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There’s Still Time to Contribute to an IRA for 2011

April 4, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Amy and Dan Smith, Columns No Comments
Amy Smith-BRL

Good news! There’s still time to make a regular IRA contribution for 2011. You have until your tax return due date (not including extensions) to contribute up to $5,000 for 2011($6,000 if you were aged 50 by December 31, 2011.) For most taxpayers, the contribution deadline for 2011 is April 17, 2012. Normally, your tax return must be filed by April 15. However, the IRS has extended the deadline to April 17 this year because April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 is a holiday in Washington, D.C. (Emancipation Day).

You can contribute to a traditional IRA, a ROTH IRA, or both as long as your total contributions don’t exceed the annual limit. You may also be able to contribute to an IRA for your spouse for 2011, even if your spouse didn’t have any 2011 income.

Traditional IRA

You can contribute to a traditional IRA for 2011, if you had taxable compensation and you were not age 70-1/2 by December 31, 2011. However, if you or your spouse was covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2011, then your ability to deduct your contribution depends on your filing status and whether your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is within prescribed limits. Even if you can’t deduct your traditional IRA contribution, you can always make nondeductible (after-tax) contributions to a traditional IRA, regardless of your income level. However, in most cases, if you’re eligible, you’ll be better off contributing to a Roth IRA instead of making nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA.

Roth IRA

You can contribute to a Roth IRA if your MAGI is within certain dollar limits (even if you’re 70-1/2 or older.) If you file your federal tax return as single or head of household, you can make a full Roth contribution if your income is $107,000 or less. Your maximum contribution is phased out if your income is between 107,000 and $122,000, and you can’t contribute at all if your income is $122,000 or more. Similarly, if you’re married and file a joint federal tax return, you can make a full Roth contribution if your income is $169,000 or less. Your contribution is phased out if your income is between $169,000 and $179,000, and you can’t contribute at all if your income is $179,000 or more. And if you’re married filing separately, your contribution phases out with any income over $0 and you can’t contribute at all if your income is $10,000 or more.

Even if you can’t make an annual contribution to a Roth IRA because of the income limits, there’s an easy workaround. If you have not yet reached age 70-1/2, you can simply make a nondeductible contribution to a traditional IRA, and then immediately convert that traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. (Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to aggregate all traditional IRA’s and SEP/SIMPLE IRA’s you own (other than IRA’ you’ve inherited) when you calculate the taxable portion of your conversion.)

Finally, keep in mind that if you make a contribution to a Roth IRA for 2011-no matter how small-by your tax return due date and this is your first Roth IRA contribution, your five-year holding period for identifying qualified distributions from all your Roth IRA’s (other than inherited accounts) will start on January 1, 2011.

I welcome your comments. Just send me an email at amy.v.smith@raymondjames.com. All names and identifying questions will be kept strictly confidential unless written permission is given for their use.

Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, is an independent firm. Amy is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Ste 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com.

The opinions and recommendations here are those of the columnist. Content Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. copyright 2006-2012 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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