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How Investors Can Benefit from a Roth IRA

13 September 2020 , Ella Vincent

A Roth IRA (individual retirement account) can help investors save for retirement. If an employee doesn’t have lucrative stock options like restricted stock units, they can start a Roth account. Whether a person is trying to set money aside during a bear or bull market, there are ways to start a Roth retirement account.

This TradingSim article will help investors learn the details on how to start a Roth. This article will also help traders learn how to contribute to a Roth and which brokerage firms are the best ones to choose.

What is a Roth IRA?

While there are many retirement accounts, a Roth IRA is a retirement account that gives tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals. The account was part of the Tax Relief Act of 1997. The retirement account was named after Delaware senator William Roth. If a person is a day trader and works for themselves, opening a Roth could be a good option.

What are the requirements of a Roth IRA?

If an account holder is 59 1/2 has a Roth for at least five years, they can make tax-free withdrawals. There is no age limit to contribute to a Roth.

How does the end of the stretch IRA help Roth IRAs?

Because of the SECURE Act that effectively ended the stretch IRA, the Roth IRA is an alternative retirement account for many people.

As a result of a phaseout of the stretch IRA that lets account holders pass their accounts to beneficiaries, a Roth IRA can be an option. Jeanne J. Fisher is the managing director at Strategic Retirement Partners. She notes that Roth IRA’s can benefit from the change.

“Absolutely. Especially for high-net-worth clients looking to transfer their estate,” said Fisher.

“A lot of clients have no intention of spending down all their assets. I expect a boom of high-net-worth clients converting IRAs to Roth IRAs,” added Fisher.

In contrast to the earlier rule that a person couldn’t contribute after 70, there isn’t an age limit to Roth contributions anymore. There also isn’t a limit on contributing to your own Roth. A person can even build and even contribute to a child’s account to kick-start their retirement savings account.

While there are no age limits to start a Roth, there are still requirements. An account holder can only contribute an amount equal to a person’s annual income.

Where can a person start a Roth?

People can start a Roth account with many different brokerage firms like Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, or E-Trade. In addition to those outlets, a person can open an account with a bank or an insurance company.

What is the difference between a Roth and traditional IRA?

While traditional 401k’s are offered through employers, Roth IRA’s are open to any person that meets a certain income requirement.

In contrast to a traditional IRA, a Roth account has a tax advantage. After a Roth is taxed, then money goes into an account. While there is no tax-free benefit when the account is started, there is a benefit to a Roth when a person wants to make a withdrawal when they retire. When a person makes a withdrawal, they can make it tax-free.

Steven Elwell is a certified financial planner and partner. He said that upper-income people should consider a Roth IRA.

“If you expect your income to go up, then something like a Roth might make sense,” said Elwell.

Roth IRAs can help self-employed day traders
Roth IRAs can help self-employed day traders

While a traditional IRA has a required minimum distribution minimum, Roth IRA’s don’t have that restriction. In a traditional IRA, an account holder has to make withdrawals at the age of 72. However, for a Roth IRA, there are no required minimum distributions.

Jeanne J. Fisher is a 401k expert that advocates people get Roth IRAs instead of traditional IRAs.

“Many naysayers will argue that the traditional IRA is better because you can then invest the tax deduction and have it grow also,” said Fisher.

However, she says the Roth IRA has more benefits for people who want to save for retirement.

“This argument is wrong because it wholly ignores behavioral finance. For one, investors always decide how much they want to save first, and then we talk about taxes. I have never, in my 12-year career, had someone walk back in my office with their ‘tax savings’ and ask to invest it. It just doesn’t happen,” said Fisher.

“Also, most people max out the IRA contributions, which completely negates the argument,” added Fisher.

Fisher advises account holders to get a Roth IRA to save for retirement.

“Please, if you have the ability to do a Roth 401k, 403(b), or a TSP, or a Roth IRA, those are the type of retirement accounts that you want to be in. Stay away from the traditional ones …where you get a tax write-off today but in the long run when you go to take your money out, you’re going to have to pay taxes on it,” said Fisher.

When should a person start a Roth?

Certified personal accountant Ed Slott noted that when it comes to starting a Roth, the earlier, the better.

“The younger you are when you start investing in one, the more advantageous it’ll be because that creates more time for your contributions to compound tax-free,” said Slott.

