Contribution Limits and Deadlines for Opening and Funding Retirement Plans

The deadline to file your income taxes is right around the corner! If you’re looking for a way to reduce your taxable income, there are a few retirement plans the IRS allows you to open and contribute to up to the day you file and have that contribution count for 2018. Consult a tax professional to ensure it’s done correctly. In the meantime, below are different plans with their contribution limits and deadlines to review so you can choose the best one for you.

Contribution Limit Deadlines Retirement Plans

Traditional and Roth IRAs

The contribution limits and deadlines for both of these plans are easy:

  • These IRAs must be opened and funded by April 15 of the following year in order to count on current year’s tax return.
  • The annual contribution limit for both plans is $5500 (or $6500 if you’re 50 years of age or older, thanks to the catch-up contribution provision).


  • The deadline to open a SIMPLE IRA is October 1 in the current year. You’ve missed that date for 2018, but to establish a SIMPLE IRA for 2019, you must do so by October 1 of this year.
  • Employee contributions must be deferred from your compensation and contributed to the IRA by December 31.
  • Employer contributions must be made by the date of filing your return. If you filed an extension, the employer portion can be extended, as well, but must be made before the date you file your return.
  • Employee contribution limits are $12,500 or $15,500 if you’re 50 or older.
  • The Employer contributions are limited to between 1-3% of an employee’s annual compensation.


  • You must open and/or contribute to a SEP IRA before you file your tax return.
  • If you file an extension, you gain even more time to open and fund the account, provided that this occurs before the due date of your tax return. For example, for a 2018 SEP contribution, you would have potentially until October 15, 2019 (which is the deadline for all extensions) to open the SEP and make the contributions.
  • 2018 contributions cannot exceed 25% of your compensation or $55,000 (whichever amount is less). That total has increased to $56,000 in 2019.

Individual 401(k) Plans

  • Individual or solo 401(k) plans must be established by December 31. Employee contributions (salary deferrals) should be withheld and contributed to the plan no later than January 31st of the following year.
  • Employer contributions (profit-sharing matches) are due by the date you file your return, which includes any extensions.
  • The annual contribution limit for salary deferrals for 2018 is $18,500, but if you’re 50 or older that total rises to $24,500. For 2019, that has been raised to $19,000 or $25,000 for those 50 and older.
  • If your plan involves a profit-sharing match, you as the employer, can contribute up to 25% of your compensation or 25% of your income if you’re self-employed.
  • Your total contributions (salary deferral plus profit sharing match) cap out at a limit of $55,000, or $61,000 if you’ve reached the age of 50 or older. For 2019, those totals have been raised to $56,000 and $62,000.

All of the accounts mentioned in this article can be self-directed.

So, if you’re interested in learning how you can control your own retirement funds and choose your own investments, you can view these plans in detail by visiting the Self-Directed Plans page on You’ll find a chart outlining the contributions and deadlines for all on our website, as well.

Your Takeaway on Contributions and Deadlines

Understanding the contribution limits of your retirement plan is just as important as choosing the right plan for you at the right time. The information provided above is meant to be a guideline for you, but you should always consult your tax or financial advisor to ensure your transactions are in compliance with IRS rules and regulations.

If you have questions about this article or wish to learn more about self-directed IRAs, please contact Advanta IRA by calling (800) 425-0653. We are happy to answer questions you may have pertaining to self-directed accounts and the rules that govern them.


This article was published on November 10, 2018 but has been updated with current information regarding 2018 contribution limits and other deadlines.