Traditional IRA

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DEFINITION of 'Traditional IRA'

An individual retirement account (IRA) that allows individuals to direct pretax income, up to specific annual limits, toward investments that can grow tax-deferred (no capital gains or dividend income is taxed). Individual taxpayers are allowed to contribute 100% of compensation up to a specified maximum dollar amount to their Traditional IRA. Contributions to the Traditional IRA may be tax-deductible depending on the taxpayer's income, tax-filing status and other factors.

Other variants of the IRA include the Roth IRA, SIMPLE IRA and SEP IRA.

BREAKING DOWN 'Traditional IRA'

Traditional IRAs are held by custodians, such as commercial banks and retail brokers, and investors can place IRA funds into stocks, bonds, funds, and other financial assets deemed fit by the custodian. Assets, such as real estate come with heavy restrictions from the IRS, and may be taxed differently.

When the individual begins to receive distributions from a Traditional IRA, the income is treated as ordinary income and may be subjected to income tax. This differs from the Roth IRA, which can offer tax-free distributions. For people over the age of 50, higher annual contribution limits may apply if the IRA has been recently created or under-funded in previous tax years. Distributions are required to come out of the account by the time the owner reaches age 70.5.

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