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IRAs

IRAs offer tax advantages for long-term retirement planning. The two most used types of IRAs are traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Earnings in these accounts can accumulate either tax-deferred or tax-free. Also, you can deduct traditional IRA contributions.

Traditional IRA
You can get a traditional IRA if you're under age 70 1/2 and receive taxable compensation. This compensation includes:

  • Wages, salaries, and tips
  • Sales commissions
  • Professional fees
  • Bonuses
  • Self-employment income
  • Military compensation while serving in a combat zone tax-exclusion area
  • Alimony or separate maintenance payments included in gross income

Income not included as compensation for IRA purposes includes:

  • Profit from the sale of stocks or other property
  • Rental income
  • Pension or annuity income
  • Deferred compensation

For 2016, the maximum annual contribution is the smaller of these:

  • $5,500
  • 100% of your compensation

Ex: If you earn $2,000, then your maximum IRA contribution for the year is $2,000.

If you're age 50 or older, you can contribute $1,000 more to your IRA. It's considered a catch-up contribution. So, the limit is $6,500 in 2016 for those age 50 or older.

There's no minimum age to participate in an IRA. If your teen-age child has compensation from a part-time job, your child can contribute to an IRA up to $5,500 in 2016. A one-time $5,500 investment at age 15 would grow to more than $39,000 by age 65. This assumes an average 4% annual yield.

You must begin withdrawing from your traditional IRA by April 1 the year after the year you reach age 70 1/2. Also, you can no longer contribute to your traditional IRA account in the year you reach 70 1/2.

Spousal IRAs
If you’re married and one spouse doesn't receive compensation, you can open an IRA account for the nonworking spouse. You can contribute up to $5,500 to each of your accounts in 2016. If one of you is 50 or older, the limit is $12,000 -- or $5,500 for the spouse under 50 and $6,500 for the spouse over 50. When both spouses are age 50 or older, the limit is $13,000 -- or $6,500 per spouse.

If your spouse is under age 70 1/2, you can continue contributing to a nonworking spouse's account after you reach age 70 1/2.

You must file as married filing jointly to qualify for a spousal IRA.

Contributing too much
If you make excess IRA contributions, you're subject to a 6% tax.

The penalty applies each year until you either:

  • Withdraw the excess
  • Use the excess as a future year's contribution

If you withdraw the excess amount plus any related earnings before the due date, including extensions, both of these apply:

  • You won't be subject to the penalty on the excess contribution.
  • You’ll pay tax on the earnings.

Due date for IRA contributions
The last day to make your IRA contribution each year is the day your return is originally due for the year, not including extensions. This is usually April 15. You can mail your IRA contribution. You’ll meet the deadline if it's postmarked by the original due date for filing Form 1040. This doesn't apply to the extension due date.

Nondeductible contributions
If your income is too high to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA, you might qualify for a Roth IRA. This might apply if you're covered by your company's retirement plan. However, contributions to a Roth IRA aren’t tax deductible.

You’ll still have a long-term investment in a tax-deferred retirement savings plan.

IRA recordkeeping
If you’ve contributed to a nondeductible IRA, you must keep track of your basis. By doing so, you won't pay tax on the money again when you withdraw it.

Basis is usually the combination of these:

  • Total amount of nondeductible IRA contributions you've made
  • Basis from after-tax amounts in qualified retirement plans you've rolled over to your traditional IRA accounts

You must file Form 8606 for any tax year you made a nondeductible IRA contribution. You can also use Form 8606 to help you track your total IRA basis. You might have a traditional IRA with basis from nondeductible contributions or rollovers. If so, you'll need to calculate the taxable portion of any withdrawals.

You might receive both taxable and nontaxable distributions. If so, use Publication 590 worksheets to help you figure the taxable portion of your IRA withdrawals. You’ll report the taxable and nontaxable portions of the distributions on Form 8606.

