Contribute to your IRA before the July 15 tax deadline — here are the benefits

IRA contributions made by July 15 count as 2019 tax deduction

Contribute to your IRA before the July 15 tax deadline — here are the benefits

IR-2020-146, July 9, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded people that contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) made by the postponed tax return due date of July 15, 2020, are deductible on a 2019 tax return.

Taxpayers can file their 2019 tax return now and claim the deduction before the contribution is actually made. But the contribution must then be made by the July 15 due date of the return, not including extensions.

Most taxpayers who work and are under age 70½ at the end of 2019 are eligible to start a traditional IRA or add money to an existing account. Taxpayers can contribute to a Roth IRA at any age. Starting with tax year 2020, taxpayers of any age – even those over 70½ – can start a traditional IRA.

Contributions to a traditional IRA are usually tax deductible and withdrawals are generally taxable. Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible, but qualified withdrawals are tax-free. In addition, low and moderate-income taxpayers who make contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA may also qualify for the Saver's Credit.

Eligible taxpayers can usually contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA for 2019. The limit is increased to $7,000 for taxpayers who were age 50 or older by the end of 2019.

Contributions to traditional IRAs are deductible up to the lesser of the contribution limit or 100% of the taxpayer's compensation. Compensation is generally what a person earns from working.

However, if a taxpayer is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA for tax year 2019 is reduced if the taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is:

  • More than $64,000 but less than $74,000 for a single individual, head of household, or a married person filing separately who didn't live with their spouse at any time in 2019. No deduction if $74,000 or more.  
  • More than $103,000 but less than $123,000 for a married couple filing a joint return or a qualifying widow(er). No deduction if $123,000 or more.  
  • More than $193,000 but less than $203,000 for a married couple filing a joint return where one spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and the other is not. No deduction if $203,000 or more.  
  • Less than $10,000 for a married individual filing separately and lived with their spouse at any time during 2019. No deduction if $10,000 or more.

Even though contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, for tax year 2019 the maximum amount a taxpayer can contribute is reduced if their MAGI is:

  • $122,000 or more for a single individual, head of household, or a married person filing separately who didn't live with their spouse at any time in 2019. No contribution allowed if MAGI is $137,000 or more.  
  • $193,000 or more for a married couple filing jointly or a qualifying widow(er). No contribution allowed if MAGI is $203,000 or more.  
  • Less than $10,000 for a married individual filing separately and lived with their spouse at any time during 2019. No contribution if $10,000 or more.

The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, also known as the Saver's Credit, is often available for IRA contributors if their adjusted gross income falls below certain levels. For 2019, taxpayers may be able to claim the credit if their MAGI was not more than:

  • $64,000 for married filing jointly.  
  • $48,000 for head of household.  
  • $32,000 for single, married filing separately or a qualifying widow(er).

Taxpayers should use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the Saver's Credit. The instructions have details on how to figure the credit.

Worksheets related to IRAs are available in the Form 1040 Instructions PDF or in Publication 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arangements PDF. The deduction for IRA contributions is claimed on Form 1040 PDF, Schedule 1 PDF. Nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA are reported on Form 8606.

Taxpayers should also be aware that special rules allow for tax-favored withdrawals and repayments from certain retirement plans for those affected by the coronavirus or those who suffer economic loss as a result of certain major disasters. Taxpayers can find answers to questions, get forms and instructions and find easy-to-use tools online at

More resources:


The July 15 Tax-Filing Deadline Is Approaching; New Retirement-Account Rules Can Benefit You

Contribute to your IRA before the July 15 tax deadline — here are the benefits
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The rules governing your retirement accounts have been loosened in the year 2020. You have more time to put money in, can take money out early without penalty, and the required minimum distribution rules (RMD) for those 72 and older have been removed entirely.

July 15 Deadline for 2019 Contributions (Extended From April 15)  

July 15, 2020 is the deadline for making 2019 contributions to your IRA, Roth IRA, Health Savings Account (HSA) or Coverdell education savings account. It's also the SEP IRA deadline for sole proprietors and independent contractors who file their income on schedule C with their personal tax return.

The typical deadline for prior year contributions is April 15, but these were extended by the IRS in response to the pandemic, along with the extension of the personal tax return deadline.

While you can extend your personal tax return deadline until October 15 with the filing of an extension request to the IRS (form 4868), you cannot extend the 2019 contributions to your IRA, Roth IRA, HSA or Coverdell past July 15.

For those who are self-employed and want to contribute to a SEP IRA for 2019, you can extend that contribution deadline if your company return is also extended. For sole proprietors, the company deadline is your personal tax return deadline, which is now July 15, 2020, but can be extended to October 15, 2020.

