An individual retirement arrangement (IRA) is a personal retirement savings plan that offers specific tax benefits. In fact, IRAs are one of the most powerful retirement savings tools available to you. Even if you’re contributing to a 401(k) or other plan at work, you might also consider investing in an IRA.
What types of IRA’s are available?
There are two major types of IRAs: traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Both allow you to make annual combined contributions of up to $6,500 in 2023 (up from $6,000 in 2022). Generally, you must have at least as much taxable compensation as the amount of your IRA contribution. But if you are married filing jointly, your spouse can also contribute to an IRA, even if he or she does not have taxable compensation. The law also allows taxpayers age 50 and older to make additional “catch-up” contributions. These folks can put up to an additional $1,000 in their IRAs in 2023.
Both traditional and Roth IRAs feature tax-sheltered growth of earnings. And both typically offer a wide range of investment choices. However, there are important differences between these two types of IRAs. You must understand these differences before you can choose the type of IRA that may be appropriate for your needs.
Practically anyone can open and contribute to a traditional IRA. The only requirement is that you must have taxable compensation. You can contribute the maximum allowed each year as long as your taxable compensation for the year is at least that amount. If your taxable compensation for the year is below the maximum contribution allowed, you can contribute only up to the amount you earned.
Your contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax deductible on your federal income tax return. This is important because tax-deductible (pre-tax) contributions lower your taxable income for the year, saving you money in taxes. If neither you nor your spouse is covered by a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan, you can generally deduct the full amount of your annual IRA contribution. If one of you is covered by such a plan, your ability to deduct your contributions depends on your annual income (modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI) and your income tax filing status. You may qualify for a full deduction, a partial deduction, or no deduction at all.
Traditional IRA’s — Tax Year 2023
|Individuals Covered by an Employer Plan|
|type||Single/Head of Household||Married Joint*||Married Separate|
|Deduction is limited if
MAGI is between:
|$73,000 – $83,000||$116,000 – $136,000||$0 – $10,000|
|No deduction if
MAGI is over:
|* If you’re not covered by an employer plan but your spouse is, your deduction is limited if your MAGI is between $218,000 and $228,000, and eliminated if your MAGI is $228,000 or more.
What happens when you start taking money from your traditional IRA? Any portion of a distribution that represents deductible contributions is subject to income tax because those contributions were not taxed when you made them. Any portion that represents investment earnings is also subject to income tax because those earnings were not previously taxed either. Only the portion that represents nondeductible, after-tax contributions (if any) is not subject to income tax. In addition to income tax, you may have to pay a 10% early-withdrawal penalty if you’re under age 59½, unless you meet one of the exceptions. For details on these exceptions, please visit the IRS website.
If you wish to defer taxes, you can leave your funds in the traditional IRA, but only until April 1 of the year following the year you reach age 73 (for those who reach age 72 after December 31, 2022). That’s when you have to take your first required minimum distribution (RMD) from the IRA. After that, you must take a distribution by the end of every calendar year until your funds are exhausted or you die. The annual distribution amounts are based on a standard life expectancy table. You can always withdraw more than you’re required to in any year. However, if you withdraw less, you’ll be hit with a 25% penalty on the difference between the required minimum and the amount you actually withdrew. (The penalty may be further reduced to 10% if you self-correct the error by withdrawing the shortfall amount and filing a return within a specific correction window.)
Not everyone can set up a Roth IRA. Even if you can, you may not qualify to take full advantage of it. The first requirement is that you must have taxable compensation. If your taxable compensation is at least $6,500 in 2023, you may be able to contribute the full amount. But it gets more complicated. Your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA in any year depends on your MAGI and your income tax filing status. Your allowable contribution may be less than the maximum possible, or nothing at all.
