy. By deferring taxes to retirement, when they may be in a lower tax bracket, workers can potentially save on taxes. 

Roth Contributions

Roth contributions are made with after-tax income, meaning taxes are paid upfront. While railroad workers must pay tier one, tier two, and Medicare taxes on Roth contributions, there is no further taxation on these contributions. This makes Roth accounts a valuable option for tax-free growth and withdrawals in retirement.

Employer Matching Contributions

Employer matching contributions to a 401k are not subject to railroad retirement or Medicare taxes. Additionally, these contributions are not taxed at the federal level, providing a valuable benefit to employees. Employers simply match the employee's contributions, enhancing the overall retirement savings.



Understanding the taxation of retirement plan contributions is essential for railroad workers planning for retirement. By strategically managing contributions to take advantage of tax-deferred or tax-free growth, workers can maximize their retirement savings. For personalized advice on navigating railroad retirement taxes, consider consulting with a financial advisor familiar with railroad retirement benefits.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. Highball Advisors encourages you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Highball Advisors, and all rights are reserved from Highball Advisors, and all rights are reserved.