If you already have a Roth IRA, you may be surprised at how versatile your retirement account can be. If you don’t have a Roth IRA, here are 3 reasons to consider opening one.
The money you invest in a Roth grows tax-free, so you don’t have to worry about reporting investment earnings—the money your money makes—when you file your taxes. For comparison, if you invest in a nonretirement account, your earnings are subject to federal, state, and local taxes each year.
Tax-free withdrawals in retirement
If you’re age 59½ or older and have owned your account for at least 5 years,* you can withdraw money—contributions plus earnings—from your Roth IRA without paying any penalties or taxes. So even if you take a lump-sum withdrawal in retirement, your income won’t be affected. This is a valuable benefit because your income impacts how much you pay in taxes—including the taxation of Social Security benefits—as well as Medicare Parts B and D premiums.
You decide when, if, and how to take withdrawals
Leave it in
You don’t have to take money out of your Roth IRA unless you want to. Unlike a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA has no lifetime required minimum distribution (RMD).
Take it out
You can take out what you contribute at any time, free and clear.
It’s smart to treat your Roth IRA like a retirement destination: Contribute and let compounding—when your contributions generate returns—work its magic until you need to take a withdrawal. But if you need to treat your Roth IRA like a way station, that’s okay too. Even if you withdraw your contributions, that money generated tax-free earnings while it was invested in your account. And those earnings will be yours to withdraw (also free and clear) when you’re retired.
A withdrawal isn’t a loan
When you withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA, you’re taking a distribution—you aren’t “borrowing” the money or taking a loan.** This has pros and cons.
Pros: You have the flexibility to take out some (or all) of your contributions at any time, no questions asked. And you don’t need to “pay back” what you took out.
Cons: You’ll miss out on any earnings your contributions would’ve generated if they’d stayed in your account. And you’ll still be subject to IRA annual contribution limits, so you can’t “replace” the money you withdrew and contribute the maximum amount to your IRA in the same contribution year.
Roth IRA owners
Save as much as you can, and keep your contributions invested for as long as you can. Even if you need to tap into them, you’re still saving for retirement.
Prospective Roth IRA owners
Learn more about Roth IRAs. Then open an account to see for yourself why so many investors love them.
*Withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax-free if you’re over age 59½ and have held the account for at least 5 years; withdrawals taken prior to age 59½ or 5 years may be subject to ordinary income tax or a 10% federal penalty tax, or both. (A separate 5-year period applies for each conversion and begins on the first day of the year in which the conversion contribution is made.) The 5-year holding period for Roth IRAs starts on the earlier of: (1) the date you first contributed directly to the Roth IRA, (2) the date you rolled over a Roth 401(k) or Roth 403(b) to the Roth IRA, or (3) the date you converted a traditional IRA to the Roth IRA. If you’re under age 59½ and you have one Roth IRA that holds proceeds from multiple conversions, you’re required to keep track of the 5-year holding period for each conversion separately.
**If you only need to take money out of your IRA temporarily, you may qualify for a 60-day rollover. For more information, consult a tax advisor.