Make these last-minute moves to qualify for important retirement savings tax breaks

The end of the year has a variety of retirement planning deadlines you need to meet in order to qualify for tax deductions and credits. Retirees also need to take action by specific dates to avoid retirement account penalties. Here are some of the retirement planning moves you need to make before next year:

Make last-minute 401(k) contributions. All 401(k) contributions are typically due by the end of the calendar year. Employees can contribute up to $18,000 to a 401(k) account in 2015. Workers age 50 and older can make catch-up contributions worth an additional $6,000, or a total of $24,000 in 2015, which are also due by Dec. 31. An investor over age 50 who is in the 25 percent tax bracket and maxes out his traditional 401(k) will save $6,000 on his federal income tax bill.

Take required minimum distributions. Retirees born before July 1, 1945, are required to take distributions from their individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans by Dec. 31, 2015. Retirees who delay their first required minimum distribution will need to take two distributions in the same year.

Extra time for IRA contributions. You have until April 15, 2016, to contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA that can be applied to tax year 2015. Workers age 50 and older are eligible to contribute an additional $1,000, for a total contribution of $6,500 in 2015.

Claim the saver’s credit. If your adjusted gross is below $30,500 for individuals, $45,750 for heads of household and $61,000 for couples in 2015 and you contribute to a 401(k) or IRA, you may be able to qualify for the saver’s credit. This valuable tax credit is worth between 10 and 50 percent of the amount you contribute to a retirement account.

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