Get the Most Out of Your IRAs

Get the Most Out of Your IRAs

Dollar as PuzzleQ: I plan to put $5,000 into my IRA this year, but I want to open a Roth IRA, too. Can I put another $5,000 into the Roth?

A: Sadly, in this case, the answer is no. But you can mix and match some retirement accounts. Here’s a rundown:

You can contribute up to $5,000 total to your IRAs in 2011 ($6,000 if you’re 50 or older—known as the “catch-up provision”). So: $2,000 to a Roth and $3,000 to a tax-deductible IRA, or vice versa, as long as the total is $5,000.

But, strangely, if you’re contributing to a 401k at work, you may also be able to contribute to a tax-deductible IRA—if your income is below a certain threshold (and depending on whether you are single or married, as this SmartMoney primer explains.)

If you’re self-employed and contributing to a SEP-IRA, that’s like a traditional IRA with higher limits. You can contribute up to 25% of your total income, up to $49,000 in 2011.

Most of us are pretty psyched to stash some cash in even one account. But if you are going to mix and match, check with a tax pro to make sure you’re not getting yourself into a pickle.And if you’re contributing to a SEP, you could also contribute to a Roth. Really.

Max out. How many retirement accounts do you contribute to?