IRA, SEP IRA, and HSA contributions are great last-minute tax savers. A self-employed person could generate more than $60,000 in tax deductions by maxing out SEP IRA and HSA contributions by July 15.

 For example, a self-employed person who had $250,000 in self-employment income could contribute 25 percent of their income (the SEP IRA contribution rule) up to the maximum of $56,000. Because of their income, they would be able to contribute the maximum of $56,000.

And, if they had a high deductible health plan (HDHP) in 2019, they could also contribute $7,000 (family amount, $3,500 if single) to their HSA. In the end they could generate $63,000 in last-minute tax deductions.

Assuming the person is in a 35 percent federal and 10 percent state tax bracket, they would save over $28,000 in taxes by making these two last-minute contributions. They will also see their SEP IRA grow tax-deferred, and their HSA will grow and come out tax-free for medical expenses.

Related: ITR Filing and Tax-Saving Investment Deadlines Extended. Check the New Dates

Many self-employed persons with no employees opt for a solo 401(k) instead of a SEP IRA as it has more benefits, but the solo 401(k) must have been established back in 2019 to make 2019 contributions.

The SEP IRA, on the other hand, has a major advantage to last-minute persons still making 2019 contributions as it can be set up and funded up until the 2019 deadline of July 15, 2020.

 The 2019 contribution limits for the accounts you can still contribute to for 2019 are as follows….

COVID-19 Penalty-Free Distributions

The CARES Act gave us stimulus checks and PPP loans, but it also created penalty-free early distributions from IRAs and 401(k)s for those who are financially affected. These distributions can occur from 401(k)s, IRAs, SEP IRAs, Simple IRAs, pension plans, 457 plans and 403(b) plans.

These COVID-19 distributions are exempt from the usual 10 percent early withdrawal penalty that would apply when taking funds from any of these plans before you turn 59½.

Congress decided to unlock these funds and remove the penalty people would incur when accessing their own retirement savings.

To qualify for a COVID-19 distribution, the account owner must have experienced “adverse financial consequences” from the pandemic. This is a broad definition and one that the account owner self-reports and claims with their account administrator.

Adverse financial consequences include being subject to a quarantine (most states have had shelter in place by now), being furloughed or laid off, having your business closed or negatively affected, or hours reduced or being unable to work due to childcare changes and availability (closed schools, closed childcare facilities). The rule also includes anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with the virus. The limit on penalty-free COVID-19 distributions is $100,000, and they can be taken up until December 31, 2020.

One additional perk to the COVID-19 distribution is that any tax due on the distribution can be spread over three tax years.

This three-year rule helps ease the burden of the tax due from taking a distribution, as those amounts would otherwise be included entirely in your gross income in the year taken.

However, if the distribution is a COVID-19 distribution, you can spread the income and tax liability over three years (2020, 2021 and 2022).

You are also allowed to return the funds to the same account or to an IRA of your choosing within the three years, and you can avoid the taxes owed and can get that money back into a tax favorable account for future investing.

The IRS has issued guidance on how to recoup any taxes you may pay on the distribution if you return the funds in later years.

For example, if you end up re-paying a 2020 COVID-19 distribution to an IRA in 2022, but already paid tax for 1/3 of it on your 2020 tax return and another 1/3 with your 2021 tax return, then you can amend your 2020 and 2021 returns to seek a return of the tax paid.

The goal of Congress was to provide penalty-free access to those who needed it, while easing the tax due on the distribution and giving investors up to three years to get the money back in. It is a careful balancing act, but it is one Congress did an admirable job at when crafting the retirement account provisions found in the CARES Act.  

Zero Required Minimum Distributions in 2020

Individuals with IRAs, SEP IRA, 401(k)s and other employer plans are required to take certain required minimum distributions (“RMD”) from these accounts at age 72. The previous age limit was 70½, but this was increased to 72 beginning in 2020 courtesy of the SECURE Act, which was signed into law late last year.

The good news for those 72 and older who must take RMD is that they are not required to do so for 2020. The rationale is that while the markets are low it would be unwise to force someone to sell their investments during the pandemic while their account values are low. The benefit to those 72 and older is that they skip RMD for 2020 if they want.

They can keep their entire account invested and look to 2021 to sell and then take their annual RMD.

Related: How AI-Based Software Can Optimize Your Tax-Prep

There are strategic moves that can be made in 2020 given the favorable rules for retirement accounts found in the CARES Act and from executive action from the IRS.

