2019 & 2020 Maximum IRA Contribution Limits

The IRS just announced its annual update to the maximum IRA contribution limits, which is the max anyone can contribute to an IRA (or multiple IRA’s combined) in a given year.




Unlike last year, there was no increase in the max IRA contribution. The 2019 maximum IRA contribution had increased by $500 over 2018, which had been the first such increase in 6 years.

maximum IRA contribution limitsSimilar to 401K’s, the maximum IRA contribution limit is set annually by the IRS and it is the limit that any individual can legally contribute to their IRA plans. The IRS determines increases by reviewing the consumer price index (CPI) annually. The maximum IRA contribution limit applies to both Traditional IRA’s and Roth IRA’s. You should note that you can have each type of account (and multiple of each type), but the annual maximum contribution is for both types of plans and is a cumulative total for all of your IRA accounts combined, regardless of type.

Below, we’ll cover the 2019 and 2020 maximum IRA contribution limits, income limits and phaseouts, and how to get the most out of your IRA accounts. Here is an article table of contents:

2019 Maximum IRA Contribution Limits

The standard 2019 maximum IRA contribution limit is $6,000. This was an increase of $500 over the 2018 limit.

2019 IRA Catch-up Contribution

For those age 50 and over, the 2019 IRA catch-up contribution will stay the same, at an additional $1,000. With the standard contribution at $6,000, this means the 2019 catch-up contribution plus standard contribution is $7,000 in total.

Note that you are eligible for the catch-up contribution if you turn 50 during any day in the calendar year.




2020 Maximum IRA Contribution Limits

The standard 2020 maximum IRA contribution limit is $6,000. This is no change versus the 2019 limit, as previously noted.

2020 IRA Catch-up Contribution

For those age 50 and over, the 2020 IRA catch-up contribution will also stay the same, at an additional $1,000. With the standard contribution at $6,000, this means the 2020 catch-up contribution plus standard contribution is $7,000 in total.

Historical Maximum IRA Contribution Limits

Prior to 2019, the last IRA contribution limit increase came in the 2013 calendar year. When the IRS increases the limits, they usually do it in $500 increments. Because IRA limits are lower, they happen infrequently compared to maximum 401K contribution limit increases.

IRA’s have a relatively short history in the American retirement system. Their first year of existence was 1975. Here is how the historical IRA contribution limit has changed in recent years since then:

Years:Maximum IRA Contribution (age under 50)Maximum IRA Contribution (age over 50)
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001$2,000$2,000
2002, 2003, 2004$3,000$3,500
2005$4,000$4,500
2006, 2007$4,000$5,000
2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012$5,000$6,000
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018$5,500$6,500
2019, 2020$6,000$7,000

2019 Traditional IRA Income Limits

IRA’s provide a great way to limit your tax liability in the present (Traditional IRA) and in the future (Roth IRA). There are, however, contribution phaseout limits that are based on your income. The good news is that those phaseout limits (also tied to CPI) increased in 2019 and 2020, even though there was not a contribution increase.

Keep in mind that with Traditional IRA’s, the limits and phaseouts only dictate how much you can deduct from your taxes, not if you can contribute or not. With Roth’s, the limits and phaseouts dictate how much  you can actually contribute, since Roth contributions are not deductible.

Traditional IRA income limits vary slightly from Roth IRA’s (which I’ll get to in a bit) in that they are tied to whether or not you your employer sponsors a retirement plan for you.

The 2019 Traditional IRA income limits are as follows:

If you DO HAVE a retirement plan with your employer:

  • Single or head of household: If your modified gross adjusted income (MAGI) is $64,000 (up from $63,000) or less, you can take a full deduction. If more than $64,000, but less than $74,000 (up from $73,000) – you get a partial deduction. If over $74,000, you cannot take a deduction.
  • Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er): If your MAGI is $103,000 (up from $101,000) or less, you can take a full deduction. If more than $103,000, but less than $123,000 (up from $121,000) – you get a partial deduction. If over $123,000, no deduction.
  • Married filing separately: If your MAGI is less than $10,000 (same as prior year), you can take a partial deduction. If $10,000 or more, no deduction.

If you DO NOT HAVE a retirement plan through an employer:

  • Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er): Any MAGI permits a full deduction.
  • Married filing jointly or separately with a spouse who is not covered by a plan at work: Any MAGI permits a full deduction.
  • Married filing jointly with a spouse who is covered by a plan at work: If your MAGI is $193,000 or less (up from $189,000), you can take a full deduction. If more than $193,000, but less than $203,000 (up from $199,000), you can take a partial deduction. If $203,000 or more, no deduction at all.
  • Married filing separately with a spouse who is covered by a plan at work: If your MAGI is less than $10,000, you can claim a partial deduction. If $10,000 or more, no deduction.

