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The hands-down favorite is a Roth IRA. Now, the money that goes into a regular IRA isn't taxed until withdrawal after age 59 1/2 A Roth IRA is funded with aftertax dollars, but no taxes are levied on the gains when the money is taken out during retirement. One way to look at the tradeoff is to decide whether you'll be in a lower tax bracket in your golden years. If so, you might want to lean toward the regular IRA. However, you will accumulate more savings in a Roth if your tax bracket remains the same or ticks up. The Roth carries other advantages that weigh heavily in its favor. Among them: With a regular IRA you must start withdrawing money at age 70 1/2 . Not with a Roth. You can take out aftertax contributions in a Roth free of tax and penalty (but not the gains) at any time and for any reason. The income eligibility requirements for a Roth IRA are more generous than for the traditional IRA. There are a number of calculators on the Internet for comparing the two products.Christopher Farrell, Economics Editor, Minnesota Public Radio, heard nationally on Sound Money®
A Roth IRA is a variation on a traditional individual retirement arrangement (IRA).
Because contributions are made with after-tax dollars, the Roth IRA allows you to withdraw your earnings completely tax free any time after you reach age 59 1/2, provided your account has been open at least five years.
You may also be able to withdraw money earlier without penalty if you qualify for certain exceptions, such as using up to $10,000 toward the purchase of a first home. And since a Roth IRA has no required withdrawals, you can continue to accumulate tax-free earnings as long as you like.
You can make a nondeductible annual contribution, up to the annual federal limit, any year you have earned income, even after age 70 1/2, though you can never contribute more than you earn. If you are 50 or older, you may also make annual catch-up contributions.
To make a full contribution to a Roth IRA, your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be less than the annual limit set by Congress.
You may make partial contributions on a sliding scale if your MAGI is between the amounts that Congress sets for your filing status. These annual limits are lower if you file as a single than if you're married and file a joint return.
You may also qualify to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA if your MAGI in the year you convert is less than the cap, currently $100,000, which applies whether you are single or married. The amount you're converting is not included in that total.