Limited IRA deductions
These two tests determine how much of your IRA contributions are deductible:

  • Active participant test
  • Income test

Active participant test
You’re an active participant in a company retirement plan if you put funds in a defined-contribution plan account. This is true even if your benefits weren’t vested. You're an active participant when you contribute to one of these plans:

  • Qualified pension plan
  • Profit-sharing plan
  • Stock-bonus plan
  • 401(k) plan
  • SIMPLE plan
  • Simplified employee pension (SEP) plan
  • Qualified annuity plan
  • Retirement plan for state and federal employees, including civil service and the Federal Employees Retirement System
  • Tax-sheltered annuity (403(b) plan)

Active participation is different for defined benefit plans. If you're eligible for one of these plans for any part of the year, you're considered covered for the whole year. A company defined benefit plan includes pension plans.

For a defined benefit plan, you're considered to be an active participant even if you:

  • Decline to participate in the plan
  • Made no contributions
  • Didn't perform the minimum number of hours of service allowed to receive benefits for the year

The W-2 your employer sends you should show if you're an active participant in an employer-sponsored plan. If you’re an active participant, the Retirement Plan box should be checked.

It might be that neither you nor your spouse were active participants in a company plan. If so, you can deduct your traditional IRA contributions regardless of how high your income is.

IRA income test
If you're covered by a company plan, a second test decides how much of your IRA contribution you can deduct. If you're an active participant in a company plan, the traditional IRA deduction:

  • Begins to phase out when your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) reaches $61,000 -- or $98,000 if married filing jointly
  • Is phased out completely when your income is more than $71,000 -- or $118,000 if married filing jointly. The phase-out range increases to $183,000 -- or $193,000 for married couples who have only one spouse who was an active participant in a company plan.

If your modified AGI is equal to or less than the lower phase-out amount, you can deduct your full IRA contribution. This is true even if you're an active participant in a company plan. For these purposes, your modified AGI is your AGI with these items added back:

  • Traditional IRA deduction
  • Student-loan interest deduction
  • Tuition and fees deduction
  • Foreign earned-income exclusion
  • Foreign-housing exclusion or deduction
  • Excluded U.S. Savings Bond interest
  • Excluded employer-provided adoption benefits
  • Domestic production activities deduction

If you and your spouse file separate returns, the phase-out range is $0-$10,000. So, you can't claim the IRA deduction if your modified AGI is more than $10,000.

You're considered unmarried for purposes of the IRA deduction limitation if you’re married but:

  • You didn't live with your spouse during the year.
  • You and your spouse filed separate returns.

Roth IRA
Roth IRAs are subject to the same rules as traditional IRAs. However, there are some exceptions:

  • You must designate the account as a Roth IRA when you start the account.
  • Earnings in a Roth account can be tax-free rather than tax-deferred. So, you can't deduct contributions to a Roth IRA. However, the withdrawals you make during retirement can be tax-free. They must be qualified distributions.
  • You can withdraw contributions at any time without tax or penalty.
  • You can continue to make contributions after you reach age 70 1/2. However, you must still receive compensation.
  • You don't have to begin taking withdrawals at age 70 1/2.
  • The balance in your account when you die goes to your heirs tax-free. The account has to have been open for at least five years.

The maximum amount you can contribute to all IRAs must be the lesser of these:

  • Your taxable compensation for the year
  • $5,500, the maximum IRA contribution for 2016

The amount increases to $6,500 if both of these apply:

  • You're age 50 or older.
  • You're making catch-up contributions.

However, to figure the maximum amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA for a year, you must combine the contributions you made to all IRAs. This includes both traditional and Roth IRAs. So, your contribution limit is the lesser of:

  • Your maximum allowable contribution minus all IRA contributions for the year.
  • Your taxable compensation minus all IRA contributions for the year.

When figuring your contribution limit, don't subtract employer contributions under a SEP or SIMPLE IRA plan

If you contribute more than allowed to your IRA, you’ll be subject to a 6% excise tax on the excess contribution.

