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IRA Contributions: Box 13 is checked on my husband's W-2 (retirement account). His employer offers a 401K plan, but he did not participate in 2009. We normally contribute to a traditional IRA. However, our AGI in 2009 exceeds the IRS cap ($109K for married filing jointly) and apparently we cannot use a traditional IRA contribution to reduce our taxable income (I was unaware of this income cap). Should box 13 be checked if my husband did not contribute to his employer's plan? Can we use a contribution to a traditional IRA to reduce our AGI under these circumstances?
The box 13 on the form W2 indicates that your husband was an "active participant" (for any part of the year) in the employer's provided retirement plan.
Generally, an employee is an active participant if covered by
(a) a defined benefit plan for any tax year that he or she is eligible to participate in or (b) a defined contribution plan (for example, a section 401(k) plan) for any tax year that employer or employee contributions (or forfeitures) are added to his or her account.
So far - your employer should check this box - as long as you are eligible to participate in a defined benefit plan or employer's contributions are added to a defined contribution plan.
As long as neither your husband nor his employer added any contributions to the 401k account - your husband is not considered an active participant and the box 13 should not be checked.
You may want to discuss the issue with the employer and ask to amend W-2 form.
Please see for reference instructions for the form W-2 - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw2w3.pdf for Box 13-Checkboxes
Let me know if you need any help.