What is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?

What is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Are you looking for a way to save for retirement while also taking advantage of potential tax benefits? An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) could be just the solution you need.

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a type of retirement savings plan that allows individuals to save for retirement in a tax-advantaged way. It provides a tax break for money saved in the account as long as it is used to fund a retirement plan.

two senior citizens walking with sticks in hand
What is an IRA?

Contributions to an IRA can be made up to a certain limit each year and can be invested in a variety of investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other types of investments. An IRA can be an effective way for individuals to save for retirement, as it offers tax advantages, investment flexibility, and the potential for long-term growth.

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What is Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are long-term savings accounts that people with earned income can use to save for the future while benefiting from tax breaks. The IRA is primarily intended for self-employed individuals who do not have access to official or workplace retirement accounts.

The workplace retirement accounts include the 401(k), which are only available through employers.

Where and How Can You Open an IRA account?

The points in this section explain the process of opening an IRA.

  1. Decide which type of IRA account you want. There are various types of IRA accounts, including Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, and Self-Directed IRA.
  2. Choose a financial institution. You can open an IRA at a bank, brokerage firm, credit union, or other financial institution.
  3. Complete the required paperwork. Your financial institution will usually provide the forms you need to open the account. You’ll need to provide personal information and decide how you want to fund the account.
  4. Fund the account. You can fund the account with a single lump-sum payment or by making regular contributions.
  5. Choose your investments. Once the account is opened, you must decide how you want to invest the money. This could include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, or other investments.

An IRA can be opened through a bank, an investment firm, an online brokerage, or a personal broker.

How does an IRA Work?

Anyone with earned income, including those with a 401(k) plan through their employer, can open and contribute to an IRA. Your annual contribution cap to your retirement accounts is the only restriction. When you open an IRA, you have the option of investing in a variety of financial products, such as stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and mutual funds.

One can only contribute to an IRA if one earns a living. Social Security benefits, dividends, interest, and child support payments are not counted as income.

There are even self-directed IRAs (SDIRAs) that allow investors to make all investment decisions on their own. SDIRAs provide access to a broader range of investments, such as real estate and commodities.

Traditional IRAs, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SIMPLE or Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees are all different types of IRAs. There are different rules and each has unique eligibility, taxation, and withdrawal policies.

Some specifications to understand are as follows:

  • Individuals can open both traditional and Roth IRAs.
  • SEP and SIMPLE IRAs can be established by small business owners and self-employed individuals.
  • An IRA must be opened with a financial institution that has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to offer these accounts.
  • Banks, brokerage firms, federally insured credit unions, and savings and loan associations are all options.

If you open a traditional IRA, you will have to pay income tax on any early withdrawal. A Roth account is funded with after-tax dollars, so no additional taxes are due when the funds are withdrawn.

Because IRAs are intended for retirement savings, there is usually a 10% penalty for withdrawing funds before the age of 59 1/2. There are, however, some notable exceptions such as withdrawals for educational costs.

What are the Different Types of IRAs?

This section discusses the different types of IRAs and their rules. Let’s see what they are:

Traditional IRA

In this type, the contributions are typically tax-deductible and earnings are tax-deferred until withdrawal.

Contribution Limits for 2022 and 2023

The maximum allowed annual individual contribution to traditional IRAs in 2022 is $6,000. If your age is 50 or more, you can also make a $1,000 catch-up contribution, for a total of $7,000.

The maximum annual individual contribution for 2023 is $6,500. For those aged 50 and up, the catch-up contribution remains $1,000.

If your employer does not provide a retirement plan, your traditional IRA contributions are fully deductible. However, if you have a 401(k) or 403(b) at work, your MAGI or modified adjusted gross income determines how much of your traditional IRA contributions can be deducted. It also decides if at all there can be any deductions made.

Having a Retirement Plan at Work

If you are single or are filing as the head of the family in 2022 and have a workplace retirement plan, your traditional IRA contributions are completely deductible if your MAGI is less than $68,000. Your MAGI must be less than $73,000 in 2023.

If you are married and are filing jointly, your traditional IRA contributions are completely deductible if your MAGI is less than $109,000 in 2022. Your MAGI must be less than $116,000 in 2023. As your MAGI rises, the deductibility of your contributions begins to decline.

For married couples in 2022, the income range that phases out the deductibility of traditional IRA contributions is $109,000 to $129,000. It ranges from $116,000 to $136,00 in 2023.