Whether it is tapping a 401(k) or IRA to help survive financially or whether you are looking to make late 2019 contributions for retirement, health or education savings accounts, the laws for 2020 give you more options and flexibility than we’ve had in years.


4 Tips for Opening an IRA Before the Tax Deadline

Contribute to your IRA before the July 15 tax deadline — here are the benefits

The April tax deadline is approaching. However, it’s not too late to dig up some extra savings on your taxes.

Contributing to a traditional or Roth IRA for the 2020 tax year is an easy way to score an additional deduction or a credit, both of which can cut your tax bill or pump up your refund, while also increasing your retirement savings.

If you’re thinking of opening IRA ahead of the filing deadline, here are a few things to keep in mind. For more help with retirement planning, consider working with a financial advisor.

1. Traditional IRA Contributions Are Deductible

A traditional IRA is funded using pre-tax dollars. That means that once you start taking distributions, you’ll have to pay taxes on the money at your regular rate. The upside is that you can deduct the money you put in, which can reduce your taxable income for the year. Note that you can deduct your IRA contribution even if you’re not itemizing deductions.

With a Roth IRA, contributions are made on an after-tax basis. That means you won’t be able to write off anything you save. The trade-off is that when it’s time to take the money out, you won’t owe any additional tax. Why? Because you’ve already paid the tax on the money you put in.

When you’re trying to decide which kind of IRA to open, consider both the short-term and long-term tax benefits. If you’re expecting to be in a lower tax bracket once you retire, taking the deduction now for a traditional IRA may yield the bigger tax benefit. If you think your tax rate will go up as you get older, paying the taxes on your Roth contributions now can save you money later on.

2. Your Tax Benefits May Be Limited

The IRS has specific guidelines about who can open an IRA, including limits on Roth contributions and traditional IRA deductions.

With a Roth IRA, your ability to save the full $6,000 allowed for the 2020 tax year is determined by your income and filing status.

If you’re single, you can contribute the max as long as your adjusted gross income is less than $124,000. If you’re married and filing jointly, the limit goes up to $196,000.

With a traditional IRA, single filers can write off the full amount regardless of what they earn as long as they’re not covered by an employer’s retirement plan.

If they are in 2020, the deduction begins to phase out once their income passes $65,000. Married and covered by a plan at work? In 2020, you can only claim the full deduction if your joint income isn’t more than $104,000.

If you’re not covered but your spouse is, the limit increases up to between $196,000 and $206,000 in 2020.

3. Lower-Income Workers Get Extra Credit

The Retirement Saver’s Credit is another tax incentive that’s geared specifically towards people who don’t earn huge amounts of cash. The credit is good for 10%, 20% or 50% of your total IRA contribution up to $2,000 (or $4,000 if you’re married and filing jointly). The amount of the credit you qualify for is your adjusted gross income.

For the 2019 tax year, single filers get the 50% credit if their adjusted gross income (AGI) isn’t higher than $19,250. Once your income passes $32,000, you’re no longer eligible for the credit.

Married couples can qualify for the 50% credit with a combined income of $38,500 or less. At the $63,000 mark, the credit is phased out entirely. For 2020, you’ll need an AGI of $19,500 to get the 50% credit. Married couples will need a combined income of $39,000 or less.

You’ll be eligible for the 2020 credit as long as your income doesn’t pass $32,500.

4. Make Sure You’re Choosing the Right Tax Year

When you open an IRA before the tax deadline, you can elect to make contributions for the previous or current year.

To get the tax breaks for 2021 year, make sure you’re maxing out your contributions for 202o first before saving anything for the 2021 tax year.

If you’re contributing to an IRA in early 2020, the brokerage where you have your IRA account should allow you to indicate whether the contribution is for the 2020 or 2021 tax year.

For 2020, the maximum IRA contribution was $6,000. People age 50 and older could make an extra $1,000 catch-up contribution. That maximum contribution is the same for 2021. That means the limit is $6,000 per person, plus an extra $1,000 (to bring the total limit to $7,000) if you’re age 50 or older.

Next Steps

  • Figure out which type of IRA is right for you. With a traditional IRA, contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, which might be good if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket after retirement.

    A Roth IRA, on the other hand, is funded through after-tax contributions, making it a good option if you think your tax rate will go up as you get older.

  • Opening an IRA is a good step in the right direction, but you might also benefit from talking to a financial advisor to come up with a complete plan for funding your retirement.

    A matching tool SmartAsset’s can help you find a financial advisor to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your financial situation and goals.

    You’ll then be matched with up to three financial advisors in your area, at which point you can read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with.

Photo credit: flickr/wanderingforward, ©, ©


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