Retirement Jar

Photo: www.TaxCredits.net via Flickr

Like most other retirement savings contribution limits, the maximum contribution to a traditional or Roth IRA is unchanged for the 2016 tax year. However, there have been some minor tweaks to the income limitations that determine your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA, deduct traditional IRA contributions, and potentially qualify for a tax credit. Here's what you need to know about the 2016 IRA contribution limits and how they differ from 2015.

The overall contribution limits remain the same
For the 2015 and 2016 tax years, you can contribute up to $5,500 to a traditional or Roth IRA, and an additional $1,000 if you're over 50 years old. You can contribute to more than one IRA account during the year, such as a traditional and a Roth, but your total contribution cannot exceed this limit.

You can make your IRA contributions anytime between the first day of the calendar year and that year's tax deadline. In other words, 2015 IRA contributions must be made between Jan. 1, 2015, and April 15, 2016.

Deducting traditional IRA contributions
Depending on whether you and your spouse are eligible to participate in a retirement plan at work, you may be able to deduct your traditional IRA contributions. This is subject to income limitations, one of which has slightly changed for 2016.

If you aren't married and are ineligible for a retirement plan at work, you can deduct your traditional IRA contributions no matter how much you earn. If you and/or your spouse are covered by a retirement plan at work, you can still deduct your contributions if your income falls within certain limitations. These have not changed, so for the 2015 and 2016 tax years, the following limits apply.

Tax Filing Status

Deduction Starts to Phase out Above...

And the Deduction Disappears Completely Above...

Single/Head of household

$61,000

$71,000

Married filing jointly

$98,000

$118,000

Married filing separately

$0

$10,000

The one threshold that has changed applies to taxpayers who are married filing jointly, and are not covered by a retirement plan at work, but their spouse is. In this case, here are the limits that apply to you.

Tax Filing Status

2015 Deduction Phase-Out Range

2016 Deduction Phase-Out Range

Married filing jointly

$183,000-$193,000

$184,000-$194,000

Married filing separately

$0-$10,000

$0-$10,000

Can you contribute to a Roth IRA?
In order to contribute directly to a Roth IRA, your income must be below certain limitations. Most of these income thresholds have been adjusted upward for 2016:

Tax Filing Status

2015 Phase-Out Range

2016 Phase-Out Range

Married filing jointly

$183,000-$193,000

$184,000-$194,000

Married filing separately

$0-$10,000

$0-$10,000

Single/Head of household

$116,000-$131,000

$117,000-$132,000

If you fall within the stated income range, you are eligible to make a partial contribution to a Roth IRA, for which the IRS provides a calculation formula. It's also worth noting that if you earn more than the maximum, there is a "backdoor" method for contributing to a Roth IRA that you may be interested in.

You could get a tax credit just for saving
Did you know that there is a tax credit designed to encourage low- and moderate-income individuals to save for their retirement? If you didn't, you are not alone, as a recent survey found that just 30% of workers are aware of it.

The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (also known as the "saver's" credit) can be worth up to $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples), and many people may qualify for a partial credit based on their income.

All of the saver's credit thresholds have been increased for 2016, so if you were on the verge of receiving a nice tax credit last year, you may have a better chance this year.

Tax Filing Status

2015 Upper Limit for Credit

2016 Upper Limit for Credit

Married filing jointly

$61,000

$61,500

Married filing separately

$45,750

$46,125

All others

$30,500

$30,750

The Foolish bottom line
While the IRA contribution limits carried over from 2015, there were a few changes in certain IRA-related income thresholds that could make it easier for people to deduct their traditional IRA contributions, invest in a Roth IRA, and get a tax credit just for saving.

If you'd like to learn even more about IRAs, check out the Fool's IRA Center. We cover the basics and detail what options are out there, so that you can make the best investment decision for you and your family.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.