The past couple years have been a wild ride! Even with all the crazy going on, we want you to stay focused—you’ve still got goals to reach. And an important part of making sure those goals are on track is knowing how much IRA contribution limits are in 2021. There’s still time left in the year to max out your contributions, if you haven’t already.
When we talk about contribution limits for an IRA (Roth or traditional), we’re just talking about how much money you can legally put into the account each year. Most of the time, the IRS increases contribution limits from year to year.
So, what are the 2021 IRA contribution limits, and what factors affect those limits? We'll break it down for you.
What Are the 2021 IRA Contribution Limits?
For 2021, the total contribution limit of your IRAs, Roth or traditional, is no more than $6,000 ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable income for the year, if it was less than the limit.1 You have until Tax Day of the following year, normally April 15, to make your contributions. Pretty straightforward, right? Ah, not so fast!
Exceptions to the Contribution Rules
While the contributions we’ve talked about so far come from your income and count toward the annual limit, any rollover contributions (like rolling money from a 401(k) to a Roth IRA) do not count toward the limit. That’s because it’s money you’ve already contributed, and you’re just moving it from one home to another.
How much will you need for retirement? Find out with this free tool!
Even if you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401(k), you can still contribute to a Roth or traditional IRA.
Some good news is that the government removed the age limit of 70 1/2 on contributing to traditional IRAs.2 As of 2020, there’s no age limit on making contributions to a traditional IRA—and there’s never been one with Roth IRAs.
Income and Deduction Limits
The IRS loves rules. And they’ve got some rules about how your income level impacts the Roth and the traditional IRA. In both cases, you’ll need to know your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)—that’s just your gross income minus any adjustments—to figure out how much you’re allowed to contribute or deduct.3
Roth IRA Income Limits for Contributions
Let’s talk about Roth IRAs first—they’re our favorite because your money is allowed to grow tax-free. Remember, the contribution limit for any IRA—Roth or traditional—this year is $6,000 (or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older). But with Roth IRAs, there are actually a few more limitations on your contributions based on your tax filing status and income.4 If you’re not sure exactly where you land, you’ll want to get with your investment pro to figure it out.
2021 Roth IRA Contribution Limits
|If your filing status is...||And your modified AGI is...||Then you can contribute...|
|Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)||Less than $198,000||Up to the $6,000 limit ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older)|
|Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)||$198,000 to $207,999||A reduced amount|
|Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)||$208,000 or more||Zero|
|Single or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year||Less than $125,000||Up to the $6,000 limit ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older)|
|Single or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year||$125,000 to $139,999||A reduced amount|
|Single or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year||$140,000 or more||Zero|
You see, if you earn above a certain income, you’re not even eligible for a Roth IRA. But you can still get around this loophole by opening up a backdoor Roth. Just know that the process isn’t as straightforward.
Traditional IRA Tax Deductions
Now just to refresh, with traditional IRAs you may be able to deduct your contributions on your annual tax return. Tax deductions help you keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. There are three things that determine the amount of the tax deduction you can take—filing status, income, and if you or your spouse have a retirement account through your employer.5
You can take a full deduction up to the limit ($6,000, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older), regardless of your income and filing status, if neither you or your spouse participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan (401(k)/403(b)). If you do contribute to an employer-sponsored plan, things get a little trickier.
- If your filing status is single, you can take a full deduction if your income is less than $66,000. You get a partial deduction if your income is $66,000–76,000, and no deduction if you make more than $76,000.
- If your status is married filing jointly, you get a full deduction if you make less than $105,000. If your income is between $105,000 and $125,000, the deduction is only partial, while anyone making more than $125,000 gets no deduction.6
There’s one more qualifying factor for deductions, and it’s when you’re not covered by a retirement plan at work but your spouse participates in one.
- If you’re married and filing jointly, you can take a full deduction if you make less than $198,000, a partial deduction with an income between $198,000 and $208,000, and no deduction if you make more than $208,000.
- If you’re married filing separately, and have an income of less than $10,000, you get a partial deduction. For those making more than $10,000, there’s no deduction.7
Whew! That’s a lot, but important to note, because we want you to know that you can deduct your contributions if you happen to be contributing to a traditional IRA.
Other IRA Limits
As of 2020, about 37% of U.S. households used an IRA for retirement.8 While the bulk of those (63 million) own the Roth and traditional IRAs we’ve already covered, there are more than 8 million households that have two other types—SEP and SIMPLE IRAs—made for small-business owners and the self-employed.9 So, if you’re killing it as your own boss, or working for the backbone of the American economy at a small business, what are the contribution limits for these IRAs?
A SEP-IRA is a Simplified Employee Pension IRA where only employers contribute to the plan. For 2021, employers can contribute up to 25% of an employee’s salary or a total of $58,000 (whichever one is less).10 With a SIMPLE IRA the employee and the employer can contribute. And for 2021, SIMPLE IRA plan participants can save up to $13,500 (anyone 50 or older can add an additional $3,000 catch-up contribution).11 The bonus with the SIMPLE IRA is that employers are normally required to offer a 3% match for their employees.12 That’s free money!
Get With a SmartVestor Pro
Remember, we want you to invest 15% of your annual gross income for retirement. You’ll want to start with your employer-sponsored plan, if you have one, and contribute up to the company match—but after that, we want you to pile up your money in a Roth IRA (if your employer-sponsored plan isn’t already a Roth 401(k)). So, these limits are important, people!
To understand the big picture of your financial situation and how to get to that 15%, get with a SmartVestor Pro. They’ll know what options you have based on your timeline to retirement, tax obligations and anything else relevant to your situation.