Who can contribute to a Roth IRA?
Higher-income people who actively participate in company retirement plans can't deduct traditional IRA contributions. However, you can still contribute to save on a tax-deferred basis for retirement. This doesn’t apply to Roth IRA contributions.

The amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA:

  • Begins to phase out when your modified AGI reaches $114,000 -- or $181,000 if married filing jointly
  • Is phased out completely when your income is more than $129,000 -- or $191,000 if married filing jointly

These levels apply even if you're not covered by a company pension plan.

Married couples filing separately can't make Roth IRA contributions if both of these are true:

  • Your modified AGI is more than $10,000.
  • You lived together at any time during the year.

When your modified AGI is more than the maximum allowable amount, you can't contribute to a Roth IRA. For 2016, it's $191,000 for married filing jointly -- or $129,000 for single and head of household..

Converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA
Before 2010, you couldn’t make a conversion if either of these applied:

  • Your modified AGI was $100,000 or more.
  • You filed as married filing separately.

However, the government removed the income-limit and filing-status requirements.

If you convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you usually must pay tax on the amount rolled over. However, for 2010, you must report the conversion income you received in two installments in 2011 and 2012. There's an exception if you did both of these:

  • Opted out of the two-year installment treatment
  • Reported the entire conversion amount on your 2010 return

If you made a Roth conversion in 2010, you must report half of the amount. Do this on your 2011 and 2012 returns by filing Form 8606.

Nondeductible contributions you made to a traditional IRA are tax-free if you either:

  • Rolled over the IRA
  • Converted to a Roth IRA

Choosing your trustee
You must contribute to your IRA through a trustee or custodian the IRS approves. However, you’ll always have complete control over the investments in your IRA.

You can contribute to your IRA through any of these IRS-approved trustees:

  • Bank, savings and loan, or insured credit union -- Your investment is likely to be held in one of these:
    • Certificates of deposit
    • Money-market accounts
  • Mutual-fund company -- Your retirement money might be professionally managed in one of these:
    • Portfolio of stocks or bonds
    • Money-market fund
  • Insurance company -- Your money might be invested in fixed or variable annuities
  • Brokerage firm -- You might have a self-directed account that offers flexibility. These IRAs allow you to choose the exact types of investments you want in your IRA. You must have a self-directed account to invest in:
    • Gold or silver coins
    • Real estate investment trusts
    • Limited partnerships

Some IRA accounts have annual fees, while others have no fees. Traditional IRA fees are a miscellaneous itemized deduction if they are both:

  • Billed separately
  • Not automatically deducted from your account

Your total miscellaneous deductions might be more than 2% of your AGI. If so, you can deduct these expenses.

You can have many IRA accounts. You can:

  • Contribute to a single traditional IRA or Roth IRA account each year
  • Open a different account each year
  • Divide each year's contribution among several accounts
  • Divide your contribution between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA

However, by having more than one account, you might also pay multiple trustee and bookkeeping fees.

No matter how many accounts you have, your total annual contributions can't be more than the maximum allowable limit. This is $5,500 in 2016. If you're age 50 or older, the maximum is $6,500.

Moving your money around
You don’t have to keep your IRAs in the same accounts from your contribution date to your retirement date. You can move your money around to take advantage of changes in the market or in your investment philosophy.

However, you must follow certain rules. Some financial institutions might impose early withdrawal penalties on investments (Ex: CDs and annuities). They can do this even though you roll over the investments. If you do a direct rollover, you won’t pay an IRS penalty.