Chad Parks is the founder and CEO of the retirement plan provider Ubiquity Retirement and Savings. He said that Roth IRAs are best for young people saving for retirement.

“If you’re under 40, a Roth IRA is probably the better option because you have decades before retirement,” said Parks.

Roth IRA can increase cash flow
Roth IRA can raise cash flow

Fisher also notes that compound interest is key to a young person choosing a Roth IRA.

“We all know the value of compounding interest, yet we ignore its value when having this conversation. Take a 35-year-old. They can save $10,000 for 30 years, and by the time they are 65 they will have saved $300,000. But with reasonable market growth that account is more like $1 million! I would much rather pay tax on $300,000 than $1 million. It’s why we advocate so strongly for the Roth for younger clients who have a lot of time for the account to grow,” said Fisher.

Who should have a Roth IRA?

Fisher believes that people with lower incomes should choose a Roth IRA.

“If they are in a very low effective federal tax rate, or even a negative tax rate, the Roth is very beneficial. Finally, it can be used as a flexible bucket in retirement for high-income, high-net-worth clients,” said Fisher.

“We consider all things like: How is the rest of the nest egg saved? Is it all tax-deferred? Are they expecting a pension? Do they need all of their retirement savings or do they intend to pass it to the next generation? Will they need all of their projected RMDs? I’m not exaggerating when I say—especially particular to the 401k—that eight out of 10 times I will recommend a Roth contribution,” added Fisher.

Mari Adam is a financial planner that advocates any person to start a Roth IRA.

“Funding your Roth is a use-it-or-lose-it opportunity each year.A Roth IRA lets you move money into a special forever-tax-free account. Once you put money in that account, it will never be taxed again, for you or your heirs. That’s an amazing opportunity rarely available in the investment world,” said Adam.

Adam also advises parents to set up Roth IRA accounts for their kids when they start working.

“One of the smartest steps you can take as a parent is to encourage your child to set up a Roth IRA account, with you as the custodian, and start contributing each year,” said Adam.

What are the tax benefits to a Roth IRA?

Fisher also notes that the tax benefits of a Roth IRA can help account holders.

“We illustrate the total growth of the portfolio and what the cumulative account balance could be in retirement,” she says. “We also educate to how it affects their paycheck. Electing the Roth in the 401k isn’t going to result in a big tax bill when you file your taxes. Instead, the tax withholdings are adjusted on your paycheck, and in most cases, you are seeing only a minor adjustment each pay period.”

Fisher also details how the account is funding through an account holder’s paycheck.

“When you elect your deferral online it comes off your gross paycheck. If you elect 10% savings on a $1,000 paycheck, you are contributing $100 into the Roth or $100 into the tax-deferred. Again, the contribution dollar amount is not affected by the tax election. The withholding on your paycheck is,” said Fisher.

Young people saving more in Roth IRAs

With the current financial uncertainty, many young people are investing in Roth IRAs. There was a 36% increase in Millennials funding Roth IRA’s in the second half of 2019. Katie Taylor, vice president of thought leadership, Fidelity Investments, spoke about why she thinks that young people are saving more in Roth IRAs.

She believes that the accounts are “an additional opportunity to save outside the 401(k) to secure their future.”

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Taylor thinks that Millennials are using Roth IRAs to save their money after taxes.

“Investing pre-tax dollars and then getting a tax break is not as important to younger people, because they are early in their career, typically making less money than later on, and, so, their taxes are lower. They are more willing to save using after-tax dollars because they expect their taxes will go up,” said Taylor.

Taylor noted that there are many benefits to young people starting Roth IRAs.

“The one that is getting the most attention right now is the fact that when people want to access money quickly, with a Roth IRA, you can access your contributions at any time without taxes or penalties,” said Taylor.

Young people see tax benefits of Roth IRAs

Taylor noted that young people “can withdraw earnings and pay taxes but no penalties if the money is being used either for education or medical expenses.

Taylor also noted that there was a tax advantage to having a Roth IRA.

“If five years have passed since the first contribution was made, the account holder can withdraw their earnings without taxes or penalties if they are older than 59.5, are using the funds to buy a home, or have become disabled. That might be attractive to people as well,” said Taylor.