The phase-out range for single taxpayers or heads of households is $68,000 to $78,000. It ranges from $73,000 to $83,000 in 2023.

You don’t have a Plan but Your Spouse does

If you contribute to an IRA and do not have a workplace plan but are married to someone who does, the income phase-out range in 2022 is $204,000 to $214,000. It ranges from $218,000 to $228,000.

You can check the following table to determine your position:

Filing Status

2022 MAGI

2023 MAGI


Single or Head of Household




$68,000 or less

$73,000 or less

Full deduction up to your contribution level


More than $68,000 but less than $78,000

More than $73,000 but less than $83,000

Partial deduction


$78,000 or more

$83,000 or more

No deduction

Married Filing Jointly





$109,000 or less

$116,000 or less

Full deduction up to your contribution level


More than $109,000 but less than $129,000

More than $116,000 but less than $136,000

Partial deduction


$129,000 or more

$136,000 or more

No deduction

Married Filing Separately





Less than $10,000

Less than $10,000

Partial deduction


$10,000 or more

$10,000 or more

No deduction

Roth IRA

Contributions are made with after-tax dollars, so withdrawals in retirement are typically tax-free.

Roth IRA contribution limits for the 2022 and 2023 tax years are the same as traditional IRA contribution limits. However, there is a catch: Roth IRA contributions are subject to income limits.

For single filers, the phase-out range is $129,000 to $144,000 in 2022 and $138,000 to $153,000 in 2023. The phase-out range for married couples filing jointly is $204,000 to $214,000 in 2022 and $218,000 to $228,000 in 2023.

Income Limits for Contributing to a Roth IRA

Filing Status

2022 MAGI

2023 MAGI


Single or Head of Household





Less than $129,000

Less than $138,000

Up to the limit


$129,000 to less than $144,000

$138,000 to less than $153,000

Reduced amount


$144,000 or more

$153,000 or more


Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)





Less than $204,000

Less than $218,000

Up to the limit


$204,000 to less than $214,000

$218,000 to less than $228,000

Reduced amount


$214,000 or more

$228,000 or more


Married Filing Separately





Less than $10,000

Less than $10,000

Reduced amount


$10,000 or more

$10,000 or more



A simplified employee pension plan designed to help small business owners and the self-employed save for retirement.

A SEP IRA follows the same tax rules for withdrawals as a traditional IRA. SEP IRA contributions for 2022 are capped at 25% of compensation or $61,000, whichever is less.

The maximum allowed contribution for 2023 is $66,000.

Business owners who set up SEP IRAs for their employees can deduct the contributions they make on their employees' behalf. Employees, on the other hand, are unable to contribute to their own accounts, and their withdrawals are taxed as income by the IRS.


A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees is designed to help small businesses provide their employees with a retirement savings plan.

SIMPLE IRAs are also designed for small businesses and self-employed people. For withdrawals, this type of IRA adheres to the same tax regulations as a traditional IRA.

In 2022, the SIMPLE IRA employee contribution limit is $14,000, with a $3,000 catch-up limit (for workers aged 50 and older).

The contribution limit for 2023 is $15,500, with a maximum catch-up amount of $3,500.

SIMPLE IRAs, unlike SEP IRAs, allow employees to contribute to their accounts while also requiring the employer to contribute. All contributions are tax-deductible, which may put the company or employee in a lower tax bracket.

Rollover IRA

An IRA is created when assets from a previous employer-sponsored retirement plan are rolled over into a new IRA.

A roll-over IRA allows the owner of an existing retirement account to move its assets into a new IRA without having to pay any taxes or penalties. This type of IRA allows the owner to maintain their retirement savings in one account, while potentially taking advantage of different investment options and/or lower fees. It can also consolidate multiple retirement accounts into one, making it easier to manage.

Rollovers are the transfer of eligible assets from an employer-sponsored plan. These could include a 401(k) or 403(b), to an IRA.

What are RMDs or Required Minimum Distributions?

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are the minimum amount of money that must be withdrawn from a retirement account each year, beginning at a certain age. The account holders must start withdrawing funds starting in the year they turn 73 as of January 1, 2023. These distributions are required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and are subject to income taxes.

The amount of the RMD depends on the type of retirement account, the account balance, and the account owner's age. The money withdrawn from the account must be used to support the account owner's lifestyle. In 2023, the penalty is 25% of the account balance. This is half the previous penalty, but it is still costly enough to keep us on our toes.

What are the Benefits of Investing in an IRA?