2019 Roth IRA Income Limits

The 2019 Roth IRA income phaseout limits are as follows:

  • Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er): If your modified gross adjusted income (MAGI) is $193,000 (up from $189,000) or less, you can contribute up to the $6,000 max. If at least $193,000 up to $203,000 (up $4,000), your contribution limit is phased out (see IRS publication 590). If $203,000 and above, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year: If under $122,000 (up from $120,000), you can contribute up to the $6,000 maximum. If at least $122,000 up to $137,000 (was $135,000), your contribution limit is phased out. If $137,000 and up, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year: If MAGI is between $0 and $10,000, your contribution limit will phase out. If $0, you can contribute up to the $6,000 maximum ($7,000 if over 50 years old). If $10,000 and above, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.

2020 Traditional IRA Income Limits

The 2020 Traditional IRA income limits are as follows:

If you DO HAVE a retirement plan with your employer:

  • Single or head of household: If your modified gross adjusted income (MAGI) is $65,000 (up from $64,000) or less, you can take a full deduction. If more than $65,000, but less than $75,000 (up from $74,000) – you get a partial deduction. If over $75,000, you cannot take a deduction.
  • Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er): If your MAGI is $104,000 (up from $103,000) or less, you can take a full deduction. If more than $104,000, but less than $124,000 (up from $123,000) – you get a partial deduction. If over $124,000, no deduction.
  • Married filing separately: If your MAGI is less than $10,000 (same as prior year), you can take a partial deduction. If $10,000 or more, no deduction.

If you DO NOT HAVE a retirement plan through an employer:

  • Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er): Any MAGI permits a full deduction.
  • Married filing jointly or separately with a spouse who is not covered by a plan at work: Any MAGI permits a full deduction.
  • Married filing jointly with a spouse who is covered by a plan at work: If your MAGI is $196,000 or less (up from $193,000), you can take a full deduction. If more than $196,000, but less than $206,000 (up from $203,000), you can take a partial deduction. If $206,000 or more, no deduction at all.
  • Married filing separately with a spouse who is covered by a plan at work: If your MAGI is less than $10,000, you can claim a partial deduction. If $10,000 or more, no deduction.

2020 Roth IRA Income Limits

The 2020 Roth IRA income phaseout limits are as follows:

  • Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er): If your modified gross adjusted income (MAGI) is $196,000 (up from $193,000) or less, you can contribute up to the $6,000 max. If at least $196,000 up to $206,000 (up $3,000), your contribution limit is phased out (see IRS publication 590). If $206,000 and above, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year: If under $124,000 (up from $122,000), you can contribute up to the $6,000 maximum. If at least $124,000 up to $139,000 (was $137,000), your contribution limit is phased out. If $139,000 and up, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year: If MAGI is between $0 and $10,000, your contribution limit will phase out. If $0, you can contribute up to the $6,000 maximum ($7,000 if over 50 years old). If $10,000 and above, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.

IRA Tips

  1. Spousal IRA Contributions: Take Advantage of Spousal IRA Contributions! If you are married, you should become familiar with how spousal IRA contributions work, as a spousal IRA could dramatically boost your family’s IRA contributions in a given year if either you or your spouse don’t earn qualifying income.
  2. Self-Employment Income: You may be able to deduct business related expenses and your home office and can contribute a portion of your income to self-employment retirement accounts, such as a solo 401K, SIMPLE IRA, or SEP IRA.
  3. Backdoor Roth IRA: if your income is over the Traditional and Roth IRA income limits, a Backdoor Roth IRA could be a smart move (if you follow proper caution).
  4. Tax Credit for Contributing: If your income is low enough, you might also qualify for the Saver’s Credit for contributing to one of these types of retirement accounts.
  5. IRA Consolidation: If you have old 401K’s sitting around from jobs long forgotten, you should consider consolidating your 401K’s and rolling over to an IRA. IRA’s typically have lower fees associated with them.
  6. Contribution Deadline: Note that the IRA contribution deadline for the any given calendar year is up until the tax deadline the following April. And you can begin contributing for a calendar year on Jan. 1 of that year.

Maximum IRA Contribution Discussion:

Will you contribute to an IRA for the 2019 and 2020 calendar years? How much?

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