Roth 401(k)s May Offer Greater Tax Flexibility
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) July 29, 2014 – Employers who offer 401(k) retirement savings accounts are increasingly providing the option of a Roth 401(k). This presents workers with the same question that IRAs do: which to choose, traditional or Roth? According to a prominent Virginia estate planning attorney, the choice depends on individual circumstances, but Roth 401(k)s may generally offer greater tax flexibility.
“When an employer offers the option of contributing to both a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k), it can be wise to make at least some Roth contributions,” said Andrew Hook, an attorney with the Hook Law Center. “That way, in retirement, one can take distributions from the traditional 401(k) until the top of a tax bracket is reached, and then take additional tax-free Roth distributions.”
Part of the decision depends on when one wishes to pay taxes. With a traditional 401(k), funds are contributed pre-tax, meaning that they do not count as taxable income at the time the contribution is made. However, the funds and any earnings are taxed as ordinary income when distributions are made in retirement. An advantage to a traditional 401(k) is that if, as with most retirees, one’s income is reduced in retirement, the tax burden may be lessened within a lower tax bracket.
With a Roth 401(k), one pays tax on the income before funds are deposited in the account, but withdrawals in retirement may be tax-free. Some younger workers prefer a Roth 401(k) because they believe that they will be in a higher tax bracket after they retire than they are now. Whether or not it turns out that way for an individual saver, Roth accounts do have the advantage that earnings may grow tax-free, and younger workers have a longer time for their savings to grow before retirement. And, according to Hook, having some funds in a Roth account can give retirees greater flexibility at tax time.