Making the assumption that your current income level allows for a Roth IRA contribution it is usually more beneficial for a 20-something to contribute to a Roth IRA.
Remember the difference between a Traditional IRA and a ROTH IRA.
Traditional IRA is pretax dollars contributed (you have not paid income taxes on those funds) all gains grow tax free but when you withdraw the funds the taxes are then paid as if it were income.
A ROTH IRA is after tax dollars contributed (income taxes were paid already) and then all gains are tax free and any withdrawals are tax free (assuming all proper withdrawal rules are followed).
So it is important to consider two things:
- What is my tax rate now?
- What will be my tax rate at retirement?
The assumption in this scenario is that your income level will be higher when you retire than it is now therefore, you paid less tax on the money.
The best type of IRA will depend on whether you’re taking advantage of a 401(k) plan at work. If you are able to contribute to your 401(k) at work and you earn less than $117,000, if you are single ($184,000 for married couples), I would suggest opening and contributing to a Roth IRA.
Here’s why: If you are already contributing to a 401(k), then contributing to a traditional IRA has little tax benefit to you. If you were to make an IRA contribution, the contribution would be in after-tax dollars and the funds would grow tax deferred, but the distributions would be partially taxable. In contrast, if you were to follow my suggestion and contribute to a Roth IRA, the funds within the Roth IRA would grow tax free and distributions are tax free.
If you do not have a 401(k) plan at work that you can contribute to, then there are a couple of pros and cons to both IRA and Roth IRA contributions. First, you can only make a maximum contribution of $5,500 to either or both types of IRAs in one year. The main benefit of contributing into an IRA when you do not have a 401(k) at work is that your contribution reduces your taxable income. Once you make your contribution, the funds will grow tax deferred and distributions once you surpass age 59.5 are taxable (the same as with a 401(k) contribution). If you were to contribute to a Roth IRA instead, the contribution would not decrease your taxable income, but the funds would grow tax free and distributions are tax free once you surpass 59.5 years of age.
All of the above answers are great. Too many individuals rely solely on taxable income during retirement. One other benefit to a Roth IRA, your contributions can be taken out at any time - without penalty. This is because they are after-tax contributions. Now, I don't recommend that my clients use this strategy often because a Roth IRA should be earmarked for retirement. But it is a nice thing to know. I've had clients that decide to retire at 50 that make it through their first few years of retirement on their Roth IRA contribution amounts until they can tap into their other asset pools. Roth IRA's are just very flexible.
Thank you for your question. Essentially you have two types of IRA's to choose from. A Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. They both allow you to save for retirement, the difference being that the Traditional is funded with pre-tax dollars, the Roth is funded with after-tax dollars. Which one is right for you? It depends on your financial situation and what you are looking to accomplish for the future.
Something to consider is that, historically speaking, income tax rates are about the lowest they have ever been. Given this tax environment, one could make the argument that taxes will most likely be higher in the future, thus funding a Roth IRA for a younger person in their 20's would seem to make sense. Keep in mind you can actually have both IRA's, as long as your total funding between both does not go over the annual IRA limit.
It really all comes down to your unique situation, I would encourage you to meet with a CFP and Tax professional to make sure you set up what is best for your situation.
In my opinion the Roth IRA is the best kind for a 20-something if that individual qualifies for a Roth. The reason is simple: tax rates will probably be higher when a 20-year-old retires. Being able to access retirement savings without having to pay taxes will be a big advantage 40 years from now. One added point, there is no requirement to take an RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) from a Roth IRA at age 70 ½ like there is from a Traditional IRA, making the Roth a better estate planning tool.