IRAs: The differences and the benefits of each

An IRA, or individual retirement account, is a form of “individual retirement plan”, provided by many financial institutions, that provides tax advantages for retirement savings.

Below are the different types of IRAs available today and the differences between them:

Traditional IRA

A traditional IRA can give you an upfront tax-deduction and is always tax-deferred.

  • Contributions are tax-deductible in some cases
  • Contribution limit is $5,000 ($6,000 if you’re over 50)
  • 10% tax penalty may apply to withdrawals before age 59 1/2

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA can provide tax-free income in retirement.

  • Contributions are not tax-deductible
  • Contributions may be withdrawn tax-free
  • Qualified distributions are tax-free (A distribution is qualified if it is taken at least five years after you established your first Roth IRA and when you are at least age 59 1/2, disabled, using the withdrawal to purchase a first home (limit $10,000), or deceased).
  • Contributions are limited by your income
  • Contribution limit is $5,000 ($6,000 if you’re over 50)
  • 10% tax penalty may apply to earnings withdrawn before age 59 1/2


Rollovers are tax-free distributions of cash or other assets from one retirement plan that are contributed to another retirement plan within 60 days. There are two kinds of rollover contributions. In one, you put amounts you receive from one traditional IRA into the same or another Traditional IRA. In the other, you put amounts you receive from an employer’s qualified retirement plan into a Traditional or Rollover IRA.

Coverdell Education Savings Account

An Coverdell Education Savings Account is a vehicle to invest for a child’s future education. Until the child reaches the age of 18, contributions up to $2000 per year are allowed. Although contributions are not tax-deductible, investments grow free of taxes. Distributions can be used to pay for elementary and secondary education, as well as college, including private schools.


A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) is a plan that allows an employer to make deductible contributions for the benefit of participating employees. The contributions are made to individual retirement accounts set up for participants of the plan. Under a SEP, traditional IRAs must be set up for each qualifying employee.


SIMPLE stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees. A SIMPLE plan is a tax-favored retirement plan that certain small employers (including self employed individuals) can set up for the benefit of their employees. A SIMPLE plan is a written agreement (salary reduction agreement) between you and your employer that allows you, if you are an eligible employee, to choose to reduce your compensation by a certain percentage each pay period, and, have your employer contribute it to a SIMPLE IRA on your behalf.

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