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ira contribution deadline

As a general rule, you have until tax day to make IRA contributions for the prior year. In 2021, that means you can contribute toward your 2020 tax year limit of $6,000 until May 17. And as of January 1, 2021, you can also make contributions toward your 2021 tax year limit until tax day in 2022. If you need help figuring out how an IRA fits into your retirement goals, consider working with a financial advisor to create a retirement plan.

IRA Definition

An IRA is a tax-advantaged retirement account that is mainly used by people who freelance or are self-employed. Workers with traditional jobs can also use it to supplement any benefits that they may receive through their employer.

In a traditional IRA you make contributions with pre-tax dollars, then pay taxes on all profits from this account when you withdraw the money in retirement. In a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on the income you put in but pay none when you take the money out. That is, you pay no taxes on the account’s profits.

The IRS sets annual IRA contribution limits, income thresholds and deadlines for your account.

IRA Contribution Limits: 2020 and 2021

The contribution limit sets how much you can contribute to a qualifying IRA plan every year. You cannot make contributions to a Roth IRA past the limit. However, for traditional IRAs, you can continue to invest money above the limit but will lose the income tax deduction.

For tax years 2020 and 2021, the IRS published the following limits on IRAs:

  • Standard Contribution Limit: $6,000 per taxpayer 49 and younger
  • Catch-Up Contribution Limit: $7,000 per taxpayer 50 and older

These limits apply to all IRA accounts for an individual taxpayer. This means that a single young taxpayer could split up to $6,000 between their Roth IRA and traditional IRA. A married couple could invest up to $12,000 in their combined accounts. Past this cap, you can continue making contributions to a traditional IRA but must do so with post-tax dollars.

It is important to note that the contribution limit is per taxpayer, not per account. So if you have both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA you must split your contributions across both accounts up to the limit. Married couples filing jointly can each maximize their individual contributions.

Keep in mind that you can only contribute to an IRA with earned income. This means that you cannot use income from sources such as investments, dividends or excess student loan money.

And finally, make sure you factor in the age limit into your contributions. For a traditional IRA, you cannot make contributions after age 70 1/2. But for a Roth IRA, you can continue to make contributions at any age.

IRA Income Thresholds and Deadlines: 2020 and 2021

ira contribution deadline

The income thresholds for an IRA define how much of the contribution limit you are allowed to use. This is because the IRS phases out some of the tax advantages of an IRA for wealthier savers. As you earn more money, the government decides that you need less help saving for retirement.

However if neither you nor your spouse is enrolled in an employer retirement plan such as a 401(k), you can always make the full IRA contribution regardless of income.

The IRA contribution limit is also adjusted by the age of the taxpayer. Older taxpayers can invest more in their retirement accounts. This is known as the catch-up contribution limit and applies to savers age 50 and older.

You should also note that the contribution deadline for an IRA limits when contribution limits roll over each year. At this point, any new contributions count against the next year’s limits and the old year is considered closed.

This deadline allows you to make your contributions until the following year’s tax deadline. So taxpayers can make all of their IRA contributions for a given year starting on January 1 and ending on Tax Day for that year’s taxes, which will give you a four-month overlap to take advantage of either year’s contribution limits for your IRA.

For 2020, taxpayers began making contributions toward that tax year’s limit as of January 1, 2020. This deadline expires when 2020 taxes are due on May 17, 2021. And as of January 1, 2021, taxpayers can also make contributions toward their 2021 tax year limit until tax day in 2022.

Traditional IRA Income Thresholds for 2020 and 2021

ira contribution deadline

Your personal income and whether you participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan determines how much of the contribution limit you can take for a traditional IRA. If you qualify for a reduced contribution limit, you can find further guidance in Worksheet 1 of IRS Publication 590-A.

For tax years 2020 and 2021, the income thresholds for a traditional IRA are as follows:

You are single and do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or you are married and neither you nor your spouse participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan:

  • No income threshold. You can take the full contribution limit.

Here are the income limits if you participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan:

Employer Sponsored Retirement Plans
Tax Filing Status 2020 Income Limits 2021 Income Limits
Single Filer You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $65,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $65,000 and $75,000. You can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $75,000. You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $66,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $66,000 and $76,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $76,000.
Married, Filing Jointly You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $104,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $104,000 and $124,000. You can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $124,000. You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $105,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $105,000 and $125,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $125,000.
Married, Filing Separately You cannot make a full contribution. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $0 and $10,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $10,000. You cannot make a full contribution. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $0 and 10,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $10,000.

And here are the income limits if you don’t participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan but your spouse does:

Employer Sponsored Retirement Plans for a Spouse
Tax Filing Status 2020 and 2021 Income Limits
Married, Filing Jointly You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $196,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $196,000 and $206,000. You can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $206,000.
Married, Filing Separately You cannot make a full contribution. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $0 and $10,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $10,000.

To calculate your partial contribution, you would take the difference between your actual AGI and the qualifying AGI cap then run it through a several step formula. You can find a step-by-step walk-through of this process in the worksheet mentioned above.

Roth IRA Income Thresholds: 2020 and 2021

The income limits for a Roth IRA apply to all taxpayers. It doesn’t matter whether you participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan or not.

As noted above, if you qualify for a reduced contribution limit, you can find further guidance in Worksheet 1 of IRS Publication 590-A.

Roth IRA Income Thresholds
Tax Payer Status 2020 Income Limits 2021 Income Limits
Single Filer You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $124,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $124,000 and $139,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $139,000. You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $125,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $125,000 and $140,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $140,000.
Married, Filing Jointly You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $196,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $196,000 and $206,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $206,000. You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $198,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $197,000 and $208,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $208,000.
Married, Filing Separately You cannot make a full contribution. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $0 and $10,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $10,000. You cannot make a full contribution. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $0 and $10,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $10,000.

Military Personnel

Members of the military who serve in a combat zone or who provide otherwise qualifying service receive an extension to making contributions to their IRA under the previous year’s limits. This extension is typically within 180 days of:

  • Completing service within a combat zone, or completing qualifying service outside of a combat zone; or
  • Release from continuous, qualified medical care after having served in a combat zone.

Tips for Saving for Retirement

  • Industry experts say that people who work with a financial advisor are twice as likely to be on track to meet their retirement goals. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors, get started now.
  • When planning for retirement, make sure you do your research to pick the best retirement choice for your needs. Here’s a breakdown of IRAs vs. 401(k)s.
  • If you’re over age 50, take advantage of catch-up contributions. Catch-up contributions are a great way to boost your savings, whether you got a late start or haven’t saved as much as you’d hoped. Use SmartAsset’s retirement calculator to ensure you’re saving enough to retire comfortably.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/designer491, ©iStock.com/marchmeena29, ©iStock.com/designer491

Eric Reed Eric Reed is a freelance journalist who specializes in economics, policy and global issues, with substantial coverage of finance and personal finance. He has contributed to outlets including The Street, CNBC, Glassdoor and Consumer Reports. Eric’s work focuses on the human impact of abstract issues, emphasizing analytical journalism that helps readers more fully understand their world and their money. He has reported from more than a dozen countries, with datelines that include Sao Paolo, Brazil; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Athens, Greece. A former attorney, before becoming a journalist Eric worked in securities litigation and white collar criminal defense with a pro bono specialty in human trafficking issues. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and can be found any given Saturday in the fall cheering on his Wolverines.
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