3.   IRAs and Other Retirement Plans

2008 Changes

Traditional IRA Contribution and Deduction Limit

The contribution limit to your traditional IRA for 2008 will be increased to the smaller of the following amounts:

  • $5,000, or

  • Your taxable compensation for the year.

If you were age 50 or older before 2009, the most that can be contributed to your traditional IRA for 2008 will be the smaller of the following amounts:

  • $6,000, or

  • Your taxable compensation for the year.

Modified AGI Limit for Traditional IRA Contributions Increased

For 2008, if you are covered by a retirement plan at work, your deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA is reduced (phased out) if your modified AGI is:

  • More than $85,000 but less than $105,000 for a married couple filing a joint return or a qualifying widow(er),

  • More than $53,000 but less than $63,000 for a single individual or head of household, or

  • Less than $10,000 for a married individual filing a separate return.

If you either live with your spouse or file a joint return, and your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, but you are not, your deduction is phased out if your AGI is more than $159,000 but less than $169,000. If your AGI is $169,000 or more, you cannot take a deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA.

Modified AGI Limit for Retirement Savings Contributions Credit Increased

For 2008, you may be able to claim the retirement savings contributions credit if your modified AGI is not more than:

  • $53,000 if your filing status is married filing jointly,

  • $39,750 if your filing status is head of household, or

  • $26,500 if your filing status is single, married filing separately, or qualifying widow(er).

Roth Contribution Limit

If contributions on your behalf are made only to Roth IRAs, your contribution limit for 2008 will generally be the lesser of:

  • $5,000, or

  • Your taxable compensation for the year.

If you were age 50 or older before 2009 and contributions on your behalf were made only to Roth IRAs, your contribution limit for 2008 will generally be the lesser of:

  • $6,000, or

  • Your taxable compensation for the year.

However, if your modified AGI is above a certain amount, your contribution limit may be reduced.

Modified AGI Limit for Roth IRA Contributions Increased

For 2008, your Roth IRA contribution limit is reduced (phased out) in the following situations.

  • Your filing status is married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) and your modified AGI is at least $159,000. You cannot make a Roth IRA contribution if your modified AGI is $169,000 or more.

  • Your filing status is single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time in 2008 and your modified AGI is at least $101,000. You cannot make a Roth IRA contribution if your modified AGI is $116,000 or more.

  • Your filing status is married filing separately, you lived with your spouse at any time during the year, and your modified AGI is more than -0-. You cannot make a Roth IRA contribution if your modified AGI is $10,000 or more.

Qualified Plans

The following changes apply to qualified plans. For more information, see Publication 560, Retirement Plans for Small Business (SEP, SIMPLE, and Qualified Plans).

Limits on contributions and benefits.   For 2008, the maximum annual benefit for a participant under a defined benefit plan has increased to the smaller of:
  • $185,000, or

  • 100% of the participant's average compensation for his or her highest 3 consecutive calendar years.

  For 2008, a defined contribution plan's maximum annual contributions and other additions (excluding earnings) to the account of a participant has increased to the smaller of:
  • $46,000, or

  • 100% of the compensation actually paid to the participant.

Compensation limit.   For 2008, the maximum compensation used for figuring contributions and benefits has increased to $230,000.

Simplified Employee Pensions (SEPs)

The following changes apply to SEPs. For more information, see Publication 560.

Deduction limit increased.   The maximum deduction for contributions to a SEP remains unchanged at 25% of the compensation paid or accrued during the year to your eligible employees participating in the plan. However, for 2008, the maximum combined deduction for a participant's elective deferrals and other SEP contributions has increased to $46,000.

Contribution limit increased.   For 2008, the annual limit on the amount of employer contributions to a SEP has increased to the smaller of:
  • $46,000, or

  • 25% of an eligible employee's compensation.

Compensation limit.   For 2008, the maximum amount of an employee's compensation you can consider when figuring SEP contributions (including elective deferrals) and the deduction for contributions has increased to $230,000.

403(b) Plans

For 2008, the limit on annual additions has increased to $46,000. For more information, see Publication 571, Tax-Sheltered Annuity Plans (403(b) Plans).

