If you’ve ever heard of a Roth IRA but don’t know what it is, you’re not alone. It’s a tax-advantaged retirement account that can help you save for the future. What’s more, the money that goes into this account grows tax-free and withdrawals are also tax-free if certain conditions are met.
How Does a Roth IRA Work?
A Roth IRA is a retirement account to which you can contribute after-tax dollars. Contributions aren’t tax-deductible, but earnings grow tax-free and withdrawals are not taxed when you take them out. As such, it’s often described as a “backdoor” way of contributing to an IRA without having your contributions reduced by taxes upfront.
The basic mechanics of how a Roth IRA works is straightforward: You make after-tax contributions, which you can invest in any investment vehicle allowed by your brokerage or bank (typically stocks, bonds, funds and exchange-traded funds). Once invested in the market, your investments are allowed to grow without being taxed every year as long as certain conditions are met (more on this later).
Opening a Roth IRA
- For opening a Roth IRA, sign up for an account. You can open an IRA with a bank or brokerage firm, and both will likely have different types of accounts available. Some banks only offer checking accounts, while others offer CDs (certificates of deposit), savings accounts, money market accounts and more. Brokerages may offer stocks, bonds and mutual funds to choose from as well as retirement plans like IRAs.
- Choose a bank or brokerage firm that offers what you need in terms of investment options and customer service/support services (ease of access to people who can help you when needed). It’s also important to look at fees associated with each type of account; some banks charge minimum balances while others charge maintenance fees if there isn’t enough activity within the account after a certain period of time (usually between three months up through one year). Brokerages usually have higher commissions but lower minimum requirements for opening an account than most banks do—which means less risk if you’re just starting out investing.
Allowable Investments in a Roth IRA
You can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and similar investments. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that you pay taxes on all investment earnings.
In contrast with a traditional IRA or 401(k), contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible. The benefit of this type of account is that once you reach retirement age and begin withdrawing money from your Roth IRA, withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income but not before then—which means that any growth will be free from taxes for decades! As per SoFi experts, “Choosing between a 401k and an IRA is dependent on your needs for retirement and current situation.”
Are Roth IRAs Insured?
Roth IRAs are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insures Roth IRAs at credit unions, and therefore you can have your Roth IRA with a bank or credit union.
If you have a brokerage account for your Roth IRA, it is not insured by either agency. A brokerage account is an investment account maintained by a broker-dealer who handles trading in securities on behalf of their clients.
In summary, a Roth IRA is an investment account that allows you to save money for retirement. It’s similar to a regular IRA but has some key differences: you pay taxes on the money you contribute before it goes into your account (but not any gains), and withdrawals are tax-free once you reach age 59.9 or become disabled.