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February 23, 2023

Understanding After-Tax Contributions: ROTH 401(k) and ROTH IRA

Did you know that when it comes to your retirement account, not all contributions are created equal? Tax implications can have a significant impact on your savings. 

In fact, after-tax contributions to a ROTH 401(k) or ROTH IRA can offer significant tax benefits while traditional 401(k)s and IRAs don't—just one of many reasons you might choose to include them in your overall plan for saving for retirement.

A bite-sized intro to ROTH 401(k) & ROTH IRA contributions

The phrase “after-tax contribution” means that the money you deposit into a ROTH 401(k) or  ROTH IRA account has already been taxed.

Paying taxes on the funds upfront can be convenient, but you’ll also enjoy several other key benefits: 

  • The opportunity to grow an asset on an after-tax basis and lock in a lower tax rate
  • Tax-free contributions and earnings
  • No income tax on funds withdrawn after you turn 59½ 

While contributions to a ROTH 401(k)/IRA don’t provide any current-year tax benefits, there are other long-term benefits to consider:

  • There are no required minimum distributions (RMDs) from a ROTH IRA
  • If a ROTH IRA is inherited, the new owner(s) are not required to withdraw all funds from the plan within ten years (as they would with a traditional IRA) 

Is a ROTH 401(k) or ROTH IRA right for you?

If you're not in a high federal income tax bracket and don't live in a high-tax state, making after-tax contributions to a ROTH 401(k) or IRA could be a good choice for you. You may also find these retirement savings options appealing if you don’t want to worry about income tax bills in retirement.  

If you’re looking for immediate tax benefits, it’s important to note that there are no current-year tax benefits to contributing to a ROTH 401(k) or IRA. Still, the long-term benefits outlined in the previous section can be substantial and are worth considering as part of your overall retirement savings strategy.

Maximum contributions for 2023

If you want to maximize your retirement accounts this year, you might be planning to save as much as possible by contributing large amounts to your ROTH 401(k) and ROTH IRA accounts. However, ROTH 401(k) and IRA contributions are capped by the IRS to prevent employees with higher pay rates from enjoying disproportionate tax savings.

Even if you're only planning to make modest after-tax contributions to a ROTH 401(k) or IRA, you need to understand the contribution limits for 2023. Contribution limits for ROTH 401(k)s aren’t determined based on your total income, but contributions to ROTH IRAs may be. 

Maximum contribution for a ROTH 401(k) in 2023

For ROTH 401(k)s, the 2023 maximum contribution is $22,500. If you’re over the age of 50, you may also contribute an additional $7,500 catch-up contribution in an effort to reach your retirement savings goals more quickly. 

Maximum contribution for a ROTH IRA in 2023

For ROTH IRAs, the 2023 maximum contribution is $6,500 with a $1,000 catch-up contribution available if you're over age 50. 

Withdrawing funds from a ROTH 401(k) or IRA

Whether you’re ready for retirement or you want to put your money toward a particularly large expense, you'll eventually need to withdraw the funds in your ROTH 401(k) or IRA. To maximize your money, timing is everything—as is understanding the individual rules for each type of account.

Withdrawals from a ROTH IRA are penalty-free (and tax-free) after a five-year holding period and after you reach age 59½. If you withdraw before that age, there are no penalties on withdrawals of contributions. However, your earnings from the withdrawal will be subject to federal income tax and a 10% penalty.

Similarly, if you take a hardship distribution from your ROTH 401(k), income tax and a 10% penalty will be applied. However, you may be able to avoid the 10% penalty if the hardship distribution meets one of the exemptions, so be sure to check with your accountant before moving any money. 

Questions? We’re here to help. 

After-tax contributions to a ROTH 401(k) or IRA offer several important benefits to support the growth of your retirement savings, but you might find that navigating the contribution limits, tax implications, and other factors is easier with advice from a professional.

We can evaluate the possible effects any financial decisions may have on your retirement savings, and assist in ensuring that you’re following the guidelines associated with your retirement savings account. Contact us today

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