Saver’s Credit For Retirement Savings Contributions

Courtesy of IRS

Even though you may be on vacation, the IRS is always at work thinking about taxes!

August and the “Dog Days of Summer” are upon us. Taxes are probably the furthest thing from your mind. But now, months before the end of the year and the start of tax season, is a good time to takes steps to lower your tax bill.

Take the “Saver’s Credit” for example.

One way for low and moderate income Americans to save on taxes is by saving for retirement. If you make voluntary contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or to an individual retirement arrangement, you may be able to take a tax credit.

Formally known as “The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit”, the Saver’s Credit applies to:

Individuals with incomes up to $25,000 ($37,500 for a head of household)
Married couples, filing jointly, with incomes up to $50,000
Persons who are at least age 18, not a full-time student and cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s return
You may be able to take the credit of up to $1,000 (up to $2,000 if filing jointly) if you make eligible contributions to a qualified IRA, 401(k) and certain other retirement plans. The amount of the credit is determined by your filing status, your adjusted gross income (AGI), and your other retirement contributions.

The credit is a percentage of the qualifying contribution amount, with the highest rate for taxpayers with the least income.

When figuring this credit, you must subtract the amount of distributions you have received from your retirement plans from the contributions you have made. This rule applies for distributions starting two years before the year the credit is claimed and ending with the filing deadline for that tax return.

The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit is in addition to other tax benefits which may result from the retirement contributions. For example, most workers at these income levels may deduct all or part of their contributions to a traditional IRA. Contributions to a 401(k) plan are not subject to income tax until withdrawn from the plan.

For more information, review IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements and Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions which include the instructions. The publication and form can be downloaded at or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

[TaxMama Note: Many folks overlook this credit, thinking they don’t qualify. One member of our CSEA Breakfast Meeting is Doug, Thorburn, a Northridge, CA enrolled agent. Doug is passionate about this credit. He’s able to use it for many of his clients. He persuades them of the value of making the contributions to their retirement accounts by showing how much money they get back from this credit.

On the other hand, the income thresholds are so low, that whenever I check to see if my clients qualify, I find one of two situations:

1) The income is too high.
2) They qualify for the credit. But their income is so
low there is no tax due anyway.

But it’s worth checking – everytime! ]