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Size up the basic IRA types

Roth and traditional IRAs overlap in some areas but go their own way in others. We can help you understand the differences.

Factors like your age, your income, and possible tax consequences may influence whether you choose a Roth or traditional IRA.

Key elements of a Roth IRA

Benefits

No taxes on withdrawals of contributions.

No taxes on earnings.*

No required minimum distributions (RMDs) for as long as you live.

No age limit to open the IRA or contribute to it.

Considerations

Eligibility and contribution amounts could be limited by your income.

Contributions can't be deducted.

Key elements of a traditional IRA

Benefits

Contributions may be tax-deductible.

Earnings grow tax-deferred.

Eligibility not limited by income.

Considerations

No contributions allowed after age 70½.

RMDs must start at age 70½.

A portion of your withdrawals may be taxable.

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Required minimum distributions (RMDs)

Most owners of traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts (like 401(k)s and 403(b)s) must withdraw part of their tax-deferred savings each year, starting at age 70½. If you withdraw less than the RMD amount, you may owe a 50% penalty tax on the difference. Roth IRAs have no RMDs during the owner's lifetime.

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Tax-deferral

Delaying the payment of income taxes on earnings generated in an investment account. For example, if you have a traditional IRA, you don't pay income taxes on the interest, dividends, or capital appreciation accumulating in the account until you begin making withdrawals.