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Traditional and Roth contributions

You can choose between two tax treatments for your TSP contributions:

Traditional contributions

Traditional contributions are made before taxes are taken out, which means you’ll pay taxes when you withdraw your money.


With Roth TSP contributions, you pay the taxes up front, so during retirement, you’ll receive qualified Roth distributions tax-free.1

To help you decide which contributions are right for you, check out our videos, “Is Roth TSP Right For Me?” for civilian and uniformed services at You also may want to try our Contribution Comparison Calculator.

You can make both traditional and Roth contributions if you want. You can contribute in any percentages or amounts you choose subject to IRC limits and change your election at any time.

If you’re FERS or BRS, your Agency/Service Matching Contributions are based on the total amount of money (traditional and Roth) that you contribute each pay period. All agency/service contributions are deposited into your traditional balance.

  1. Roth earnings become tax-free when 5 years have passed since January 1 of the year you made your first Roth contribution and you have reached age 59½, have a permanent disability, or have died.