Is a traditional ira a good idea?

A traditional IRA can be a great way to increase your savings by avoiding taxes while you build up your savings. You now get tax relief when you make deductible contributions. In the future, when you take money out of the IRA, you'll pay taxes at your regular income rate. Let's say you're eligible for both a Roth account and a traditional IRA.

You usually do better in a traditional version if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket when you retire. By deducting your contributions now, you reduce your current tax bill. When you retire and start withdrawing money, you'll be in a lower tax bracket, which will give the tax collector less money overall. If you expect to be in the same tax bracket or higher when you retire, you may want to consider contributing to a Roth IRA, which allows you to settle your tax bill now and not later.

IRAs (of all types) enjoy certain tax advantages that can make them great places to save and invest for retirement. The traditional IRA deductibility is only restricted if you or your spouse have access to a work-savings plan, such as a 401 (k). The most important question to ask yourself when trying to decide if a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA is best for you (at least from a tax standpoint) is when you want to get the tax benefit, now or after you retire. While a traditional IRA savings account isn't as risky as the stock market, lower interest rates may not keep up with inflation and reduce the value of your retirement savings.

By comparison, contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax-deductible, but those withdrawn in retirement are tax-exempt. Instead of investing in stocks or other securities, a traditional IRA savings account acts like a regular savings account. The main benefits of having a traditional IRA are the tax deduction for contributions, the capitalization of tax-deferred investments, and the ability to invest in virtually any stock, bond or investment fund you want. The amounts contributed each year are considered “pre-tax,” meaning you don't have to pay taxes on the money in your IRA until you withdraw it.

You can contribute to a traditional IRA if you or your spouse participate in a retirement plan through work. But the point is, investing in an IRA can help your retirement savings grow faster than they otherwise could. While some workplaces offer a Roth 401 (k) option for employees, if yours doesn't, diverting part of those dollars from those retirement savings to a Roth IRA will give you more options for managing your tax burden during retirement. With a traditional IRA, the tax benefit is given annually when you file your taxes, making it easy to waste money on any number of things.

If you own the same shares in an IRA and it pays you dividends, they are not included in your taxable income. However, if you are in a moderate-to-high tax bracket right now and qualify for the traditional IRA tax deduction, immediate tax savings from traditional IRA contributions may be the best way to do so. To set up a traditional IRA, look for a financial institution (such as a brokerage firm) that the IRS approves to act as the trustee or custodian of an IRA account.