IRA or Roth IRA – Which Is Better?

The choice between a Traditional IRA (Individual Retirement Account) and a Roth IRA depends on your financial goals, current tax situation, and future expectations. Here are some key differences we’ll touch on during this show:

– Tax Treatment:
Traditional IRA: Contributions are often tax-deductible, meaning you can reduce your taxable income in the year you make the contribution. However, withdrawals in retirement are taxed as ordinary income.
Roth IRA: Contributions are made with after-tax dollars, so there’s no immediate tax deduction. However, qualified withdrawals (after age 59½ and the account has been open for at least five years) are tax-free.

– Withdrawal Rules:
Traditional IRA: Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are mandatory once you reach age 72, and you must start withdrawing a certain amount annually. Early withdrawals (before age 59½) may incur penalties.
Roth IRA: There are no RMDs during the original account owner’s lifetime. You can also withdraw your contributions (but not earnings) at any time without penalties or taxes.

– Income Limits:
Traditional IRA: There are no income limits for contributing, but the tax deductibility of contributions may be limited if you or your spouse are covered by a workplace retirement plan.
Roth IRA: There are income limits that determine whether you can contribute directly to a Roth IRA. If your income exceeds these limits, you may need to use a backdoor Roth IRA strategy.

– Flexibility:
Traditional IRA: Offers a potential tax benefit today, but you’ll pay taxes on withdrawals in retirement.
Roth IRA: Taxes are paid upfront, but qualified withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

– Future Tax Rates:
Consider your expectations for future tax rates. If you anticipate being in a higher tax bracket in retirement, a Roth IRA might be more advantageous.

Ultimately, the “better” choice depends on your individual circumstances, including your current income, tax situation, and retirement goals. Listen in for more; we also cover Social Security in the latter part of the show.