Retirement Planning: What's the Difference Between Roth IRA and Roth 401(k)?

Take the time to evaluate your retirement savings options

There are two main options in retirement accounts: Roth IRA and 401(k). Both types of accounts allow you to contribute funds after taxes, meaning you pay taxes up front when depositing money rather than later when you're withdrawing funds. However, despite their similarities, these accounts also have different perks and drawbacks, depending on your financial situation and retirement plan. Here are a few key differences between these types of retirement accounts.


1. Contribution amounts

If you have a lot of disposable income, a 401(k) might be more appealing to you. The ceiling on yearly contributions to a 401(k) is higher than a Roth IRA. Employees can contribute up to $16,500 per year, but the cap is set at $22,000 for workers over 50. In contrast, a Roth IRA only allows $5,500 per year and that amount increases to $6,500 at age 50. So if you earn more and would like to contribute more of it to your retirement, a 401(k) might be a better option for your financial situation.

2. Distributions

A benefit of a Roth IRA is that you never have to withdraw or receive distributions from the account. It can exist, basically forever, without any required distributions. However, a Roth 401(k) will require distributions starting at age 70 and a half. Most of the time, the account holder is likely retired by that point and needs the money anyway. If you don't want to withdraw, you can probably convert your 401(k) into an IRA or transfer the funds to a new account. If you plan to be retired by then, a 401(k) might work well for you. If not, maybe you should consider a Roth IRA instead.

3. Match amounts

A benefit of a 401(k) is that an employer as the opportunity to match workers' contributions up to a certain percentage. This is basically free money. The match portion would be treated just like any other 401(k) contribution because it goes in pretax. Meaning, taxes will have to be paid on the money when it's time to distribute it. So you can't have employer matching contributions on a Roth 401(k). A Roth IRA doesn't have this perk for the same reason. The employer's money can't be put in after tax. However, nowadays, you'll be hard pressed to find an employer that does match amounts so this perk only applies in a few instances.

4. Income limits

Roth IRA accounts prevent contributions once you earn more than $176,000 in modified adjusted gross income for married couples. If you're single, the limit starts at $120,000. However, a Roth 401(k) has none of these restrictions. You can continue to contribute to your account regardless of your yearly income. If you're a high wage earner, a Roth IRA might not even ever be an option for you.

5. Borrowing against your account

With Roth 401(k), you can borrow up to 50 percent of the account balance or $50,000 — whichever is smaller. However, if the loan isn't paid back by the terms of the agreement when it comes time to take out the money, it could be considered a taxable distribution if you're under 59 and a half years old. This option isn't available with a Roth IRA, but there are some work arounds if you really want to take loan out against your balance.



**5) Borrowing against your account**

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