Internal retirement accounts, or IRAs, are among the best way to save for retirement: for regular IRAs, contributions are often tax deductible; for Roth IRAs, eventual withdrawals are entirely tax free; and for both varieties, retirement savings can grow year in and year out tax free as well — no taxes are due on annual interest, dividend, and capital gains income, as long as the earnings remain in the account.
Contributions can be made annually, to a limit of $5,000 per year as of 2012 ($6,000 for those aged fifty and more). These limits apply equally to regular and Roth IRAs, and in both cases, one must have earned income at least in the amount of the contribution. Because IRA contribution limits are related to one’s earned income in a given year, because contributions to regular IRA accounts are usually tax deductible, and because contributions to Roth accounts are limited by one’s modified adjusted gross income for the year, each contribution is necessarily linked to the tax year during which the contribution is made.
What is the IRA contribution deadline for a given tax year? Generally, it falls on the deadline for filing your taxes for that year, which is usually April 15 of the following year. (If April happens to fall on a Saturday or Sunday — as it did in 2012 — the IRS usually extends the filing deadline by a day or two.) Therefore, if you wish to contribute to an IRA account — or indeed to open a new IRA account and make a contribution — for tax year 2012, the deadline is April 15, 2013.
Any IRA contribution that you make between the tax filing deadline for the previous year (April 15) and the end of the year (December 31) can only be applied to that calendar year. If you contribute on May 31, 2012, for instance, that can only be applied to your 2012 IRA contribution. However, if you make a contribution between the beginning of the year (January 1) and the tax filing deadline (April 15), that can be applied either to the previous year’s contribution, or the current year’s contribution. For instance, if you contribute to your IRA on March 20, 2013, that can be applied to your IRA contribution for either the 2012 tax year or the 2013 tax year. Therefore, you’ll need to specify on your tax form, when you file your taxes, to which year you intend to apply that contribution. (Also be sure to inform the financial institution that holds your IRA account to which year you intend to apply that contribution.)
For those still using the U.S. post office, the postmark is the determining factor. If you get your certified check off to your financial institution by April 15, 2013, and the postmark on the envelope shows an April 15 (or earlier) date, you’ve met the deadline regardless of whether the financial institution receives your check only on April 20 and doesn’t credit your account until a week later.
What if you extend your tax filing deadline? Generally, the deadline for contributing to a regular or Roth IRA can’t be extended; you’ll need to make your 2012 contribution (for instance) by April 15, 2013, even if you extend your filing deadline for that year. The only exception is for military personnel; if you are an armed forces member who has served in a combat zone or provided qualifying service outside of a combat zone, you’ll receive an automatic extension beyond the April 15 deadline of 180 days or more. You should discuss this with the appropriate officer to determine what your deadline is, depending on your circumstances.
The Internal Revenue Service is generous with IRA contribution deadlines; with even a minimum of advance planning, you should be able to meet the annual contribution deadlines.
IRA Calculator will help you determine:
IRA calculator helps you decide whether a Traditional or Roth IRA is best suited for your needs.
How much you need to withdraw each month once you retire to live comfortably
How much you need to contribute each month to maximize employer contribution for monthly retirement withdrawal goal
How you can forecast for your contributions’ affect on your retirement savings can be done through our online 401-K calculator.