Roth IRA vs. Roth 401(k): 6 key differences

401(k) programs that offer tax advantages for workers investing for retirement are known as Roth 401(k) plans. As an employee-sponsored plan, you can only take advantage of a Roth 401(k) at work. The standard 401(k) is another important plan that provides considerable tax advantages for retirement savings, but in a slightly different way.

If you’re considering a Roth 401(k) for your retirement funds, here’s what you need to know.

What is a Roth 401(k) and how does it work?

As an employee benefit, you may be eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored Roth 401(k). The money you put into the account comes from your salary, and it is then invested in a variety of stocks, bonds, and other types of financial instruments. Roth 401(k) contributions are taxed at a lower rate than traditional 401(k) contributions.

Tax-free withdrawals at retirement age, which begins at age 5912, are one of the most attractive features of Roth 401(k)s, according to financial experts. Instead of receiving an immediate tax benefit, employees who contribute to a Roth 401(k) do so with money they’ve already paid taxes on (k).

A Quick Guide to Roth 401(k)s (k)

An array of benefits, including the previously mentioned reductions in taxable income, are available through a 401(k).

The following are some of these advantages:

    1. Many employees appreciate the ability to make donations directly from their paychecks since they know they won’t lose any money.
    2. This means that you don’t have to pay any annual tax on the growth of your contributions.
    3. Employers may match your contributions up to a maximum of 5% of your salary in order to help you save more money for retirement. It’s like a 100% return with no risk, but it may take a few years for the match to vest.
    4. Employees will be able to save up to $19,500 in 2021, which is a significant amount of money for their future selves. Employer match is not included in this calculation.
    5. Employees over the age of 50 are eligible for a catch-up contribution of $6,500.
    6. Depending on your employer’s plan, you may be able to take out a loan on your savings.
    7. Depending on your employer’s plan, you may be able to obtain some professional advice on how to invest in pre-selected investment funds.
    8. You can transfer your retirement savings to a new company’s plan, roll them over to an IRA, or even maintain them with your previous job if you so choose..
    9. There are extra advantages to using a Roth 401(k).
    10. As opposed to regular 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, there are no required minimum distributions in the Roth IRA.
    11. Like a Roth IRA, there are no income restrictions on eligibility.
    12. The advantage of tax-free withdrawals in old age is, of course.
    13. The 401(K) savings calculator at Bankrate will assist you in estimating your future savings.

When are Roth 401(k) withdrawals allowed?

The inflexibility of 401(k) accounts, whether Roth or regular, is a fundamental downside. As a result, it’s difficult to get any money out of the account before the age of 59 12.

If you meet two conditions, you can take tax-free withdrawals from a Roth 401(k).

It must be kept for at least five years before the account can be closed.

A distribution occurs when the account’s holder achieves the age of 59 1/2, or if the account holder dies or becomes disabled.

The bonus tax may not be imposed even if you withdraw money out of the account earlier. To put it another way, your distribution from a Roth 401(k) comprises of your contributions (which you’ve already paid taxes on) plus the gains on the account (which have yet to be taxed).

You may have to take a loan against the value of your Roth 401(k) account if you want to withdraw your funds tax-free, but this is not always a wise decision.

Your plan may, however, provide a distribution in the event of extreme hardship. Distributions must address a “urgent financial need” in order to be eligible for this type of grant. Medical bills, the purchase of a primary dwelling, college tuition for your immediate family, funeral expenses, and a few other charges could all fall under this umbrella.

As a result, your hardship withdrawals are restricted to the amount of money you have contributed to the account (i.e., without counting your employer’s match). You can also take money out of the hardship withdrawal to pay any taxes that are incurred as a result of the withdrawal.

Minimum withdrawals from a Roth 401(k) account must be started at the age of 72, according to the plan. By rolling over your account to a Roth Individual Retirement Account, you can bypass this requirement without incurring a penalty.

Don’t overlook the Roth 401(k) employer match (k)

The possibility of a company match is one of the nicest features of a 401(k), whether it is a Roth or a regular plan. Your employer is solely responsible for determining whether or not you receive a benefit. In addition, your employer has complete control over the match’s level.

Employers often match a percentage of your pay up to a maximum of 5%. Employers may contribute an additional 5 percent of their pay if you contribute 5 percent. Your Roth 401(k) will accumulate 10% of your annual pay (k).

Your contribution may be matched in whole or in part, at the discretion of the employer. As an example, if your company matches 100% of your first 3% and 50% of your next 3%, it would contribute a total of 5%. 4 percent of your 5 percent investment would be matched, with 3 percent at 100% and 2 percent at 50%. A 7 percent contribution from you would get you an additional 5 percent from the corporation.

Employees should, at the very least, make a contribution equal to or greater than their employer’s matching contribution. To summarize, the match is a low-risk, high-reward investment opportunity that you simply cannot pass up. It’s important to keep in mind that any employer match goes into a standard 401(k), not a Roth plan.

Traditional 401(k) vs. Roth 401(k) (k)

With the Roth 401(k), taxes are the most significant difference from the standard 401(k).

You pay taxes on your contributions to a Roth 401(k) because you make them with after-tax dollars. Investing in a tax-free account allows your money to grow tax-free. Taking money out of a retirement account tax-free is a significant advantage when it comes to paying off debt and saving for the future.

Pre-tax contributions to a standard 401(k) account allow you to defer paying taxes on your earnings for the current year. After then, your investments continue to grow in the account, free of annual taxes. When you take money out of your retirement account, it is taxed as income.

401(k)s and Roth 401(k)s: Which is better?

An ongoing argument exists as to whether type of retirement plan is superior, the standard or Roth 401(k). The Roth 401(k), on the other hand, is favored by many financial gurus because of its tax-free withdrawals in retirement. And you won’t have to pay any taxes on whatever capital gains you make each year.

In comparison to a standard 401(k), there is a significant tax benefit. A standard 401(k) provides tax-free contributions, but tax-free withdrawals at retirement are the norm.

Is there a way to balance these two advantages?

If you plan to pay higher tax rates in the future, a Roth IRA is a better option than a traditional IRA. Using this strategy, you can avoid paying high tax rates when you take money out of the account while paying reduced rates when you deposit it.

On the other hand, traditional 401(k)s may be a better option if you believe interest rates will fall in the future, such as if you estimate your retirement income to be lower than your present salary (k). Withdrawals will be taxed at tomorrow’s reduced rates because you avoided taxes today at the higher rates.

If you currently have money in a standard 401(k), a Roth 401(k) may be a better option (k). Both programs have their advantages and disadvantages to consider while deciding which one is best for you.

Are there any limitations on how much I may contribute to both 401(k)s?

A 401(k) and Roth 401(k) can both be contributed to over the course of a year, but the account must be set to one or the other at any one moment. Regardless of how you divide your annual payments, the total annual cap is still in place.

The account can be adjusted such that contributions are designated as either a Roth 401(k) or a standard 401(k) during the first half of the year, for example. You must speak with the person in charge of your insurance plan.

It is the job of the 401(k) administrator to keep track of the contributions made to each account type in order to compile the necessary tax records for when the participant reaches retirement age.

The gist of the matter

In addition to tax-free withdrawals, the Roth 401(k) has many other advantages for individuals who are saving for retirement. If you’re in the upper echelons of the income spectrum and aren’t eligible for a Roth IRA because your income is too high to qualify for one, this is an excellent option for you.

Scroll to top