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ira contribution deadline

Individual retirement account (IRA) contributions are not unlimited. The IRS puts a cap on both how much you can contribute to your account each year and when that annual cutoff ends.

For everyone who puts money into an IRA, it’s important to know the contribution cutoffs and deadlines that have just passed (for 2018) and those coming up in 2019. If you want more hands-on advice, consider enlisting the help of a financial advisor who can help determine how an IRA fits into your overall financial picture.

What Is an IRA

First, a brief primer on the IRA as a financial vehicle.

The IRA is a tax-advantaged retirement account. Like a 401(k), it uses the tax code to help Americans save for life after working.

An IRA is a personal account, meaning that you do not need an employer to open one (unlike a 401(k)). In a traditional IRA you make contributions with pre-tax dollars as with a 401(k), 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.)

An IRA is the chief retirement tool for people who are freelancers or self-employed. Workers with traditional jobs can also use it to supplement any benefits they may receive through their employer.

The IRA Contribution Limit

The IRS publishes annual IRA contribution limits, income thresholds and deadlines.

The contribution limit sets how much you can contribute to a qualifying IRA plan every year. This is a hard cap on contributions to a Roth IRA. For a traditional IRA, you can continue to invest money above the limit but will lose the income tax deduction.

It is important to note that the contribution limit is per taxpayer, not per account. 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.

You can only contribute to an IRA with earned income. You cannot use income from sources such as investments, dividends or excess student loan money.

You cannot make contributions to a traditional IRA after age 70.5. You can continue to make contributions to a Roth IRA at any age.

The IRA Income Thresholds and Deadlines

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.

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

The deadline allows you to make your contributions until the following year’s tax deadline. This means that 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. This gives a four-month overlap during which you can contribute to an IRA using either year’s contribution limits.

IRA Contribution Limits: 2019

For 2019, the IRS published the following limits on IRAs:

  • Standard Contribution Limit – $6,000 per taxpayer
  • Catch-Up Contribution Limit (Applies To Savers Age 50 And Over) – $7,000 per taxpayer

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.

You cannot make contributions to a Roth IRA past the limit.

Traditional IRA Income Thresholds: 2019

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.

In 2019 the income thresholds for a traditional IRA is 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.

You participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan:

  • Single Filer – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $64,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $64,000 and $74,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $74,000.
  • Married, Filing Jointly – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $103,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $103,000 and $123,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $123,000.
  • 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 don’t participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan but your spouse does:

  • Married, Filing Jointly – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $193,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $193,000 and $203,000. You can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $203,000.
  • 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: 2019

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.

  • Single Filer – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $122,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $120,000 and $137,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $137,000.
  • Married, Filing Jointly – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $193,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $193,000 and $203,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $203,000.
  • 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.

IRA Contribution Deadlines: 2019

Taxpayers could begin making contributions using the 2019 limits starting on January 1, 2019. This deadline will expire when 2019 taxes are due. This will be on April 15, 2020.

IRA Contribution Limits: 2018

For 2018, the IRS published the following limits on IRAs:

  • Standard Contribution Limit – $5,500 per taxpayer
  • Catch-Up Contribution Limit (Applies To Savers Age 50 And Over) – $6,500 per taxpayer

These limits apply to all IRA accounts for an individual taxpayer. This means that a single young taxpayer could split up to $5,500 between his Roth IRA and traditional IRA. A married couple could invest up to $11,000 in their combined accounts. Past this cap, you could continue making contributions to a traditional IRA but must do so with post-tax dollars.

You could not make contributions to a Roth IRA past the limit.

Traditional IRA Income Thresholds: 2018

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.

In 2018, the income thresholds for a traditional IRA were 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.

You participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan:

  • Single Filer – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $63,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $63,000 and $73,000. You can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $73,000.
  • Married, Filing Jointly – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $101,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $101,000 and $121,000. You can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $121,000.
  • 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 don’t participate in an employer sponsored retirement plan but your spouse does:

  • Married, Filing Jointly – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $189,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $189,000 and $199,000. You can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $199,000.
  • 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 linked above.

Roth IRA Income Thresholds: 2018

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.

  • Single Filer – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $120,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $120,000 and $135,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $135,000.
  • Married, Filing Jointly – You can make a full contribution if you have an AGI of less than $189,000. You can make a partial contribution if you have an AGI of between $189,000 and $199,000. But you can make no qualifying contributions if you have an AGI above $199,000.
  • 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.

IRA Contribution Deadlines: 2018

Taxpayers could begin making contributions using the 2018 limits starting on January 1, 2018. This deadline expired on April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers, except for in certain states where Tax Day fell on April 17.

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

  • Work with a financial advisor. According to industry experts, people who work with a financial advisor are twice as likely to be on track to meet their retirement goals. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three registered investment advisors who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.
  • Maximize your employer’s 401(k) match, if one is offered. As illustrated by SmartAsset’s 401(k) calculator, employer contributions can seriously boost the value of your 401(k) over time. For instance, if your employer will match 50% of employee contributions up to 5% of your salary, you could snag $1,250 in employer contributions if you contribute $2,500 and earn $50,000 a year.
  • Consider your options. As indicated by the many contribution limits, you have numerous choices when it comes to saving for retirement. Do your research to make sure you’re making the best choice for your needs. Here’s a breakdown of IRAs vs. 401(k)s.
  • If you’re over the age of 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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