Taylor also noted that the recession is encouraging employees to match their employer’s traditional IRAs.

“It is encouraging that workers are continuing to receive the matches. Plan sponsors realize what a coveted benefit this is. Employers that offer a match are really proud of that benefit, because they know that helping employees save for their future is incredibly important and incredibly valued,” said Taylor.

Young people saving in Roth IRAs in economic downturn

Taylor noted that employer Roth IRA matches are crucial in this time of economic uncertainty.

“That is one of the top benefits people are looking for. Eliminating a match is not a decision that employers view lightly. Even those who have removed the match want to reinstate it as soon as possible, which is consistent with what we saw in ’08 and ’09 with the Great Recession,” said Taylor.

Taylor advises young people to stay committed to funding their Roth IRAs.

“Provided they are not retiring in the near future, staying the course is the better action. It is encouraging to see so many participants do that, particularly as you see their balances go up,” said Taylor.

Roth conversions an option for account holders

If account holders want to convert their current retirement accounts to a Roth IRA, there are options. In a Roth conversion, a person can take taxable distributions from traditional IRA’s and change it to a Roth IRA.

Fred Egler is a financial advisor with Betterment. He says people with high incomes can save money on a retirement account.

“They are a great way for high income individuals to get money into a Roth IRA without contributing directly to one because of the income cap,” said Egler.

Another financial advisor for Roth conversions is Matt Sadowsky, director of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade. He said a Roth conversion can help people form a financial plan for retirement.

“A Roth conversion is arguably a powerful tax diversification tool for financial planning. The current environment makes it even more attractive to those considering a Roth conversion as part of their financial plan,” said Sadowsky.

What are the downsides to a Roth IRA conversion?

While conversion to a Roth IRA can be beneficial, there are tax implications.

“In most cases, when you convert funds, it’s considered a taxable event, which means that you owe taxes on some or all of the amount that you convert to a Roth. Basically, that money will be added to your income for that tax year,” said Egler.

According to Egler, If a person has a large sum in an IRA, it may not be best to convert their current account to a Roth.

“Let’s say someone had $500,000 in their traditional IRA. It probably wouldn’t make sense to convert that to a Roth because you’d be adding $500,000 to your taxable income for the year,” said Egler.

research in dictionary
Roth IRA research is key

If a person is close to retirement, they also may not want to have a Roth conversion, according to Egler.

“The shorter the time period, the less advantageous the Roth conversion can be, because the tax-free growth has less time to compound and grow,” Egler says.

What are the tax implications of a Roth conversion?

When a person converts to a Roth IRA, Egler notes that the conversion can’t be changed.

“Once you do a Roth conversion, it’s irreversible. If you’re going to do one, you should certainly make sure it’s for you,” said Egler.

Egler also noted that tax professionals can help people with their Roth conversions.

“You pay taxes on a Roth conversion when you file your taxes, which is generally in April. Your investment custodian will provide you with a tax form in relation to the Roth conversion,” said Egler.

“It’s smart to plan ahead and make sure you have money set aside to pay the tax out of pocket when you file, rather than use the money from your IRA withdrawal. Those funds should stay in retirement accounts and grow over time,” added Egler.

What are the downsides to a Roth conversion?

While a Roth conversion can help some people, there can be disadvantages. Philip Herzberg is a certified financial planner with Lubitz Financial Group. He said that a Roth conversion can have a downside.

“For some people, a Roth conversion can be a wonderful tax-saving strategy, but for others, it may not be advantageous,” said Hertzberg.

If a person is collecting Medicare or will soon, a conversion may lead to higher costs.

“The upshot is you could be paying around $840 per year more in Medicare Part B & D premium costs,” said Herzberg.

Herzberg also says account holders already collecting Social Security can also face higher taxes later.

“You may push yourself into the next highest tax bracket when you move money from your IRA to a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA conversion, a higher percentage – 50% to 85% – of your Social Security benefits may become taxable, as well,” said Herzberg.

The conversion may also cause tax increases.

“Those who are in the 10% and 12% bottom two ordinary income tax brackets are eligible for a zero percent long-term capital gains rate on any capital gains and qualified dividends that also fall within those tax brackets,” Herzberg says. “Long-term capital gains rate spikes to 15% on the same investment activity within the higher 22% federal marginal tax bracket.”

