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Traditional vs. Roth IRA

By VerityCU September 29, 2020 Financial education

Authored by Gavin Chinn, CFS* advisor at Verity Credit Union

It’s tax time again, and a great time to talk about IRA accounts. (as if there is a bad time to talk about IRA’s…) IRA’s (Individual Retirement Arrangements) are accounts that are used to help people save for retirement. By providing significant tax advantages, IRA’s incentivize people to invest for the long term.

IRA accounts were first introduced in 1975 as a way to help people save for retirement in their own accounts. By the early 70’s, the pension system in corporate America was becoming increasingly underfunded. So, Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974. Along with regulating pension plans, retirement plans and health care plans, ERISA established the IRA.

In the beginning, the IRA contribution limit was the lesser of the following: 15% of your gross income or $1,500. Also, IRA’s were only available to people who were not covered by employer-sponsored retirement plans (this has since changed). The money you put into your IRA account was tax deductible, and when you pulled the money out, it would be taxable as income. ERISA also set a penalty of 10% if money was withdrawn before the age of 59 ½.

Throughout the years, there have been many changes to the rules governing IRA’s. Contribution limits were raised (including a provision for “catch up contributions”), income limitations were imposed and the Roth IRA was created. This is why they may seem so complicated today. So, let me give you a few basics about IRA’s:

  • Traditional IRAs: Your contribution is tax deductible,* and when you pull out the money (after age 59 ½) it is fully taxable.
  • Roth IRA’s: You contribution is not tax deductible, and when you pull out the money (after age 59 ½) it is tax free.
  • Traditional vs. Roth: Neither one is intrinsically better than the other. Deciding which is best for you will depend on your individual situation.
  • IRAs are not investments. They are accounts that can hold a variety of different kinds of investments. Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are just a few of the types of investments you can hold in an IRA.
  • Contribution limits (2020): $6,000 with an additional $1,000 allowed if you are 50 or older.

Investing for retirement is one of the most important things you can do. But it definitely can be confusing. And, IRA accounts can be an important component of your overall portfolio. Meeting with a ** CUSO Financial Services Financial Advisor at Verity Credit Union can be a helpful step in creating a sound retirement plan. If we can be of help, please feel free to contact us at (206) 361-5312 or email us to set up an appointment.


*Income limitations may apply
** Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, LP (“CUSO Financial”) (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CUSO Financial. Verity Credit Union has contracted with CUSO Financial to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. Atria Wealth Solutions, Inc. (“Atria”) is not a broker-dealer or Registered Investment Advisor and does not provide advice. CUSO Financial is a subsidiary of Atria.