If you own an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), you likely have a minumum of one great thing to say regarding the IRS. The tax advantages the IRS bestows on individual IRA investors are nothing short of candy. The way the IRS treats capital profits and other earnings that accumulate in your account, however, depends on the type of IRA you have.


When you have a mutual fund, as an example, the director of this fund often buys and sells shares the fund holds. If he sells a stock for a profit within a mutual fund, you are given a share of the capital gain the transaction generated. If a stock you have indirectly through a mutual fund produces a dividend, you’re entitled to your own part. Obviously, you can realize capital gains and dividends through ownership of individual stocks, just as you’re able to make interest on CDs, money market accounts and other sorts of investments. These advantages of investing are known as earnings. An IRA is an investment account designed primarily for retirement savings. Various types of IRAs offer you different tax advantages ; however, the two chief types of IRAs offer you tax-deferred growth.


Ordinarily, you have a Roth or traditional IRA, although some investors opt for the two. To comprehend the way capital gains are treated, understand how each IRA functions. With a Roth IRA, you contribute hard-won cash. At a traditional IRA, contributions are tax-deferred and could be tax-deductible. As soon as you hit age 59 1/2, also in case your Roth IRA has satisfied the five-year test, the IRS gives you every penny of your Roth IRA cash tax-free, according to Publication 590. Uncle Sam taxes the entire amount of your traditional IRA withdrawals, nevertheless. Typically, if you withdraw IRA money before reaching 59 1/2, you pay applicable taxes and an additional 10 percent tax penalty. In some specific scenarios, such as using ancient IRA distributions to pay for higher education or eligible medical costs, you can escape the 10 percent IRS levy.

Expert Insight

As Dan Caplinger of those Motley Fool notes, traditional IRAs work best for investors who need an immediate tax break. Roth IRAs would be the better option in case you don't mind paying taxes . With both IRAs, you enjoy tax-deferred growth. As you accumulate capital profits and other earnings, the IRS enables them grow tax-free in your IRA. In a regular taxable investment account, you have to pay capital gains and other taxes on your earnings annually when you file your tax return. As of 2010, the IRS notes that capital gains are generally taxed at a rate no higher than 15 percent. With a traditional IRA, capital gains wind up getting taxed at your regular tax rate–not the capital gains tax rate–when you take withdrawals. Considering that your Roth withdrawal is tax-free–up to the whole number of contributions you've created or rolled over, such as fulfilling the penalty-free qualifications–the IRS does not touch capital profits or other earnings.


If you expect to find yourself in a high tax bracket come retirement, a Roth IRA is probably the best selection for you. You won't need to think about a significant tax bill if you proceed to get your retirement funds. Besides, you can hang on to Roth IRA cash as long as you like. The IRS requires you to start taking money from your traditional IRA in the year once you flip 70 1/2.


Not everyone can contribute to an IRA. Specifics vary based on individual factors and the tax year. As of the 2010 tax year, some general principles apply. For example, according to IRS Publication 590, you are able to invest in a Roth IRA only if you have earned income–mostly compensation from work. While the principles regarding contributions are somewhat more liberal with traditional IRAs, then you may not be able to invest in an IRA–or at least put at the maximum allowable amount–in case you or your partner is covered by a workplace retirement plan. Consult your tax adviser.

See related