I am a big fan of the Roth IRA and think it is an underutilized tool for investors. There are many people who are eligible for a Roth and are not participating. If you have a chance to put money into an account where it grows tax-free, why would you not want to contribute?
If you have a 401(k) at work, your first goal should be to maximize contributions to that account. For 2017, you can invest $18,000 into a 401(k), or $24,000 if you are age 50 or older. Your 401(k) contribution is tax deductible.
But whether or not you max out your 401(k) contributions, many families are missing the opportunity to also contribute to a Roth IRA. YES, you can be eligible for a Roth even if you participate in a retirement plan at work. More people should be trying to do both. Even if you do invest $18,000 a year into a 401(k), who says that will be enough to retire?
For the 2016 tax year, you can contribute $5,500 to a Roth IRA if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is below $117,000 (single) or $184,000 (married). If you are over age 50, you can contribute $6,500. Contributions must be made by April 15, 2017 to count as a 2016 contribution.
Many investors are contributing to their 401(k) plan and say they don’t have additional income to contribute to an IRA. But if you have a taxable investment account, you could use money from that account to fund your Roth. If you aren’t planning to touch that money, don’t leave it in a taxable account, put it into an account that grows tax-free!
Here are a couple of important points to know about the Roth IRA:
- With a Roth IRA, if you need to access your money before age 59 1/2, you can withdraw your principal (your original investment amount) without taxes or penalty. It is only if you withdraw earnings, would you be subject to a penalty and taxes before age 59 1/2, and even then only on the earnings portion.
- If you’re married, as long as your income is below the $184,000 threshold, both or either spouse can contribute to the Roth IRA. It doesn’t matter if one spouse doesn’t work outside the home, you’re both eligible.
- If you make too much to contribute to a Roth IRA, AND you do not have any Traditional IRAs, you may be a candidate to make a “Back-door Roth Contribution”. Read how here.
- For investors who are over age 70 1/2, you are allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA but not a Traditional IRA. Again, put your money into the tax-free account if you are eligible!
The biggest problem with the Roth IRA is that the contribution limit is so low. When you miss a year of contributions, you can’t get that opportunity back later. So don’t miss out. If you are eligible for a Roth for 2016 and haven’t funded it, don’t delay. Call me today.