How does a Roth IRA work? What makes it different from a traditional IRA?
When it comes to taxes, a Roth IRA is pay-as-you-go; a traditional one is “bill me later.” To qualify for a Roth IRA, a married couple must have a combined adjusted gross income (that includes your paycheck, interest income and inheritance) of less than $159,000. If that's where the two of you fall, you can contribute up to $5,000 this year. Your Roth IRA isn't tax-deductible now, but you won't lose savings when you withdraw later in life. A traditional IRA, though, offers tax-deferred growth, which means you won't be taxed until you withdraw funds. It also has a maximum contribution of $5,000 for 2008. If you want to transfer your IRA to a Roth IRA, you'll be taxed all at once but you won't have to front any extra upon withdrawal as long as you wait to do so until you're 59½.