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Tax-Sheltered Annuity


A Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA), also known as a 403(b) plan, is a retirement savings plan often offered by public schools and certain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. The annuity allows an employee to contribute pre-tax dollars to the account, which can grow tax-deferred until withdrawal. The funds are then taxed as income when withdrawn during retirement.


Tax-Sheltered Annuity is phonetically pronounced as: taks-shehl-terd uh-noo-uh-tee.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tax-Deferred Benefits: A Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA), also known as a 403(b) plan, allows the investor to contribute pre-tax dollars, which can accumulate income on a tax-deferred basis until withdrawal. This means that your initial investments and earnings are not taxed until you start making withdrawals, which can introduce potential benefits in regard to income taxes.
  2. Designed for Specific Professionals: TSAs mainly benefit employees of certain public schools and other tax-exempt organizations. This includes teachers, school administrators, professors, government employees, nurses, doctors, and librarians, among others. It was specifically designed to assist such professionals in creating a supplemental retirement savings plan.
  3. Limitations and Penalties: TSAs also come with certain rules and limitations. There is a limit on how much one can contribute per year. Additionally, an early withdrawal penalty applies if funds are removed before the age of 59.5, with few exceptions. It’s important to be aware of these restrictions to avoid unnecessary penalties and optimize the benefits of the TSA.


A Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA), also known as a 403(b) plan, is an important term in business and finance because it offers a unique financial strategy for certain employer categories, primarily employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations. This retirement plan allows you to make pre-tax contributions, dramatically lowering your taxable income for the year. Additionally, the interest and earnings on these contributions grow tax-deferred until withdrawal, typically at retirement, when many participants are expected to be in a lower tax bracket. The combination of pre-tax contributions and tax-deferred growth can result in a significantly larger retirement savings compared to taxable savings. Therefore, understanding the concept of a TSA can be essential for eligible employees aiming for effective, long-term financial planning and retirement securities.


A Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA), also known as a 403(b) plan, is an effective financial tool used by certain groups of employees, notably those in non-profit sectors like education, healthcare, and public safety, to prepare for retirement in a tax-efficient manner. The primary purpose of a TSA is to provide these employees an avenue to save for their retirement under favorable tax conditions, which shields more of their income from being taxed now and allow it to grow tax-deferred until they retire. Accumulation of funds over time in this tax-sheltering environment can significantly increase the value of a person’s retirement savings. When an employee contributes a portion of their income to a TSA, their taxable income is reduced by the contribution amount, which in turn reduces their current tax liability. Additionally, the funds in the annuity grow tax-deferred over time, meaning the account holder does not pay taxes on the accumulated earnings until they begin withdrawing funds in retirement. Thus, a TSA serves as an instrument for systematic savings, income security during retirement and tax optimization. Like other retirement savings plans, it helps balance the apparent contradiction between reducing present-day taxable income and securing future financial stability in retirement.


A Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) is an investment vehicle used by many non-profit organizations, public school systems, and certain other government agencies to allow employees to supplement their retirement income. Here are three real-world examples: 1. 403(b) Plans for Non-Profit Employees: Many non-profit organizations offer 403(b) plans to their employees. The 403(b) plan, named after its section in the Internal Revenue Code, is a TSA future financial planning resource. It allows employees to make pre-tax contributions directly from their paychecks, lowering their taxable income. The earnings on these investments also grow tax-free until retirement, at which point withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. 2. Teacher’s Retirement System: In the United States, many public school systems offer TSAs through plans like the 403(b) or the 457(b) to their employees. Under these plans, teachers and other school-level employees can contribute a part of their salary to these accounts. The contributions are made pre-tax which means they lower the individual’s overall taxable income. The money then grows tax-free until it is withdrawn at retirement. 3. Clergy Tax-Sheltered Annuities: Various religious organizations also offer TSAs to their employees. For example, ministers, priests, rabbis, etc., may have the opportunity to contribute to a tax-sheltered annuity. The benefits received by the clergyperson at the maturity of the annuity are then taxable as income, allowing them to postpone their tax liabilities until retirement, when they might be in a lower tax bracket.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Tax-Sheltered Annuity?
A Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA), also known as a 403(b) plan, is a retirement plan offered by certain public schools and industry-specific employers that provides employees with the ability to invest on a pre-tax or post-tax basis.
Who can participate in a Tax-Sheltered Annuity?
Tax-Sheltered Annuities are offered to employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations, including professors, doctors, and ministers.
How does a Tax-Sheltered Annuity work?
Money is contributed to the plan from your salary before taxes are deducted, which reduces your taxable income. The funds then grow tax-deferred until withdrawal, at which time they are taxed as normal income.
What are the contribution limits to a Tax-Sheltered Annuity?
The contribution limits vary year by year, as determined by the IRS. In 2022, the limit is $20,500, although employees aged 50 or over can make an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500.
When can I withdraw money from my Tax-Sheltered Annuity?
Money can be withdrawn from a Tax-Sheltered Annuity without penalty at age 59 1/2. Withdrawals made before this age are generally subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
Can I take out loans against my Tax-Sheltered Annuity?
Yes, depending on the specifics of your plan, you may be able to take out a loan against your 403(b) annuity. It’s important to note that there can be serious tax implications for doing so.
Are the contributions to a Tax-Sheltered Annuity tax-deductible?
Yes, contributions to a TSA are made with pre-tax dollars and thus reduce your taxable income in the year they are made.
Can I roll over a Tax-Sheltered Annuity into another retirement account such as an IRA or 401(k)?
Yes, you can roll over your TSA into another eligible retirement account. The specifics will depend on the rules set by your plan and the receiving account.

Related Finance Terms

  • Deferred Compensation
  • Pre-Tax Contributions
  • Retirement Savings
  • Investment Growth
  • Withdrawal Penalty

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