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Definitions to help taxpayers better understand IRAs

Many taxpayers may have heard of Individual Retirement Arrangements, or IRAs, but some don’t know how IRAs help them save for retirement.
People can set up an IRA with a bank or other financial institution, a life insurance company, mutual fund or stockbroker. Here’s a list of basic terms to help people better understand their IRA options.

  • Contribution. The money that someone puts into their IRA. There are annual limits to contributions depending on their age and the type of IRA.
  • Distribution. The amount that someone withdraws from their IRA.
  • Required distribution. There are requirements for withdrawing from an IRA:
    • Someone generally must start taking withdrawals from their IRA when they reach age 70½.
    • Per the 2019 SECURE Act, if a person’s 70th birthday is on or after July 1, 2019, they do not have to take withdrawals until age 72.
    • Special distribution rules apply for IRA beneficiaries.
  • Traditional IRA. An IRA where contributions may be tax-deductible. Generally, the amounts in a traditional IRA are not taxed until they are withdrawn.
  • Roth IRA. This type of IRA that is subject to the same rules as a traditional IRA but with certain exceptions:
    • A taxpayer cannot deduct contributions to a Roth IRA.
    • For some situations, qualified distributions are tax-free.
    • Roth IRAs do not require withdrawals until after the death of the owner.
  • Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees. This is commonly known as a SIMPLE IRA. Employees and employers may contribute to traditional IRAs set up for employees. It may work well as a start-up retirement savings plan for small employers.
  • Simplified Employee Pension. This is known as a SEP-IRA. An employer can make contributions toward their own retirement and their employees’ retirement. The employee owns and controls a SEP.
  • Rollover IRA. This is when the IRA owner receives a payment from their retirement plan and deposits it into a different IRA within 60 days.

Average retirement-age Americans have this much in their 401(k), report says

Americans who are nearing retirement age have about $200,000 in their 401(k) accounts on average, a new survey found.

According to Vanguard’s “How America Saves 2019” report, published this month, the average American worker aged 65 and older has about $192,877 in their 401(k) and a median balance of around $58,035.

That’s nearly $20,000 more in their retirement fund than they typically have from age 55 to 64. While their median balance is slightly below that age group as well ⁠⁠— by about $3,700, it’s still considerable since many start tapping into their 401(k) starting at 65.

The areas that most influence account balances appear to be income, age and job tenure.

“These three factors are intertwined,” the report said. “Not only do incomes, on average, tend to rise somewhat with age, making saving more affordable, but older participants generally save at higher rates.”

Another demographic factor that affects 401(k) balance is gender, the report found.

“Sixty percent of Vanguard participants are male, and men have average and median balances that are about 50 percent higher than those of women,” the study said. “Gender is often a proxy for other factors, such as income and job tenure.”

Vanguard found that men have $106,796 in their 401(k) accounts on average, while women have $72,451 in their accounts on average. The median 401(k) balance for men is $27,030, while the median 401(k) balance for women is $17,620.

“Women in our sample tend to have lower incomes and shorter job tenure than men,” the report continued. “However, as noted earlier in this report, women tend to save more than men at the same income level.”

Compared by income, however, men and women have 401(k) balances that are within about 10 percent of each other, the report found.

The Vanguard report also found that 401(k) accounts were affected by industry, with accounts for agriculture, mining and construction employees higher than other industry employees.

The average balance for people in those industries is $164,029 and the median balance is $40,526, the report found.

Meanwhile, wholesale and retail trade employees had the lowest balances, with an average balance of $64,692 and a median balance of $12,146, according to the report.

As Americans are living longer, they’re more at risk of running out of their retirement savings.

On average, about half of Americans are on track to experience a potential shortfall covering essential expenses in retirement, according to Fidelity Investments.

In order to be better prepared for retirement and avoid running out of money, FOX Business reported earlier this month that workers should be prepared for health care expenses, delay claiming Social Security, plan for inflation by considering some growth-oriented assets and protect their savings, according to Keith Bernhardt, vice president of retirement income at Fidelity Investments.

By Ann Schmidt, Published June 24, 2019 FoxBusiness


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