An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a savings account where money grows tax-free. Any individual, regardless of age, who has earned income, can contribute to an IRA and the earlier one is able to do so, the better compound interest works in one’s favor. The money used to fund an IRA must come from taxable income, which the IRA explains, “can encompass more than just one’s annual salary. Taxable income can include profits from stocks or real estate sales, winnings from the lottery, betting the dogs or horses, and winnings from any casino (domestic or abroad). Even the cash value of bartered items is considered taxable income”. As of 2017, the maximum individual contribution for an IRA was capped at $5,550.00. However, people 50 years or older, are allowed to save an additional $1,000.00 for a maximum contribution of $6,500.00 as a sort of catch-up contribution since they are closer to retirement age.
The Difference Between Traditional & Roth IRAs
IRAs fall into one of two categories, a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA, and the opportunity for your money to grow tax-free is one of the most appealing benefits of this type of retirement account. Even with the benefits, Uncle Sam still requires his cut. The most distinct difference between the two types of IRAs, Roth and Traditional, is when you pays taxes on the money. With a Roth IRA, you pay the taxes up front and with a Traditional IRA, you pay the taxes at the time of withdrawal. Regardless of the type of IRA one chooses, a person can access one’s money once they hit 59 ½ years old, without being hit with a 10% tax penalty for early deduction.
Even though Traditional and Roth IRA play by different rules, those differences allow you to select the best account type for you that helps your money grow tax-free until you reach your retirement years. Once you understand the differences between both types of IRAs, it will be easier to understand which account is best for you. Check out this Roth vs. Traditonal IRA infographic from Business Insider that breaks it all down.