A Roth IRA is a type of retirement account in which your contributions are not tax-deductible. But once you start withdrawing the money, you don’t have to pay taxes on those withdrawals. This differs from a traditional IRA, which lets you make tax-free contributions but requires paying taxes on any withdrawals.
The main advantage of a Roth IRA is that your contributions can grow tax-free, which will come in handy if you think you will be in a higher income bracket during retirement than when you’re working. And because there isn’t a minimum age limit to open a Roth IRA, you can open one and begin contributing as soon as you start earning income.
Before opening an IRA account, you’ll need to understand the yearly contribution limits. Keep reading to learn about the changes for 2022.
What Are Roth IRA Contribution Limits?
The short answer is, you can only contribute so much money to your Roth IRA each year. Your age and income determine these amounts. Here’s what you need to know:
Roth IRA Limits by Age
The contribution limits for 2022 are the same as in 2021. The maximum amount that you can contribute to a Roth IRA is $6,000 if you’re younger than age 50. For those 50 and older, you can add an extra $1,000 per year in so-called “catch-up” contributions, bringing the total contribution to $7,000. This amount has not changed in several years.
Roth IRA Limits by Income
It’s important to note that Roth IRA contributions are subject to income eligibility. This means the IRS places limits on how much you can contribute to a Roth IRA based on your modified adjusted gross income and filing status. The good news is, the income limit for 2022 is slightly higher than it was a year earlier.
To be eligible to contribute the maximum amount in 2022, your MAGI must be less than $129,000 if you file as single and head of household. That amount is up from $125,000 in 2021. If you are married filing jointly, your MAGI must be less than $204,000, which is up from $198,000 in 2021. Your contributions begin to be phased out above those amounts, which means you either have reduced contributions or none at all. In 2022, you can’t put any money into a Roth IRA once your income reaches $144,000 if you are a single filer, or $214,000 if you are married and filing jointly.
Similarly, your contribution amount is limited if you don’t earn a lot of income. The maximums assume you have earned income at or above those amounts, but if you earn less, your maximum is also lower. For example, if you earn $2,000 in 2022, the most you can contribute is $2,000 and not $6,000.
Understanding Earned Income
Earned income considered for an IRA includes wages, salaries, commissions, tips, bonuses, or net income from self-employment, according to the IRS. It doesn’t include earnings and profits from property, such as rental income, interest and dividend income, or any amount received as a pension or annuity income, or as deferred compensation. In some cases, other sources might be treated as compensation, such as alimony or separate maintenance payments.
Roth IRA Income Limits for 2022
Below is a quick look at the 2022 income limits for Roth IRA contributions, based on your tax filing status.
Single filer or head of household:
- MAGI of less than $129,000: You’ll be able to make a full contribution.
- MAGI of more than $129,000 but less than $144,000: Your contribution is reduced.
- MAGI of $144,000 or more: You won’t be able to make a Roth contribution.
Married and filing jointly:
- MAGI of less than $204,000: You’ll be able to make a full contribution.
- MAGI of more than $204,000 but less than $214,000: Your contribution is reduced.
- MAGI of $214,000 or more: You won’t be able to make a Roth contribution.
Here’s another look at the Roth IRA earning limits and how they affect what you can contribute:
|Filing Status||Modified Adjusted Gross Income||Contribution Limit|
|Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)||Less than $204,000||Full amount|
|Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)||More than $204,000 but less than $214,000||Reduced amount|
|Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)||More than $214,000||None|
|Married Filing Separately — Living Together||Less than $10,000||Reduced amount|
|Married Filing Separately — Living Together||More than $10,000||None|
|Single, Head of Household or Married Filing Separately — Living Apart||Less than $129,000||Full amount|
|Single, Head of Household or Married Filing Separately — Living Apart||More than $129,000 but less than $144,000||Reduced amount|
|Single, Head of Household or Married Filing Separately — Living Apart||More than $144,000||None|
What Happens if You Exceed Roth IRA Income Limits?
Excessive contributions to your Roth IRA — more than the amount allowed — can result in a tax penalty of 6% or being forced to withdraw the amount over your contribution limit. If you own both a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA, be careful you don’t exceed the maximum annual limits on these. The IRS may issue an excessive-contribution penalty, which is around 6%.
Limits for Couples
Contribution limits for couples vary depending on the filing status and living arrangements. For instance, a married couple filing jointly can contribute the full amount to a Roth IRA if their income is less than $204,000.
This limit changes to $129,000 for married couples who file separately and live apart. If a married couple lives together and files separately, they cannot contribute the full amount if their income exceeds $10,000.
Roth IRA Limits With a 401(k)
Nothing is preventing you from having both a Roth IRA and an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k). But depending on your income and the amount you contribute to the 401(k), you might not be able to contribute to the Roth IRA. In some cases, your contribution limit is reduced. This applies if you or your spouse were covered by a 401(k) at any time during the year.
Good To Know: Figuring Your Reduced Roth IRA Contributions
If the amount you can contribute to your Roth |IRA in 2022 must be reduced based on income, the IRS provides the following formula for determining your reduced contribution limit.
- Calculate your modified AGI.
- Take the amount in Step 1 and subtract the following (1):
- $204,000 if you are filing a joint return or are qualifying widow(er),
- $0 if married filing a separate return, and you were living with your spouse at any point during the year, or
- $129,000 for all other individuals.
- Divide the result in Step 2 by $15,000 (or by $10,000 if filing a joint return, qualifying widow(er), or married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any point in the year).
- Multiply the maximum contribution limit by the figure you calculated in Step 3 (before reductions from this adjustment and before reductions for any contributions to traditional IRAs).
- Subtract the result in Step 4 from the maximum contribution limit before the reduction. Your will then have your reduced contribution limit.
Backdoor Roth IRA
A backdoor Roth IRA lets you convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. This could provide a way to circumvent income limits. There is no limit on conversion amounts — you can roll over however much you have in your traditional IRA without any penalty.
This process is legal but complicated. You’ll have to pay taxes on your traditional IRA, and the amount you convert into the Roth IRA will likely count as income. If you have a year when your income is particularly low, this is a good time to make the conversion because it helps lower the tax liability.
Also, if you’re younger than 59 1/2 years old and you convert funds from your traditional IRA into your Roth IRA, you’ll need to wait another five years to have penalty-free access to the money because the IRS treats conversions differently than it treats contributions.
One thing to keep in mind: President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan would ban the Roth conversion of after-tax funds in a traditional retirement account. As of Jan. 24, 2022, the bill had still not passed the U.S. Senate, meaning you still have the option to convert after-tax contributions. But if you want to do a backdoor Roth IRA, you might want to get started as soon as possible in case a revised version of Build Back Better that prohibits this gets passed into law.
A Roth IRA is a good way to diversify your retirement savings so you are not solely dependent on Social Security payments, 401(k) withdrawals or other accounts. Just make sure you keep track of the contributions you make to your Roth IRA.
Keep an eye out for IRS Form 5498, which is submitted to the IRS by the trustee or issuer of your IRA to report contributions, including catch-up contributions, required minimum distributions and the fair market value of the account.
Whatever you decide, talk to your tax accountant or advisor about it first and make sure you fully understand the tax implications.
Barri Segal contributed to the reporting for this article.
Information is accurate as of Jan. 24, 2022.