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What is a Traditional IRA?

Traditional IRA
What is a Traditional IRA?

Traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) can be a good way to save for retirement. If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan or would like to supplement that plan, a traditional IRA could work for you.

A traditional IRA is simply a tax-deferred savings account that has several investing options and is set up through an investment institution. For instance, an IRA can include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash equivalents, real estate, and other investment vehicles.

One of the benefits of a traditional IRA is the potential for tax-deductible contributions. You may be eligible to make a tax-deductible contribution of up to $7,000 in 2024 (up from $6,500 in 2023) or $8,000 in 2024 if you are 50 or older (up from $7,500 in 2023). Contribution limits are indexed annually for inflation.

You can contribute directly to a traditional IRA or you can transfer assets directly from another type of qualified plan, such as a SEP or a SIMPLE IRA. Rollovers may also be made from a qualified employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), after you change jobs or retire. (Make sure you understand the pros and cons of rolling funds from an employer plan to an IRA before you take any action. You may also be able to leave your funds in your employer plan or roll the money into another employer's plan, if permitted by the plans. You may also be able to take a lump-sum distribution; however, income taxes and a 10% penalty tax will apply if you do not qualify for an exception.)

Not everyone contributing to a traditional IRA is eligible for a tax deduction. If you are an active participant in a qualified workplace retirement plan — such as a 401(k) or a simplified employee pension plan — your IRA deduction may be reduced or eliminated, based on your income.

In 2024, for example, if your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is $77,000 or less as a single filer ($123,000 or less for married couples filing jointly), you can receive the full tax deduction. On the other hand, if your AGI is $87,000 or more as a single filer ($143,000 or more for married couples filing jointly), you are not eligible for a tax deduction. Partial deductions are allowed for single filers whose incomes are between $77,000 and $87,000 (or between $123,000 and $143,000 for married couples filing jointly). If you are not an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you are eligible for a full tax deduction.

If you are married filing jointly, and you are not covered by an employer-sponsored plan but your spouse is, you may take a full deduction if your combined AGI is $230,000 or less. A partial deduction will be allowed for a combined AGI of between $230,000 and $240,000. No deduction is permitted for married couples filing jointly whose combined AGI is $240,000 or more.

Nondeductible contributions may necessitate some very complicated paperwork when you begin withdrawals from your account. If your contributions are not tax deductible, you may be better served by another retirement plan, such as a Roth IRA. The maximum combined annual contribution you can make to traditional and Roth IRAs is $7,000 in 2024 ($6,500 in 2022). Catch-up contributions are also allowed for Roth IRAs ($1,000 limit for both 2024 and 2023).

The funds in a traditional IRA accumulate tax deferred, which means you do not have to pay taxes until you start receiving distributions in retirement, a time when you might be in a lower tax bracket. Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. Withdrawals taken prior to age 59½ may also be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Exceptions to this early-withdrawal penalty include distributions resulting from disability, unemployment, and qualified first-time home expenses ($10,000 lifetime limit), as well as distributions used to pay higher-education expenses.

You must begin taking annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) from a traditional IRA after you turn 73 (75 for those who reach age 73 after December 31, 2032). Distributions must start no later than April 1 of the year after the year you reach 73, or you will be subject to a 25% income tax penalty on the amount that should have been withdrawn. This penalty may be reduced to 10% if corrected in a timely manner. Of course, you can always withdraw more than the required minimum amount or even withdraw the entire balance as a lump sum.

An IRA can be a valuable addition to your retirement and tax management efforts. By working with a financial professional, you can determine whether a traditional IRA would be appropriate for you.

Moors & Cabot, Inc - Johnson Cotroneo Group

999 Vanderbilt Beach Rd. Suite 102

Naples FL, 34108

239-449-7982, 239-449-7992

Investment Advisory Services provided by Johnson Cotroneo Group are through Moors and Cabot, Inc., an SEC-registered investment advisor.

Brokerage services and investment products offered through affiliated broker-dealer Moors and Cabot, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC

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