DETROIT (WWJ) - The percentage of U.S.workers who make annual IRA contributions has dropped to a record low 15 percent, according to a new survey commissioned by Greene IRA.
The IRA study, released this week, shows the percentage of working Americans who owns an IRA has dropped to only 38 percent. This marks the fourth straight drop since 2008 -- the beginning of the current economic crisis. Back then, nearly 42 percent of Americans owned some form of Individual Retirement Account.
IRAs, once heralded as a must-have safe haven for middle class Americans, peaked in popularity in the mid 2000s. Although IRAs offer considerable tax benefits over other types of investments, fewer Americans have turned to them as an investment choice in the past few years.
The comprehensive survey shows that even those who own IRAs aren't necessarily making contributions. A full 24 percent of working Americans own an IRA, but won't make a contribution for the 2011 tax year.
Those fortunate enough to make a contribution often miss out on the full tax advantages the IRS offers. For the 2011 tax year, only nine percent of U.S. workers are expected to make the maximum contribution to their IRA as allowed by law. For most, this tops out at around $5,000.
This news comes despite 2012 changes made by the IRS to increase maximum IRA income limits. The new rules allow U.S. citizens to claim tax advantages for both traditional and Roth IRAs. In most cases, the IRS raised income limits by $2,000 for 2012.
The study also shows an increasing gap between what Americans have saved through retirement accounts and what they actually need for retirement. This shortfall is forcing older Americans to extend their working years. Twenty-six percent of workers said they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year, up from 18 percent in 2010.
The news isn't all negative. US workers who did own IRAs and made a contribution in the past year had average IRA assets of over $148,000.
The full study is available at www.iracontributionlimits2010.com.
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