Retirement Funding

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IRA

Individual Retirement Account is a tax-deferred retirement account for an individual that permits individuals to set aside money each year, with earnings tax-deferred until withdrawals begin at age 59 1/2 or later (or earlier, with a 10% penalty). The exact amount depends on the year and your age. IRAs can be established at a bank, mutual fund, or brokerage. Only those who do not participate in a pension plan at work or who do participate and meet certain income guidelines can make deductible contributions to an IRA. All others can make contributions to an IRA on a non-deductible basis. Such contributions qualify as a deduction against income earned in that year and interest accumulates tax-deferred until the funds are withdrawn. A participant is able to roll over a distribution to another IRA or withdraw funds using a special schedule of early payments made over the participant’s life expectancy.

Roth IRA

A new type of IRA, established in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, which allows taxpayers, subject to certain income limits, to save for retirement while allowing the savings to grow tax-free. Taxes are paid on contributions, but withdrawals, subject to certain rules, are not taxed at all. Contributions to the Roth IRA are invested in mutual funds, stocks, or other securities, and the amount that someone is able to contribute is dependent upon their income, age, and tax filing status. Unique features of a Roth IRA are that it does not require you to start making withdrawals at a certain age, and also it allows an individual to make a qualified withdrawal up to $10,000 for a first time home purchase.

Annuity

Annuity is a contract sold by an insurance company designed to provide payments to the holder at specified intervals, usually after retirement. The holder is taxed only when they start taking distributions or if they withdraw funds from the account. All annuities are tax-deferred, meaning that the earnings from investments in these accounts grow tax-deferred until withdrawal. Annuity earnings are also tax-deferred so they cannot be withdrawn without penalty until a certain specified age. Fixed annuities guarantee a certain payment amount, while variable annuities do not, but do have the potential for greater returns. Both are relatively safe, low-yielding investments. An annuity has a death benefit equivalent to the higher of the current value of the annuity or the amount the buyer has paid into it. If the owner dies during the accumulation phase, his or her heirs will receive the accumulated amount in the annuity. This money is subject to ordinary income taxes in addition to estate taxes.

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