Personal Finance

No fooling—you can still make 2014 IRA contributions

Tax prep tips
Tax prep tips

You still have time to boost your retirement savings and lower your 2014 tax bill with a contribution to an individual retirement account. But the deadline is approaching fast.

"It's not something you want to overlook," said Andrew Sloan, a certified financial planner in Louisville, Kentucky. "I've been asking my clients, especially my younger ones, if they have made their IRA contributions for 2014."

Yes, 2014. You have until the April 15 tax filing deadline to make an IRA contribution for last year. And a lot of people do wait till the last minute. Fidelity reports that 25 percent of IRA contributions happen in the first two weeks of April.

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Which IRA should you fund?

There are two kinds. A traditional IRA is an investment account where contributions can grow without capital gains and dividend taxes, but withdrawals from it are taxed. Contributions to these may be fully or partially tax deductible, depending on your income level.

With a Roth IRA, your contributions aren't tax deductible, but unlike a traditional IRA, withdrawals are tax-free. A Roth is one of the few retirement accounts that gives investors tax-free income in retirement. But there is an income cap for eligibility. If you made $131,000 or more filing singly, or $193,000 or more filing jointly, you can't contribute anything to a Roth.

"More people like the immediate tax break of a traditional IRA (anyway) rather than thinking about the long-term benefits of the Roth," said Bernard Kaplan, managing director of the retirement plan services group at CBIZ Tofias in Boston.

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Under Internal Revenue Service rules, your total annual contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs cannot exceed $5,500 (or $6,500 if you're 50 years or older).

With a traditional IRA, many contributions are deductible, but your deduction may be limited if you or your spouse are covered by a retirement plan at work and your income exceeds certain levels.

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"We encourage all our clients to take the deduction if they qualify for it," Kaplan said.