A:

The Roth IRA is hands-down the most attractive retirement plan available for people with at least 15 or more years until retirement, since it provides tax-free withdrawals if you wait to withdraw funds until after age 59.5. The smart thing to do is to start contributions while you or your children are very young, which allows compounded growth for possibly another 30-40 years before you/they would consider using the funds in retirement. The tricky part is convincing your teenagers or young adults to start saving early and meeting the requirements of earned income to qualify for IRA contributions.

So, how can you start a Roth IRA for your teenage daughter if she doesn't have a job with earned income? One option is to hire her at home within the family business (self-employed), as a file clerk or marketing assistant, for example. In this scenario, you can benefit twofold by receiving a deduction from business income, and you can make a contribution to your child's retirement. If you're not self-employed, you can still hire your child and pay them via W-2 or 1099-MISC income for cleaning the house or doing other odd jobs around the house - just make sure you document everything carefully, and put the pay directly into the Roth IRA. Since the child is working for the parents at home, no child labor laws are in violation.

Once your child starts gainful employment outside of the home or summer work between school breaks, you can still gift an amount equal to the Roth IRA contribution to the child and deposit this amount into a Roth account for them just as long as their compensation is equal to or greater than the gift.

For additional reading, check out Roth Or Traditional IRA...Which Is The Better Choice?and Roth IRA: Back To Basics.

This question was answered by Steven Merkel

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