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Ask a Fool: Can I Contribute to an IRA for 2019?

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Aug 23, 2019 at 12:00PM

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The answer depends on a few factors.

Q: One of my goals this year is to boost my retirement savings. What are the eligibility requirements to contribute to an IRA?

Your ability to contribute this year depends on the type of IRA, as well as your income, marital status, and employment situation.

First, to contribute to either type of IRA (traditional or Roth), you need to have earned income. This generally means that your income comes from a job or self-employment, not passive sources like interest. So the first requirement is that your maximum IRA contribution is limited to your earned income or $6,000 ($7,000 if you're 50 or older), whichever is less.

Anyone can contribute to a traditional IRA, but the biggest reason to do so is to be able to deduct your contributions. Traditional IRA deduction eligibility depends on your marital status, income, and whether you can participate in a retirement plan at work.

If you have a plan at work, traditional IRA deduction eligibility begins to phase out if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is above $64,000 if you're single and $103,000 if you're married filing jointly. If you don't have a retirement plan at work, your eligibility is only affected if you're married and your spouse has a workplace retirement plan. In this case, if your combined AGI is greater than $193,000 in 2019, your deduction begins to disappear.

For Roth IRAs, it's more straightforward. Roth IRA contributions are income restricted for everyone. Eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA starts to phase out for AGI greater than $122,000 for single folks and $193,000 for married joint filers.

Finally, it's worth noting that IRA eligibility is on a year-by-year basis. In other words, if you aren't eligible to contribute in 2019, it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be next year.

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