Calculating Net Income Attributable to Excess Contributions and Recharacterizations

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Calculating Net Income Attributable to Excess Contributions and Recharacterizations

Generally, an individual retirement account (IRA) owner may correct IRA excess contributions by removing the excess amount by the IRA owner’s tax filing deadline, plus extensions. Excess contributions that are removed by this deadline must include earnings or losses (net income) attributed to the contribution. In addition, an IRA owner may choose to treat an IRA contribution as if it was made to another type of IRA. For instance, an individual who contributes to a Roth IRA may decide that he or she would prefer to treat the amount as a Traditional IRA contribution. This reclassification of contributions between Roth and Traditional IRAs is referred to as a recharacterization. A recharacterization is also used to reverse a Roth IRA conversion. Similar to removal of excess contributions, a recharacterization of assets must include any net income attributed to the recharacterization.

Proper computation of the net income on amounts being distributed as excess contributions or recharacterizations is very important, as failure to include the correct net income could result in tax consequences and penalties for the IRA owner. To assist IRA owners with computing net income on these amounts, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued TD 9056, the final regulations for calculating net income on IRA excess contributions and recharacterizations for retirement accounts. These regulations become effective for contributions made on or after January 1, 2004. Similar to the proposed regulations for calculating net income, the final regulation states that the earnings or loss on excess contributions and recharacterizations are prorated, thereby allowing an equitable allocation of earnings on the amount being distributed or recharacterized.

Calculating Net Income

The following formula is used to determine the net income on the contribution being returned or recharacterized:
Net Income = Contribution X (Adjusted Closing Balance – Adjusted Opening Balance)

Adjusted Opening Balance

An IRA owner should understand the following terms, which are used in the formula above:

  • Adjusted opening balanceThe fair market value of the IRA at the beginning of the computation period plus the amount of any contributions or transfers, including the contribution made to the IRA during the computation period that is distributed as a return of excess or recharacterization.

  • Adjusted closing balanceThe fair market value of the IRA at the end of the computation period plus the amount of any distributions or transfers, including recharacterizations of contributions made from the IRA during the computation period.

The computation period begins immediately prior to the time that the contribution being returned was made to the IRA and ends immediately prior to the removal of the contribution. For instance, assume the IRA owner deposited his or her contribution on January 1, 2004, and removed the amount on February 1, 2005. The computation period would be December 31, 2003 to January 31, 2005. In instances where the IRA is not valued on a daily basis, the most recent determinable account value is used. For instance, assume an excess contribution was made on January 15, 2004 and removed on March 20, 2004 and the IRA is not valued on a daily basis. In this case, the IRA owner may use the account balance as of the month-end preceding the applicable period, December 31, 2003 and February 28, 2004


On January 31, 2004, when Jane’s IRA was valued at $9,600, she made an IRA contribution of $3,200 to her IRA. She later realized that she was eligible to contribute only up to $2,400 and decided to correct the excess on February 1, 2005, when the IRA was worth $15,200. No other contributions or distributions were made to Jane’s IRA. To correct the excess contribution, Jane must remove the excess amount of $800 plus any net income. Jane computes the net income as follows:

Net Income = Excess Contribution X (Adjusted Closing Balance - Adjusted Opening Balance)

Adjusted Opening Balance

= $800 X ($15,200 - [$9,600 + $3,200])

$9,600 + $3,200

= $800 X 15,200 - 12,800

= $800 X 2,400

= $800 X .1875 = $150
Jane must remove $950 ($800 + $1500) from her IRA.

Additional Rules

  • Total Distribution May Satisfy Return of Excess Requirement

If the only transaction that occurred in the IRA is the excess contribution, the total distribution of the account balance will satisfy the removal of excess. For instance, assume Tim contributed $2,000 to his IRA and later realized that he was ineligible for an IRA contribution. No additional contributions, distributions, or transfers occurred in the IRA. Should Tim request a distribution of this total IRA balance, regardless of the value at the time of his request, this would satisfy the return of excess requirements.

  • Multiple IRAs

In the case of an individual who owns multiple IRAs, the net income calculation is performed only on the IRA containing the excess contribution or the amount being recharacterized. Additionally, the amount must be distributed or recharacterized from the IRA that received the contribution or conversion.

  • Multiple Contributions to One IRA

If the IRA owner made more than one contribution to an IRA for the year, then the last contribution will be determined to be the excess contribution and the income must be computed on this amount. For instance, assume Jane contributed $150 each month to her IRA, a total of $1,800 for the year. Should Jane need to remove an excess amount of $150, she must compute the net income on the $150 that was contributed on December 15, the last contribution to the IRA.
IRA owners should consult their tax professional when computing the net income on excess contributions or recharacterized amounts.

The information contained in these materials is believed accurate at the time of writing but is not guaranteed. Delta accepts no responsibility for its use whether in whole or part.
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