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<<What happens if I max out my contribution plus what my employer matches, and come 11/1/98 I've reached the maximum allowable for 1998?>>

Most employers keep track of this closely in their payroll accounting procedures. For 1998, the maximum 401(k) contribution is $10,000. If you go over and the amount is not refunded to you right away (say 2-3 months later), the employer is required to refund the over-contribution plus earnings that resulted from the amount. In most cases when participants reach the allowable limits, they're told simply to stop contributing (i.e. payroll dept. sets your percentage to 0 until the next plan year).
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