Traditional & Roth IRA Income Limits

This IRA income limit article has been updated for the 2019 and 2020 calendar years. Here is what is covered:




IRA Income Limits

IRA’s are a phenomenal way to limit your tax liability in the present (Traditional IRA) and in the future (Roth IRA). In fact, the IRS views them as such a benefit that they put rules in place to ensure that if you have too high of an income, your IRA contribution maximums or deductions will begin to phase out and disappear altogether.

This is where modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) comes into play, which I just wrote about in exhaustive detail (I should have quizzed).

Since it is still before the 2019 and 2020 tax deadlines, it is important to know both the 2019 and 2020 IRA income limits. If you’re above the income limits, a Backdoor Roth IRA might be an option, but it is not without risks.

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 based on your income that can limit how much you can contribute. The good news is that some of those limits (tied to inflation) will increase in 2019 and 2020.

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 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.

2019 Traditional IRA Income Limits for Deductions

There are no income limits dictating what you can contribute to a Traditional IRA. However, their are limits as to what you can deduct from your taxes. And what good are Traditional IRA’s if you can’t get a tax deduction when contributing to them?

Traditional IRA income limits vary based on whether you are covered by a qualified retirement plan at work (i.e. 401K) or not. Let’s divide up the two.

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.

Who said tax law was easy (or fun)?

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.

Why Are IRA Phaseout Limits Important?

You have an ability to influence whether or not you can deduct your taxes (in a traditional IRA) or contribute to a Roth IRA based on how you impact your MAGI. If you are getting phased out or over the limit, you can look for ways to decrease your MAGI so that you can take advantage of the great benefits that both IRA options offer. Just don’t wait until it’s too late.

On the flip side, you can even get an additional Savers’ Tax Credit if your MAGI is low enough.

And note that the IRA contribution deadline is the same date as the tax deadline for that calendar year (i.e. typically April 15 of the following year).

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  1. FRANKLIN BOWER

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