Tax Tip: IRS Pension Plan Limitations Announced

Internal Revenue Service Tax Tips on Shoeboxed Blog

The Internal Revenue Service announced on October 16, 2008 cost-of-living adjustments applicable to dollar limitations for pension plans and other items for tax year 2009.

Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. It also requires that the Commissioner annually adjust these limits for cost-of-living increases.Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. It also requires that the Commissioner annually adjust these limits for cost-of-living increases.

Many of the pension plan limitations will change for 2009 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, for others, the limitation will remain unchanged. For example, the limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) is increased from $15,500 to $16,500. This limitation affects elective deferrals to Section 401(k) plans and to the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, among other plans.

Effective Jan. 1, 2009, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $185,000 to $195,000. For participants who separated from service before Jan. 1, 2009, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant’s compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2008, by 1.0530.

The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased from $46,000 to $49,000.

The Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A). These dollar amounts and the adjusted amounts are as follows:

  • The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) is increased from $15,500 to $16,500.
  • The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $230,000 to $245,000.
  • The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan is increased from $150,000 to $160,000.
  • The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) is increased from $105,000 to $110,000.
  • The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over is increased from $5,000 to $5,500. The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $2,500.
  • The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost-of-living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, is increased from $345,000 to $360,000.
  • The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) is increased from $500 to $550.
  • The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts is increased from $10,500 to $11,500.
  • The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations is increased from $15,500 to $16,500.
  • The compensation amounts under Section 1.61-21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation purposes is increased from $90,000 to $95,000. The compensation amount under Section 1.61-21(f)(5)(iii) is increased from $185,000 to $195,000.
  • The limitation on wages under Section 45A regarding individuals eligible for the Indian employment credit is $40,000 for tax years beginning in 2008 and will increase to $45,000 for tax years beginning in 2009. The termination date of section 45A was recently extended from Dec. 31, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2009, by Section 314 of Division C of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, P.L. 110-343.

The Code also provides that several pension-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3). These dollar amounts and the adjustments are as follows:

  • The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return is increased from $32,000 to $33,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $34,500 to $36,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), from $53,000 to $55,500.
  • The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for taxpayers filing as head of household is increased from $24,000 to $24,750; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $25,875 to $27,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), from $39,750 to $41,625.
  • The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for all other taxpayers is increased from $16,000 to $16,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $17,250 to $18,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), from $26,500 to $27,750.
  • The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $85,000 to $89,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $53,000 to $55,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $159,000 to $166,000.
  • The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(C)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $159,000 to $166,000. The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(C)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $101,000 to $105,000.

Administrators of defined benefit or defined contribution plans that have received favorable determination letters should not request new determination letters solely because of yearly amendments to adjust maximum limitations in the plans.

Tax Tip: Keep Receipts for Charitable Donations

Internal Revenue Service Tax Tips on Shoeboxed Blog

Did you make a cash contribution to your favorite charity? Have you recently spent a weekend cleaning stuff out of your garage or basement that you then donated to a local charity?

Charitable contributions can be tax deductible, but you must have the proper records to support your deduction. Due to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 the rules on recordkeeping for charitable contributions became a little more strict beginning in January 2007.

To deduct a charitable cash donation, regardless of the amount, you must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Acceptable bank records would include canceled checks or bank or credit union statements containing the name of the charity, the date and the amount of the contribution.

Under the previous rules, records such as personal bank registers, diaries or notes made around the time of the donation could often be used as evidence of cash donations. Personal records like this are no longer sufficient.

Here are some additional tips to help you deduct your charitable contributions on your 2008 federal tax return.

  • Charitable contributions are deductible only if you itemize deductions using Form 1040.
  • Contributions must be made to a qualified organization.
  • Used clothing and household items such as furniture, linens and appliances must be in good used condition.
  • Vehicle donations are subject to special rules.
  • To deduct charitable contributions of items valued at $250 or more you must have a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization.
  • To deduct charitable contributions of items valued at $500 or more you must complete a Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, and attached the form to your return.

More information is available on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. A good resource is IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, found on the web site or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Tax Tip: Moving Expenses Related to a New Job May Be Tax Deductible

Internal Revenue Service Tax Tips on Shoeboxed Blog

Did you recently move to another city for a new job or because your old job is now at a new location? A tax break may be coming your way.

How far you moved and the amount of time you spend on the job will have a major impact on whether you qualify for the tax break. Moves that are only short hops and jobs that are short-term or part-time generally do not qualify. However, if you can satisfy the distance and time tests then job-related moving expenses that you incur may be tax deductible.

You will meet the distance test if your new workplace is at least 50 miles further from your former home than your previous workplace was from that home. For example, if your old job was 5 miles from your former home, your new job must be at least 55 miles from that home.

The time test requires you work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the 12 months immediately after your move. If you are self-employed, the time test requires you to work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months and for a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months after your move. You can deduct your moving expenses on your tax return even though you have not met the time test by the date your return is due if you expect to meet the 39-week or the 78-week test as required.

Members of the armed forces do not have to meet these tests if the move was due to a permanent change of station.

Reasonable moving expenses are deductible and include the costs of moving your household goods and personal effects to your new home. You can also deduct the expenses of traveling to your new home, including lodging costs.

Meals eaten while in transit between your old and new homes are not deductible as moving expenses. No part of the purchase price of your new home may be deducted as a moving expense. You cannot claim a moving expense deduction for expenses covered by reimbursements excluded from income.

Additional information on moving expenses, including an extensive list of deductible and non-deductible expenses, can be found in Publication 521, Moving Expenses, on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).