Table of Contents
- Understanding the Traditional IRA and Roth IRA
- 2021 Traditional and Roth IRA Contribution Limits
- Traditional IRA Roth IRA Income Limits
- Traditional IRA Income Limits & Deduction Phase-Outs
- Roth IRA Income Limits
- Did You Contribute Too Much to Your IRA?
- IRA Contribution Deadlines
- More information about IRAs
Individual Retirement Arrangements, or IRAs, are one of the best ways to invest for your retirement. They come in two flavors, Roth IRAs and Traditional IRAs. And while they are similar in some respects, there is are two major differences that have a very powerful impact – (1) how they are taxed, and (2) income eligibility limits.
In 2021, you can contribute up to $6,000 to a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA. There is also a $1,000 catch-up Contribution for those ages 50 and over, allowing you to contribute up to $7,000.
Let’s take a deeper dive and compare Traditional and Roth IRAs, the contribution limits, and income eligibility.
Understanding the Traditional IRA and Roth IRA
There are two main types of IRA accounts available to most people – they are the Traditional and Roth IRA.
The short and quick explanation is that Traditional IRA contributions are made with pre-tax money, the investments grow tax-free, and the money is taxed upon withdrawal.
Roth IRA contributions are made with money that has already been taxed. It grows without the drag of taxes and is withdrawn without any additional taxation.
Both Traditional and Roth IRAs are subject to certain income limits and other rules involved with regarding deductions and eligibility. These limits are covered in detail within this article.
2021 Traditional and Roth IRA Contribution Limits
The maximum you can currently invest in a Traditional or Roth IRA is $6,000 if you are under age 50. Those who are age 50 and older are eligible for a catch-up contribution of $1,000 and can contribute up to $7,000.
It is important to note that you can only contribute up to the maximum limit across all individual IRA accounts (self-employed retirement plans may have different rules). I am under 50 years old, so I would be able to contribute any combination of $6,000 between any IRAs I decide to open.
For example, you could contribute $3,000 in a Traditional and a $3,000 Roth IRA, or any combination, so long as it does not exceed $6,000.
The following chart shows IRA contribution limits for 2002-2021.
|Tax Year||Contribution Limit |
Age 49 & Below
|Catch-up Contribution |
Limit Age 50 & Above
Age 50 & Above
|2019 - 2021||$6,000||$1,000||$7,000|
|2013 - 2018||$5,500||$1,000||$6,500|
|2008 - 2012||$5,000||$1,000||$6,000|
|2006 - 2007||$4,000||$1,000||$5,000|
|2002 - 2004||$3,000||$500||$3,500|
Traditional IRA Roth IRA Income Limits
Your ability to make a tax-deductible Traditional IRA contribution and Roth IRA qualifications are based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which is calculated on your tax form. The following numbers are for the 2021 tax year.
Traditional IRA Income Limits & Deduction Phase-Outs
The Traditional IRA phase-out schedule determines whether or not you can deduct your contributions against your taxes. The phase-out for Traditional IRA deductions for single filers begins at $66,000 and ends at $76,000. The range for married filing jointly is between $105,000 and $125,000.
Those who earn below these lower of these income levels will be able to deduct the full amount of their contribution on their tax return. Those who earn above these income levels will not be able to deduct their contribution when they file their taxes.
It is important to note that tax filers with income limits above the deduction levels can still contribute to a Traditional IRA. However, they will not be able to deduct it against their taxes. Contributing to a non-deductible Traditional IRA can still be a good investment for some people, particularly those who are high-income earners who are not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. This enables investors to open a non-deductible IRA for the purpose of doing a Back-Door Roth IRA.
The following table shows income levels for deductible Traditional IRAs.
|2021 Traditional IRA Deduction Limits|
If Your Filing Status Is...
|And Your Modified AGI Is...||Then You Can Take...|
|Single or Head of Household||$66,000 or less||a full deduction up to the amount of your contribution limit.|
|more than $66,000 but less than $76,000||a partial deduction.|
|$76,000 or more||no deduction.|
|Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)||$105,000 or less||a full deduction up to the amount of your contribution limit.|
|more than $105,000 but less than $125,000||a partial deduction.|
|$125,000 or more||no deduction.|
|Married Filing Separately||less than $10,000||a partial deduction.|
|$10,000 or more||no deduction.|
|If you file separately and did not live with your spouse at any time during the year, your IRA deduction is determined under the "Single" filing status.|
Roth IRA Income Limits
The IRS has specific income restrictions regarding who can contribute to Roth IRAs. The income limits are based on your Roth IRA eligibility begins phasing out for single filers with a MAGI between $125,000 – $140,000, and for married filing jointly between $198,000 – $208,000.
Single filers with a MAGI above $140,000 and married filing jointly with a MAGI above $208,000 are not eligible for Roth IRA contributions. See Roth IRA rules or IRS pub 590 for more information.
Those who exceed these income limits may want to consider contributing to a non-deductible Traditional IRA, which allows them to still contribute up to the $6,000 IRA limit each year. These contributions can then be converted, or rolled into, a Roth IRA.
This is an advanced personal finance topic that may create a taxable event. This is outside the scope of this specific article. So I recommend researching the term “Roth IRA Conversion” or “Backdoor Roth IRA” for additional information. Or consult with a tax professional or investment advisor.
The following table shows the complete Roth IRA Income Limits for 2021:
|2021 Roth IRA Income Limits|
If Your Filing Status Is...
|And Your Modified AGI Is...||Then You Can Contribute...|
|Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)||$198,000 or less||up to the limit|
|more than $198,000 but less than $208,000||a reduced amount|
|$208,000 or more||Zero.|
|Married Filing Separately and You Lived with Your Spouse at Any Time During the Year||less than $10,000||a reduced amount|
|$10,000 or more||Zero.|
|Single, Head of Household, or Married Filing Separately and You Did Not Live with Your Spouse at Any Time During the Year||$125,000 or less||no deduction.|
|more than $125,000 but less than $140,000||a partial deduction.|
|$140,000 or more||Zero.|
Did You Contribute Too Much to Your IRA?
Note: The deduction and phase-out limits may affect your ability to make contributions. Find out what happens if you contribute too much to an IRA.
IRA Contribution Deadlines
Tax season is a great reminder to make retirement account contributions if you don’t do it throughout the previous calendar year. The good news is that tax laws are written so that you can make Roth and Traditional IRA contributions for the previous tax year until the tax filing deadline.
Even though the calendar year may be over and done with, you can still contribute to your IRA until the tax deadline, which is April 15, in most years. Just take note that if you make IRA contributions between January 2 and April 15th, you may need to specify which tax year you are contributing to because you can also contribute to the current year IRA during these dates.
More information about IRAs
Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) are great investment vehicles, and I highly recommend investing in one if you are able to do so. The benefits you receive from the tax deferrals are a great way to grow your investments without the drag of taxes slowing you down your investments.
Max out your IRAs if possible. It is important to max out IRA investment if possible because you only have one opportunity to do so. Once the window of eligibility closes, it is closed for good.