Reduce Your Tax Bill Utilizing Microsoft DCP (Deferred Comp Plan)

The Microsoft Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) is available to employees who are Level 67 and higher. Eligible Microsoft employees can enroll annually during May and November.

Your DCP contributions reduce taxable income in the year of the deferral.

Many employees are able to reduce their tax bill by tens of thousands of dollars. Deferred Compensation is a chance to save and invest dollars on a pre-tax basis, like your Microsoft 401(k). Contributions to your DCP can be invested into a selection of investment options.

When Can You Enroll in Microsoft DCP?

There are only two times a year to enroll in DCP.

Both enrollment windows impact the next calendar year’s compensation.

May 1 – 31
Elect to defer up to 100% of next year’s bonus

November 1 – 30
Elect to defer up to 75% of your salary

If you choose to defer a portion or all your bonus, you will see this deduction when your bonus is paid out on September 15th following the end of upcoming fiscal year.This means you make the decision to defer your bonus about 16 months before you receive it.

Salary deferrals will start on January 1st and end on December 31st of the next calendar year.

Schedule a Deferred Compensation Consultation

There is a significant amount of planning that is needed when deciding to enroll in DCP.

You need to ensure your money comes out on time, at the right time, and in amounts that make sense for you.

During this 30-minute call we will discuss:

  • Strategies for reducing your taxable income.
  • Maintaining cashflow to cover monthly expenses.
  • Developing a comprehensive payout strategy.

Key Differences Between Microsoft DCP and Your 401(k)

Like your 401(k), the Microsoft DCP is a vehicle to help defer taxable income and reduce current tax liabilities. However, there are some key differences you should be aware of:

DECISION TO CONTRIBUTE You can contribute at any time. There are only 2 enrollment windows: May and November.
CHANGE YOUR DECISION Changes to your 401(k) contributions can be made at any time. Deferrals are irrevocable once the enrollment period ends.
CONSUMER PROTECTION The money you invest in your 401(k) is governed by a federal law known as ERISA. In the event of bankruptcy, the funds in your DCP would become an unsecured liability of the company.
PAY OUT FUNDS You can receive the funds out of your 401(k) at any time. You must set your DCP distributions at the time you make your election. Changes are restricted to the 5-year re-deferral rule.

In 2024 you can contribute:

$23,000 if you are under 50
$30,500 if you are 50 or older

You can defer up to 75% of your salary and up to 100% of your bonus.

Microsoft DCP Considerations

Decide How Much Income to Defer

Microsoft employees are compensated in three ways: salary, cash bonuses, and stock awards.

Salary and Cash Bonuses

By utilizing DCP, you can control the percentage of salary and cash bonus that is taxed each year, significantly reducing your total taxable income. You decide when these deferrals are paid out to you and can maximize the benefit by having payouts occur when you are in a lower marginal tax bracket, most often in retirement.

Stock Awards

You have no control, from a timing or tax perspective, when it comes to your vesting shares. The market value on the day of the vest is recorded as income and taxed at ordinary income rates, regardless of if you sell or hold on to the shares.

Your RSUs vest multiple times per year and typically vary in amount each vest. Functionally, at the time of vest, it’s as if you were given cash and decided to use every dollar to purchase Microsoft stock.

We encourage you to defer as much of your salary and bonus as possible.

This can help you reduce taxable income. It also means you will reduce your income stream.

To supplement your deferred income, we recommend you sell your RSUs as they vest and use the proceeds to help fund your cash flow.

There are a couple of reasons this strategy can be beneficial:

  • Your Deferred Comp is invested in diversified investments, so rather than keeping your money tied up in Microsoft stock, you can broaden your portfolio.
  • Once you’ve cashed out your RSUs, you can use any proceeds to cover living expenses or re-invest these dollars in a regular brokerage account.

Decide When to Receive Your DCP Distributions

Deferred Compensation is different than a 401(k) where you’re able to withdraw money early (with penalty) or wait until retirement to withdraw funds until they are depleted.

DCP requires more advanced planning. For each deferral (each year that you defer salary/bonus), you must decide when you want to start receiving your money and over what time frame.

Typically, you choose either a lump sum or to receive it over a 3-15-year installment plan.

As money is distributed, you are taxed. It’s important that you consider how much in taxes you’re willing to pay each year after your withdrawal begins and to structure the payouts accordingly.

Investment Options Within DCP

There are 24 different investment options with DCP, the options are similar to what you have with your 401(k). You will select your investment allocation at the time you make the deferral.

You can make changes to how your dollars are invested at any time and have flexibility when deciding how to invest those dollars.

In our opinion, the investment options within DCP are more robust than what you will find within your 401(k). The BrokerageLink option is not available within DCP.

The dollars that you defer are not actually invested into the funds that you choose – Instead, Microsoft tracks the performance of your selected investment options and assumes the risk to pay out your contributions and the assumed earnings.

Should You Enroll in the Microsoft Deferred Compensation Plan?

If you are eligible, the Microsoft Deferred Compensation Plan is a great benefit that can help you reduce your tax bill by thousands, however, it is also one of the most complicated to implement and manage.

It requires careful planning and monitoring to ensure current and future cash needs are met with considerations in place to reduce future tax liabilities.

Schedule a Deferred Compensation Consultation

During this 30-minute call we will discuss:

  • Strategies for reducing your taxable income.
  • Maintaining cashflow to cover monthly expenses.
  • Developing a comprehensive payout strategy.