IRS Publication 590: Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) – Everything You Need to Know

What is IRS Publication 590?

The publication covers various aspects of IRAs, including eligibility requirements, contribution limits, tax deductions, and distribution rules. It is designed to help taxpayers make informed decisions about their retirement savings and understand the tax implications associated with IRAs.

Key Features of IRS Publication 590

IRS Publication 590 provides detailed information on the following key aspects of IRAs:

  1. Eligibility: The publication explains who is eligible to contribute to an IRA, including individuals with earned income and certain non-working spouses.
  2. Contribution Limits: It outlines the annual contribution limits for different types of IRAs, such as Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs.
  3. Tax Deductions: The publication discusses the tax deductions available for contributions made to Traditional IRAs, based on factors such as income level and participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
  4. Types of IRAs: It provides an overview of the different types of IRAs available, including Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs, highlighting their respective features and benefits.
  5. Distribution Rules: The publication explains the rules and regulations governing the distribution of funds from IRAs, including required minimum distributions (RMDs) and early withdrawal penalties.
  6. Additional Resources: IRS Publication 590 also provides references to additional resources and forms that taxpayers may need to complete when dealing with IRAs.

Overall, IRS Publication 590 serves as a comprehensive guide for individuals looking to understand the ins and outs of IRAs. It provides clear and concise information that can help taxpayers make informed decisions about their retirement savings and ensure compliance with IRS regulations.

Publication Number Publication Title
Publication 590-A Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
Publication 590-B Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

Benefits of Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

Tax Advantages

One of the main advantages of IRAs is the tax benefits they offer. Contributions to traditional IRAs are typically tax-deductible, meaning you can reduce your taxable income for the year. This can result in immediate tax savings. Additionally, any earnings on your investments within the IRA grow tax-deferred, meaning you won’t owe taxes on them until you make withdrawals.

Roth IRAs, on the other hand, offer tax-free withdrawals in retirement. While contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax-deductible, the earnings and withdrawals are tax-free as long as you meet certain requirements. This can be advantageous if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement.


IRAs provide flexibility in terms of investment options. Unlike employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, which often limit your investment choices, IRAs allow you to invest in a wide range of assets, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate. This flexibility allows you to tailor your investment strategy to your individual risk tolerance and financial goals.


Another benefit of IRAs is the control they give you over your retirement savings. With an IRA, you have the ability to choose where to open the account and which financial institution to work with. This allows you to shop around for the best fees, customer service, and investment options. Additionally, you have the freedom to change providers if you are not satisfied with your current one.

Furthermore, IRAs offer more control over your withdrawals in retirement. Unlike some employer-sponsored plans that have strict distribution rules, IRAs allow you to decide when and how much to withdraw. This can be advantageous if you want to delay withdrawals or take out larger sums for specific expenses.

Spousal Benefits

IRAs also offer spousal benefits. If you are married and your spouse does not work or does not have access to a retirement plan, you can contribute to a spousal IRA on their behalf. This allows them to benefit from the tax advantages and savings opportunities of an IRA, even if they do not have earned income.

Types of IRAs

Traditional IRA

A traditional IRA allows you to make tax-deductible contributions, which means you can deduct the amount you contribute from your taxable income. The earnings in a traditional IRA grow tax-deferred until you withdraw them during retirement. However, when you withdraw the funds, they are subject to income tax.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is funded with after-tax dollars, which means you don’t get a tax deduction for your contributions. However, the earnings in a Roth IRA grow tax-free, and qualified withdrawals are also tax-free. This can be advantageous if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement.


A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA is a retirement plan designed for small businesses. Both employers and employees can make contributions to a SIMPLE IRA. Employers are required to match employee contributions up to a certain percentage of their salary. Contributions to a SIMPLE IRA are tax-deductible, and earnings grow tax-deferred.

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA

A SEP IRA is a retirement plan for self-employed individuals and small business owners. Contributions to a SEP IRA are tax-deductible, and earnings grow tax-deferred. The contribution limits for a SEP IRA are generally higher than those for traditional and Roth IRAs.

Self-Directed IRA

A self-directed IRA allows you to invest in a wide range of alternative assets, such as real estate, private equity, and precious metals. With a self-directed IRA, you have more control over your investment choices, but you also have more responsibility for due diligence and compliance with IRS rules.

Contributions and Limits

Traditional IRAs

For individuals under the age of 50, the maximum contribution limit for a traditional IRA is $6,000 per year. For individuals aged 50 and older, an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 is allowed, bringing the total contribution limit to $7,000 per year.

Roth IRAs

The contribution limits for Roth IRAs are the same as traditional IRAs. Individuals under the age of 50 can contribute up to $6,000 per year, while those aged 50 and older can contribute up to $7,000 per year, including the catch-up contribution.

However, there are income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA. For single filers, the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA begins to phase out at an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $125,000 and is completely phased out at an AGI of $140,000. For married couples filing jointly, the phase-out range is an AGI of $198,000 to $208,000.



Type of IRA Contribution Limit (Under 50) Contribution Limit (50 and older) Income Limits (Roth IRA)
Traditional IRA $6,000 $7,000 N/A
Roth IRA $6,000 $7,000 Phase-out begins at $125,000 AGI, completely phased out at $140,000 AGI (single filers); Phase-out range $198,000 to $208,000 AGI (married filing jointly)

Withdrawals and Tax Implications

Early Withdrawals

Withdrawing funds from your IRA before reaching the age of 59 ½ is considered an early withdrawal. In most cases, early withdrawals are subject to a 10% penalty on top of the regular income tax. However, there are some exceptions to this penalty, such as using the funds for qualified higher education expenses, purchasing a first home, or in cases of disability or death.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

The amount of your RMD is calculated based on your age and the balance of your IRA. The IRS provides tables and worksheets to help determine the exact amount you need to withdraw each year. Failure to take the RMD can result in a hefty penalty of 50% of the required amount.

Roth IRA Withdrawals

With Roth IRAs, the rules for withdrawals are slightly different. Contributions made to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars, so qualified withdrawals of both contributions and earnings are tax-free.

However, there are certain criteria that must be met for a withdrawal to be considered qualified. Generally, the account must be open for at least five years, and you must be at least 59 ½ years old. Additionally, there are exceptions for withdrawals related to disability, death, or first-time home purchases.