Retirement Planning

Roth IRA: What Are the Income Limits and Is It the Right Fit For You?

Roth IRA Income Limit Guidelines 

The Roth IRA is a retirement investment account that can have advantages over traditional IRAs, depending on your current financial situation and what you think your future might look like.

Not everyone is eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, however, as participation largely depends on how much you earn each year. Those who meet the IRS guidelines and expect high tax rates down the road might look to consider a Roth IRA because future qualified withdrawals are typically tax-free. But keep in mind that Roth IRA income limits can change each year, so it's important to stay up to date on annual guidelines. 

Benefits of Roth IRA

There's a tax benefit of a Roth IRA that comes at the back-end. When you contribute to a Roth IRA, you use after-tax dollars, so there's no tax deduction for your contributions.. However, the money you deposit in the Roth IRA (along with your investment earnings) won't be taxed when you make qualified withdrawals. This is a key difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA, where the funds you withdraw are fully or partially taxable in the year you withdraw them. Thus, Roth IRAs can work well for people who expect their taxes to be higher in retirement than what they currently are. Groups who fall into these categories might be younger savers, like millennials, or people who aren't earning a lot of income for a period of time.

Another perk of the Roth IRA is that there are no age limits. The investment account can be established for a minor or used by people over the age of 70 ½ (unlike a traditional IRA). Plus, with a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your contributions without paying a penalty- even before you turn 59 ½. Withdrawals that include earnings, however, may be subject to income tax and an additional 10% penalty if taken before age 59 ½.

How much can I make?

Determining if you can invest in a Roth IRA and how much you can invest depends on two factors: your income and tax filing status.

You can't contribute to a Roth IRA if you make too much money. If you are single, you must have a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) under $135,000 to contribute to a Roth IRA for the 2018 tax year, but contributions are reduced starting at $120,000. For reference, MAGI is generally defined as taking your adjusted gross income (found on the bottom of the first page of your Form 1040) and adding back certain deductions and exclusions.

For married couples filing jointly, your MAGI must be less than $199,000, with reductions beginning at $189,000. Make sure to double-check the annual guidelines, which can change each year.

In terms of how much you can put into the account, generally you can contribute $5,500 per year unless you are over 50, in which case you can contribute more, at $6,500. 

Additional retirement income components

Roth IRAs have the potential to be an effective retirement option with tax advantages, but there are other options available that you can consider, such as annuities. Annuities, unlike Roth IRAs, have no annual income limits or contribution limits. This is especially helpful for older people closer to retirement who want to put more money away with retirement looming.

For more information on Roth IRAs, annuities and other tax-deferred plans, visit Protective Life.

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Annuities are intended as vehicles for long-term retirement planning, which is why withdrawals reduce an annuity's remaining death benefit, contract value, cash surrender value and future earnings. Annuities also may be subject to income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 ½, an additional 10% IRS tax penalty may apply.

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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

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