Roth IRAs are often hailed as a wonderful long-term savings option. But there are a few reasons some people may opt to keep their retirement investments in other types of accounts.
If you want an up-front tax break on your retirement plan contributions, then you'll want to put them into a traditional IRA or a 401(k). And if you're a high earner, you may not be able to fund a Roth IRA directly. (Although there is a way to get around the income limits -- a Roth IRA conversion -- some people might find that to be a hassle.)
But while Roth IRAs may not be perfect, it's easy to argue that they're actually the best place for as much of your retirement savings as you can put in them. Here's why.
1. You won't have to pay taxes on your withdrawals
The beauty of a Roth IRA is that the withdrawals you take in retirement won't be subject to taxes. And considering that you'll be using those funds at a time in your life when your budget may be tight, not having to fork over a chunk of your income to the IRS could be an excellent thing.
Plus, we can't know whether the government will raise tax rates over time, or to what degree those hikes might impact us. But if you use a Roth IRA, that's not something you'll need to worry about -- at least, not for that piece of your retirement savings.
2. Your withdrawals won't impact whether or not you pay taxes on your Social Security income
Social Security benefits may be subject to taxes at the federal level to some degree, depending on what your overall retirement income picture looks like. But not all types of income are added into the equation that determines whether you'll owe taxes on some or all of your benefits.
Traditional IRA withdrawals are factored into that calculation, but Roth IRA withdrawals are not. As such, housing some of your long-term savings in a Roth IRA could mean you'll get to keep more of your Social Security income.
3. You're not forced to draw down your plan balance in your lifetime
Roth IRAs are the only tax-advantaged retirement plan to not impose required minimum distributions (RMDs) on savers. The sizes of those mandated annual withdrawals are based on your age, plan balance, and life expectancy, and the penalty for not taking them is steep -- 50% of any funds you were required to withdraw, but didn't.
Of course, one problem with RMDs is that they effectively force you to spend down your savings in your lifetime -- not to mention adding to your tax liabilities if the money in question was in a traditional 401(k) or IRA. But if you're inclined to attempt to leave a large chunk of your nest egg to your heirs, a Roth IRA should help you do that in a tax-advantaged way.
It pays to consider a Roth
You may not love the idea of forgoing the immediate tax breaks you get on contributions to some other types of retirement plans. And you may be confused about how to initiate a Roth IRA conversion. (Note: It's really not that difficult). But even so, it pays to consider keeping some of your retirement nest egg in a Roth IRA for the different benefits it provides.