Are you thinking about fortifying your retirement savings with a Roth IRA?
Sure, Roth IRAs have their disadvantages — but there are some really good reasons why you may want to consider one too. Here are the seven best:
Qualified distributions are tax-free
With a traditional IRA, distributions are subject to the personal income tax rates in effect when each distribution is taken. Since Congress can change the personal income tax rates whenever it sees fit — and nobody can predict the behavior of a future Congress — many folks consider this advantage of the Roth IRA to be significant.
“I’ve been a financial advisor for nearly 25 years and too many people opt for the immediate gratification of the tax deduction,” says certified fund specialist Bradford Daniel Creger. “Now people are waking up to the facts and understanding that retirement planning by definition is about playing the long game. And when you think about it, the long-term math highly favors those strategies that allow you to pay tax ‘on the seeds’ so the harvest during retirement is tax-free, like the Roth IRA and Roth 401k.”
There is no minimum yearly contribution
The Roth IRA does not require minimum contributions. And because of the back-end taxation of the traditional IRA, Roth IRA contributions are effectively higher.
You don’t have to take distributions
A Roth IRA is not subject to a required minimum distribution (RMD) each year after its owner reaches age 70-and-a-half, which is a big deal for some retirees. And certified financial planner Timothy G. Wiedman adds, “Owners can continue to make contributions to his or her Roth IRA after reaching age 70-and-a-half as well, assuming there is earned income.”
The IRS has outlined specific ordering rules for distributions from Roth IRAs that provide the accounts with a major advantage over traditional IRAs for those who are uncertain if they will need to withdraw money. Amounts distributed from a Roth IRA are treated as coming out in this order: regular contributions, conversion contributions, and earnings. The significance of this ordering is that withdrawals can be made from a Roth IRA up to the amount of prior contributions at any point without incurring taxes or penalties.
Funds that remain in the IRA grow tax-free
RMDs and the penalties associated with traditional IRAs can be very complicated, so using a Roth now can reduce that stress and even save you money in the future.
“Money in Roth IRAs can also be left tax-free to your heirs, so the worry that they get a large sum of money, spend it, and then cannot pay the taxes on it — which we see a lot with our client — is removed,” says Hans Scheil, certified financial planner and owner of Cardinal Retirement Planning in Cary, North Carolina.
It benefits those who expect to be in higher tax brackets in the future
Whether individuals contribute to traditional or Roth IRAs will depend on how much they expect their tax situations to change.
“Conventional wisdom says that if you expect to be in higher tax brackets in the future, then Roth IRAs make more sense,” explains ReKeithen Miller, certified financial planner at Palisades Hudson Financial Group. “That’s because it is generally better to forgo the tax deduction for contributing to traditional IRAs when people’s tax burdens are generally lower; most people in their 20s are likely earning less than they will be later in life.”
It’s safe from lawsuits and creditors
Doesn’t mean you should test this advantage — but if you fall on hard times, you don’t have to lose your entire net worth or nest egg.
It’s suited to holding tax-inefficient investments
For example, corporate bonds, many types of options investments, and REIT dividends tend to be taxed at ordinary income tax rates rather than the lower dividend and capital gains tax rates. Putting these types of investments in a Roth gives them a disproportionate tax advantages.
The Bottom Line
It’s up to you to determine if you’re willing to risk losing tax deductions now, in order to save money in the future. However, no matter what you decide, the most important thing is that you’re saving at all — which already puts you ahead in the game.
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