Higher income can lead to higher Roth IRA conversion taxes

Herzberg also said Roth IRA conversions aren’t best for people who are moving from a low-income tax state to a higher one and is “not favorable if you are about to move from a low-income tax state, such as Florida, to a high tax state, which will significantly increase your future taxes.”

Ironically, having a high income can hurt a Roth IRA conversion. Elijah Kovar is co-founder of Great Waters Financial. He said that saving a large amount of money can increase Roth IRA taxes.

“That is not true for anybody who has saved a significant amount of money. Clients many times end up in a higher tax bracket. Between Social Security, pensions, and required minimum distributions, people often remain in the same tax bracket they were in before they retired or are pushed into a higher one,” said Kovar.

Kovar noted the economic downturn is a good time to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth. For example, if a account holder has $10,000 in a traditional IRA in 2019 anad fell by 30% in 2020, there is a chance to recoup that loss.

“You have the opportunity to pay taxes on that $7,000, convert those shares into Roth and then buy the same $7,000 in shares inside the Roth. When that $7,000 in stock rebounds into $10,000, that growth is tax free,” Kovar says. “The taxes you have to pay is the rate on the reduced share price. Two years down the road, when the market is recovered, you have $10,000 and it’s in a tax-free account,” said Kovar.

Nick Yrizarry is president and CEO of Align Wealth Advisors. He notes that a Roth conversion can help an account holder rebalance their portfolios.

“The value of your securities is lower. You have relatively low capital gains consequences to sell and move down to a more diversified strategy,” said Yrizarry.

Despite the previous economic slowdown, Kovar said this is the best time for a Roth IRA conversion.

“It’s the best time in history to convert to a Roth. Between now and 2025, the last year of tax reform, taxes are on sale,” said Kovar.

What are the Roth IRA income limits?

The Roth IRA contribution amount is reduced if an account holder is married and filing jointly. The income limit is between $196,000 and $206,000 $206,000. If an account holder is single or the head of a household and have an adjusted gross income between $124,000 and $139,000, their Roth IRA contribution can be reduced.

What is the 2020 Roth IRA contribution limit?

In 2020, the maximum Roth IRA contribution limit is $6,000 if an account holder is under 50. If an account holder is over 50, they can save up to $7,000 to fund a Roth IRA.

Should a person save in a Roth IRA during an economic downturn?

Because of the economic downturn, more people should consider a Roth IRA. According to Greg Dillon, principal of OneTeam Financial, says his firm advises people to fund a Roth in this tumultuous year.

“We advise everyone under the income limit to seriously consider contributing,” said Dillon.

Before a person funds a Roth, Dillon says they should make sure that they have the extra money for the account.

“Given all of the uncertainty as far as employment for the remainder of year, first make sure you have an adequate cash cushion. In some instances, folks don’t know if they will be out of work for a few months or longer. You want to make sure they have enough for the tax bill and to pay bills if they don’t get back to work in short order,” said Dillon.

Dillon said a Roth IRA is a tax-free investment worth making even during this volatile economy.

“Money invested (in a Roth IRA) may be invested differently than money you may need a few years from now. Make sure your investments are more growth-oriented. Then you are capitalizing on that tax-free compounding,” said Dillon.

How else can a Roth IRA be used?

In addition to saving for retirement, a Roth IRA can be used to buy a home if they’re first-time home buyers. Daniel Galli is the principal of Daniel J. Galli & Associates in Norwell, Massachusetts. He suggests that young people can take $10,000 of their Roth to purchase a home.

Financial Goals
Financial Goals key to having Roth IRA

“We’ve long suggested that young people use a Roth IRA to save the considerable amount needed for a first-time home purchase,” said Galli.

“As long as we can meet the five-year rule, they can use all contributions plus up to $10,000 of gain, free of tax and penalty,” added Galli.

Some advisors says Roth IRAs should stay put

While Roth IRA funds can be used to buy homes, other financial advisors say those account holders should leave their Roth IRA funds until retirement. Certified financial planner Shon Anderson, president of Anderson Financial Strategies, said Roth IRAs should be left alone.

“These accounts are designed to help people accumulate as much money as possible for retirement,” said Anderson.

“You can obtain a loan for a home, car, business venture, college tuition … but no one will ever receive a loan to retire,” added Anderson.

