Here’s what you need to know

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles that our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on product links from our affiliate partners.

The easiest way to start saving for retirement is to use an IRA, but the type of account you choose can make a big difference in how much you get when you’re off work.

Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs are the two most popular types of retirement accounts, but they have some significant differences that any investor should consider before deciding which one to open.

With traditional IRAs, you delay paying taxes until you withdraw funds from your account later in retirement. With Roth IRA, however, you pay taxes up front by contributing after-tax dollars, and later in retirement, your withdrawals are tax-free (as long as your account has been open for at least five years).

Generally, traditional IRAs work best if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket when you retire, while Roth IRAs are best for those in a lower tax bracket today. . The latter is probably best for young investors who are early in their careers and therefore plan to have more income (and a higher tax rate) when they retire.

Beyond the tax implications alone, however, there is more to consider when choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

From their early withdrawal rules to their contribution limits and eligibility conditions, Select details what the two types of retirement accounts have in common and where they differentiate. Plus, we recommend our top picks from each.

The benefits of contributing to an IRA

IRAs stand out as an effective way to save for retirement because of the tax breaks mentioned above, but that’s not their only benefit. The biggest benefit of an IRA is that you won’t pay tax on any investment gains you’ve made over the years, which could save you hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars when you start to make withdrawals.

IRAs are easy to set up and accessible, offered at most banks and credit unions, as well as through online brokers and investment firms. You can set up automatic contributions into your IRA from your checking or savings account, making investing for your future one less thing to think about.

And unlike being limited to your employer’s 401 (k) plan, you can choose your investments with an IRA, and there are plenty of brokerage firms or banks that will help guide you based on your retirement schedule.

If you already have a 401 (k) plan through your employer, an IRA is an effective way to supplement your retirement savings. And since a 401 (k) has the same tax benefits as a traditional IRA, the choice is easy: branding on a Roth IRA with your 401 (k) will ensure you get tax relief now. and in the future.

Early withdrawal rules

Overall, the rules for early withdrawal from an IRA are more lenient with Roth IRAs than with traditional IRAs.

Traditional ARIs: If you withdraw funds from your Traditional IRA before age 59 and a half, you are taxed at your current income tax rate and you are charged a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Roth IRA: Withdrawals from your Roth IRA before age 59 and a half depend on your contributions or income. Withdrawal contributions of your Roth IRA at any age is tax and penalty free. Withdrawal earnings before age 59 and a half, however, incurs a 10% early withdrawal penalty and may be subject to income taxes as with a traditional IRA.

Roth IRAs also offer a unique benefit that traditional IRAs do not: first-time home purchases, education costs, and birth or adoption costs (within certain limits) count as exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty.

Contribution limits

Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs have the same contribution limits, which is set annually.

Traditional and Roth IRAs: For 2021, your total contribution limit to Traditional and Roth IRAs is $ 6,000 if you are under 50 and $ 7,000 if you are 50 or older.

Traditional IRAs also offer a useful benefit that Roth IRAs don’t: your contributions to a traditional IRA can be deducted from your taxes each year, up to certain limits. This essentially means that you are rewarded for putting money into your retirement account, as the contributions help reduce the amount you owe in taxes. But be careful: instead of spending those savings every year when you do your taxes, consider reinvesting them in your retirement account to maximize the amount of money you have available when you retire. The deduction limits for traditional IRAs in 2021 are as follows:

You cannot make a deduction if …

  • You have a workplace pension plan and your income is $ 76,000 or more as a single filer / head of household
  • You (or your spouse, if married) have a working pension plan and your income is $ 125,000 or more as a married filing jointly
  • You (or your spouse, if married) have a working pension plan and your income is $ 10,000 or more as a separately filed marriage

If you (and your spouse, if married) do not have a workplace pension plan, you can make a full deduction up to the amount of your contribution limit.

Eligibility criteria

Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs differ when it comes to who can open an account.

Traditional ARIs: Anyone can contribute regardless of how much they earn.

Roth IRA: There are income limits that prevent high earners from opening and contributing directly to a Roth IRA. The income limits for Roth IRAs in 2021 are as follows:

  • Married declaring jointly or eligible widower or widower: not eligible if your modified adjusted gross income is $ 208,000 or more
  • Single, head of household or married declaring separately (and you have not lived with your spouse at any time during the year): Not eligible if your modified adjusted gross income is $ 140,000 or more
  • Married filing separately (if you lived with your spouse at any time during the year): Not eligible if your adjusted gross income is $ 10,000 or more

There is a Roth IRA backdoor strategy for those who do not qualify under the income limits – this loophole allows people to make indirect contributions to a Roth IRA.

The Best Traditional and Roth IRAs for Your Retirement Savings

After reviewing the commonalities and differences between Traditional and Roth IRAs above, it’s time to research the best provider for the account you choose.

We’ve reviewed and compared over 20 different accounts offered by national banks, investment firms, online brokers, and robo-advisers so you don’t have to. While many providers offer both traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, some stand out better for those looking to open a Roth IRA because they are attractive to young investors.

Here are our top-rated picks that offer both Traditional and Roth IRAs – and offer benefits that beginners can greatly benefit from, such as no minimum deposit requirements and educational tools to help you on your investment journey.

Charles Schwab IRA

Information about Charles Schwab IRA was independently collected by Select and was not reviewed or provided by Charles Schwab prior to posting.

  • Minimum deposit

  • Fresh

    No account fees; $ 0 commission fee for stock and ETF transactions; $ 0 transaction fees for over 4,000 mutual funds; $ 0.65 per options contract

  • Premium

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs and ETFs

  • Educational resources

    Comprehensive retirement planning tools

Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Select’s editorial staff and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.

About Clara Barnard

Clara Barnard

Check Also

You might pay a higher tax rate than a billionaire – ProPublica

ProPublica is a non-profit newsroom that investigates abuse of power. The IRS Secret Files is …