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Bankrate's 2010 Tax Guide
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A quick look at retirement accounts

Here's a compact way to check the pluses and minuses of some different types of retirement accounts:

Comparing the accounts
Traditional IRAMay qualify for tax deduction.
Can contribute up to $5,000 for the year, or up to $6,000 if you're 50 or older in 2009. Contributions for the previous year can be made through April 15. The same contribution limits apply to the 2010 tax year.
Can take money out for qualified events without penalty.
Taxed as ordinary income, which could be a tax rate as high as 35 percent, when you start taking distributions.
Can start taking money out regularly at 59½.
Required to start taking money out after age 70½.
Can't contribute after age 70½.
Roth IRACan contribute up to $5,000 for the year, or up to $6,000 if you're 50 or older in 2009. Contributions for the previous year can be made through April 15. The same contribution limits apply to the 2010 tax year.
No tax deduction.
Can take out the money you've contributed at any time without penalty.
Can withdraw earnings after five years for qualified events.
Money not taxed when you take it out at retirement.
Don't have to take distributions at 70½.
Can contribute past age 70½.
Income limit: $105,000 to $120,000 for singles; $166,000 to $176,000 for married couples.
401(k)Contributions taken out of paycheck before payroll taxes are calculated.
Can save up to $16,500 for the year ($22,000 if you're 50-plus) in 2009. In 2010, minimal inflation will keep limits the same.
Can retire as early as 55.
Must take distributions at 70½, unless still working at same company.
Can contribute past 70½.
Federally protected from creditors.
Limited to the plan your employer designs/selects.
May or may not be able to borrow.
May or may not have matching contributions from employer.
Matching may be vested.
SIMPLE IRAContributions taken from paycheck.
Can contribute 100 percent of income, up to $11,500 in 2009; $14,000 if you're 50 or older. For 2010, the limits are the same.
Employer matching.
Immediately vested.
Option for self-employed.
SEP-IRAEmployees can contribute up to $49,000 for the year in 2009; the limit is the same for 2010, with annual cost-of-living adjustments for later years.
Functions like an IRA.
Option for self-employed.
No annual reporting requirements.
Solo 401(k)Can contribute 100 percent of income, up to $16,500 for tax years 2009 and 2010 ($22,000 if you're 50-plus).
Additional "employer's" contribution of up to 25 percent of yearly business revenue if incorporated (20 percent if a sole proprietor), with the 2009 cap set at $49,000 or $54,500 if age 50 or older.
Option for self-employed.
Additional paperwork and tax forms required.
Roth 401(k)Contributions taken out of paycheck.
Can save up to $16,500 for the year ($22,000 if you're 50-plus) in tax years 2009 and 2010.
No immediate tax benefit since money contributed is after-tax.
Contributions still grow tax-free.
Money not taxed when you take it out at retirement.
Can take distributions when you reach age 59½ and have held account for five or more years.
There are no income eligibility limits for Roth 401(k) plans.
Federally protected from creditors.
Limited to the plan your employer designs/selects.
May or may not be able to borrow.
May or may not have matching contributions from employer.
Matching may be vested.
Relatively new plan option, so not many employers offer it.
A similar Roth 403(b) plan exists for workers in the nonprofit sector.

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