Roth IRA’s — Tax Year 2023
|type||Single/Head of Household||Married Joint||Married Separate|
|Contribution is limited if MAGI is between:||$138,000 – $153,000||$218,000 – $228,000||$0 – $10,000|
|No contribution if MAGI is over:||$153,000||$228,000||$10,000|
Your contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible. You can invest only after-tax dollars in a Roth IRA. The good news is that if you meet certain conditions, your withdrawals from a Roth IRA will be completely free of federal income tax, including both contributions and investment earnings. To be eligible for these qualifying distributions, you must meet a five-year holding period requirement. In addition, one of the following must apply:
- You have reached age 59½ by the time of the withdrawal
- The withdrawal is made because of disability
- The withdrawal is made to pay first-time homebuyer expenses ($10,000 lifetime limit from all IRAs)
- The withdrawal is made by your beneficiary or estate after your death
Qualified distributions will also avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty. This ability to withdraw your funds with no taxes or penalty is a key strength of the Roth IRA. And remember, even nonqualified distributions will be taxed (and possibly penalized) only on the investment earnings portion of the distribution, and then only to the extent that your distribution exceeds the total amount of all contributions that you have made.
Another advantage of the Roth IRA is that there are no required distributions during your life. You can put off taking distributions until you really need the income. Or, you can leave the entire balance to your beneficiary without ever taking a single distribution.
Making the choice
Assuming you qualify to use both, which type of IRA might be appropriate for your needs? The Roth IRA might be a more effective tool if you don’t qualify for tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA or if you want to help reduce taxes during retirement and preserve assets for your beneficiaries. But a traditional deductible IRA may be a better tool if you want to lower your yearly tax bill while you’re still working and possibly in a higher tax bracket than you’ll be in during retirement.
Note: You can have both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, but your total annual contribution to all of the IRAs that you own cannot exceed the annual contribution limit.
IMPORTANT FENIMORE ASSET MANAGEMENT DISCLOSURES
Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fenimore Asset Management or its officers. Fenimore Asset Management or its officers have no editorial control over the content of the article or subject matter, and is independent of Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.
The information herein is subject to change and is not intended to be complete or to constitute all of the information necessary to evaluate adequately the consequences of investing in any securities or other financial instruments or strategies described herein. These materials also include information obtained from other sources believed to be reliable, but Fenimore does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. In no event shall Fenimore be liable for any use by any party of, for any decision made or action taken by any party in reliance upon, or for any inaccuracies or errors in, or omissions from, the information contained herein and such information may not be relied upon by you in evaluating the merits of participating in any transaction.
In part, the purpose of this presentation may be to provide investors with an update on financial market conditions. The description of certain aspects of the market herein is a condensed summary only. This summary does not purport to be complete and no obligation to update or otherwise revise such information is being assumed. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not otherwise intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to purchase, any security or other financial instrument. This summary is not advice, a recommendation or an offer to enter into any transaction with Fenimore or any of their affiliated funds.
We undertake no duty or obligation to publicly update or revise the information contained in this presentation. In addition, information related to past performance, while helpful as an evaluative tool, is not necessarily indicative of future results, the achievement of which cannot be assured. You should not view the past performance of Fenimore funds, or information about the market, as indicative of future results.
All projections, forecasts and estimates of returns and other “forward-looking” information not purely historical in nature are based on assumptions, which are unlikely to be consistent with, and may differ materially from, actual events or conditions. Such forward-looking information only illustrates hypothetical results under certain assumptions and does not reflect actual investment results and is not a guarantee of future results. Actual results will vary with each use and over time, and the variations may be material. Nothing herein should be construed as an investment recommendation or as legal, tax, investment or accounting advice.
Clients or prospective clients should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. You may obtain a copy of the most recent mutual fund prospectus by calling 800-932-3271 and/or visiting www.fenimoreasset.com.
There is no guarantee that any of the estimates, targets or projections illustrated in this summary will be achieved. Any references herein to any of Fenimore’s past or present investments, portfolio characteristics, or performance, have been provided for illustrative purposes only. It should not be assumed that these investments were or will be profitable or that any future investments will be profitable or will equal the performance of these investments. There can be no guarantee that the investment objectives of Fenimore will be achieved. Any investment entails a risk of loss. An investor could lose all or substantially all of his or her investment. Unless otherwise noted, information included herein is presented as of the date indicated on the cover page and may change at any time without notice.
Fenimore Asset Management Inc. is an SEC registered investment adviser; however, such registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training and no inference to the contrary should be made.