The 2012 tax year brought some significant changes in the Roth IRA rules. Below is a summary of those changes for the 2012 Roth IRA, along with an outline of other limits and regulations.

2012 Income Rules

The 2012 Roth IRA Income Limits increased $3,000 for single tax filers and $4,000 for married filers over the 2011 levels.

Single Filers

In 2012 single filers could fully contribute to a Roth IRA if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) fell below $110,000.

Above $110,000 their ability to contribute was reduced until their income hit $125,000. Above, $125,000 singles were not be allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA for the 2012 tax year.

Married Filers with Joint Tax Returns

For married taxpayers who file jointly, full contributions could be made to a Roth IRA if the modified adjusted gross income fell below a combined $173,000.

After $173,000 their ability to contribute was reduced through IRS guidelines until their income hit $183,000. After $183,000 they were not allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA for the 2012 tax year.

Married Filers with Separate Tax Returns

Married filers with separate tax returns are severely limited in making Roth IRA contributions. These filers may only contribute a partial contribution, and only if their income is less than $10,000.

2012 Contribution Rules

Note: Assuming their IRA was opened by Dec. 31, 2012, filers had until the tax filing deadline–April 15, 2013–to make a 2012 contribution.

The 2012 Roth IRA Contribution Limits remained unchanged from the 2011 limits.

All qualifying individuals could contribute $5,000 to a Roth IRA in 2012. Individuals aged 50 or older could also contribute a “catch-up” contribution of $1,000, bringing the total to $6,000.

History of Roth IRA Contribution Rules

Contribution limits have changed significantly since the Roth IRA was introduced. In 2002 the limit was only $3,000 and had increased 66% from that time to $5,000 for 2012 (starting in 2008).

YearContribution Limit


Similar changes were made to catch-up contribution limits. Starting in 2006 the catch-up contribution limit for those age 50 and over doubled from $500 to $1,000.

YearCatch-Up Limit

2012 Roth IRA Conversion Rules

There were no changes in the conversion rules for 2012.

The 2010 tax year saw a major change in Roth IRA rules. This was the first year individuals with incomes greater than $100,000 were allowed to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA (and in fact, were allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA in general). If taxpayers did so before Dec. 31, 2010, increases in the income tax they incurred could be spread out to 2012.

Tax incurred from conversions in the tax year 2012 must be paid with the 2013 return.

2012 Age Rules

There were no changes to the age rules with Roth IRAs for 2012. Anyone with earned income that falls under the income rules may contribute to a Roth IRA regardless of age.

One of the benefits of using a Roth IRA over a Traditional IRA is you will never be forced to take distributions from the account, regardless of your age. Contributions may be withdrawn at any age without tax or penalty. You may begin withdrawing your earnings at age 59½ without tax or penalty, as long as a Roth account has been in existence for five years.

Click here for current Roth IRA contribution limits.

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