Even though Galli would use a Roth IRA to buy a house if he was in his 20’s, he wouldn’t make that same decision the closer a person gets to retirement.

“If the person is contributing to a 401(k), getting a decent match, they’re on a good track for retirement and the Roth is just a nice addition, I might consider it,” said Galli.

“But if their only retirement savings is the Roth and they’re, say, in their 40s, I probably wouldn’t,” added Galli.

Which Roth IRAs are best for investors?

1. Charles Schwab

While there are many Roths to choose from, Charles Schwab is deemed as the best Roth IRA for beginners. For those new to investing in a Roth, the company has a user-friendly app and 24/7 support. Stephanie King is vice-president of Charles Schwab’s planning and portfolio group. She is touting the new Schwab Plan digital planning app that helps customers plan for retirement.

“Saving and investing for retirement continues to be the most vital goal for investors of all ages, and a plan provides a path that helps people retire the way they want,” said King.

Charles Schwab Roth IRAs and apps can help customers plan for retirement.

“Planning gives investors more confidence about reaching their goals, and it also helps them remain focused on things like saving, portfolio diversification, and staying the course—something that is especially important given this period of uncertainty we’re all in right now,” said King.

Charles Schwab is an excellent choice for new investors in Roth IRAs.

2. Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge is another Roth IRA provider that is best for research. If an investor wants to learn more about a Roth IRA holding, they can research it on its app. Since Merrill Edge partners with Bank of America, more people are investing in Roth IRAs. Aron Levine is president of consumer banking and investments at Bank of America. He noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are investing in Roth IRAs.

“So many people are working from home, working digitally, checking their accounts and watching the stock market every day. If people are not going out to dinner or going shipping, they’re saving and investing,” said Levine.

Merrill Edge helps people fund a Roth IRA with excellent research from Morningstar.

3. Fidelity

In addition to Merrill Edge, Fidelity Roth IRAs are best for its mutual fund holdings. The mutual funds that are pooled with other investors to buy stocks are attracting customers to the company’s accounts. Robby Greengold is a senior analyst with Morningstar’s manager research team. He says Fidelity’s Roth IRAs are easy to use because they are a one-stop shop for account holders.

“Fidelity’s fundamental objective is to attract new clients, build durable relationships with existing clients and retain them. And that means building an ecosystem that’s meant to sit at the center of people’s financial worlds. Fidelity wants to give clients absolutely no reason to open an account with a competitor,” said Greengold.

Fidelity’s Roth IRAs are another option for investors.

4. E-Trade

Another Roth IRA option for investors is E-Trade’s Roth IRA. That option is best for account holders who want great returns on IRA investments. E-Trade will only grow after Morgan Stanley acquired the company. Greg McBride is Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. He noted that Morgan Stanley’s acquisition will help E-Trade reach more customers for their Roth IRAs.

“Wall Street banks continue to covet Main Street customers. Morgan Stanley’s acquisition of E-Trade gives them access to brokerage customers, employees with company stock, and the lifeblood of financial services – low-cost retail bank deposits,” said McBride.

Zero commission fees are key to more investments in Roth IRAs
Zero commission fees led to more Roth IRA investments

McBride also noted that during this economic recovery, E-Trade’s Roth IRAs can be attractive to investors.

“Between zero trading commissions and competitive yielding savings accounts and cash management products, the competition for consumers’ cash and investments is as fierce as ever. And this trend reaches a broad spectrum of households, it isn’t just the ultra-wealthy that are in demand,” said McBride.

5. TD Ameritrade

In addition to Morgan Stanley’s acquisition, TD Ameritrade is merging with Charles Schwab. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, the merger is still slated to continue. Charles Schwab spokesman Glen Mathison spoke about the merger.

“We remain fully engaged in planning for the integration.We don’t anticipate any impact on the deal as a result of the current environment”, said Mathison.

TD Ameritrade’s Roth IRAs are best for investors that want to be more hands-on with their retirement fund management.

Roth IRA’s are great retirement tool for investors

With its tax benefits, Roth IRA’s can be a sound financial option for people wanting to save for their retirement. With TradingSim’s simulated trades, investors can practice trading stocks that are part of the best Roth IRAs to save for their financial futures.

Credit: Tradingsim

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