• You can benefit from tax-advantaged investing in an IRA.
  • Consider contributing to an IRA even if you participate in a qualified employer sponsored-retirement plan (QRP).
  • Find out which type of IRA – Traditional or Roth – is right for you.

IRAs can help you meet your retirement goals

Even if you already participate in a qualified employer sponsored-retirement plan (QRP) such as a 401(k), 403(b) or governmental 457(b), an IRA can help supplement these savings. Similar to a 401(k), IRAs offer the potential for growth in a tax-advantaged account. Over time, that can make a significant difference in your retirement savings.


Types of IRAs

Both Traditional and Roth IRAs offer tax advantages, a wide variety of investment options, the flexibility to choose whether or not to invest annually, and the same contribution limits. 

  • Traditional IRA - Offers tax-deferred growth potential. You pay no taxes on any investment earnings until you withdraw or “distribute” the money from your account, presumably in retirement.1 Additionally, depending on your income, your contribution may be tax deductible.1 
  • Roth IRA – Offers tax-free growth potential. Earnings are distributed tax-free in retirement, if a five-year waiting period has been met and you are at least age 59½, or as a result of your death, disability, or using the first time homebuyer exception. Since contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars, there is no tax deduction regardless of income. 
  • Who can contribute to an IRA - You and your spouse, if filing jointly, can contribute to a Traditional IRA if you are under age 70½ and have earned income. You can make a non-deductible contribution to a Traditional IRA even if your income exceeds Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) deduction limits. You and your spouse, if filing jointly, can contribute to a Roth IRA at any age as long as you have earned income and are at or under MAGI phase-out limits. 
  • Small business SIMPLE & SEP IRAs - SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs are often offered by small businesses as a retirement plan for their employees. These plans can be ideal for small businesses with a few employees. A SEP IRA is a Traditional IRA that holds employer contributions under the SEP plan.2

IRA contribution limits and deadlines

IRS rules state how and by what date you can make your IRA contributions. IRA contributions must generally be made by April 15 for the prior tax year. If you are over 50, within a particular tax year, you can contribute an additional $1,000 catch-up amount each year. 

Call us to discuss the exact date for this year and the amount you can contribute, or check out IRS Publication 590 found here:


Retirement plan distribution options 

When you change jobs or retire, you generally have four options for your retirement plan assets:

  1. Roll assets to an IRA
  2. Leave assets in your former employer’s plan, if the plan allows
  3. Move assets to your new/existing employer’s plan, if the plan allows
  4. Cash out through what’s called a “lump sum distribution,” pay taxes and perhaps a 10% IRS tax penalty
There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. The best one for you depends on your individual circumstances.3  Since your retirement plan savings may represent a substantial source of income in retirement it’s important to think about all of the following:  

  • The difference in fees and expenses between the QRP and IRA
  • When penalty-free distributions are available
  • Your need for help making investment decisions and other services offered
  • Any special considerations regarding your employer stock
  • Timing of required minimum distributions (RMDs)
  • Protection of assets from creditors and bankruptcy
We can sit down and look at your choices together so you can decide which one makes the most sense for you. Before you make any decision or take any action, speak with your current retirement plan administrator and tax professional. 


Next steps

  • Make an appointment with us to go over your IRA choices.
  • Fund your IRA.
  • Find out if you can deduct your Traditional IRA contribution. 


1
Traditional IRA distributions are generally taxed as ordinary income. Qualified Roth IRA distributions are federally tax-free provided a Roth account has been open for more than five years and the owner has reached age 59-1/2 or meets other requirements. Qualified Roth IRA distributions are not subject to state and local taxation in most states. Both may be subject to a 10% IRS tax penalty if distributions are taken prior to age 59-1/2.


2Withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax and may be subject to a federal 10% penalty if taken prior to age 59-1/2. For SIMPLE IRAs, the federal penalty increases to 25% if a distribution is taken prior to two years from the first deposit made into a participant’s account if under age 59-1/2.

3Please keep in mind that rolling over assets to an IRA is just one of multiple options for your retirement plan. Each of the following options is different and may have distinct advantages and disadvantages.
  1. Roll assets to an IRA
  2. Leave assets in your former employer’s plan, if plan allows
  3. Move assets to your new/existing employer’s plan, if plan allows
  4. Cash out or take a lump sum distribution 
When considering rolling over assets from an employer plan to an IRA, factors that should be considered and compared between the employer plan and the IRA include fees and expenses, services offered, investment options, when penalty free withdrawals are available, treatment of employer stock, when required minimum distributions begin and protection of assets from creditors and bankruptcy. Investing and maintaining assets in an IRA will generally involve higher costs than those associated with employer-sponsored retirement plans. You should consult with the plan administrator and a professional tax advisor before making any decisions regarding your retirement assets.
  • Generally you have four distribution choices for your qualified employer–sponsored retirement plan (QRP) assets
  • Each has unique factors to keep in mind
  • Know all of your options before making a decision

Decide which option is right for you 

If you’re changing jobs or retiring, you’ll need to decide what to do with assets in your 401(k) or other qualified employer-sponsored retirement plan (QRP). These savings can represent a significant portion of your retirement income, so it’s important you carefully evaluate all of the options.   

