Good news for retirement savers: Starting in 2020, the IRS has raised some of its annual contribution limits for qualified retirement accounts. Those who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the Thrift Savings Plan for federal workers can now put aside more, too. It's also become easier to qualify for a Roth IRA, to have your contributions to a traditional IRA be tax-deductible, and to claim the Saver's Credit.

Here's a summary of the new contribution and limitation levels.

Key Takeaways

  • Each year, the IRS evaluates and updates qualified retirement account contribution limits.
  • The IRS makes adjustments based on increases in the cost of living as measured by inflation.
  • Increases do not occur every year, so check with IRS guidelines, which are typically released in October before the new year.

No IRA Raise this Year

The annual contributions limit for traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs rose $500 from 2018 to 2019, and remain the same for 2020:

  • What you can contribute for 2020: $6,000
  • What you can contribute for 2019: $6,000

Give More to Tax-Advantaged Employer Retirement Plans 

Annual contributions to your 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plan went up $500 in 2019 and again in 2020:

  • What you can contribute for 2020: $19,500
  • What you can contribute for 2019: $19,000

Traditional IRA Contributions: Earn More and Still Deduct

Generally, contributions to a traditional IRA are tax-deductible in the year that you make the contribution. However, if you or your spouse (if you file taxes as married filing jointly) are covered by a retirement plan at work, your contributions may not be deductible, depending on your income.

Today's good news: The amount you can earn and still deduct these contributions has gone up for 2020. Here are the new phase-out ranges, from the IRS announcement of these changes:

  • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $65,000 to $75,000, up from $64,000 to $74,000.
  • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $104,000 to $124,000, up from $103,000 to $123,000.
  • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $196,000 and $206,000, up from $193,000 and $203,000.

More Taxpayers Qualify for a Roth IRA

There are many benefits to saving your money in a Roth IRA instead of a traditional one—especially that your distributions at retirement are completely tax-free and that there are no required minimum distributions (RMDs). However, there are income limitations on who qualifies to have a Roth. These have also been significantly loosened for 2020. Here's how the IRS describes it:

The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $124,000 to $139,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $124,000 to $139,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $196,000 to $206,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

You Can Earn More and Take the Saver's Credit

The Saver’s Tax Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) allows low- and moderate-income workers to take a tax credit of up to $1,000 for contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA, or to an employer-sponsored 401(k), 403(b), SIMPLE, SEP, or governmental 457 plan.

Here's how it's changed, according to the IRS: The 2020 income limit for taking this credit rose to $65,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $64,000; $48,750 for heads of household (up from $47,000); and $32,500 for singles and married individuals filing separately (up from $32,000).

Other Changes to Qualified Retirement Plans

If you are covered by compensation limits or elective deferrals, are a key employee, or may be defined as a highly compensated employee, and have an employee stock ownership plan, a SEP or SIMPLE IRA plan or any other retirement provisions covered by the IRS Code, the provisions that cover you may also have changed.

These determinations are delineated in IRS Notice 2018-83. Consult your tax advisor for further details.

Catch-up Contributions

If you are age 50 or over, you can increase your contributions to help you save as retirement gets nearer. The extra amounts you can put aside for retirement did not change for 2020.

Catch-up contributions are still:

  • $1,000 more per year for a traditional or Roth IRA
  • $6,500 more for a 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan

The Bottom Line

These changes should help taxpayers save even more for retirement in 2020. The 2019 limits will prevail for the taxes that you file by July 15, 2020. Remember that you can contribute to your 2019 traditional or Roth IRA as late as the July 2020 tax deadline.