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10 IRA Contribution Rules You Must Know

Sunday, January 24, 2016

By Sarah Brenner, IRA Analyst

Tax season is here. This is the time when many IRA owners consider making contributions for the prior year. Are you planning on making a 2015 contribution to your IRA? Here are 10 IRA contribution rules you need to know.

  1. The deadline for making your 2015 IRA contribution is the tax-filing deadline, Monday, April 18, 2016. Why not Friday, April 15? Well, Emancipation Day is celebrated on Friday, April 15 in the District of Columbia. As a result, the tax-filing deadline is pushed back nationwide to the following Monday. Residents of Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19, 2016 because of those states’ celebrations of Patriots’ Day.
    Remember, even if you have an extension for filing your 2015 federal income taxes, your deadline for making a Traditional or Roth IRA contribution is not extended.
  2. Your IRA contribution generally may not exceed your taxable compensation or earned income for 2015. However, if you are married you may be eligible to make a spousal contribution using your spouse’s taxable compensation.
  3. The maximum contribution that may be made to an IRA for 2015 if you are 50 or younger is $5,500. For those who reach age 50 in 2015, the maximum contribution limit is $6,500. The annual limit is aggregated for traditional and Roth IRAs. For example, you could contribute $2,500 to your Roth IRA and $3,000 to your traditional IRA. You may not contribute $5,500 to your traditional IRA and $5,500 to your Roth IRA for 2015.
  4. When your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds $116,000, if you are single, or $183,000, if you are married filing jointly, your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA begins to be phased out for 2015. There are no income limits for Traditional IRA contribution.
  5. Your participation in your company plan does not affect your eligibility to make a traditional or Roth IRA contribution. However, if you are an active participant in your company’s retirement plan, and your MAGI exceeds $61,000 if you are single, or exceeds $98,000 if you are married, your ability to deduct your 2015 traditional IRA contribution begins to phase out. If you are not an active participant, but your spouse is, your ability to deduct phases out when MAGI reaches $183,000.
  6. If you are 18 years old or older in 2015, and are not a full-time student, you may be able eligible for the SAVERS tax credit of up to $1,000, if your income is below certain limits. You may also be able to deduct your traditional IRA contribution for a double tax benefit.
  7. You may not contribute to a traditional IRA for the year you reach age 70 ½ or any year after. However, you may make Roth IRA contributions at any age, if you are otherwise eligible.
  8. Your contribution to your IRA must be made in cash (check, money order etc.) You may not contribute shares of stock to your IRA as a tax-year contribution.
  9. Be sure to designate in writing that you are making your IRA contribution for 2015. If you fail to do so, a contribution you make in 2016 for the prior year (2015) may be treated as a current year (2016) contribution by the IRA custodian.
  10. Change your mind? You can remove or recharacterize your 2015 IRA contribution by October 17, 2016. If you remove your contribution, the contribution will not be subject to tax or penalty although the income attributable to the contribution may. If you recharacterize your contribution, you can transfer your contribution (plus attributable net income) tax and penalty free from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA or vice versa. Be sure to check with your tax advisor before either removing or rechacterizing a 2015 IRA contribution because this may affect your tax return.