I'm happy to report some good news for a change. The Treasury just published this press release announcing an increase of the annual purchase limit for online savings bonds. Here's an excerpt:
The annual purchase limit for online United States Savings Bonds is $10,000 per series, effective January 4, 2012, the Department of the Treasury announced today. The new limit applies to Series EE and Series I savings bonds purchased through TreasuryDirect at www.treasurydirect.gov. Under the new rules, an individual can buy a maximum of $10,000 worth of electronic savings bonds of each series in a single calendar year, or a total of $20,000.
Since 2008, investors could buy a maximum of $5,000 in each series and in each form (paper or electronic). So a single owner could buy $20,000 in one year. As of January 1, 2012, paper bonds are no longer being sold through financial institutions. With today's announcement, the total amount an individual can purchase in online savings bonds in one calendar year is $20,000. An investor still can purchase up to $5,000 annually in Series I paper savings bonds using his/her tax refund and IRS Form 8888.
I'm glad to see this new higher limit. The press released failed to mention that before 2008, the annual purchase limit was six times the current level.
As mentioned in the press release, you can still buy paper I Bonds using your income tax refund. This effectively increases your annual I Bond limit to $15,000. I have more information on buying paper savings bonds with your tax refund in this forum thread.
Due to recent inflation numbers, the I Bond is a good deal relative to current CD rates. Please refer to my November I Bond review for more details.