What Is the Max IRA Contribution?

by John Csiszar ; Updated July 27, 2017

Individual retirement accounts are investment options that offer various tax advantages for account owners. There are many types of IRAs, with the main varieties being the traditional IRA, the Roth IRA and the SEP-IRA. While similar in purpose, each type of IRAs has different rules regarding contributions and withdrawals. Factors that play a role in determining your maximum IRA contribution include your age and your income.

Traditional IRAs

For tax year 2015, the standard limit on contributions to a traditional IRA in one year is $5,500. If you are age 50 or older, that amount jumps to $6,500. One of the benefits of a traditional IRA is that your contributions are fully tax-deductible if you -- and your spouse, if married -- are not covered by a retirement plan at work, such as a pension plan or 401(k). If you are, the deductibility of your contribution is limited by your modified adjusted gross income.

Your MAGI is your adjusted gross income-- also known as your taxable income -- with certain items added back in, such as any foreign investment income you earned. As a single taxpayer, your traditional IRA contribution still is fully deductible, even if you're covered by a retirement plan at work, if your MAGI is $61,000 or less. If you're married, that limit rises to $98,000. Your deduction is phased out above those limits until it drops to zero with a MAGI of $71,000 for single filers or $118,000 if you're married. You still can contribute the maximum to a traditional IRA if your income is above these limits, but you won't be able to take a tax deduction.

Roth IRAs

Roth IRAs share the same $5,500 contribution limit as traditional IRAs, including the ability for those 50 or over to contribute an additional $1,000. Unlike traditional IRAs, however, Roth IRAs restrict contributions based on MAGI. For tax year 2015, single taxpayers can't contribute to a Roth with a MAGI of $131,000 or more, with that limit rising to $193,000 for joint filers. If your MAGI is $116,000 or less -- $183,000 or less for joint filers -- you can contribute up to the allowable limit. If your MAGI falls in between those numbers, you can contribute a pro-rated amount between zero and the maximum limit.

An important difference between Roth and traditional IRAs is that you can keep contributing to a Roth IRA even after age 70 1/2, unlike a traditional IRA. Additionally, while contributions to a Roth IRA do not get a tax deduction, withdrawals typically are tax-free.

SEP-IRAs

A SEP-IRA is a tax-advantaged IRA used by businesses. Unlike with traditional or Roth IRAs, if you are a business owner that opens a SEP you must make contributions to all eligible employee accounts if you make a contribution to your own. For this reason, SEP-IRAs are popular with sole proprietors or small family businesses.

The annual contribution limit to a SEP-IRA is the lesser of 25 percent of compensation or $53,000, as of 2015. However, since a SEP-IRA is structured as a traditional IRA, you also can make traditional IRA contributions to your SEP, although those contributions may not be tax-deductible based on your participation in the SEP. Limits on personal contributions to a SEP are the same $5,500 as with traditional IRAs, rising to $6,500 for those 50 or older.

About the Author

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA, John Csiszar earned a Certified Financial Planner designation and served 18 years as an investment adviser. Csiszar has served as a technical writer for various financial firms and has extensive experience writing for online publications.