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Can I contribute to an IRA?

Yes, over the years one of the most popular tax savings outlet available to taxpayers today is the Individual Retirement Account, more commonly referred to as an IRA. There are several options you have when deciding which type of IRA account to enter into. You may be able to take a tax deduction for the contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on whether you or your spouse, if filing jointly, are covered by an employer’s pension plan and how much total income you have. Conversely, you cannot deduct Roth IRA contributions, but the earnings on a Roth IRA may be tax-free if you meet the conditions for a qualified distribution.

Generally, you can contribute a percentage of your earnings for the current year or a larger, catch-up contribution if you are age 50 or older. You can fund a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA (if you qualify), or both, but your total contributions cannot be more than these annual amounts (currently $5,500, or $6,500 if you are age 50 or older).

You can file your tax return claiming a traditional IRA deduction before the contribution is actually made. However, the contribution must be made by the due date of your return, not including extensions. If you haven’t contributed funds to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for last tax year, or if you’ve put in less than the maximum allowed, you still have time to do so. You can contribute to either a traditional or Roth IRA until the April 15 due date for filing your tax return for last year, not including extensions.

Be sure to tell the IRA trustee that the contribution is for last year. Otherwise, the trustee may report the contribution as being for this year, when they get your funds.

If you report a contribution to a traditional IRA on your return, but fail to contribute by the deadline, you must file an amended tax return by using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must add the amount you deducted to your income on the amended return and pay the additional tax accordingly.

Can I contribute to a ROTH IRA?

Are you confused about whether you can contribute to a Roth IRA? The IRS suggests checking these simple rules:

  1. Income To contribute to a Roth IRA, you must have compensation (e.g., wages, salary, tips, professional fees, bonuses). Your modified adjusted gross income must be less than:
  2. Age There is no age limitation for Roth IRA contributions. Unlike traditional IRAs, you can be any age and still qualify to contribute to a Roth IRA.
  3. Contribution Limits In general, if your only IRA is a Roth IRA, the maximum current year contribution limit is the lesser of your taxable compensation or $5,500 ($6,500 for those age 50 or over). The maximum contribution limit phases out if your modified adjusted gross income is within these limits: 
    • $186,000-$196,000 — Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying widow(er)
    • $0-$10,000 — Married Filing Separately (and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year)
    • $118,000-$133,000 — Single, Head of Household, or Married Filing Separately (and you did not live with your spouse)
  4. Contributions to Spousal Roth IRA You can make contributions to a Roth IRA for your spouse provided you meet the income requirements.

* Note – threshold amounts listed above are for tax year 2017.