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IRS.gov Website
Rev. date: 01/01/2011


Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

Tax Topic 451
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An individual retirement arrangement, or IRA, is a personal savings plan which allows you to set aside money for retirement, while offering you tax advantages. You can set up different kinds of IRAs with a variety of organizations, such as a bank or other financial institution, a mutual fund, or a life insurance company.
The original IRA is referred to as a "traditional IRA." A traditional IRA is any IRA that is not a Roth IRA or a SIMPLE IRA. You may be able to deduct some or all of your contributions to a traditional IRA. You may also be eligible for a tax credit equal to a percentage of your contribution. Amounts in your traditional IRA, including earnings, generally are not taxed until distributed to you. IRAs cannot be owned jointly. However, any amounts remaining in your IRA upon your death will be paid to your beneficiary or beneficiaries.
To contribute to a traditional IRA, you must be under age 70 1/2 at the end of the tax year. You, and/or your spouse if you file a joint return, must have taxable compensation, such as wages, salaries, commissions, tips, bonuses, or net income from self-employment. Taxable alimony and separate maintenance payments received by an individual are treated as compensation for IRA purposes.
Compensation does not include earnings and profits from property, such as rental income, interest and dividend income, or any amount received as pension or annuity income, or as deferred compensation.
Please refer to Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for information on the amounts you will be eligible to contribute to your IRA account and when you can make contributions.
Figure your deduction using the worksheets in the Instructions 1040 (General Inst.), Instructions 1040-A or in Publication 590. You cannot claim an IRA deduction on Form 1040-EZ; you must use either Form 1040-A or Form 1040. If you made nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA you need to attach Form 8606, Nondeductible IRAs. Use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to determine whether you are also eligible for a tax credit. Enter the amount of the credit on either Form 1040A or Form 1040. You cannot use Form 1040EZ to claim this credit.
Distributions from a traditional IRA are fully or partially taxable in the year of distribution. If you made only deductible contributions, distributions are fully taxable. Use Form 8606 to figure the taxable portion of withdrawals.
Distributions made prior to age 59 1/2 may be subject to a 10% additional tax. You also may owe an excise tax if you do not begin to withdraw minimum distributions by April 1st of the year after you reach age 70 1/2. These additional taxes are figured and reported on Form 5329, Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts. Refer to the Instructions 5329 for exceptions to the additional taxes.
For information on conversions from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, refer to Publication 590.
A Roth IRA differs from a traditional IRA in several respects. A Roth IRA does not permit a deduction at the time of contribution. Regardless of your age, you may be able to establish and make nondeductible contributions to a Roth IRA. You do not report Roth contributions on your tax return. To be a Roth IRA, the account or annuity must be designated as a Roth IRA when it is set up. Like a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA can be set up but there is a limitation on the amount that can be contributed for each year and there is a deadline for each contribution. For more information on Roth IRA contributions, refer to Tax Topic 309. You do not include in your gross income qualified distributions or distributions that are a return of your regular contributions from your Roth IRA(s). Refer to Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for additional information on Roth IRA(s).