Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is a type of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that offers tax-free profits and withdrawals during retirement. It is an individual retirement plan to create a corpus for a happy retirement life. Roth IRAs are a popular retirement savings option because of their flexibility and potential tax savings.  This article will help you to understand this plan in detail.

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What is a Roth IRA?

A Roth IRA meaning is, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that allows earning individuals to save and invest money for retirement. This is the best pension plan that provides you with tax-free interest and returns benefits.

Roth IRAs offer flexibility in terms of contributions and withdrawals. This allows the account holders to continue to grow their savings tax-free for as long as they wish.

You can also open a Roth IRA Account in the name of your spouse. This gives an advantage to a married couple to potentially double their retirement savings.

Features of a Roth IRA

Features Details
Flexibility of Contributions
  • Can be made at any time
Roth IRA Options
  • Individual Roth IRA: In your name
  • Spousal Roth IRA: In the name of your non-working spouse
Spousal Roth IRA
  • Must be non-working
  • Contributions in the account of your spouse in made from your income
  • Made from the income left after paying the taxes
  • Contributions are not tax-deductible
Minimum Contribution Limit N/A
Maximum Contribution Limit
  • For the Year 2022:
  • Age < 50 Years: $6,000
  • Age > 50 Years: $7,000
  • For the Year 2023:
  • Age < 50 Years: $6,500
  • Age > 50 Years: $7,500
Contribution Time Limit Contributions must be made by the tax-filing deadline for the current year
Criteria to Start Distributions No criteria to compulsorily start distributions at a certain age
Lock-In/ Holding Period for Withdrawals
  • 5 Years
  • From the day of 1st contribution to the Roth IRA, or
  • Day of Rollover from Roth 401(k)/ Roth 403 (b) to Roth IRA
  • Day of the switch from Traditional IRA to Roth IRA
Early Withdrawals
    • No Penalty, if you withdraw to purchase 1st home
  • No Penalty, if required to cover education expenses
Withdrawals During Retirement
  • After the Age of 59 ½ Years: Tax-free
  • Before the Age of 59 ½ Years: 10% Penalty Tax+ Ordinary Tax on Withdrawals
  • For withdrawals, it is required to complete 5-Year Holding Period
Tax Benefits
  • No tax is deducted from the contributions made to the Roth IRA account
  • No Tax on profits earned from contributions
  • No Tax on withdrawals/ returns from contributions after retirement

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Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, an individual must meet the following criteria:

Eligibility Criteria Details
Age Limit No Limit 
Income Criteria
  • Individuals must have earned income, for example:
  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Tips
  • Self-employment income
  • Exclusions: Unearned income, like investment income
Criteria for Spouse Roth IRA
  • File a Joint Tax Return
  • Income should be higher than the contribution limits for Spouse's Roth IRA
Income Limits to Join Roth IRA Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) should be: For the Year 2022: Up to $144,000  For the Year 2023: Up to $153,000
Income Limit for Spouse Roth IRA Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) should be: For the Year 2022: $214,000 or less For the Year 2023: $228,000 or less

How Does Roth IRA Work?

Let us learn the working of a Roth IRA from the list mentioned below: 

Step 1: Open Roth IRA

Individuals falling into the eligibility criteria apply to open a Roth IRA account. 

Step 2: Contributions 

Contribute the Income saved after paying taxes to the Roth IRA as per the prescribed limits by IRA.

Step 3: Investment Options

Roth IRA account holders can choose from a wide range of investment options, like:

  • Stocks

  • Bonds

  • Mutual Funds

  • ETFs

Step 4: Tax-Free Growth 

The returns on the investments grow tax-free. This means that the account holder does not have to pay taxes on their profits.

Step 5: Withdrawals 

Withdrawals made from a Roth IRA after the age of 59 ½ years are tax-free. Provided, the account has been open for at least 5 years.

However, early withdrawals for Roth IRA accounts are subjected to taxes and penalties.

Step 6: No Required Minimum Distributions

There are no criteria to start minimum distributions from a Roth IRA account at a certain age. This allows the accountholder to continue to grow their investments tax-free for as long as they want.

How to Open a Roth IRA Account?

Opening a Roth IRA account is a great way to save for retirement and potentially save on taxes. 

The steps you can follow to open a Roth IRA account are as follows:

  1. Choose a Provider

    You can choose from a list of Roth IRA providers, they are: 

    • Banks

    • Brokerage Firms

    • Robo-advisors

    Research different providers to select a pension option with features and investment plan that best meet your needs.

  2. Gather Necessary Information

    Provide all the required information to open a Roth IRA account:

    • Name

    • Address

    • Social Security Number

    • Date of Birth

  3. Fund the Account

    Fund your Roth IRA account with after-tax income. You can fund your account with a lump sum or set up automatic contributions to make regular deposits.

  4. Choose Investments

    Upon funding your Roth IRA account with contributions, you can choose from a range of investment options. Consider your investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon when choosing investments.

  5. Review and Manage Your Account 

    Once your Roth IRA account is funded, it is important to regularly review your investments and adjust your portfolio as needed. You should also monitor your account activity and fees to ensure that you are on track to meet your retirement goals.

Withdrawals from a Roth IRA

You can make withdrawals from a Roth IRA at any time by requesting your account provider, either online or by phone.

