A Traditional IRA is an individual retirement account that is held at a custodian institution, such as a bank or brokerage. Funds in an IRA may be invested in any financial instrument that the custodian allows. For instance, a bank may allow certificates of deposit (CDs) or a brokerage may allow stocks and mutual funds.
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To be eligible to contribute to a Traditional IRA you only need sufficient income to make the contribution. However, the IRS mandates strict eligibility requirements based on income, filing status, and availability of other retirement plans for the contributions to be tax-deductible. Transactions in the account, including interest, dividends and capital gains are not subject to tax while still in the account, but withdrawals are subject to federal income tax. (This is in contrast to a Roth IRA, in which contributions are not tax-deductible, but qualified withdrawals are tax free.)
The principal advantage of a Traditional IRA is that contributions may be tax-deductible. Also, if a taxpayer expects to be in a lower tax bracket after retirement than during the working years, then a traditional IRA has appeal. Another advantage of a Traditional IRA is that the taxpayer gets the tax benefit immediately.
• Some contributions into a Traditional IRA are tax-deductible (depending on income level)
• Withdrawals from a Traditional IRA may begin at age 59-1/2 and are mandatory by 70-1/2.
• Taxes are paid on earnings at the time they are withdrawn from the IRA
• Funds can be used to purchase various investments (stocks, bonds, certificates of deposits, etc.) and thus help to diversify your portfolio
• No income restrictions, so Traditional IRAs are available to everybody
• Any funds withdrawn (including principal contributions) before 59 1/2 are subject to a 10% penalty (subject to exception).