The TSP in 2013

Tuesday - 1/8/2013, 12:22am EST

For Your Benefit

Download mp3

January 7, 2013 -- This week on For Your Benefit hosts Bob Leins and Tammy Flanagan welcome Greg Long, executive director of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, Kim Weaver, the TSP's director of external affairs, and Laurissa Stokes, assistant general counsel, to talk about the TSP in 2013.

One of the topics discussed is the Roth TSP, which was introduced in 2012. The Roth option will allow federal plan participants to withdraw their funds tax-free in retirement. That does, however, mean that you pay taxes on the monies you contribute to your Roth TSP now.

The introduction of the Roth option into the Thrift Savings Plan has generated much discussion as to who might most benefit from such a provision. Long says that he finds that the Roth TSP is particularly popular among younger federal employees, who also earn less than their older counterparts and are therefore in a lower tax bracket at this point in their careers.

The TSP director notes that participation in the Roth plan increased greatly with its being made available to those in the military service. He says this makes sense because many younger members of the military, while they are not highly paid, do have a high degree of disposable income inasmuch as their daily needs are already provided for (the proverbial "three hots and a cot").

"They can put the money in the Roth, pay their taxes in a very low tax bracket... and, if they do it right, all their earnings associated with it are tax-free 30 and 40 and 50 years later," Long says. "For the people who are the youngest and in the lowest tax bracket, the Roth is a very attractive option."

Other topics include:

  • As of Dec. 31, 2012, the G Fund is still the leader in terms of funds invested in the TSP.
  • With the loss of the payroll tax "holiday" some may reduce their TSP contributions. Long says that all FERS employees should be contributing at least 5 percent of their paycheck, in order to benefit from the government's matching contributions. Otherwise, he says, "you are leaving free money on the table."