Named for its legislative sponsor, William V. Roth Jr., Republican senator from Delaware, the Roth IRA became available in 1998 as part of the Tax Relief Act of 1997. Mr. Roth served as a senator from 1971 to 2001.
Congress originally created the Individual Retirement Account or IRA in 1974 as a retirement savings vehicle for people not otherwise covered by a company plan. Once you reach retirement age and begin taking distributions, you pay taxes on your withdrawals as if they were regular income.
The Roth IRA, by contrast, allows you to contribute and save after-tax money. As long as you own the Roth IRA for at least five years, you can take tax-free distributions beginning at age 59 1/2.
The IRS requires that you take minimum distributions from a "Traditional" IRA beginning at age 70 1/2, whether you need them or not. You never have to remove assets from your Roth IRA if you don't need them.
- Congressional Budget Office: Legislative History of IRAs
- Congress Bio Guide: William V. Roth Jr.
- IRS Publication 590: Are Distributions Taxable?
- IRS Publication 590: Must You Withdraw Or Use Assets?
- Internal Revenue Service “Income ranges for determining IRA eligibility change for 2021.” Accessed Nov. 3, 2020.
- Federal Register. "Designated Roth Contributions to Cash or Deferred Arrangements Under Section 401(k)." Accessed May 21, 2020.
- Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. "What is "Retirement"? Three Generations Prepares for Older Age," Page 27. Accessed May 20, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Roth Comparison Chart." Accessed May 20, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service “401(k) Plan Overview.” Accessed July 27, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service “Publication 560 (2019).” Accessed July 27, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service “ROLLOVER CHART.” Accessed July 27, 2020.
Julia Thomson began writing professionally in 1996. Her work has appeared in "Stage Directions," "Phoenix New Times" and "The Valley Callboard." Thomson has expertise in investing and personal finance, with three brokers' licenses and certification as a budget counselor. She holds a Master of Music from Indiana University.