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Roth IRA contribution eligibility for 2009

Posted by Andrew Chan  June 7, 2010 01:00 PM

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What prevents someone from making a contribution to a Roth IRA? I am single, my AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) for 2009 was under $100,000, and I have a 40lk plan from my job. When I did my taxes using one of the tax preparation software programs, it told me that I wasn't eligible for a Roth IRA. Last night, while watching a financial planning show, a viewer was told to max out her 401K and max out her Roth IRA. What gives?

The eligibility requirements to contribute to a Roth IRA for 2009 for a person whose tax filing status is single or head-of-household are as follows:
- You must have earned income equal to at least the amount of your contribution, and
- Your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) cannot exceed $120,000.
- Keep in mind that your participation in an employer’s 401(k) plan does not impact your eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Based on the information in your question it is difficult to know if you were eligible to make a Roth IRA contribution for 2009 or not. Your eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA is based on your MAGI and not your AGI. Therefore, you should double check that your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), and not your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), is below $120,000.

To calculate your MAGI, you need to start with your AGI and add back the following items:
- Traditional IRA contributions that were deducted.
- Student loan interest amounts deducted.
- Tuition and fees deducted.
- Domestic production activities deducted.
- Foreign income or housing costs excluded on Form 2555.
- Foreign housing deduction taken on Form 2555.
- Savings bond interest excluded on Form 8815.
- Adoption benefits from an employer excluded on Form 8839.

For step by step directions on calculating your MAGI, the IRS provides a worksheet on page 16 of Publication 590 (

Roth IRA contributions for 2009 were due by the April 15, 2010 (unless you live in an area where the IRS extended the individual tax filing deadline). If, after calculating your MAGI, you are eligible to make a Roth IRA contribution for 2009 based on the criteria noted above, you should contact the IRS to see if they will allow you to make the contribution for 2009 since the normal deadline has passed. Be prepared to explain the specifics of your situation and reason for your request.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

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D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
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