Roth TSP Withholding Error Alters February Paychecks for 72K Troops

hand full of cash

A computer glitch early this month at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service meant 72,000 service members who contribute to a Roth Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) did not have that money withheld in their Feb. 13 paycheck and will instead have double the amount withheld Feb. 27.

That means while users saw a higher amount than they were used to deposited into their bank accounts mid-month, they will see less pay than normal Feb. 27 as officials make up for the contribution error.

Users were first notified of the problem in a Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) email notice Feb. 12 from the system's "Smartdocs" account. 

"Your Roth TSP elections submitted during January for February 2015 have been received and processed on your pay account. Unfortunately, we experienced a system error and the Roth TSP election that should have been withheld from your February 13 pay was not," the email said. "The entire Roth TSP election that you made will be deducted from your pay due February 27."

No other allotments were impacted by the glitch, officials said.

The error was caused after DFAS required users to change their Roth TSP contribution amount to a percentage of their pay instead of a designated dollar amount early this year because of a Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) rule. Prior to January, Roth TSP contributions could be set by users to be, for example, $100 a month split into two $50 payments.

The change required users to calculate what percentage of their pay that $100 was and use that designation instead. But the system failed to include those changes in February's paychecks.

"The mid-February pay was the first time the updated Roth TSP elections based on percentages of basic, special/incentive and bonus payments were used in computing active duty pay," Steve Burghardt, a DFAS spokesman said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the pay system failed to include these computations in the February mid-month processes and the members who had updated their elections in January received what should have been withheld for their Roth TSP contributions as a part of their regular paycheck. The full Roth TSP contribution will now be deducted from these members' end of month pay for February.'"

The error, however, will not cause service members to lose any potential earnings on those contributions, Burghardt said. Despite generally splitting withholding between two paychecks, TSP contributions, both Traditional and Roth, are only sent to the FRTIB once a month, after the full amount has been deducted.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at

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