Can I Contribute to Both an IRA and the TSP?

A co-worker recently told me that I could contribute to both an IRA and the TSP. Is this true?

Q: A co-worker recently told me that I could contribute to both an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). I thought there was a prohibition against contributing to both types of retirement account. Is what I was told by my co-worker true?

A: Yes it is, and you are not alone in thinking that you cannot fully fund both your TSP and an IRA. I’m not sure where that belief came from, but it’s persistent. I almost always have a few participants in each pre-retirement class I deliver for federal agencies who are laboring under this misconception. I recently updated an article I wrote for FedSmith to include 2015 and 2016 IRA contributions and limits.

If you can afford to contribute to both the TSP and an IRA, you should. In 2016 you can contribute $18,000 to the TSP and $5,500 to an IRA. If you are 50 or over (this includes the year in which you turn 50) you can contribute an additional $6,000 to the TSP and $1,000 to an IRA.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at to discuss schedules and costs.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.