What is the Retirement Saver’s Credit?

A nonrefundable retirement saver’s tax credit is available for individuals with low incomes. In 2017, a single person making up to $18,500 or a couple making $37,000 or less can qualify for a 50 percent tax credit on the first $2,000 they each save toward retirement. For example, an individual who contributes $2,000 to an IRA could qualify for a $1,000 tax credit. The tax credit phases out as income increases.

A single person earning $18,501 to $20,000 and a married couple earning $37,001 to $40,000 throughout the year are eligible for a 20 percent tax credit (2017 figures). A single person earning $20,001 to $30,750 and a married couple earning $40,001 to $61,500 each year can qualify for a 10 percent credit. The credit is based on total contributions to all eligible retirement accounts, not for contributions to each.

This is a tax credit, rather than a deduction, and thus is worth more. The amount of the credit comes off the tax owed rather than your taxable income (e.g., $2,000 tax-$500 credit = $1,500 tax). Many people use their income tax refund as a means for starting or increasing their savings. IRS Form 8888 allows a taxpayer to direct their refund into up three different accounts. Consider using this tool to direct some or all of any refund you might be receiving into a savings, IRA, or mutual fund account.

For more information search for “Form 8888 Direct Deposit of Refund” on the IRS Web site at http://www.irs.gov.

We would like your feedback on this Personal Finance Frequently Asked Question.