Individual retirement accounts, also known as IRAs, are popular vehicles used to save for retirement. According to a 2013 study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Americans own a collective 25 million individual retirement accounts. Those IRAs hold nearly $2.5 trillion in assets.1
There are many different types of IRAs, and each type has its own set of unique benefits. It’s not always easy to know which type of IRA is best for your needs and goals.
Below is information on three of the most commonly used types of IRAs. Consider your own needs and goals before you choose the IRA that’s right for you. Consistent, regular contributions to an IRA could be the strategy that helps you meet your retirement savings goals.
The traditional IRA was introduced in 1974, and it has since become the most commonly-held variation. The traditional IRA popularity comes from its unique tax treatment. Contributions to your traditional IRA are deductible, assuming your income is below a certain threshold.
You also experience tax benefits while your funds are in the account. You allocate your contributions across investments based on your goals and risk tolerance. However, you don’t pay taxes on your investment growth while the money is in the IRA. The growth is tax-deferred, meaning you don’t pay taxes until you take a distribution.
All distributions from a traditional IRA are taxed as income. Also, you could pay a 10 percent early distribution penalty if you take a withdrawal before age 59½. While a traditional IRA offers upfront tax advantages, it creates taxable income in retirement.
In recent years, the Roth IRA has become increasingly popular. It’s a newer variation that has a slightly different tax treatment than the traditional IRA. Unlike the traditional, the Roth doesn’t offer deductions for upfront contributions. Instead, distributions from the account are tax-free. The Roth is similar to the traditional in the sense that growth isn’t taxed as long as the funds stay in the account.
The Roth also offers flexibility with regard to distributions. You can always withdraw your contributions from a Roth without facing taxes or penalties, even if you’re younger than 59½. Also, you aren’t forced to take required minimum distributions from a Roth at age 70½, as you are with a traditional IRA.
A Roth can be an effective strategy for creating tax-free income in retirement. However, keep in mind that the Roth IRA contributions are capped above certain income levels. If you’re a high earner, you may not be able to use a Roth.
The SEP IRA is designed specifically for small-business owners. Its high contribution limits allow business owners to save a large portion of their income. From a tax standpoint, it’s treated similar to a traditional IRA. Contributions are deductible, while distributions are taxable. Growth is not taxed as long as the funds stay in the account.
The business’s employees are not allowed to contribute to the SEP, but the business owner can make tax-deductible contributions on their behalf. In some instances, the owner may be required to make contributions to employee accounts.
Ready to develop your IRA savings strategy? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Stoll and Basler Financial Services. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
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