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pauleckler,

You wrote, Not sure about Roth 401ks, but for regular 401k's usually there is a higher after tax limit in addition to the pretax limit. So you may very well want to do the pretax and after tax limit for the part year. But most employers allocate funds with each paycheck or once per month. I don't think you can back allocate. Some will let you specify how much pretax you want to contribute each pay check and then automatically stop collecting when you reach the max allowed per year. That is probably your best course if allowed by your plan.

I'm not sure what you're trying to describe here. The federal contribution limits ($17,500 in 2013) on 401k plans are the same whether the contributions are pre-tax or post-tax. The contribution limit is the combined value of all contributions for the fiscal year.

The post-tax contribution limit effectively lets you contribute more by letting you max out, pay the taxes now and avoid paying any more taxes in the future. If you're contributing $17,500 and are in the 25% tax bracket, you effectively contribute the equivalent of $21,875 in pre-tax money.

Of course it's probably a bad idea to put everything into Roth accounts. And some people have to contribute to a pre-tax 401k just to be eligible for a Roth IRA contribution.

- Joel
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