Roth IRA Income Limits

You can’t contribute to a Roth IRA if your income is above these limits

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A Roth individual retirement account (IRA) is a savings option that provides several more tax advantages than other types of accounts. While it has its advantages, there are Roth IRA income limits you need to be aware of.

Withdrawals in retirement can be tax-free with a Roth IRA—that includes your contributions and the money your contributions have earned—if you’ve held the account for at least five years and you're over age 59 1/2. You’re not forced to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) in retirement either.

However, all this comes with some restrictions. For tax year 2022, you can only contribute a total of $6,000 to your IRAs annually (both a Roth and a traditional IRA), or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older. And you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA at all if you earn too much. If you’re single, you can’t earn more than $144,000 in 2022 and contribute to a Roth IRA. If you’re married and file taxes jointly, that income limit is $214,000 for 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • Roth IRAs have more tax advantages than traditional IRAs, but they come with more stringent contribution rules and income limits.
  • You can’t save the full annual contribution limit to a Roth if your income is above certain limits, which is based on your filing status.
  • Your contribution limit phases out when you pass a threshold. When you reach the income limit, you’re prohibited from contributing at all.
  • If you’re single, you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA if you earn more than $144,000 in 2022. If you’re married and file taxes jointly, that income limit for Roth IRA contributions is $214,000 for 2022.
  • You could be subject to an extra 6% tax if you contribute too much to a Roth IRA.

Income Limits for Roth IRA Contributions

Roth IRA contribution limits aren’t a clear-cut line in the sand. The amount you can contribute each year phases out as you earn more income. You’ll first hit a threshold where you can’t contribute the full $6,000 or $7,000. You can contribute a portion of that, however, until your income reaches the next threshold. Then you’re prohibited from contributing at all.

The amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA is based on your filing status, income level, and age (under or over 50), as outlined in the table below.

Filing Status Modified Adjusted Gross Income for Tax Year 2022 Contribution Limit
Married filing jointly Up to $204,000 $6,000/$7,000
Married filing jointly $204,000 up to $214,000 Contribution phases out
Married filing jointly $214,000+ No contribution
Married filing separately $0 $6,000/$7,000
Married filing separately $0 up to $10,000 Contribution phases out
Married filing separately $10,000+ No contribution
Single or head of household $129,000 $6,000/$7,000
Single or head of household $129,000 up to $144,000 Contribution phases out
Single or head of household $144,000+ No contribution

Taxpayers who use the qualifying widow(er) status are treated as being married and filing jointly. Those who are married but file separate returns are spared this $10,000 limit if they don't live with their spouse at any point during the tax year. 

Income limits for Roth IRA contributions are based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). This is your adjusted gross income with certain deductions added back in.

What Investors Need To Know

These income limits aren’t kind to high earners. For example, if you’re single, 45 years old, and your MAGI is $200,000 a year, you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA at all. However, if your MAGI was less than $140,000 a year, you could contribute at least something to a Roth IRA. This income puts you in the phaseout range of $129,000 to $144,000 as of the 2022 tax year. The IRS provides instructions to help you figure out just how much you can contribute in this case. Here’s the step-by-step process:

  1. Subtract the income limit for full contributions from your MAGI. This is the limit beyond which your contribution limit begins phasing out. That would be $140,000 (your MAGI in this example) less $129,000 (the full contribution limit), or $11,000.
  2. Divide the result ($11,000) by $15,000. That gives you 0.73, or 73%.
  3. Multiply your contribution limit of $6,000 by this percentage: $6,000 x .73 = $4,380
  4. Subtract the result ($4,380) from the $6,000 contribution limit to arrive at how much you’re entitled to contribute in that tax year: $1,620.

What if You Contribute Too Much to a Roth IRA?

Now let’s assume you're under age 50 and you’ve already contributed $6,000 to your Roth IRA when you realize that your limit was $1,620. You’ve contributed $4,380 more than is allowed. You’ll be subject to 6% tax on that amount, or $262.80. This may not seem crushing, but the tax will apply every year while that extra money remains in your Roth IRA.

You would have less of an excess contribution if you're age 50 or older and you contributed only $6,000 rather than the $7,000 limit that would include your catch-up contribution. However, you would still owe the 6% tax on any contributions over $7,000 until you remove them.

Excess contributions are taxed at 6% per year that the excess amounts remain in the IRA. The tax can’t exceed 6% of the combined value of all your IRAs at the end of the tax year.

You have some options for correcting the situation, but time is of the essence. You can withdraw your excess contributions before the due date for that year’s tax return, usually April 15 (or Tax Day) of the following year. This deadline includes extensions, so you’d have until Oct. 15 if you asked the IRS for more time to file your return. You must also withdraw any earnings on that money.

Your withdrawal will be taxed as ordinary income in the year you take it. You don’t necessarily have to take the withdrawal in cash, but it won’t affect the taxation of the money. You can move it into a savings or investment account that’s not tax-advantaged.

You’re not completely out of luck if you miss this deadline. You can subtract that $4,380 from your contribution amounts in subsequent years, but the 6% tax will continue to apply until the situation is completely remedied.

Roth IRA Income Limits vs. Traditional IRA Limits

Roth IRAs have income limits when it comes to who can contribute, but traditional IRAs do not. The only time income limits come into play with a traditional IRA is if you want to deduct your contributions on your taxes. In that case, income limits apply if you (or your spouse, if you’re married) are also covered by a workplace plan, or if you’re married and file a separate return and you’re covered by a workplace plan.

For example, you can claim a tax deduction for your full $6,000 or $7,000 IRA contribution if you're single and not covered by a retirement plan at work. You're limited to a tax deduction equal to a portion of your contribution if your income is more than $68,000 but less than $78,000. You can't claim a deduction if you are covered by a workplace plan and your adjusted gross income is $78,000 or more in tax year 2022.

Income limits for tax deductions on IRA contributions depend on your filing status. Each status has its own threshold depending on the availability of a workplace plan.

You’ll lose out on Roth IRA tax advantages—tax-free withdrawals in retirement and no RMD requirements—if you invest in a traditional IRA instead. You can’t contribute to a traditional IRA after age 70 1/2, but there’s no age limit for contributing to a Roth IRA. Contributions you make to a traditional IRA escape taxation in the year you contribute, but you’ll have to pay the IRS later in retirement when you withdraw that money.

Keep in mind that the contribution limits of $6,000 or $7,000 apply collectively to all your IRAs, whether you have Roths, traditional accounts, or both. For example, if you have three IRAs, you’d be limited to contributing $2,000 to each if you’re younger than age 50, or $5,000 to one and $500 to the others. You just can’t have the total contributions exceed the annual limit.

If you go over the limit, you must take back your excess Roth contributions first, before you take back money from your traditional IRAs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the income limits for a Roth IRA?

If you’re single, you can contribute to a Roth IRA if you earn less than $144,000 in 2022. If you’re married and file taxes jointly, that income limit for Roth IRA contributions is $214,000 for 2022. The amount you can contribute depends on your income. If you make more than the income limit, you can’t contribute at all.

Can you get around Roth IRA income limits?

A backdoor Roth IRA may be one way for you to avoid Roth IRA income limits. A backdoor Roth IRA is an IRA funded from a traditional IRA through a "backdoor" route that skirts Roth IRA upper-income limits. This type of backdoor account is funded with savings that are converted or transferred into it from a traditional IRA.

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