Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions (Saver's Credit)

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on February 01, 2024

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What Is Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions (Saver's Credit)?

The Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions, also known as the Saver's Credit, is a non-refundable tax credit designed to encourage low-to-moderate-income individuals and families to save for retirement.

It is calculated based on the amount of contributions made to eligible retirement plans such as Traditional or Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b), and similar plans. It can be claimed in addition to other tax credits.

The Saver's Credit helps to offset the tax burden and rewards individuals for saving for their future. It is particularly important for those who may have limited resources to allocate toward retirement savings.

By offering a tax credit, the government recognizes the importance of building a secure financial foundation for retirement and aims to make it more accessible for individuals across income levels.

The Saver's Credit not only provides a financial incentive but also helps to raise awareness about the importance of retirement savings. It encourages individuals to take an active role in securing their financial future and fosters a culture of saving.

Eligibility Criteria for Saver’s Credit

Income Thresholds

To be eligible for the Saver's Credit, taxpayers must have an adjusted gross income (AGI) below specific thresholds that are adjusted annually for inflation. For 2024, these thresholds are as follows:


Income Thresholds

Taxpayers must be at least 18 years of age to claim the Saver's Credit.

Filing Status Restrictions

Individuals who are claimed as dependent on another person's tax return or who file as 'married filing separately' are not eligible for the Saver's Credit.

Retirement Plan Contributions

Eligible contributions include those made to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), Roth IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension (SARSEP) plans, and employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans.

Ineligible contributions include rollover contributions and repayments of qualified plan loans.

Calculating the Saver's Credit

To calculate the Saver's Credit, determine the eligible retirement plan contributions made during the tax year. Credit rates range from 10% to 50% based on AGI.

Claiming the Saver's Credit

IRS Forms and Schedules

To claim the Saver's Credit, taxpayers must complete and submit the following forms and schedules with their federal income tax return:

  1. Form 8880: Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions

  2. Form 1040: U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

  3. Schedule 3: Additional Credits and Payments

Filing Deadlines

The deadline for claiming the Saver's Credit coincides with the annual deadline for filing federal income tax returns, typically April 15th.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When claiming the Saver's Credit, be sure to avoid common errors such as failing to report all eligible contributions, calculating the credit using incorrect income thresholds or credit rates, or neglecting to complete and submit the required forms and schedules.

Impact of the Saver's Credit on Tax Liability

The Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions, or the Saver's Credit, has a significant impact on taxpayers' tax liability. It provides individuals with the opportunity to reduce their taxable income and potentially lower their overall tax bill.

Reducing Taxable Income

One of the key benefits of the Saver's Credit is its ability to lower taxable income. When individuals make eligible contributions to retirement savings accounts, such as IRAs or employer-sponsored plans, they can deduct those contributions from their taxable income.

This reduces the portion of their income that is subject to taxation, effectively lowering their overall tax liability.

Increasing Tax Refund

For individuals who are eligible for a tax refund, the Saver's Credit can have a positive impact on the refund amount. By reducing the tax liability through the credit, taxpayers may see an increase in the total refund they receive.

This can provide a welcomed boost to their financial situation and further incentivize saving for retirement.

Non-Refundable Nature of the Credit

It is important to understand that the Saver's Credit is a non-refundable tax credit. While it can reduce a taxpayer's tax liability to zero, any remaining credit amount that exceeds their tax liability will not be refunded.

In other words, the Saver's Credit can reduce or eliminate the taxes owed, but it does not result in a cash refund if the credit amount exceeds the tax liability.

Strategies to Maximize the Saver's Credit

Increase Retirement Savings Contributions

To receive the maximum Saver's Credit, taxpayers should aim to contribute the highest eligible amount to their retirement accounts.

Adjust Filing Status

For married couples, filing jointly rather than separately may help maximize their combined Saver's Credit, as the 'married filing separately' status disqualifies taxpayers from claiming the credit.

Time of Contributions

Contributions made to eligible retirement accounts during the tax year and contributions made up until the tax filing deadline, typically April 15th, can be considered for the Saver's Credit. This allows taxpayers to make last-minute contributions to boost their credit amount.

Utilize Tax Planning Tools and Professional Advice

Tax planning software and professional tax advisors can help taxpayers identify strategies for maximizing their Saver's Credit and other tax benefits.

Strategies to Maximize the Saver's Credit

Conclusion

The Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions, also known as the Saver's Credit, is a valuable tax incentive designed to encourage retirement savings among low-to-moderate-income taxpayers.

Key aspects of the credit include specific eligibility criteria such as income thresholds, age requirements, filing status, and eligible retirement plan contributions. The credit rates and contribution limits help determine the credit amount, directly reducing tax liability.

Taxpayers must complete and submit the required IRS forms and schedules, such as Form 8880 and Schedule 3, to claim the credit.

Understanding the non-refundable nature of the credit and being aware of strategies for maximizing it, such as increasing contributions or adjusting filing status, is essential.

By staying informed on tax policies, utilizing tax planning tools, and seeking professional advice, taxpayers can better harness the benefits of the Saver's Credit and promote long-term financial security.

Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions (Saver's Credit) FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

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