Traditional IRA Contribution Limits for 2022

Once again, retirement savers won’t be able to contribute more to traditional IRAs this year, but changes to how they work may be coming.

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Unfortunately for retirement savers, the maximum amount that you can contribute to a traditional IRA won’t increase yet again for 2022. However, the income ranges for the traditional IRA deduction have ticked up.

2022 IRA Contribution Limits

The maximum amount you can contribute to a traditional IRA for 2022 is $6,000 if you're younger than age 50. Workers aged 50 and older can add an extra $1,000 per year as a "catch-up" contribution, bringing the maximum IRA contribution to $7,000. This is the same limit that has been in place since 2019. From 2015 through 2018, the limit was $5,500. The limit does not apply to rollover contributions from other retirement accounts. And remember: you must have earnings from work to contribute to an IRA, and you can't put more into the account than you earned during the year.

Your 2022 IRA contributions may also be tax-deductible. If you—and your spouse, if married—don't have a retirement plan at work such as a 401(k), you can deduct the full contribution to your traditional IRA on your tax return no matter how much you earn. You have until the federal tax filing deadline to make your IRA contribution for the previous year.

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Even if you have a retirement plan through your job, you may still be able to deduct some or all of your contribution depending on your income. For 2022 IRA contributions, the amount of income you can have and still get a full or partial deduction rises from 2021. Singles with modified adjusted gross income of $68,000 or less and joint filers with income of up to $109,000 can deduct their full contribution for the 2022 tax year. Deductions thereafter decrease and phase out completely once income reaches $78,000 for singles and $129,000 for joint filers.

Be aware that you generally must have earned income to contribute to an IRA. But if you're married and one of you doesn't work, the employed spouse can make a contribution into a so-called spousal IRA for the other.

You can open a traditional IRA through a bank, brokerage, mutual fund or insurance company and invest your IRA money in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and other approved investments.

Why Save for Retirement in an IRA?

Traditional IRAs are best for people who are looking for an immediate tax deduction or believe their tax bracket will be lower in the future. For instance, this could include those who will retire soon and believe their income will be less.

Eventually, you will have to pay taxes on your traditional IRA. Your withdrawals will be subject to ordinary income tax. On top of that, if you take the money out before turning 59 1/2, you can be hit with a 10% penalty. You will also be obligated to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) after you turn age 72, so you won't be able to avoid the IRS forever.

Roth IRAs vs. Traditional IRAs

The tax rules differ for contributions to a Roth IRA, which aren't tax-deductible. Money instead goes into a Roth IRA after taxes have been paid on it, and you can withdraw contributions at any time free of taxes or penalties. The earnings can also be withdrawn tax- and penalty-free once you have owned the Roth for five years and you're at least age 59 1/2. Also, Roth IRAs don't have required minimum distributions. The amount that can be contributed to a Roth IRA is subject to income limits.

If you can afford to contribute the full $6,000 in 2022 without the help of the tax deduction (which reduces the out-of-pocket cost of a $6,000 contribution to just $4,680 for someone in the 22% bracket) you may be better off saving for retirement in a Roth IRA.

One more note: If you invest in both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, the total amount of money you can contribute to both accounts can't exceed the annual limit of $6,000 ($7,000 if 50 or older). If you do exceed it, the IRS might hit you with a 6% excessive-contribution penalty.

Changes ahead for IRAs?

Legislation making its way through Congress with bipartisan support would reform retirement savings in the U.S., including the rules governing IRAs.

Among the notable provisions of the Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act is an increase in the age for mandatory distributions to begin, which would raise the age of the first distribution from 72 to 75, effective after 2031. The bill would also reduce the penalty for failing to take a required minimum distribution from 50% to 25%. And if the distribution was taken within a correction period, the penalty would be further reduced to 10%. That penalty reduction would be effective right after the bill was enacted.

Another provision would provide for a government match of some IRA and retirement plan contributions. According to a summary of the bill:

“Current law provides for a nonrefundable credit for certain individuals who make contributions to IRAs, employer retirement plans… This provision would modify the credit with respect to IRA and retirement plan contributions by changing it from a credit paid in cash as part of a tax refund to a government matching contribution that must be deposited into a taxpayer’s IRA or retirement plan. The credit would be 50% of IRA or retirement plan contribution up to $2,000 per individual. The credit rate would phase out between $41,000 and $71,000 in the case of taxpayers filing a joint return ($20,500 to $35,500 for single taxpayers and married filing separate; 30,750 to $53,250 for head of household filers). The provision would be effective for years after 2026.”

The legislation would also index the catch-up limit on IRA contributions. Now, people 50 and over can contribute an extra $1,000 to their accounts. If this bill becomes law, that $1,000 would be adjusted to index for inflation each year.

New exceptions proposed to allow early IRA withdrawals

The bill also contains exceptions to the 10% tax penalty for withdrawals before the age of 59 ½ in the following circumstances:

- For emergency expenses. These expenses would be “unforeseeable or immediate financial needs.” There would be one exception a year up to $1,000, giving the taxpayer the option of repaying within three years. No further emergency distributions could occur during the three years unless repayment had been made.

- For victims of domestic abuse. Those distributions would be limited to 50% of the account balance up to $10,000.

- For long-term care insurance. The legislation would allow up to $2,500 a year from IRAs and retirement plans to pay for high-quality long-term care insurance. This would be effective three years after the bill is enacted.

- For disaster relief. The bill would allow up to $22,000 to be distributed from IRAs or employer retirement plans to taxpayers affected by qualified federally declared disasters. These distributions would be considered gross income over three years and would be permitted to be repaid. This would relate to disasters on or after Jan. 26, 2021.