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Should I Contribute To My Roth IRA Vs My Traditional IRA?

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

When saving for retirement, clients will often ask which account they should be making contributions to – a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA? The answer depends on several different factors that should be considered and discussed.

To assist in this conversation, we have prepared the “Should I Contribute To My Roth IRA Vs. My Traditional IRA?” flowchart. This flowchart considers:

  • Eligibility to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA

  • Eligibility to make contributions to a Roth IRA

  • Current tax rates vs. future tax rates

  • Ability to max out the contributions

  • RMD impact

When it comes to saving for retirement, one of the most common questions is whether to contribute to a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA. The answer to this question depends on various factors that should be carefully considered. In this blog post, we will discuss the key factors to consider when choosing between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA. By following a simple flowchart, we'll guide you through the decision-making process. So, let's dive in!

Understanding the Flowchart: Should I Contribute to a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA?

  1. Eligibility to Contribute: The first step is to determine if you are eligible to contribute to either a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA. If you are not eligible for either, you can consider making a non-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA or explore the option of a backdoor Roth IRA contribution. The backdoor Roth IRA contribution is a complex strategy, so it's important to seek professional advice.

  2. Deductibility of Contributions: If you are eligible to contribute to a traditional IRA, the next step is to determine if you can deduct your traditional IRA contribution. Income limits play a significant role in determining the deductibility of contributions, and consulting with a CPA or enrolled agent can provide valuable guidance.

  3. Future Tax Rates: Consider whether you expect your future marginal tax rate to be higher than your current tax rate. Although current tax rates may be low, it's crucial to remember that the tax cuts and job act of 2017 will sunset in 2025, potentially resulting in higher tax rates. If you anticipate higher tax rates in the future, contributing to a Roth IRA can be advantageous.

  4. Maximize Contribution Amount: Evaluate your ability to maximize the contribution amount. If you can afford to make the full annual contribution, which is $6,000 (or $7,000 if you're 50 or older), you can consider making an after-tax contribution to a Roth IRA or a partial contribution to a traditional IRA for a tax deduction.

  5. Retirement Income Needs: Assess whether you will need retirement income from your IRAs. If you don't require income from your IRAs, contributing to a Roth IRA is recommended since Roth IRAs are not subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs). This strategy can be advantageous for long-term tax planning.

Balancing Your Retirement Plan:

It's important to create a balanced retirement plan that considers various income streams, such as Social Security, pensions, or other retirement accounts. By balancing your income sources, including tax-free Roth IRA income, you can create a solid foundation for retirement and maintain financial stability.

Choosing between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA requires careful consideration of your financial circumstances, future tax rates, and retirement income needs. By following the flowchart provided in this blog post, you can gain clarity on which option may be the most suitable for you. Remember to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to ensure your decisions align with your long-term financial goals. Happy retirement planning!

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