Similar to 401(k) plans offered by private corporations, the TSP is an optional, tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
As a Federal employee, TSP enables you to save part of your income for retirement and receive matching contributions from your federal agency employer. Under certain circumstances, you can choose to transfer all or part of your tax-deferred TSP contributions to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
According to the TSP.gov website, there are two types of employee contributions into this savings plan: Regular employee contributions, which include automatic enrollment contributions, and “catch up” contributions for employees age 50 and older.
Participation in TSP is optional however if you are a FERS-eligible employee hired after July 31, 2010, you are now automatically enrolled in TSP. Even if you choose not to participate, the government deposits 1% of your income automatically into your TSP account. You can elect to contribute more to your account and you’ll receive matching contributions on the first 5% of your contributions from the federal agency you work for.
If you’re a federal employee covered under the CSRS plan, you can elect to establish a TSP account but your tax-deferred contributions will not be matched by the government. Keep in mind, the IRS places limits on the tax-deferred contributions you can make to your TSP.
According to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), one of the top mistakes federal employees can make is missing the opportunity to contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).