First, let's start with the traditional plan.
A 403b plan is a form of tax-deferred retirement plan designed for certain public school employees, ministers, and tax-exempt organizations.
It's also a type of defined contribution plan, which means that employees know how much they put it but not necessarily how much they will receive. That will depend primarily on the type of investments they choose to make in the 403b plan.
This is actually more common than you think--it's the same basic type of plan as an IRA or 401(k).
How Does It Work?
Employees make salary contributions to the 403b plan that are deducted from their income or excluded altogether, which means the contributions aren't subject to income tax, though you still pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
In other words, like a 401(k), the 403b plan allows you to make tax-deferred contributions, which means that you'll pay taxes on your contributions when you withdraw from the account later in life.
Individual accounts in such a plan also include annuity contracts which invest in mutual funds or in a retirement income account created for church workers.
How to Contribute
There are several different types of contributions you can make to a 403b plan. These include elective deferrals, after-tax contributions, and nonelective contributions.
Elective deferrals are the ones you've probably heard of. This is when an employee voluntarily allows an employer to take contributions directly out of their paycheck to pay directly to the retirement account.
Nonelective contributions, on the other hand, are mandatory employer contributions to the account.
Finally, after-tax contributions are when you make voluntary contributions to the account that must be included as income when you file your taxes.