Employee Benefits-IRS Reminds Taxpayers To Plan Now To Get The Full Benefit of The Tax Saver’s Credit

In IR-2011-121, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) reminds taxpayers that low- and moderate-income workers can take steps now to save for retirement and earn a special tax credit in 2011 and the years ahead. Here is what the IRS said.

The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs and to 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs. Eligible workers still have time to make qualifying retirement contributions and get the saver’s credit on their 2011 tax return. People have until April 17, 2012, to set up a new individual retirement arrangement or add money to an existing IRA and still get credit for 2011. However, elective deferrals must be made by the end of the year to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program, such as a 403(b) plan for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations, a governmental 457 plan for state or local government employees, and the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2012 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding them in January.
The saver’s credit can be claimed by:

• Married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $56,500 in 2011 or $57,500 in 2012;

• Heads of Household with incomes up to $42,375 in 2011 or $43,125 in 2012; and
• Married individuals filing separately and singles with incomes up to $28,250 in 2011 or $28,750 in 2012.

Although the maximum saver’s credit is $1,000, $2,000 for married couples, it is often much less and, due in part to the impact of other deductions and credits, may, in fact, be zero for some taxpayers. A taxpayer’s credit amount is based on his or her filing status, adjusted gross income, tax liability and amount contributed to qualifying retirement programs. Form 8880 is used to claim the saver’s credit, and its instructions have details on figuring the credit correctly.

Although the maximum saver’s credit is $1,000, $2,000 for married couples, it is often much less and, due in part to the impact of other deductions and credits, may, in fact, be zero for some taxpayers. A taxpayer’s credit amount is based on his or her filing status, adjusted gross income, tax liability and amount contributed to qualifying retirement programs. Form 8880 is used to claim the saver’s credit, and its instructions have details on figuring the credit correctly.

Other special rules that apply to the saver’s credit include the following:

• Eligible taxpayers must be at least 18 years of age.

• Anyone claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return cannot take the credit.

• A student cannot take the credit. A person enrolled as a full-time student during any part of 5 calendar months during the year is considered a student.

• Certain retirement plan distributions reduce the contribution amount used to figure the credit. For 2011, this rule applies to distributions received after 2008 and before the due date, including extensions, of the 2011 return. Form 8880 and its instructions have details on making this computation.

• More information about the credit is on IRS.gov.