Generally, you have four options:

  • Roll the assets to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
  • Leave the funds in your former employer’s retirement plan (if allowed)
  • Move savings to your new employer’s plan (if allowed)
  • Withdraw or “distribute” the money

Roll the assets to an IRA

Rolling your retirement savings to an IRA provides the following features:

  • Assets continue their tax-advantaged status and growth potential
  • You can continue to make annual contributions, if eligible
  • An IRA often gives you more investment options than are typically available in an employer’s plan
  • You also may have access to investment advice 

Before rolling your assets to an IRA consider the following: 

  • IRA fees and expenses are generally higher than those in your employer’s retirement plan
  • Loans from an IRA are prohibited
  • In addition to ordinary income, distributions prior to age 59 1/2 may be subject to a 10% IRS tax penalty
  • IRAs are subject to state creditor laws
  • If you own appreciated employer securities, favorable tax treatment of the net unrealized appreciation (NUA) is lost if rolled into an IRA

Leave the funds with your former employer 

You may be able to leave your retirement plan savings in your former employer’s plan, assuming the plan allows and you are satisfied with the investment options.  You will continue to be subject to the plan’s rules regarding investment choices, distribution options, and loan availability.  

Keeping assets in the plan features: 

  • Investments keep their tax-advantaged growth potential
  • You retain the ability to leave your savings in their current investments
  • You may avoid the 10% IRS early distribution penalty on withdrawals from the plan if you leave the company in the year you turn 55 or older (age 50 or older for certain public safety employees)
  • Generally, have bankruptcy and creditor protection
  • Favorable tax treatment may be available for appreciated employer securities owned in the plan

Move savings to your new employer’s plan 

If you’re joining a new company, moving your retirement savings to your new employer’s plan may make sense. This may be appropriate if:

  • You want to keep your retirement savings in one account
  • You’re satisfied with the investment choices offered by your new employer’s plan
This alternative shares many of the same advantages and considerations of leaving your money with your former employer. In addition, there may be a waiting period for enrolling in your new employer’s plan. Investment options are chosen by the QRP sponsor and you must choose from those options.


Withdraw or “distribute” the money 

Carefully consider all of the financial consequences before cashing out. The impact will vary depending on your age and tax situation.  Distributions prior to age 59 1/2 may be subject to both ordinary income taxes and a 10% IRS tax penalty. If you must access the money, consider withdrawing only what you need until you can find other sources of cash. 

Features 

  • You have immediate access to your retirement savings and can use however you wish.
  • Although distributions from the plan are subject to ordinary income taxes, penalty-free distributions can be taken if you turn:
    • Age 55 or older in the year you leave your company.
    • Age 50 or older in the year you stop working as a public safety employee (certain local, state or federal) — such as a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, or air traffic controller — and are taking distributions from a governmental defined benefit pension or governmental defined contribution plan. Check with the plan administrator to see if you are eligible.
  • If you own employer securities, a distribution may qualify for the favorable tax treatment of NUA.
Keep in mind

  • Your former employer is required to withhold 20% of your distribution for federal taxes.
  • Distribution may be subject to federal, state and local taxes unless rolled over to an IRA or another employer plan within 60 days.
  • Your investments lose their tax-advantaged growth potential.
  • Your retirement may be delayed, or the amount you’ll have to live on later may be reduced.
  • Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to access a portion of your funds while keeping the remainder saved in a retirement account. This can help lower your tax liability while continuing to help you save for your retirement. Ask your plan administrator if partial distributions are allowed.
  • If you leave your company before the year you turn 55 (or age 50 for public service employees), you may owe a 10% IRS tax penalty on the distribution.

What to consider if you own company stock

Net unrealized appreciation (NUA) is defined as the difference between the value at distribution of the employer security in your plan and the stock’s cost basis. The cost basis is the original purchase price paid within the plan. Assuming the security has increased in value, the difference is NUA.  NUA of employer securities received as part of an eligible lump-sum distribution from an employer retirement plan qualifies for special tax treatment. In most cases, NUA will be available only for lump-sum distributions — partial distributions do not qualify.

We can help educate you so you can decide which option makes the most sense for your specific situation.


Next steps

  • Learn about your choices before taking a distribution
  • Pay special attention to taxes, penalties and fees associated with each action
  • Contact us or your  tax professional if you have questions about how to proceed


When considering rolling over assets from an employer plan to an IRA, factors that should be considered and compared between the employer plan and the IRA include fees and expenses, services offered, investment options, when penalty free distributions are available, treatment of employer stock, when required minimum distributions begin, protection of assets from creditors, and bankruptcy. Investing and maintaining assets in an IRA will generally involve higher costs than those associated with employer-sponsored retirement plans. You should consult with the plan administrator and a professional tax advisor before making any decisions regarding your retirement assets. Withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax and may be subject to a federal 10% penalty if taken prior to age 59 1/2.


Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and legal advisors to determine how this information may impact your own situation.