Rollover of Exxon Valdez Settlement Income

If you are a qualified taxpayer and you received qualified settlement income in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation, you can contribute all or part of the amount received to an eligible retirement plan. This includes a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, and a qualified retirement plan. The amount contributed cannot exceed $100,000 (reduced by the amount of qualified settlement income contributed to an eligible retirement plan in prior tax years) or the amount of qualified settlement income received during the tax year. Contributions for the year can be made until the due date for filing your return, not including extensions.

For more information on contributing qualified settlement income to a traditional or Roth IRA, see chapters 1 and 2 of Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). For qualified retirement plans, see Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income.

Rollover of Airline Payments

If you are a qualified airline employee, you may contribute, to a Roth IRA, any portion of an airline payment you receive from a commercial airline carrier involved in certain bankruptcy proceedings. The contribution must be made within 180 days from the date you received the payment, or before June 23, 2009, whichever is later. The contribution will be treated as a qualified rollover contribution and the modified AGI limits that generally apply to Roth IRA rollovers do not apply to airline payments.

For more information and for definitions of qualified airline employees and airline payments, see Rollover of Airline Payments in chapter 2 of Publication 590. Also, see Form 8935, Airline Payments Report. This form will be sent to you within 90 days following an airline payment, or by March 23, 2009, whichever is later. The form will indicate the amount of the airline payment that is eligible to be rolled over to a Roth IRA.

Rollovers From Other Retirement Plans to Roth IRAs

Prior to 2008, you could only rollover (convert) amounts from either a traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA into a Roth IRA. After 2007, you can rollover amounts from the following plans into a Roth IRA.

  • A qualified pension, profit-sharing or stock bonus plan (including a 401(k) plan);

  • An annuity plan;

  • A tax-sheltered annuity plan (section 403(b) plan);

  • A deferred compensation plan of a state or local government (section 457 plan); or

  • An IRA.

Any amount rolled over is subject to the same rules for converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. See Converting From Any Traditional IRA Into a Roth IRA in chapter 1 of Publication 590. Also, the rollover contribution must meet the rollover requirements that apply to the specific type of retirement plan.

Military Death Gratuities and Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Payments

If you received a military death gratuity or SGLI payment, you may contribute all or part of the amount received to your Roth IRA or to a Coverdell education savings account (ESA). The contribution is treated as a rollover, except that this type of rollover does not count when figuring the annual limit on the number of rollovers allowed.

The amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA or Coverdell ESA under this provision cannot exceed the total amount of such payments that you received because of the death of a person reduced by any part of the amount so received that you have already contributed to a Roth IRA or Coverdell ESA.

Generally, the rollover must be completed before the end of the 1-year period beginning on the date that you received the payment. However, if you received the military death gratuity because of a death due to an injury occurring after October 6, 2001, and before June 17, 2008, you have until June 17, 2009, to make the contribution to your Roth IRA or Coverdell ESA.

The amount contributed is treated as part of your basis (cost) in the Roth IRA or Coverdell ESA.

Qualified Reservist Distributions

Eligibility to receive qualified reservist distributions has been extended to individuals ordered or called to active duty after 2007. The additional 10% tax on early distributions does not apply to these distributions. In addition, a qualified reservist distribution can be contributed to an IRA within the 2-year period following the active duty period. The dollar limits otherwise applicable to IRA contributions do not apply to any such contribution. For more information on qualified reservist distributions and qualified reservist repayments, see Publication 590.

Tax-Free Withdrawal of Economic Stimulus Payments

You may choose to withdraw an economic stimulus payment that was directly deposited to your traditional or Roth IRA in 2008. If you choose to withdraw any or all of the payment, that portion of the payment is treated as neither contributed nor distributed from your IRA. The amount withdrawn is not included in your income and is not subject to additional tax or penalty. The withdrawal must be made by the due date for filing your 2008 tax return, including extensions. For most people, that would be April 15, 2009.

For more information on reporting these withdrawals, see the instructions for your tax return. Also see chapters 1 and 2 of Publication 590.

