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I read an article on CNNfN about what they called an "excess 401(k)" where a company can favor highly compensated employees somehow.

The law includes "nondiscrimination" rules which apply to "highly-compensated" employees. There's a comparison between what they contribute and what other employees contribute, and the highly-compensated may be required to withdraw some of their contributions. I believe it's covered to some extent in Publication 575, but your plan administrator would probably be the best source if you have some personal concerns.

Phil Marti
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