Agree with Nats1488, not a simple answer.  I did a standard IRA because the Roth was not in existence at the time, but I think thru the years I would have made the same choice.  My income was strong at that time so needed the tax break then.  I'm just this year starting the RMDs of a standard IRA and I'm in a much lower tax bracket in retirement than I was while working. So, tho I'll pay taxes they will be less than if I'd had the choice of a Roth available. Both have pros and cons.

 

Great question, Rosalina! The main difference boils down to taxes — specifically, when you want to pay them, because we know Uncle Sam’s gonna get his cut. :-)

If you want to lower your tax bill now, consider a traditional IRA because you can deduct your contributions now, but you’ll pay taxes when you withdraw the money. With a Roth IRA, you contribute money you’ve already paid taxes on, hence, no tax break now — but the money is all yours tax-free in retirement! 

Another advantage of a Roth IRA is that you can access the money you contributed at any time, though you’ll typically have to wait until you’re 59 ½ to withdraw your earnings — otherwise, you’ll pay taxes and a 10% penalty. For a traditional IRA, under most circumstances you’ll pay the taxes and 10% penalty if you withdraw your earnings or contributions before age 59 1/2.

A final note: You can’t contribute to a Roth IRA if your income is above a certain amount. In 2019, the income limits are $137,000 for single filers and $203,000 for married filing jointly. There are no income limits for contributing to a traditional IRA.

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