2009 Changes

Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for 2009

For 2009, you are not required to take an RMD from your IRA or most defined contribution retirement plans. This waiver applies to plan participants as well as to beneficiaries. The waiver also applies to you if you turn 70½ in 2009 and delay your 2009 RMD until April 1, 2010. The waiver does not apply to RMDs for 2008, even if you turned 70½ in 2008 and choose to take the 2008 RMD by April 1, 2009.

For more information on the waiver of RMDs from IRAs, see Publication 590. For more information on the waiver of RMDs from employer-provided qualified retirement plans, see Publication 575.

Modified AGI Limit for Traditional IRA Contributions Increased

For 2009, if you are covered by a retirement plan at work, your deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA is reduced (phased out) if your modified AGI is:

  • More than $89,000 but less than $109,000 for a married couple filing a joint return or a qualifying widow(er),

  • More than $55,000 but less than $65,000 for a single individual or head of household, or

  • Less than $10,000 for a married individual filing a separate return.

If you either live with your spouse or file a joint return, and your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, but you are not, your deduction is phased out if your modified AGI is more than $166,000 but less than $176,000. If your modified AGI is $176,000 or more, you cannot take a deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA.

Modified AGI Limit for Retirement Savings Contributions Credit Increased

For 2009, you may be able to claim the retirement savings contributions credit if your modified AGI is not more than:

  • $55,500 if your filing status is married filing jointly,

  • $41,625 if your filing status is head of household, or

  • $27,750 if your filing status is single, married filing separately, or qualifying widow(er).

Modified AGI Limit for Roth IRA Contributions Increased

For 2009, your Roth IRA contribution limit is reduced (phased out) in the following situations.

  • Your filing status is married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) and your modified AGI is at least $166,000. You cannot make a Roth IRA contribution if your modified AGI is $176,000 or more.

  • Your filing status is single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time in 2009 and your modified AGI is at least $105,000. You cannot make a Roth IRA contribution if your modified AGI is $120,000 or more.

  • Your filing status is married filing separately, you lived with your spouse at any time during the year, and your modified AGI is more than -0-. You cannot make a Roth IRA contribution if your modified AGI is $10,000 or more.

Qualified Plans

The following changes apply to qualified plans. For more information, see Publication 560.

Limits on contributions and benefits.   For 2009, the maximum annual benefit for a participant under a defined benefit plan has increased to the smaller of:
  • $195,000, or

  • 100% of the participant's average compensation for his or her highest 3 consecutive calendar years.

  For 2009, a defined contribution plan's maximum annual contributions and other additions (excluding earnings) to the account of a participant has increased to the smaller of:
  • $49,000, or

  • 100% of the compensation actually paid to the participant.

Compensation limit.   For 2009, the maximum compensation used for figuring contributions and benefits has increased to $245,000.

Simplified Employee Pensions (SEPs)

The following changes apply to SEPs. For more information, see Publication 560.

Deduction limit increased.   The maximum deduction for contributions to a SEP remains unchanged at 25% of the compensation paid or accrued during the year to your eligible employees participating in the plan. However, for 2009, the maximum combined deduction for a participant's elective deferrals and other SEP contributions has increased to $49,000.

Contribution limit increased.   For 2009, the annual limit on the amount of employer contributions to a SEP has increased to the smaller of:
  • $49,000, or

  • 25% of an eligible employee's compensation.

Compensation limit.   For 2009, the maximum amount of an employee's compensation you can consider when figuring SEP contributions (including elective deferrals) and the deduction for contributions has increased to $245,000.

SIMPLE Plans

For 2009, the limit on salary reduction contributions (excluding catch-up contributions) to a SIMPLE plan has increased to $11,500. For more information, see Publication 560.

403(b) Plans

The following changes apply to 403(b) plans. For more information, see Publication 571.

Limit on elective deferrals.    For 2009, the limit on elective deferrals (excluding catch-up contributions) has increased to $16,500.

Limit on annual additions.    For 2009, the limit on annual additions has increased to $49,000.


More Online Publications