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Tax Relief 101 – Retirement Savings Credit

Welcome to the next installment of Tax Relief 101, where I find interesting and legitimate ways to relieve your tax burden. This time, we’re going to look at the retirement savings credit that I didn’t even know about until today. Basically if you make under $25,000 and contribute to a retirement account, the government is willing to give some of that money back to you as a tax credit today (as much as $1,000). It’s an incentive for low-income earners to put away money for their retirement.

The form you must file to get this is F8880 [3], Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contribution. Essentially, the math is as follows:

’04 Traditional/Roth IRA contributions
+ ’04 retirement plan contributions
– distributions since 2001,
whichever is smaller.

Then, based on your salary, you divide that number by 2 [< $15k], 5 [$15k-$16.5k], or 10 [$16.5k-$22.5k] (a Bankrate article has the full table [4]). That means the maximum credit you can get for this is $1,000.

What this allows you to do is if you’re one of the few folks earning the lower end of one of the brackets, just contribute some more to your employer’s retirement plan and push yourself down into a lower bracket. This will give you the benefit of reducing your taxable income and earning you the credit. The restrictions are what you’d expect: you cannot claim this if you’re a full-time student, younger than 18, or claimed as a dependent.

Finally, if you decide to claim this credit, you’ll need to file Form 1040 [5] or Form 1040A [6], the 1040EZ [7] isn’t allowed.

I hope you’ve found this tip helpful!