Saving Pays In More Ways Than One

Low- and moderate-income workers who take steps now to save for retirement can benefit from a special tax credit in 2011.

The saver's credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs, 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs. Also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, the saver's credit is available in addition to any other tax benefits related to retirement savings. The saver's credit is an amount up to $1,000 for unmarried individuals and up to $2,000 for joint filers.

Eligible workers still have time to make qualifying retirement contributions and get the saver’s credit on their 2011 tax return. They have until April 17, 2012, to set up a new individual retirement arrangement or add money to an existing IRA and still get the credit for 2011.

However, elective deferrals must be made by the end of the year to:

  • A 401(k) plan or similar workplace program
  • A 403(b) plan for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations
  • A governmental 457 plan for state or local government employees
  • The Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees

Even though you may be unable to set aside money for this year, you may want to schedule your 2012 contributions soon so your employer can begin withholding them in January.

The saver’s credit can be claimed by:

  • Married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $56,500 in 2011 or $57,500 in 2012
  • Heads of household with incomes up to $42,375 in 2011 or $43,125 in 2012
  • Married individuals filing separately and singles with incomes up to $28,250 in 2011 or $28,750 in 2012

Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, is used to claim the saver’s credit. The form’s instructions have details on figuring the credit correctly.

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