Depending on the kind of retirement accounts you use, you might still have time to contribute more money before filing taxes for 2012. That could lower your tax burden, helping you save money now while giving you more money to spend during retirement. Before you try to contribute more money to your accounts, though, you will need to know the limitations of each one.

Contribution Limits for 2012 Roth and Traditional IRA Accounts

Many people like Roth IRA accounts because they prefer paying taxes on the money that they put into the account rather than paying taxes on what they take out. With any luck at all, that means you will save money by avoiding a larger tax burden after retirement, when you can probably least afford that kind of bump.

Others prefer lowering their tax burden now by contributing to a traditional IRA. Many of those people bet that avoiding taxes now means they can invest more, which means they will have a larger sum once they reach retirement.

For 2012, you can contribute up to $5,000. If you have reached age 50, then you can contribute an extra $1,000 (for a total of $6,000) to help you catch up and prepare for retirement.

In 2013, those limits will go up to $5,500 and $6,500 for people 50 and older.

Contribution Limits for 2012 401(k) Accounts

If you have a 401(k) account through your employer, then the IRS will typically let you contribute up to $17,000 for 2012. If you’re 50 years old or older, you won’t reach your maximum until you’ve contributed $22,500.

401(k) plan limits can actually get a bit tricky. The vast majority of people face a $17,000 cap, all of which is considered pre-tax, or tax-deferrable. In other words, you don’t pay tax on that money when you put it into the account.

There are some rare situations when you can contribute more than that to your 401(k). Regardless, the IRS will only let you count $17,000 as tax-deferrable ($22,500 if you’re at least 50 years old).

Roth 401(k) accounts have the same contribution limits.

Like IRA accounts, 401(k) limits will also go up in 2013 to account for cost of living changes.

2012 SEP and SIMPLE Limits

SEP and SIMPLE retirement accounts are less popular options, but you should still learn about their contribution limits to help you decide whether you’d like to put money in them.

SEP is a kind of IRA account that some employers offer as pensions. The overall limit for these accounts is $50,000.

SIMPLE is a kind of 401(k) account with slightly different rules. If you have one of these, then you can add up to $11,500 in 2012. You can contribute an extra $2,500 if you are 50 or older.

These are the most common accounts that people use to save money for retirement. Knowing how much you can contribute will help you plan how you allocate your payments throughout the year. If you have some money left at the end of the year, then you can even avoid some taxes by reaching your limit.

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