Q: I'm about to start a new job that finally has a 401(k), and I am trying to decide how much I can afford to contribute. Will my contributions make me eligible for the retirement saver's tax credit, and how much will that be worth?
A: If you contribute to a 401(k), traditional or Roth IRA, 403(b), 457 or other retirement plan, you may be eligible for the retirement saver's tax credit.
The credit can be worth $200 to $1,000 per person, depending on your income (couples earning more than $62,000 and single filers earning more than $31,000 are ineligible). And knowing that you're eligible for the credit might encourage you to save a little more.
The credit is worth 10 percent to 50 percent of the first $2,000 you contribute to the retirement plan for the year. You can claim the top, 50-percent credit if your adjusted gross income in 2017 is less than $37,000 if married filing jointly, $27,750 if filing as head of household, or $18,500 for single filers.
The credit is worth 20 percent of your contribution if you earn $37,001 to $40,000 if married filing jointly, $27,751 to $30,000 if filing as head of household, or $18,501 to $20,000 for single filers. And you can qualify for a 10-percent credit if your income is $40,001 to $62,000 if married filing jointly, $30,001 to $46,500 for head of household, or $20,001 to $31,000 for single filers. You can't claim the credit if you earn more than that.
To be eligible, you must also be 18 or older, not a full-time student for five months or more of the year, and not claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return.
To claim the credit, file IRS Form 8880, "Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions," with your tax return. For more information, see the IRS's Retirement Savings Contributions Credit fact sheet, at www.irs.gov.
Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to email@example.com.