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  17. Minimum monthly payments apply. Line balance must be paid in full by February 15 each year. Year-round access may require Emerald Savings® secured.
  18. Fees apply when making cash payments through MoneyGram® or 7-11®.
  19. Please consult your tax professional for further information regarding eligibility, tax-deductibility of Traditional IRA contributions, tax-deferred/tax-exempt interest, limitations and tax consequences of distributions for college expenses and first-time home purchases, and additional IRS rules governing both Traditional and Roth IRAs. Severe penalties may be imposed for contributions and distributions not made in accordance with IRS rules.
  20. Interest accrues daily and is credited monthly. Minimum opening deposit was $300 or a monthly direct deposit of $25. No minimum balance is required to obtain the stated APY. All fees and rates are subject to change after account opening. Annual Percentage Yield (APY) effective as of August 12, 2015 at 21:53 PM CST and is subject to change without prior notice. Unless exception applies, a 10% IRS early distribution penalty if withdrawn prior to age 59½ will apply. Fees may reduce earnings on the account. If you close your account prior to the crediting of interest, you will not receive the accrued interest. See fee disclosure and account agreement for details.
  21. Transferring funds from another bank account to your Emerald Card may not be available to all cardholders and other terms and conditions apply. There are limits on the total amount you can transfer and how often you can request transfers. BofI Federal Bank does not charge a fee for this service; please see your bank for details on its fees.
  22. 7-ELEVEN is a registered trademark of 7-Eleven, Inc.
  23. ©2015 InComm. All Rights Reserved. Vanilla Reload is provided by ITC Financial Licenses, Inc. ITC Financial Licenses, Inc. is licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Terms and conditions apply.
  24. If you request cash back when making a purchase in a store, you may be charged a fee by the merchant processing the transaction. Always ask the merchant if a surcharge applies when requesting cash back at the point of sale.
  25. Applicants must be 18 years of age in the state in which they reside (19 in Nebraska and Alabama, 21 in Puerto Rico.) Identity verification is required. Both cardholders will have equal access to and ownership of all funds added to the card account. See Cardholder Agreement for details.
  26. Use of (Tap) for Balance is governed by the H&R Block Mobile and Online Banking Online Bill Payment Agreement and Disclosure. Once activated, you can view your card balance on the login screen with a tap of your finger. You should enable the security features on your mobile device, because anyone who has access to it will be able to view your account balance. You also accept all risk associated with (Tap) for Balance, and agree that neither H&R Block, BofI Federal Bank nor any of their respective parents or affiliated companies have any liability associated with its use. You will still be required to login to further manage your account.
  27. Timing is based on an e-filed return with direct deposit to your Card Account.
  28. Your wireless carrier may charge a fee for data usage.
  1. Enrollment in, or completion of the H&R Block Income Tax Course is neither an offer nor a guarantee of employment. Additional qualifications may be required. Enrollment restrictions apply. Book or other fees may also apply. Additional training may be required in MD and other states. This course is not intended for, nor open to any persons who are either currently employed by or seeking employment with any professional tax preparation company or organization other than H&R Block. During the course, should H&R Block learn of any student's employment or intended employment with a competing professional tax preparation company or service, H&R Block reserves the right to immediately cancel the student's enrollment. In the event of such cancellation, the student will not be entitled to a refund of any fees paid. Valid at participating locations only. Void where prohibited. H&R Block is an equal opportunity employer.
    H&R Block is authorized for operation as a postsecondary education institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. In order to view detailed job placement and graduation information on the programs offered by HRB, please visit www.tn.gov/the and click on the Authorized Institutions Data button.
    H&R Block has been approved by the California Tax Education Council to offer The H&R Block Income Tax Course, course number 64136, which fulfills the 60-hour "qualifying education" requirement imposed by the State of California to become a tax preparer. A listing of additional requirements to register as a tax preparer may be obtained by contacting CTEC at P.O. Box 2890, Sacramento, CA 95812-2890; toll-free by phone at (877) 850-2832; or at www.ctec.org.
  2. The course consists of 81 hours of instruction in Oregon and 88 hours of instruction in California
  3. University of Phoenix® is a registered trademark of Apollo Group, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. H&R Block does not automatically register hours with UOP. Students will need to contact UOP to request matriculation of credit. Additional fees may apply from the University of Phoenix®