How to Make Pretax Contributions to an IRA

Pretax, or traditional, individual retirement accounts offer tax deductions for contributions if you qualify. To qualify, you must be younger than 70 1/2 and have earned income, such as from a job or self-employment. If you and your spouse aren't covered by a retirement plan at work, you can always deduct your contributions. If either you or your spouse is covered, though, the Internal Revenue Service limits how much income you can have and still deduct your contributions. The limits vary depending on your filing status and adjust annually for inflation. The IRS publishes the updated limits in Publication 590 each year.

Step 1

Figure your maximum annual IRA contribution by using the smaller of your earned income for the year or the annual contribution limit found in IRS Publication 590. For example, if your earned income equals $61,500 and the maximum limit is $5,000, your contribution limit is $5,000.

Step 2

Subtract any contributions made to a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs share a combined contribution limit, so every dollar you put in a Roth IRA decreases the amount you can contribute to a traditional IRA. If you didn't contribute to a Roth IRA, your contribution limit doesn't decrease.

Step 3

Contribute to a traditional IRA, up to your annual contribution limit. If you don't already have one, you can open a traditional IRA at most financial institutions by completing an application and making a first deposit. The application generally requires your identifying information, including your name, address and Social Security number.

Step 4

Report the deductible amount of your contribution on line 17 of Form 1040A or line 32 of Form 1040 when you file your taxes. This deduction makes your contribution pretax by reducing your adjusted gross income. You don't have to itemize to claim this deduction.

Items you will need

  • Form 1040 or Form 1040A

Warning

  • If you or your spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan and your modified adjusted gross income falls in the phaseout range for the traditional IRA deduction, you have to calculate your maximum deduction for the year using the "Figuring Your Reduced IRA Deduction" worksheet in IRS Publication 590. The phaseout ranges for deducting traditional IRA contributions differ based on your filing status and vary from year to year.

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