All About the Traditional IRA

by | Jun 1, 2018 | Toby Talks Tax | 0 comments

My needs are fairly simple.  I’m a Canine.  I want pats, some good ol’ fashion ball-tossing, leather slippers, and kibble, and not necessarily in that order.  What else do I look forward to every day?  Checking in on my retirement accounts.  I like to keep an alpha stance when it comes to my future security. That means I spend energy on extra daily walks, lots of play time, and hefty contributions to my traditional IRA.

I’ll hang my head and confess to a bit of howling when I first heard about the traditional IRA.  At first learning about the retirement account seemed like digging through mud – there was a bone there somewhere, but I wasn’t getting to it anytime fast.  I kept scratching my way around Uncle Sam’s information sites, though, and eventually got to gnaw at the meat of the traditional IRA plan.

The traditional IRA is the most common type of IRA.  It’s technically defined as a retirement account established at a financial institution, called “the custodian,” that handles investment accounts. You’re allowed to make contributions of pre-tax dollars up to a certain amount each year. Your contributions may be tax-deductible, depending on your income, tax-filing status, and other important factors.   Then, when you turn 59 ½ years of age, you can start receiving distributions from the account.

One of the benefits of the traditional IRA is that if you change employers, you can rollover your company-based retirement account into a more “portable” one.  I’m a Canine, like I said.  I appreciate a good rollover as much as the next puppy does.  (Don’t worry, Boss.  I’ll remain loyal to you.) In this case, “rolling over” means you may be able to transfer funds from one IRA to another IRA dollar for dollar (including changing brokerage firms, if you want), without being punished fiscally.

Another benefit?  Under special circumstances, such as for educational expenses, medical expenses, and first-time home purchases, you can take funds from your traditional IRA before retirement age without incurring taxing penalties.  These are called early withdrawals.

The traditional IRA could be the government-sanctioned leader of the pack when it comes to retirement finances.  Its flexibility means that it has a leg up on some of the other types of retirement accounts.  But when I bite into something, I sniff around it a lot to make sure it’s exactly what I want.  That’s why I yowl at The Boss on a regular basis.  She ‘s my favorite retirement account whisperer.  And she gives me good scratches at the same time.


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