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I'm moving to the US this year. When can I start making contributions to a 401(k)? Can I start as soon as I get my first pay check or do I need to wait until I file my taxes?

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Waiting until you file your tax return is too late: 401k contributions are credited to the year in which you make them. But you can make an IRA contribution for a given year until the due date of the tax return for that year (April 15 or the first business day after that of the following year). – Dilip Sarwate Jan 30 '13 at 3:21
up vote 9 down vote accepted

401(k) is a payroll deduction, so you can start whenever your employer says you can start. Some allow starting (almost) immediately, others will have you wait till the next year. Not every employer provides this benefit at all.

Do talk with a tax adviser who can tell you how it would affect your tax liabilities in your home country before doing anything though.

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