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Retirement Savings 101: 401(k)s, IRAs, Roths, Oh my!

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Over the past two weeks we have compared Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs and 401(k)s to Roth 401(k)s. Today we wrap up the series with a recap comparison to help guide you through the various ways to save for your retirement.

Traditional IRA

Established by: Individual
Contribution Limits: Up to $5,500 per year age 49 or below / $6,500 per year age 50 and above (limits adjusted annually)
Contributions: Pre-tax (unless non-deductible, then post-tax)
Matching Contributions: None
Distributions: Taxable and a 10% penalty unless 59 ½ or older (exceptions may apply)
Forced Distributions: Must start withdrawing funds at age 70 ½
Conversions/Rollovers: Can be converted to Roth IRA. Taxes paid during year of conversion. Deductible contributions can be rolled into a 401(k) if allowed by 401(k) plan.

Roth IRA

Established by: Individual
Contribution Limits: Up to $5,500 per year age 49 or below / $6,500 per year age 50 and above (limits adjusted annually)
Contributions: Post-tax
Matching Contributions: None
Distributions: Contributions may always be withdrawn tax and penalty free. Earnings prior to age 59 ½ are taxable and assessed a 10% penalty. Earnings after 59 ½ are tax-free unless the Roth IRA has been open less than 5 years in which case they are taxable and assessed a 10% penalty. (exceptions may apply)
Forced Distributions: None
Conversions/Rollovers: None

Traditional 401(k)

Established by: Employer
Contribution Limits: Employee may contribute up to $18,000 per year age 49 or below / $24,000 per year age 50 and above (limits adjusted annually)
Contributions: Pre-tax
Matching Contributions: Employer’s discretion
Distributions: Taxable and a 10% penalty unless
· If separated from service after age 55 or
· age 59 ½ or older (exceptions may apply)
Forced Distributions: Must start withdrawing funds at age 70 ½ unless still employed and not a 5% owner
Conversions/Rollovers: Upon termination of employment may
· Rollover to an IRA – not currently taxable
· Rollover to 401(k) if allowed by new employer – not currently taxable
· Convert to a Roth IRA – taxable event
· Distributed directly to owner – taxable event.

Roth 401(k)

Established by: Employer
Contribution Limits: Employee may contribute up to $18,000 per year age 49 or below / $24,000 per year age 50 and above (limits adjusted annually)
Contributions: Post-tax
Matching Contributions: Employer’s discretion (employer contributions are pre-tax dollars)
Distributions: Tax-free, but a 10% penalty plus taxes on earnings unless
· If separated from service after age 55 or
· age 59 ½ or older and the account has been open for at least 5 years (exceptions may apply)
Forced Distributions: Must start withdrawing funds at age 70 ½ unless still employed and not a 5% owner.
Conversions/Rollovers: Upon termination of employment may
· Rollover to a Roth IRA
· Rollover to a Roth 401(k) if allowed by new employer.

Which retirement savings account is right for you? For some, a 401(k) plus a Roth IRA may be the way to go. For others it might be a traditional IRA with a 401(k). Retirement saving decisions are as unique as you are.

As with any big financial decision, we recommend talking to a professional. Financial planners can help guide you to the best decision for your retirement and create a custom plan tailored to your individual goals.

If you are interested in a complimentary consultation, give us a call today at 303.639.5100 or visit shwj.com.

*Research for this post done on IRS.gov