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Publication 590

How Much Can Be Contributed?(p9)

There are limits and other rules that affect the amount that can be contributed to a traditional IRA. These limits and rules are explained below.

Community property laws.(p9)

Except as discussed later under Spousal IRA Limit, each spouse figures his or her limit separately, using his or her own compensation. This is the rule even in states with community property laws.

Brokers' commissions.(p10)

Brokers' commissions paid in connection with your traditional IRA are subject to the contribution limit. For information about whether you can deduct brokers' commissions, see Brokers' commissions, later, under How Much Can You Deduct.

Trustees' fees.(p10)

Trustees' administrative fees are not subject to the contribution limit. For information about whether you can deduct trustees' fees, see Trustees' fees, later, under How Much Can You Deduct.

Qualified reservist repayments.(p10)

If you were a member of a reserve component and you were ordered or called to active duty after September 11, 2001, you may be able to contribute (repay) to an IRA amounts equal to any qualified reservist distributions (defined later under Early Distributions) you received. You can make these repayment contributions even if they would cause your total contributions to the IRA to be more than the general limit on contributions. To be eligible to make these repayment contributions, you must have received a qualified reservist distribution from an IRA or from a section 401(k) or 403(b) plan or a similar arrangement.
Your qualified reservist repayments cannot be more than your qualified reservist distributions, explained under Early Distributions, later.
When repayment contributions can be made.(p10)
You cannot make these repayment contributions later than the date that is 2 years after your active duty period ends.
No deduction.(p10)
You cannot deduct qualified reservist repayments.
Reserve component.(p10)
The term "reserve component" means the:
Figuring your IRA deduction.(p10)
The repayment of qualified reservist distributions does not affect the amount you can deduct as an IRA contribution.
Reporting the repayment.(p10)
If you repay a qualified reservist distribution, include the amount of the repayment with nondeductible contributions on line 1 of Form 8606.
In 2012, your IRA contribution limit is $5,000. However, because of your filing status and AGI, the limit on the amount you can deduct is $3,500. You can make a nondeductible contribution of $1,500 ($5,000 - $3,500). In an earlier year you received a $3,000 qualified reservist distribution, which you would like to repay this year.
For 2012, you can contribute a total of $8,000 to your IRA. This is made up of the maximum deductible contribution of $3,500; a nondeductible contribution of $1,500; and a $3,000 qualified reservist repayment. You contribute the maximum allowable for the year. Since you are making a nondeductible contribution ($1,500) and a qualified reservist repayment ($3,000), you must file Form 8606 with your return and include $4,500 ($1,500 + $3,000) on line 1 of Form 8606. The qualified reservist repayment is not deductible.
Contributions on your behalf to a traditional IRA reduce your limit for contributions to a Roth IRA. See chapter 2 for information about Roth IRAs.

General Limit(p10)

For 2012, the most that can be contributed to your traditional IRA generally is the smaller of the following amounts:
Note.This limit is reduced by any contributions to a section 501(c)(18) plan (generally, a pension plan created before June 25, 1959, that is funded entirely by employee contributions).
This is the most that can be contributed regardless of whether the contributions are to one or more traditional IRAs or whether all or part of the contributions are nondeductible. (See Nondeductible Contributions, later.) Qualified reservist repayments do not affect this limit.


George, who is 34 years old and single, earns $24,000 in 2012. His IRA contributions for 2012 are limited to $5,000.
Danny, an unmarried college student working part time, earns $3,500 in 2012. His IRA contributions for 2012 are limited to $3,500, the amount of his compensation.

More than one IRA.(p10)

If you have more than one IRA, the limit applies to the total contributions made on your behalf to all your traditional IRAs for the year.

Annuity or endowment contracts.(p10)

If you invest in an annuity or endowment contract under an individual retirement annuity, no more than $5,000 ($6,000 if you are age 50 or older) can be contributed toward its cost for the tax year, including the cost of life insurance coverage. If more than this amount is contributed, the annuity or endowment contract is disqualified.

Spousal IRA Limit(p10)

For 2012, if you file a joint return and your taxable compensation is less than that of your spouse, the most that can be contributed for the year to your IRA is the smaller of the following two amounts:
  1. $5,000 ($6,000 if you are age 50 or older), or
  2. The total compensation includible in the gross income of both you and your spouse for the year, reduced by the following two amounts.
    1. Your spouse's IRA contribution for the year to a traditional IRA.
    2. Any contributions for the year to a Roth IRA on behalf of your spouse.
This means that the total combined contributions that can be made for the year to your IRA and your spouse's IRA can be as much as $10,000 ($11,000 if only one of you is age 50 or older or $12,000 if both of you are age 50 or older).
Note.This traditional IRA limit is reduced by any contributions to a section 501(c)(18) plan (generally, a pension plan created before June 25, 1959, that is funded entirely by employee contributions).


Kristin, a full-time student with no taxable compensation, marries Carl during the year. Neither of them was age 50 by the end of 2012. For the year, Carl has taxable compensation of $30,000. He plans to contribute (and deduct) $5,000 to a traditional IRA. If he and Kristin file a joint return, each can contribute $5,000 to a traditional IRA. This is because Kristin, who has no compensation, can add Carl's compensation, reduced by the amount of his IRA contribution ($30,000 − $5,000 = $25,000), to her own compensation (-0-) to figure her maximum contribution to a traditional IRA. In her case, $5,000 is her contribution limit, because $5,000 is less than $25,000 (her compensation for purposes of figuring her contribution limit).

Filing Status(p11)

Generally, except as discussed earlier under Spousal IRA Limit, your filing status has no effect on the amount of allowable contributions to your traditional IRA. However, if during the year either you or your spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, your deduction may be reduced or eliminated, depending on your filing status and income. See How Much Can You Deduct, later.


Tom and Darcy are married and both are 53. They both work and each has a traditional IRA. Tom earned $3,800 and Darcy earned $48,000 in 2012. Because of the spousal IRA limit rule, even though Tom earned less than $6,000, they can contribute up to $6,000 to his IRA for 2012 if they file a joint return. They can contribute up to $6,000 to Darcy's IRA. If they file separate returns, the amount that can be contributed to Tom's IRA is limited to $3,800.

Less Than Maximum Contributions(p11)

If contributions to your traditional IRA for a year were less than the limit, you cannot contribute more after the due date of your return for that year to make up the difference.


Rafael, who is 40, earns $30,000 in 2012. Although he can contribute up to $5,000 for 2011, he contributes only $3,000. After April 15, 2013, Rafael cannot make up the difference between his actual contributions for 2012 ($3,000) and his 2012 limit ($5,000). He cannot contribute $2,000 more than the limit for any later year.

More Than Maximum Contributions(p11)

If contributions to your IRA for a year were more than the limit, you can apply the excess contribution in one year to a later year if the contributions for that later year are less than the maximum allowed for that year. However, a penalty or additional tax may apply. See Excess Contributions, later, under What Acts Result in Penalties or Additional Taxes.