Individual retirement arrangements, commonly referred to as individual retirement accounts, offer certain financial advantages. Deposits into a traditional IRA, for example, might be tax deductible. The taxes on your earnings are also deferred until you start taking money out. Although contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax write-offs, withdrawals are not taxed. IRS rules govern age limits when making contributions to IRAs.
If you earn income and are younger than age 70 ½, you may open a traditional IRA. Generally, contributions are tax deductible, and the interest your account earns is not taxable until you begin to make withdrawals. Individual taxpayers set up traditional IRAs -- the plan is not an employer-sponsored program. To make new deposits to a traditional IRA, you must be under 70 ½, but you may roll funds from an eligible retirement account into a traditional IRA at any age.
The Simplified Employee Pension, or SEP, is a type of traditional IRA established through employers who want to contribute to their employees’ retirement funds. Business owners who sponsor an SEP in the workplace may also set up accounts for themselves under SEP rules. And, if you are self-employed, you may open a SEP account in your name. If you are an employee, you are eligible to participate in this retirement plan if you have worked for the company in at least three years of the previous five and are at least 21 years old. According to the IRS, the same tax rules that apply to traditional IRAs apply to SEP IRAs, implying that the SEP contribution age limit is also 70 ½. The employer must continue to make deposits to an employee's SEP fund regardless of how old he is.
If you earn an annual income that falls within the limit for Roth IRAs -- less than $179,000 if you are married and less than $122,000 if you are single in 2012 -- you may open this type of retirement account. The Roth IRA is not an employer-sponsored fund, and your deposits to the account are not tax deductible, but the distributions you receive from it at retirement are tax free. You may contribute to a Roth IRA indefinitely.
The Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees, or SIMPLE IRA, is an employer-sponsored retirement fund that lets the employer match employees’ contributions to their accounts. Businesses that have 100 or fewer staff who earned no less than $5,000 the previous year may offer this benefit. If you are a SIMPLE account holder, you may continue to contribute to your fund indefinitely. Your employer must also keep making deposits into your account regardless of how old you are. At age 70 ½, you must begin taking minimum withdrawals from your account to avoid penalties.
- IRS: Topic 451: Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
- IRS: Retirement Topics: IRA Contribution Limits
- IRS: Publication 560: Retirement Plans for Small Business
- IRS: 1. Traditional IRAs
- IRS: Retirement Plans FAQs regarding SEPs
- IRS: 2. Roth IRAs
- IRS: Retirement Plans FAQs Regarding SIMPLE IRA Plans
Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.