An IRA limits you to certain types of investments and your account must be supervised by a custodian or trustee. An account other than an IRA doesn't require you to answer to a trustee and it's easier to make your own investment decisions. The Internal Revenue Service refers to individual retirement accounts (IRAs) as qualified plans, while non-IRA structures are unqualified plans. As a qualified plan, the IRA is subject to certain regulations that apply to all qualified plans, such as 401 (k) and 403 (b) plans.
Like consumer savings plans, the IRA has its own specific regulations. Unqualified savings and investment accounts don't have an advantage that qualifies for taxes. There are also income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA and for deducting contributions to a traditional IRA. However, you can withdraw your Roth IRA contributions at any time and for any reason, tax-free and without penalty.
Roth IRA contributions are made with after-tax money, so there is no tax relief the year the contribution is made. Depending on the type of IRA you choose, you'll get an initial tax break the year you make contributions to the account (with a traditional IRA) or a secondary tax break that makes your retirement withdrawals tax-free (using a Roth IRA). However, the normal distributions of a Roth IRA are not taxable, which is a benefit that is not available with a traditional IRA. Employer plans have been developed over time and some use the structure of an IRA in a small employer environment, such as the simplified employee IRA (SEP) or the employee savings incentive compensation plan IRA (SIMPLE).
On the other hand, IRAs are tax-deferred or tax-free accounts (depending on the type of IRA you choose), but there are strict contribution limits and withdrawals can carry a penalty. The following infographic will discuss other major differences you should know between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA, highlighting their benefits to help you determine which option is right for your specific retirement goals. If you think you'll need access to the money early, the Roth IRA offers more penalty-free options. Investment options are limited compared to brokerage accounts (for example, you can't have overdraft options), but contributions and profits increase tax-free or tax-deferred, depending on whether you have a Roth or traditional IRA.