Yes, it’s the last possible moment, but you do have until Monday, April 18 to file taxes and that means you have until then to contribute to your retirement and still save on your 2015 taxes.
Contrary to what you might have heard, there are tax breaks for just about every income level. The question isn’t how much money you make but how much you can afford to set aside now, before the deadline passes.
Here are four ways to save money filing taxes right now while setting yourself up for a better retirement future, broken down for different income situations:
If you think you don’t make enough to save, think again. Low- to moderate-income workers get access to a special tax credit. Married couples earning up to $61,000 and singles earning $30,500 can claim a credit worth up to $1,000 per person just by putting money into an IRA or workplace plan and filing Form 8880.
The Saver’s Credit is available to any one over the age of 18 who puts money into an IRA or 401(k) plan at work. Because of the impact of restrictions on income level and the effects of deductions and other credits, the return on your time is usually lower, about $215 for joint filers, according to the IRS. On other hand, you could pick up a few hundred bucks for free just by filling out a form.
An inexcusable number of people think that because the husband or wife is the breadwinner, the other half cannot put money away for retirement. It’s just not true.
If you are filing taxes jointly, your better half can set aside $5,500 into a traditional or Roth IRA (plus another $1,000 if your spouse is 50 or older) even if he or she didn’t earn a cent. The money comes from the breadwinner’s earnings and is deductible subject to the normal limits one would expect, such as whether your workplace savings is already maxed out. If that happens, put it into your spouse’s Roth IRA instead.
No 401(k) at work
Half of American workers have no access to a 401(k) at work. While that’s a shame, they do have access to traditional and Roth IRAs and anyone working as a sole proprietor, contractor, freelancer or otherwise non-employee working person can open what’s called a “solo 401(k).”
Essentially, a solo 401(k) gives you the power to set aside the same 401(k) limits as an employee, currently $18,000, and then another 25% of your net income as a self-employed person. If you are relatively high-earning “gun for hire” type with no employees, this is the way to go.
Maxed out, looking for more
At the top of the income scale it can be hard to find new ways to avoid taxes and save for retirement. One way is to open a health savings plan (HSA). You must have a high-deductible health plan, but if you do you can set aside up to $6,650 for a family against future medical expenses every year, pre-tax.
The money rolls over, can be invested and remains tax-free if spent on qualified medical care. Once you qualify for Medicare, the money will be taxed as income but not subject to penalties if spent on non-medical needs.
Tax deferral is the key to building up a solid retirement savings plan. Like lowering fees and avoiding investment errors, the long-term cost of missing out on tax breaks are important to understand. A little bit of planning goes a long way toward helping you retire with more.