A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account (IRA) that allows qualified withdrawals on a tax-free basis provided certain conditions are satisfied. Established in 1997, it was named after William Roth, a former Delaware Senator.1
Roth IRAs are similar to traditional IRAs, with the biggest distinction between the two being how they’re taxed. Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars; the contributions are not tax-deductible. But once you start withdrawing funds, the money is tax-free. Conversely, traditional IRA deposits are generally made with pretax dollars; you usually get a tax deduction on your contribution and pay income tax when you withdraw the money from the account during retirement.2
This and other key differences make Roth IRAs a better choice than traditional IRAs for some retirement savers.
You can withdraw contributions you made to your Roth IRA anytime, tax- and penalty-free. (all in italics)
However, you may have to pay taxes and penalties on earnings in your Roth IRA.
A Roth IRA is a special retirement account where you pay taxes on money going into your account, and then all future withdrawals are tax-free.
Roth IRAs are best when you think your taxes will be higher in retirement than they are right now.
You can't contribute to a Roth IRA if you make too much money. In 2021, the limit for singles is $140,000. For married couples, the limit is $208,000.3
The amount you can contribute changes periodically. In 2021, the contribution limit is $6,000 a year unless you are age 50 or older—in which case, you can deposit up to $7,000.3
Almost all brokerage ﬁrms, both physical and online, offer a Roth IRA. So do most banks and investment companies.