Smart Tax Planning

How to turn Tax Day into a $6,000 savings opportunity

Key Points
  • July 15 is the deadline to file 2019 tax returns and pay any taxes owed for last year and the first two quarters of 2020.
  • You also have until midnight on Tax Day to contribute up to $6,000 in a traditional IRA and have it count for 2019. Toss in an extra $1,000 if you’re age 50 and over.
  • You might also be able to claim a tax deduction for saving in an IRA, depending on your modified adjusted gross income and access to a retirement plan at work.
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Turn your Tax Day dread into a $6,000 retirement savings opportunity.

It's July 15 and that means 2019 federal income tax returns and payments are due by midnight.

That also means it's your last chance to contribute to your individual retirement account for the 2019 tax year.

Savers can sock away up to $6,000, plus $1,000 if they're age 50 or over, in an IRA. This is the total amount you can apply toward traditional and Roth IRAs for 2019.

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Normally, you have until April 15 to make contributions for the prior tax year.

There's a sweetener for last-minute IRA contributions: They can also reduce your tax load for 2019.

Here's what you should know.

IRA savings and deductions


If you have the cash — and access to your IRA custodian — you can still put money in your account today.

Aside from bolstering your retirement savings, you may cut your taxes for 2019.

"If you qualify, you can get a deduction of up to $6,000 — or $7,000 if you're 50 and over," said Neal Stern, CPA and member of the American Institute of CPAs' national CPA financial literacy commission. "You don't have to itemize to get it."

How much you can deduct is based on two criteria: your modified adjusted gross income for that tax year and your access to a retirement plan at work.

Single taxpayers who have a plan at work are eligible for a full deduction if they have a 2019 MAGI of $64,000 or less ($103,000 if married and filing jointly).

What to know about July's tax day

The tax break begins to phase out beyond that point, and single filers get no deduction if their MAGI is $74,000 and over ($123,000 for married and filing jointly).

Taxpayers with no retirement plan at work can take a full deduction regardless of their MAGI if they are single, head of household or qualifying widowers.

The same applies if they are married and their spouse also isn't covered by a workplace retirement plan.

Limits on the deduction begin to kick in if a taxpayer's spouse has a plan at work.

Last chance for health savings

Jamie Grill | Getty Images

People in high-deductible health insurance plans can also take the next few hours to contribute to a health savings account for the 2019 tax year.

HSAs have three key tax benefits: You contribute to them on a pretax or tax-deductible basis, and your savings will grow tax-free. Use the proceeds free of taxes to cover qualified medical expenses.

For 2019, you can contribute up to $3,500 if you have self-only coverage. That number goes up to $7,000 for family plans.

Save an additional $1,000 toward your HSA if you're 55 and over.