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My Six Biggest Tax Deductions for 2006: 401k/Retirement Contributions

This is the second of my big six income tax deductions for 2006 and this one is a little bit of a freebie because you don’t really need to do anything in order to claim it because your employer will automatically deduct 401K contributions from your income, which will ultimately be reported in your W-2. So, with a 401K, you simply do nothing and you get this deduction. How about people who contribute to a Traditional IRA? And for those who have businesses, or are independent contractors, and are contributing to a SEP-IRA as an employer (I’ll be doing this for the second year in a row)? That’s when things get a little trickier.

Traditional IRAs
If you have taxable income (and you won’t turn 70.5 this year), you’re eligible for a Traditional IRA. For 2006, you’re allowed to contribute $4,000 towards the Traditional IRA (this maximum limit is also shared with a Roth IRA, so you can only contribute a total of $4k any type of IRA) if you are under 50 and up to $5,000 if you’re over 50, it’s called a catch-up provision. You must open an IRA with an approved institution.

How much of the contribution you can deduct depends on your modified adjusted gross income. If you are a single filer, you get a 100% deduction if your MAGI is under $50,000; a partial if your income is between $50,000 and $60,000; and no deduction if your MAGI is over $60,000. If your MAGI is over $60,000, then it is far better you to contribute towards a Roth IRA since you get no deduction in the first place.

If you have self-employment income, the Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP-IRA) is a great way to defer some of your income and any business, sole proprietorships included, that earns any income can start something like this. You can contribute up to 25% of compensation to a maximum of $44,000 (2006 limits) and deduct this from your Schedule C income.

For more on SEP-IRAs, I wrote a whole series of articles when I was investigating it for my side business (this site), hopefully you will find them helpful: