HR: Benefits: Trust Employees
Tax-Deferred Annuity Program

Eligibility Requirements

The tax-deferred annuity program is available to all Trust Fund employees. There are no age or service requirements. You may enroll for this program at any time.

Employee Contributions

The tax-deferred annuity program allows you to make contributions to a supplemental retirement annuity on a tax-deferred basis. You will have to pay FICA taxes on your salary deferred in the Plan, but you will pay no income taxes on that amount or the earnings on that amount until you take the money out of the Plan. You may elect to defer a percentage of your salary or a dollar amount each pay check by enrolling or making an election change to the tax deferred annuity through the Secova self-service website. See below under "Salary Reduction and Enrollment" for additional details.

There are limitations on the amount you can contribute based on the Internal Revenue Code. As a general rule, you cannot contribute more than $20,500 in 2022; however, employees who attain age 50 in 2022 may contribute an additional $6,500 for a total of up to $27,000 to the Plan as salary reduction contributions. These additional contributions that an employee who is age 50 or over may make toward the Plan are referred to as "catch-up" contributions.

After-tax contributions are not allowed.

Investment Sponsor and Options

Your annuity provider is Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), now known as TIAA. You may select where to invest your salary reduction contributions from among the family of funds provided by TIAA, which are available under the Plan.

You may change your allocations between TIAA and CREF at any time. You may also transfer funds among the accounts at any time. Once enrolled, you may accomplish this by contacting TIAA's counseling Center at 1-800-842-2776 or you may set up an account online by visiting

Salary Reduction and Enrollment

Upon being hired, you will be eligible to make salary reduction contributions to the TDA Plan. Employees will be required to enroll or make changes to this plan through the Secova self-service website. By enrolling online, this election via Secova authorizes Smithsonian Institution to withhold from your base salary the percentage of your salary or dollar amount you have elected to contribute to the Plan. When accessing Secova to make an election, please use the Life Event link on the homepage. You may begin having amounts withheld from your paycheck on your entry date, which is the first day of the first pay period beginning after you have accessed the Secova website to enroll in the TDA retirement plan and have successfully confirmed your enrollment. Confirmation will take effect when you request an email or a printed copy of your election. You may subsequently change the dollar amount or percentage you elect to defer throughout the year, and you can discontinue your contributions at any time.

Your contributions will be directed to the TIAA Lifecycle Fund that is closest to the year you are expected to retire (assuming age 65). You will receive a Welcome Letter from TIAA with important account and personal information, including a beneficiary designation/change form after your first payroll deduction has been made to your tax deferred annuity account.

Once TIAA has established your account, you may change your investment allocations, transfer existing funds, and name your beneficiaries by logging in to your account online at or by calling 1-800-842-2252.

TIAA has developed an online seminar for Smithsonian Trust Fund employees entitled, Retirement Plans 101. This brief seminar is especially useful for newly hired Smithsonian employees, but it can also serve as a refresher for longer service Trust employees. Check out this online seminar at your convenience.

If you have any questions about the Tax Deferred Annuity enrollment process, please contact


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