IRAs were established by legislation passed in 1974. Traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) first became available in 1975. Anyone with earned income can make the maximum traditional IRA contribution as long as they had at least that much income in a given year. A non-working spouse can establish his/her own traditional IRA if the earned income of the working spouse equals or exceeds the total contributions to both partners’ IRAs.
IRA maximum contribution limits have increased over the years. They started in 1975 with a $1,500 limit from 1975-1981, $2,000 limit from 1982-2001, $3,000 limit from 2002-2004, $4,000 limit from 2005-2007, $5,000 limit from 2008-2012, and $5,500 limit from 2013-2018.
Starting in 2002, individuals 50 years old and older were allowed to make additional "catch up" contributions to their traditional IRAs. Catch-up contributions were $500 from 2002-2005 and $1,000 from 2006 through 2018.
Individuals can no longer make contributions to traditional IRAs once they reach the age of 70½ years. This differs from Roth IRAs that allow contributions at any age as long as someone has earned income. Roth IRAs were established by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and first available in 1998. The total contributions allowed per year to all IRAs cannot exceed the amounts previously mentioned. For more information on IRAs, see Publication 590 on the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.