Here are some of the rules and regulations that must be followed to avoid penalties and taxes:

Withdrawal Criteria from Roth IRA Details
Age Requirements For tax-free withdrawal of contributions:
  • Age of 59 ½ Years & Above
5-Year Rule Holding Period of 5 years, i.e. Roth IRA account must be open for at least 5 Years
Distribution Rules
  • Qualified Distributions: Tax-free & Penalty-free
  • Non-Qualified Distributions: Subjected to Tax & Penalties
Penalty Exceptions on Early Withdrawals
  • If funds are required to purchase 1st home
  • If funds are needed for qualified educational expenses

Roth IRA vs Traditional IRA

Roth IRA and Traditional IRA are two types of Individual Retirement Accounts that have some key differences, which are as follows:

Particulars Roth IRA Traditional 
Tax Treatment
  • Contributions are made after-tax deductions from income
  • Qualified withdrawals in retirement are tax-free
  • Contributions made are tax-deductible
  • Retirement withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income
Income Limits
  • Contributions are subjected to income limits
  • Contributions are not subjected to income limits
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) Roth IRAs do not have RMDs during the account holder's lifetime Account holders should start taking distributions at age 72, even if they don’t need money
Early Withdrawal Penalties 10% penalty on withdrawals taken before age 59 ½  10% penalty on withdrawals taken before age 59 ½ 

Roth IRA vs 401k Plan

Let us learn the major differences between a Roth IRA plan and a 401k IRA plan from the table below:

Particulars 401k Roth IRA
Tax Treatment
  • Contributions are pre-tax
  • Withdrawals in retirement are taxed as ordinary income
  • Contributions are made with after-tax income
  • Qualified withdrawals in retirement are tax-free
Contribution Limits The contribution limit for a 401k in 2022 is $20,500 The contribution limit for a Roth IRA is $6,000
Employer Match Many employers offer a matching contribution for their employees' 401k contributions No such criteria for the employer’s contribution
Early Withdrawal Penalties
  • 10% penalty on withdrawals taken before age 59 ½ 
  • Allow for penalty-free withdrawals at age 55 if you retire or leave your job
10% penalty on withdrawals taken before age 59 ½ 

Benefits of Roth IRA

Roth IRA has several benefits that make it a popular pension scheme option. Here are some of the key benefits of a Roth IRA:

  1. Tax-Free Withdrawals

    The qualified withdrawals, including both contributions and earnings, are tax-free.

  2. No Criteria of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

    Roth IRA does not require account holders to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) at a certain age. This allows you to let your money grow tax-free as long as you want, without being forced to withdraw it.

  3. Flexible Withdrawals

    Roth IRA allows account holders to withdraw their qualified contributions at any time, without penalties or taxes. However, withdrawals of earnings may be subject to taxes and penalties.

  4. Tax Diversification

    Roth IRA as a retirement savings strategy can help you to diversify your tax exposure during retirement. This means that you will have both tax-free and taxable income streams to draw from, which can help you manage your tax liability in retirement.

  5. Estate Planning Benefits

    Roth IRA can also provide estate planning benefits, as it allows you to name beneficiaries who can inherit the account tax-free. This means that you can leave a legacy for your loved ones without burdening them with a tax bill.

  6. Spousal Roth IRA

    A spousal Roth IRA allows you to open an additional Roth IRA account for your non-working spouse. This is a valuable tool for married couples who want to maximize their retirement savings and take advantage of the tax benefits of a Roth IRA.

In Brief

A Roth IRA can be an excellent option for individuals who want to save for retirement and potentially save on taxes. It allows you to contribute after-tax income and an opportunity to grow your investments tax-free. This way, account holders can potentially build a sizable retirement nest egg that can provide tax-free income in retirement.


  • What is better a 401k or a Roth IRA?

    Deciding whether a 401k or a Roth IRA is better for you depends on your financial situation and retirement goals. Here are some factors to consider: If you anticipate being in a higher tax bracket in retirement, a Roth IRA may be a better choice. If you have the financial means to max out your contribution limits, then a 401k can allow you to save more for retirement. If your employer offers a match, it may be beneficial to contribute to a 401k to take advantage of this benefit.
  • What is a Roth IRA in Australia?

    Roth IRA is not available in Australia as it is specific to the USA. However, several retirement savings options in Australia share tax benefits and other features same to a Roth IRA. A few of them are as follows:
    • Superannuation Account (same as Roth IRA)

    • Non-Concessional Contribution

  • What is a disadvantage of a Roth IRA?

    The list of some potential disadvantages of a Roth IRA plan is as follows:
    • No immediate tax benefits in the year they are made as tax benefits are provided on withdrawals

    • The annual contribution limit for a Roth IRA is lower than that of a 401k 

    • Roth IRA contributions are subject to income limits 

    • No early withdrawal exceptions

  • Who qualifies for Roth IRA?

    To be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, you must meet certain requirements. Here are the basic qualifications:
    • You must have earned income from a job or self-employment to contribute to a Roth IRA

    • Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) should be:

      • For the Year 2022: Up to $144,000 
      • For the Year 2023: Up to $153,000

    There is no age limit for contributing to a Roth IRA.

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^The tax benefits under Section 80C allow a deduction of up to ₹1.5 lakhs from the taxable income per year and 10(10D) tax benefits are for investments made up to ₹2.5 Lakhs/ year for policies bought after 1 Feb 2021. Tax benefits and savings are subject to changes in tax laws.
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^^The information relating to mutual funds presented in this article is for educational purpose only and is not meant for sale. Investment is subject to market risks and the risk is borne by the investor. Please consult your financial advisor before planning your investments.

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