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Most investors know that a Roth IRA is one of the best ways to boost retirement savings and lower future tax bills. But those are merely two benefits of a Roth. Here are three more compelling reasons to own a Roth IRA.
1. Tax flexibility in retirement
Since you've already paid taxes on the money you've contributed to a Roth IRA, you get to withdraw your money tax-free (as long as you follow the Roth IRA rules). Mixing how you take withdrawals between your taxable retirement accounts and Roth IRAs will allow you to better manage your overall income taxes in retirement. For example, you could take withdrawals from a Traditional IRA up to the top of a tax bracket, and then take any money you need above that bracket from a Roth IRA.
2. Hedge against future income tax rate increases
Federal income tax rates rose in 2013 for individuals with taxable income above $400,000 and couples with income greater than $450,000. Will tax rates climb even more in the future? That's anyone's guess. There's really no way to know for sure, but the top tax rate remains below its historical highs. If you think tax rates might rise in the future, a Roth IRA may make sense for you.
3. Help reduce Medicare surtax
A Roth IRA may help limit your exposure to the new Medicare surtax on net investment income. The tax is imposed on net investment income of individuals with modified adjusted gross income above $200,000 and $250,000 for couples filing jointly. Qualified withdrawals from a Roth IRA don't count toward the income threshold that determines the surtax. However, required minimum distributions, or RMDs, from Traditional IRAs or employer-sponsored retirement plans do count toward the income threshold. Depending on your income in retirement, RMDs could subject you to the Medicare surtax. Qualified withdrawals from Roth IRAs won't.
If these three reasons for owning a Roth IRA excite you, open and fund one before the April 15 deadline. You can contribute $5,500 (or $6,500 if age 50 or older) to a Roth IRA for 2013. If your income is too high to contribute to a Roth IRA, you still may be able to get in through a "back-door" Roth.
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