What is IRS Publication 590-A: Contributions to an IRA

IRS Publication 590-A specifies rules for contributions to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA). The term individual retirement arrangement represents a wide variety of IRA account types. This publication addresses traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), SIMPLE IRAs, and Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA plans. Publication 590-A is broken into chapters and includes several appendices and worksheets to assist the taxpayer.

BREAKING DOWN IRS Publication 590-A: Contributions to an IRA

IRS Publication 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), is divided into sections providing information about contributions into IRAs. Each specific type of IRA contains its own set of guidelines. Taxpayers should be careful to refer to instructions for their particular account type, as the IRS regulates the timing and contributions to these accounts. IRS publication 590-B covers distributions from retirement accounts.

An introductory section contains updated information for tax years and essential reminders. The introduction includes a table highlighting where to find information for traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as other types of retirement plans.

Chapter 1 covers traditional IRA rules and provisions and parts of the requirements for Roth IRA accounts. Information about eligibility, opening an IRA, and contribution timing and limits are included. The section covers inheriting a plan and moving plan assets. A discussion of actions that may result in penalties or additional taxes is included as well.

Chapter 2 of IRS Publication 590-A pertains to Roth IRAs.  It provides a formal definition and explains when a Roth can be opened, who may contribute to the account, annual contribution limits, and moving funds into a Roth IRA. 

Chapter 3 discusses Retirement Savings Contribution Credit (Saver's Credit), a tax credit available to qualifying taxpayers contributing to a traditional or Roth IRA. Credits reduce your tax liability on a dollar-for-dollar basis. 

Chapter 4 provides information to help the taxpayer with tax-related issues such as filing a tax return, accessing tax forms and publications, and obtaining tax transcripts.

There are several worksheets and appendices included in IRS Publication 590-A. 

  • Appendix A assists in recording contributions and distributions from a traditional IRA.
  • Worksheet 1 and Appendix B helps in calculating the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). 
  • Worksheet 2 and Appendix B, assists with the computation of traditional IRA deductions. 
  • Worksheet 3 and Appendix B details the computation of taxable Social Security benefits.

A table, also included in the publication, illustrates the various types of rollover transactions allowed between different retirement plans, including traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs.

Form 590-A and its instructions are located on the IRS website, www.irs.gov.

Taxpayers looking for information on Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plans, 401(k) plans and SIMPLE IRAs should read IRS publication 560, Retirement Plans for Small Businesses. Information for contributions to Coverdell education savings accounts is contained in IRS Publication 970.

Before the 2014 tax year, Publication 590 was a single document that covered both contributions to and distributions from IRAs.  For clarity, the creation of separate publications for contributions and distributions was initiated.