Retirement Planning FAQs

Retirement Planning FAQs


How do I choose the right IRA?

Choosing the right IRA is dependent on several factors: your household income, your current tax rate, the length of time you plan to hold your investments, your estimation of your future investment returns, your estimated tax rate when you withdraw funds, and future tax law revisions. Because every person’s situation is different, there isn’t one simple answer. You need to compare your choices and decide which is best for you. Your financial professional can assist you in reviewing your financial situation.

Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA

The main difference between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA is when you pay taxes. Contributions to a Roth IRA are made from after-tax income. Roth IRA contributions grow tax-free and are not taxed when withdrawn for qualified reasons. These include a first-time home purchase, disability and medical expenses, and any withdrawal taken after age 59-1/2, as long as the account has been open for at least five years. Withdrawals that do not qualify may incur taxes and/or penalties. You may also want to consult a tax professional.

Contributions to a Traditional IRA are tax-deductible (subject to certain income limits) and taxes are paid when you withdraw the money. Contributions grow tax-deferred.

Employee Savings Plan vs. Roth IRA

While the Roth IRA may provide significant benefits for many investors, it should be considered in relation to other retirement savings opportunities. If you are eligible to contribute to an employer’s plan that matches all or part of your contributions, you may find the plan more advantageous than contributing to a Roth IRA. If your company is not matching any of your own contributions, a Roth IRA may provide more flexibility for you.

Non-Deductible IRA vs. Roth IRA

If your income prevents you from deducting your Traditional IRA contributions, you may be eligible for a non-deductible IRA or a Roth IRA. Since contributions are non-deductible for either the non-deductible IRA or the Roth IRA, the difference is in the distribution rules. The Roth IRA may be a better choice because withdrawals will be tax- free at age 59-1/2, and you are not required to begin distributions at age 70-1/2. Withdrawals from a non-deductible IRA are taxed as ordinary income at age 59-1/2, and minimum distributions are required at age 70-1/2.

Converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA

If you’re thinking of converting from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, project your tax rate, income level, and date of retirement. If you’re far enough away from retirement to offset the tax bite of closing your Traditional IRA when converting – and if you expect your tax bracket to be higher upon retirement – the Roth IRA may be a better alternative.

Can I contribute to my retirement plan at work and contribute to an IRA?

Anyone who has earned income may contribute to an IRA and also contribute to an IRA for a spouse who does not have earned income. However, not everyone can deduct his or her IRA contribution for his or her taxes each year. Since all Roth IRA contributions are made with after tax dollars, there is no deductibility opportunity for any person. On traditional IRAs, if you are eligible for a company sponsored retirement plan, even if you do not contribute to it, ability for you and your spouse to deduct your IRA contributions is based on your combined income level. These levels change annually so consult your tax advisor for the most updated information.

How much do I need to save for retirement?

Experts estimate that you will need at least 80% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement. By the time you are ready to retire, you probably won’t have the expenses you do now, such as a mortgage or a child’s college tuition but costs such as medical care may claim a sizeable share of your retirement income. With this in mind, some financial planning experts estimate you may need as much as 100% of your pre-retirement income just to make ends meet!