In general, I was wondering who is responsible for keeping track of when a normal, employer-sponsored 401k account has hit its pre-tax contribution limits for a year. I assume that, in the end, the individual is responsible for their tax-related activities, but I also know that there is typically a lot of legislation in place that prevents institutions from allowing individuals to do inappropriate tax maneuvers. It can only happen at one of three levels:
- The 401K Provider - the 401k provider has all the information necessary to determine when an individual has put too many pre-tax dollars into an account and could stop them
- The Employer - since HR/Payroll is responsible for deducting pre-tax contributions, they could easily stop the deductions when the yearly limit has been reached
- The Individual - most of a 401k contribution is automated, but it could still be on the individual to reconcile everything at tax-time (though this could get very complicated, because tax-free growth occurred during the year); overall this seems like the sloppiest approach
So, at which level is this sort of limitation performed; or does it vary by provider and/or state?