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You may be able to take a tax credit if you make eligible contributions to a qualified retirement plan, an eligible deferred compensation plan, or an individual retirement arrangement (IRA). You may be able to take a credit of up to $1,000 (up to $2,000 if filing jointly). This credit could reduce the federal income tax you pay dollar for dollar.

Can you claim the credit?

If you make eligible contributions to a qualified retirement plan, an eligible deferred compensation plan, or an IRA, you can claim the credit if all of the following apply.

  1. You were born before January 2, 1993.

  2. You are not a full-time student (explained below).

  3. No one else, such as your parent(s), claims an exemption for you on their tax return.

  4. Your adjusted gross income (defined below) is not more than:

    1. $55,500 if your filing status is married filing jointly,

    2. $41,625 if your filing status is head of household, or

    3. $27,750 if your filing status is single, married filing separately, or qualifying widow(er).


Full-time student

You are a full-time student if, during some part of each of 5 calendar months (not necessarily consecutive) during the calendar year, you are either:

  • A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and regularly enrolled body of students in attendance, or

  • A student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by either a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and regularly enrolled body of students in attendance, or a state, county, or local government.

You are a full-time student if you are enrolled for the number of hours or courses the school considers to be full time.

Adjusted gross income

This is generally the amount on line 38 of your 2010 Form 1040; line 22 of your 2010 Form 1040A; or line 37 of your 2010 Form 1040NR. However, you must add to that amount any exclusion or deduction claimed for the year for:

  • Foreign earned income,

  • Foreign housing costs,

  • Income for bona fide residents of American Samoa, and

  • Income from Puerto Rico.


Eligible contributions

These include:

  1. Contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA,

  2. Salary reduction contributions (elective deferrals, including amounts designated as after-tax Roth contributions) to:

    1. A 401(k) plan (including a SIMPLE 401(k)),

    2. A section 403(b) annuity,

    3. An eligible deferred compensation plan of a state or local government (a governmental 457 plan),

    4. A SIMPLE IRA plan, or

    5. A salary reduction SEP, and

  3. Contributions to a section 501(c)(18) plan.

They also include voluntary after-tax employee contributions to a tax-qualified retirement plan or section 403(b) annuity. For purposes of the credit, an employee contribution will be voluntary as long as it is not required as a condition of employment.


Reducing eligible contributions

Reduce your eligible contributions (but not below zero) by the total distributions you received during the testing period (defined later) from any IRA, plan, or annuity included above under Eligible contributions. Also reduce your eligible contributions by any distribution from a Roth IRA that is not rolled over, even if the distribution is not taxable. Do not reduce your eligible contributions by any of the following.

  1. The portion of any distribution which is not includible in income because it is a trustee-to-trustee transfer or a rollover distribution.

  2. Distributions that are taxable as the result of an in-plan rollover to your designated Roth account.

  3. Any distribution that is a return of a contribution to an IRA (including a Roth IRA) made during the year for which you claim the credit if:

    1. The distribution is made before the due date (including extensions) of your tax return for that year,

    2. You do not take a deduction for the contribution, and

    3. The distribution includes any income attributable to the contribution.

  4. Loans from a qualified employer plan treated as a distribution.

  5. Distributions of excess contributions or deferrals (and income attributable to excess contributions and deferrals).

  6. Distributions of dividends paid on stock held by an employee stock ownership plan under section 404(k).

  7. Distributions from an eligible retirement plan that are converted or rolled over to a Roth IRA.

  8. Distributions from a military retirement plan.


Distributions received by spouse

Any distributions your spouse receives are treated as received by you if you file a joint return with your spouse both for the year of the distribution and for the year for which you claim the credit.


Testing period

The testing period consists of the year for which you claim the credit, the period after the end of that year and before the due date (including extensions) for filing your return for that year, and the 2 tax years before that year.



You and your spouse filed joint returns in 2008 and 2009, and plan to do so in 2010 and 2011. You received a taxable distribution from a qualified plan in 2008 and a taxable distribution from an eligible deferred compensation plan in 2009. Your spouse received taxable distributions from a Roth IRA in 2010 and tax-free distributions from a Roth IRA in 2011 before April 18. You made eligible contributions to an IRA in 2010 and you otherwise qualify for this credit. You must reduce the amount of your qualifying contributions in 2010 by the total of the distributions you received in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.


Maximum eligible contributions

After your contributions are reduced, the maximum annual contribution on which you can base the credit is $2,000 per person.


Effect on other credits

The amount of this credit will not change the amount of your refundable tax credits. A refundable tax credit, such as the earned income credit or the refundable amount of your child tax credit, is an amount that you would receive as a refund even if you did not otherwise owe any taxes.


Maximum credit

This is a nonrefundable credit. The amount of the credit in any year cannot be more than the amount of tax that you would otherwise pay (not counting any refundable credits or the adoption credit) in any year. If your tax liability is reduced to zero because of other nonrefundable credits, such as the Credit for child and dependent care expenses, then you will not be entitled to this credit.


How to figure and report the credit

The amount of credit you can get is based on the contributions you make and your credit rate. Your credit rate can be as low as 10% or as high as 50%. Your credit rate depends on your income and your filing status. See IRS Form 8880 to determine your credit rate. The maximum contribution taken into account is $2,000 per person. On a joint return, up to $2,000 is taken into account for each spouse.

NOTICE: The foregoing information is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as or considered to be legal or tax advice. You should always consult your tax advisor with any and all questions regarding any and all tax and tax-related matters, including any questions that you may have concerning the Saver’s Tax Credit described above.

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