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What Part of the Contribution into My IRA is Tax-Deductible?

Navigating the realm of retirement savings, particularly when dealing with tax implications, is a labyrinth many find daunting. In the United States, one of the most widely used vehicles for retirement savings is the Individual Retirement Account (IRA). What often puzzles savers, however, is the question: "What part of my contribution into my IRA is tax-deductible?" To answer this question, we'll delve into the intricate world of IRA contributions, with a focus on the tax deductions often overlooked.

Traditional IRA: The Fundamentals

A Traditional IRA is an account that allows you to contribute pre-tax income towards your retirement savings. The funds grow tax-deferred until withdrawal. The central appeal of a Traditional IRA lies in its potential for tax deductions. If you or your spouse aren't participating in an employer-sponsored retirement program, you can deduct all your contributions to your Traditional IRA. However, if either of you is part of such a program, there are specific income thresholds you must be aware of as they will determine how much of your contribution can be deducted from your taxable income.

Navigating the Income Thresholds

The deductibility of your contributions to a Traditional IRA hinges on your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) and whether you or your spouse is covered by a qualified plan at work. Let's take the income guidelines set in 2016 as an example. If you had a qualified plan at work, you could still make tax-deductible contributions if your income was up to $71,000 as a single person, or $118,000 as a married couple. If only your spouse was covered by a work plan but you weren't, you could continue making tax-deductible contributions to your Traditional IRA until your joint MAGI reached $184,000.

It's important to remember that these income thresholds are subject to change based on inflation and tax laws, so it's crucial to consult a financial or tax advisor to find out the current regulations and understand how much of your contribution can be deducted.

Beyond Deductible Contributions: The Non-Deductible Route

While the allure of a Traditional IRA is often tied to its tax-deductible features, it's also possible to make non-deductible contributions to an IRA. Non-deductible contributions to an IRA are made with after-tax dollars, and while the contribution itself isn't deductible, the growth is tax-deferred. You'll only owe taxes on the earnings when you start taking distributions in retirement.

The Overlooked Realm of Tax Deductions

Deductible contributions to your Traditional IRA are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the world of tax deductions. Many American wage earners might overlook certain deductions that could potentially increase their income. From homeownership and medical expenses to charitable giving, a myriad of deductions can lighten your tax burden.

Following the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, several changes were made to tax deductions. Some expense deductions were eliminated, but others were introduced or remained intact. For instance, unreimbursed job expenses and tax preparation fees are no longer deductible. However, you can still deduct gambling losses and student loan interest.

Itemizing your tax deductions is a practice that could allow you to keep more of your income. It is paramount to keep accurate and detailed records to claim these deductions. Missed deductions could translate to lost refund dollars, giving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a larger slice of your hard-earned income.

Wrapping Up

Understanding the tax-deductible aspect of your contributions to a Traditional IRA is a critical step towards maximizing your retirement savings. While tax laws and income thresholds may seem daunting, consulting with a financial advisor and staying updated with the latest tax laws can pave the way to a more tax-efficient retirement strategy. Don't overlook the power of itemizing your tax deductions, as every dollar saved can compound into significant wealth over time. After all, every step taken towards understanding your tax obligations and rights is a stride towards a secure and comfortable retirement.


Traditional IRAs can get interesting if you or a spouse is covered by a qualified plan at work.

You are able to deduct all of your contributions into a Traditional IRA as long as you (or your spouse) are not a participant in an employer-sponsored retirement program. If either of you are, there are certain regulations you should be aware of. The amount of your contribution that can be tax-deductible is determined by your (and your spouse’s) modified adjustable gross income (MAGI).

In 2016, if you have a qualified plan at work, you can still make deductible contributions if you income is up to $71,000 as a single person or $118,000 as a married couple. If your spouse is covered by a plan at work but you aren’t, you can keep making deductible contributions to your traditional IRA up until your joint MAGI is $184,000.

As always, it is important to consult a financial or tax advisor to find out how much of your contribution can be deductible.

It is also possible to make non-deductible contributions to an IRA, but please see, “How Do Deductible and Non-Deductible IRAs Differ?

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