What are the pros and cons of a Roth IRA compared to a traditional IRA

July 10, 2023

Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and Traditional IRAs are two popular retirement savings vehicles. Both have their pros and cons based on your financial situation and retirement plans. Here's a comparison:

Roth IRA Pros:

  1. Tax-Free Withdrawals: The key advantage of a Roth IRA is that you make contributions with after-tax dollars, and then the withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free during retirement.
  2. No Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Unlike Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs do not require withdrawals at a certain age.
  3. Flexibility: You can withdraw your contributions (but not earnings) at any time, for any reason, without penalty or tax.

Roth IRA Cons:

  1. Income Limits: There are income limits to contribute to a Roth IRA. High earners may not be eligible to contribute.
  2. Taxes Now: Contributions are made with after-tax dollars, meaning you don’t receive a tax deduction when you contribute.

Traditional IRA Pros:

  1. Tax Deductible Contributions: Contributions might be fully or partially deductible on your taxes in the year you make them, depending on your income and whether you or your spouse are covered by a retirement plan at work.
  2. No Income Limits for Contributions: Unlike Roth IRAs, you can contribute to a Traditional IRA regardless of your income level.

Traditional IRA Cons:

  1. Taxes on Withdrawals: Withdrawals in retirement are taxed as ordinary income.
  2. Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): You are required to start taking withdrawals, and thus pay taxes on them, after you reach age 72.

Both types of IRAs have their place, depending on your current tax situation, your expected tax situation in retirement, and your need for flexibility. It's often a good idea to consult with a financial advisor such as Gallant Financial Planning to decide which is best for your specific situation.