Roth IRA

investmentpic.jpgSo my last post from yesterday covered the basic fundamentals of what a Traditional IRA was. Today I want to cover Roth IRA and just like last post I want to keep it sweet and simple. So lets get started.

A Roth IRA’s main advantage is its tax structure. The contributions made to this account is only from earned income that has already been taxed, therefore it is not tax deductible. The total contribution for all IRA’s are limited and changes from year to year. This year the limit is at $4,000.00 for people 49 and under and $5,000.00 for people 50 and over. And starting in 2008, the contribution will increase to $5,000.00 for people 49 and under and $6,000.00 for people 50 and over. Here is a simple chart to see the previous and the future limits.

contribution-limit.JPG

Here are some Advantages and disadvantages:

Advantage:

  • At any time, the IRA owner may withdraw up to the total of his contributions without getting a penalty fee.
  • When a Roth IRA owner dies, and the spouse is the sole beneficiary of that Roth IRA and he or she also owns one, the surviving spouse may combine the two Roth IRAs into a single account without penalty.
  • If you are a first time home-buyer or paying qualified educational expenses, you are able to take out not only your contributions but also your earnings without a penalty( up to $10,000.00 in earning).
  • Lack of forced distributions based on age. All other tax-deferred retirement plans, including the Roth 401(k), require withdrawals to begin at age 70½, and impose an annual minimum distribution once withdrawals begin at any age beyond 59½. The Roth IRA is completely free of these mandates.

Disadvantages:

  • Contributions are not tax-deductible. This can be a disadvantage in the long run if you are making a decent amount of income. I suggest Roth IRA for people who are just started out and Traditional IRA for those who are making well over 80k.
  • With a Roth IRA, there are heavy penalties for early withdrawals of earnings. An unqualified withdrawal of earnings will result in federal income tax plus a ten-percent penalty on the amount.
  • Just a rumor but there is the risk that Congress over the next few years may decide to tax earnings on Roth IRAs.

So in general, Roth IRA has these following characteristics:

1.) Unlike Traditional IRA, contributions are not tax-deductible.

2.) Withdrawals are usually tax-free.

3.) At any given time, the Roth IRA owner may withdraw up to the total amount of his contributions.

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