Many financial experts believe that in retirement, you may need up to 85% of your pre-retirement income. In such a case, an employer-sponsored savings plan, such as a 401(k), may not be sufficient to accumulate the necessary savings. You can, fortunately, contribute to both a 401(k) and an IRA.

This brings us to take a closer look at the benefits you can derive from an IRA.

a woman holding a glass jar with coins in it
Benefits of IRA

Tax Benefits

IRAs offer tax advantages that can assist you in saving for retirement. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible, while qualified withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax-free.

Investment Options

IRAs offer a variety of investment options. These include stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. This gives you the opportunity to diversify your portfolio and maximize your potential returns.


IRAs are flexible and allow you to make withdrawals and contributions at any time. This allows you to adjust your retirement savings plan as your circumstances change.


IRAs are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), so your funds are safe and secure.


IRAs are portable, meaning you can take them with you if you move to another state or country.

Estate Planning: IRAs provide an additional way to pass on wealth to heirs. By designating beneficiaries, you can ensure the funds are distributed according to your wishes.

How does an IRA and a 401(k) Differ?

A 401(k) is a retirement account that is employer-sponsored. It is an account that allows employees to contribute pre-tax income towards the account while employers may match the contributions. An IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is an account that an individual can open and contribute pre-tax income to.

An IRA is not employer-sponsored and does not typically receive employer contributions, but it does offer greater flexibility in types of investments. The contribution limit for a 401(k) is higher than an IRA.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about IRA:

Q: When can I withdraw from my IRA?

A: The best time to withdraw from an IRA is when you are 60 or older. If you withdraw before the age of 59 1/2, you will be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty, in addition to any applicable taxes. Medical expenses, disabilities, first-time home purchases, and other unusual life events are exempt from this penalty.

In general, the longer you can wait before taking distributions, the longer the money has to grow.

Q: What are the benefits of having an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?

A: IRA offers you a tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. Depending on the type of IRA you use, an IRA can reduce your tax bill when you make contributions or take retirement withdrawals. Investment gains are either tax-deferred (in the case of a traditional IRA) or tax-free (for a Roth IRA).

That is, putting money aside for retirement either lower your taxable income for the year or eliminates taxes on your retirement funds.

We must know, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) is a government-run agency. It provides protection when a financial institution fails, insures IRAs. The FDIC insures customer deposits up to $250,000 per account in most insured banks or savings institutions.

Q: How Do I Begin a Roth or Traditional IRA?

A: Most banks, credit unions, online brokers, and other financial service providers can help you set up an IRA. Opening an account is as simple as going to a bank branch or going online and filling out a form.


In conclusion, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are a great way to save for retirement and can provide a variety of advantages for investors. They offer tax advantages, the ability to diversify investments, and a variety of custodians that can help you manage your account. Investing in an IRA should be part of any long-term financial plan and can help you to achieve your retirement goals.

How can Deskera Help You?

Deskera's unified financial planning tools help investors plan and track their investments more effectively. It can help investors make more accurate and timely decisions.

Deskera Books can assist you in automating your accounting and lowering business risks. Deskera simplifies invoice creation by automating many other procedures, reducing your team's administrative workload.

Deskera also offers a suite of integrated applications to help businesses manage their finances, inventory, and operations. Deskera also provides other business services and software such as human resources management (Deskera People), CRM (Deskera CRM), and enterprise resource planning (Deskera ERP). These could be crucial in assisting short sellers in staying on top of their businesses and making better decisions.

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Key Takeaways

  • IRAs are tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts. They function similarly to 401(k), but they do not require an employer to sponsor them.
  • Traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs are the four types of IRAs.
  • There are annual income limits on deducting contributions to traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, so the amount of tax you can avoid by investing in an IRA is limited.
  • IRAs are intended to be long-term retirement savings vehicles. If you withdraw money too soon, you defeat the purpose by reducing your retirement assets.
  • That is why, in most cases, money held in an IRA cannot be withdrawn before the age of 591/2 without incurring a hefty tax penalty which could be 10% of the amount withdrawn.
  • As of January 1, 2023, the age for taking (RMDs) required minimum distributions has been raised from 72 to 73.
  • This applies to withdrawals from traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, as well as SIMPLE and SEP IRAs. (Roth account owners are exempt from RMDs.)
  • The fine for failing to take an RMD has also been reduced, but it remains extremely harsh at 25% of the amount not withdrawn.
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