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7 Things You May Not Know About the Saver’s Credit (and 4 You Should)

Beyond the tax advantages to saving for retirement on a pre-tax basis, the ability to watch those savings grow without paying taxes until they are actually withdrawn, there is another savings incentive with which many are not as familiar.

It’s the so-called Saver’s Credit, and it’s available to low- to moderate-income workers who are saving for retirement. For those who qualify, in addition to the customary benefits of workplace retirement savings, it could mean a $1,000 break on your taxes — twice that if you are married and file a joint return!

That said, just 24% of American workers with annual household incomes of less than $50,000 are aware of the credit, according to the 15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey. However, that’s twice as many as found by the 11th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey.

Here are some things you may not know about the Saver’s Credit:

The official name for the Saver’s Credit is actually the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit.

A wide variety of retirement savings contributions qualify.

The Saver’s Credit can be taken for contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA (including MyRA), a 401(k), SIMPLE IRA, SARSEP, 403(b), 501(c)(18) or governmental 457(b) plan, as well as voluntary after-tax employee contributions to qualified retirement and 403(b) plans.

There are two deadlines for contributions.

To qualify for the Saver’s Credit, contributions must be made to 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s or the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan by the end of the calendar year. However, retirement savers have until April 15, 2016, to make an IRA contribution that could qualify them for the Saver’s Credit for tax year 2015.

The Saver’s Credit is (still) not available via the 1040 EZ form (though there have been legislative attempts to remedy that situation.

Rollover contributions aren't eligible for the Saver’s Credit.

Eligible contributions may be reduced by any recent distributions (for 2015, distributions received after 2012, and before the due date of the 2015 return, including extensions) from a retirement plan or IRA (a list of these distributions is available here.)

The adjusted gross income limits for eligibility are higher for 2016.

While most contribution and benefits limits were not adjusted for 2016, the income limits for the Savers Credit were adjusted higher (a table outlining those changes, as well as the limits for 2015 is available here).

And some things you may know (but are worth repeating)…

The amount of the credit is 50%, 20% or 10% of retirement plan or IRA contributions up to $2,000 ($4,000 if married filing jointly), depending on adjusted gross income (reported on your Form 1040 or 1040A).

It is a credit — a dollar-for-dollar reduction of tax liability. If the standard or itemized deductions or personal exemptions eliminate tax liability, you can’t claim the Saver’s Credit. Moreover, it can’t be carried forward to the next year. Nor can you get a tax refund based only on the amount of the Saver's Credit.

In order to claim the credit, individuals must be 18 years or older, must not be a full-time student, and cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s return.

You only get the credit if you file for it. It’s not too late to save and get “credit” for doing so — make sure the participants you work with, and plan sponsors you work for — are aware.

Additional information about the Savers Credit is available here:,-Employee/Retirement-Savings-Contributions-Savers-Credit