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2023 Deferred Compensation Plan (Individual)


Deferred compensation plans are structured agreements where a fraction of an employee’s earnings are disbursed at a date later than when they were accrued. These plans are often known as the nonqualified deferred compensation plan, NQDC plan, or the supplemental executive retirement plan.

Do I Qualify for the Deferred Compensation Plan (Individual)?

If you and your employer agree to a deferred compensation plan, a portion of your wages will be deferred until a future date, allowing you to reduce your taxable income.

2023 Deferred Compensation Plan (Individual) Details:

A nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan is an agreement between you and your employer to pay some portion of your compensation in the future. NQDC plans provide employers and employees with different tax benefits than qualified plans, such as 401(k)s and defined contribution plans. Under a nonqualified plan, your employer agrees to pay you some type of compensation at a future time. It may be dependent on you completing certain requirements — such as years of service or honoring the terms of a noncompetition agreement — or it may simply be an agreement to pay some of your current salary at a future time.

The advantage to you is that you are not taxed on the income until you actually receive it. The disadvantage is that you will have a very low priority behind most of your employer’s creditors in the event your employer cannot pay its debts.

Types of deferred compensation plans:

NQDC plans typically fall into four categories:

  1. Salary Reduction Arrangements: Allow you to defer receipt of some portion of your salary.

  2. Bonus Deferral Plans: Specific to deferring receipt of bonuses.

  3. Top-Hat Plans: NQDC plans for a select group of management or highly compensated employees.

  4. Excess Benefit Plans: Provide benefits to employees whose benefits under the employer's qualified plan are limited by the tax law.

NQDC plans must be in writing. Some plans are detailed, while others are briefly mentioned in employment contracts.

What is an unfunded NQDC plan?

Most NQDC plans are unfunded to gain the tax advantages for employees. An unfunded arrangement is where the employer gives an unsecured promise to pay deferred compensation benefits in the future. These arrangements are considered “unfunded” as the employer isn't mandated by law to reserve that money for your benefit.


  • Reduction of your taxable income in the current year.

  • Receiving taxable income in later years, possibly when in a lower tax bracket.


  • Benefits aren't safeguarded from creditors if the employer faces financial difficulties.

  • No assurance of being in a lower tax bracket during the payout.

Assumptions When Taking the Deferred Compensation Plan (Individual):

None noted.

Requirements to Claim the Deferred Compensation Plan (Individual):

  • Your employer must have a written plan.

  • Any assets held by your employer intended for future payments to you can't be exclusively for your benefit.

Business Entities That Can Claim the Deferred Compensation Plan (Individual):



The realm of deferred compensation plans is multifaceted, offering both employers and employees unique financial strategies tailored to future benefits. As we transition into 2023, it's paramount for individuals to be astute, comprehending the intricacies of such plans, from their tax implications to the potential risks involved. While they present an enticing avenue for tax deferral and future financial security, one must also weigh the uncertainties, such as employer solvency. By staying informed and seeking professional guidance, one can navigate the complexities of deferred compensation plans, optimising their benefits for a more secure financial future.

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