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The 2018 Saver’s Tax Credit: Free Money to Save for Retirement (Seriously)

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Oct 22, 2017 at 7:32AM

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If you qualify, this tax credit could be worth up to $1,000 in 2018.

There are several types of retirement accounts that could get you a tax deduction for your contributions, such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. While this is certainly a nice benefit, there's another tax benefit for retirement savings that many people aren't aware of -- the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, or "Saver's Credit."

The Saver's Credit is designed to give low- to moderate-income taxpayers an incentive to save for retirement, and it could be worth up to $1,000 per year if you qualify.

Man in suit handing a stack of hundred-dollar bills.

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The Saver's Credit

The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit is available to taxpayers 18 years old or older, who are not full-time students and cannot be claimed as a dependent on anyone else's tax return. For those who qualify based on their income, the credit is worth a certain percentage of eligible retirement contributions, up to $2,000 per person, per year. Married couples are eligible to take the credit for both spouses, assuming that both have qualifying contributions into eligible retirement accounts.

The credit can be taken for contributions to most tax-advantaged retirement accounts, such as employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457 plans, as well as traditional and Roth IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, and SEP-IRAs, just to name the most popular account types.

2018 Saver's Credit income limits

Who qualifies for the credit? Basically, individuals or married couples whose adjusted gross income, or AGI, is under certain thresholds can claim 50%, 20%, or 10% of qualifying contributions. Here are the IRS Saver's Credit AGI limits for 2018.

Credit -- Percentage of contribution

Married Filing Jointly

Head of Household

All Other Filers

50% of contribution

Up to $38,000

Up to $28,500

Up to $19,000

20% of contribution




10% of contribution




No credit

AGI over $63,000

AGI over $47,250

AGI over $31,500

Source: IRS.

Because the maximum credit percentage is 50%, the credit can be worth as much as $1,000 per person. Those in the 20% and 10% income ranges can claim a credit of up to $400 and $200, respectively.

An example of how this works

Let's say that you file your taxes as head of household and your AGI for 2018 is $35,000. Over the course of the year, you contribute $2,500 to your employer's 401(k) plan. Since your AGI puts you in the 10% credit bracket, and you've contributed more than the $2,000 maximum that can be considered for the credit, you are entitled to a $200 Saver's Credit on your 2018 tax return.

It's also worth mentioning that the Saver's Credit is in addition to any other tax benefits you get for your retirement contributions. In the previous example, not only would this taxpayer be entitled to a $200 credit, but he or she would also be able to exclude their $2,500 in 401(k) contributions from their taxable income. If they were in the 15% tax bracket, this translates to an additional $375 in savings, for a total of $575.

Take advantage if you qualify

If you're eligible for it, the Saver's Credit is literally free money that the government is willing to give you in exchange for putting money away for retirement. Or put another way, the Saver's Credit allows you to make an investment in your future that will produce an instant 10%, 20%, or even 50% return.

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