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Comparing Roth 401k vs. Roth IRA: Which is Right for You?

In this article, we'll compare the Roth 401k and Roth IRA to help you determine which is the right choice for your retirement savings.

Blog Author - Keertana Anandraj
Keertana Anandraj
Feb 14, 20244 minutes
Blog Author - Keertana Anandraj
Keertana Anandraj

Keertana Anandraj is a part-time freelance writer and full-time sustainability analyst. Before Justworks, she began her freelance career writing for The Financial Diet and Career Contessa. She currently resides in New York City.

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When it comes to saving for retirement, there are many options available. Two popular choices are the Roth 401k and the Roth IRA. Both offer tax-free growth and withdrawals in retirement, but there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we'll compare the Roth 401k and Roth IRA to help you determine which is the right choice for your retirement savings.

What is a Roth 401k?

A Roth 401k is a retirement savings account offered by employers. It is similar to a traditional 401k in that contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, but the key difference is that withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. This means that you won't have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw from your Roth 401k in retirement, unlike with a traditional 401k where withdrawals are taxed as regular income.

Pros of a Roth 401k

  • Tax-free withdrawals in retirement

  • No income limits for contributions

  • Higher contribution limits compared to Roth IRA

  • Employer matching contributions (if offered)

Cons of a Roth 401k

  • No immediate tax benefits (contributions are made with after-tax dollars)

  • Limited investment options chosen by employer

What is a Roth IRA?

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that is not tied to an employer. Note that a Roth IRA is different from a Traditional IRA. It is funded with after-tax dollars, and like the Roth 401k, withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Pros of a Roth IRA

  • Tax-free withdrawals in retirement

  • More investment options compared to Roth 401k

  • No required minimum distributions (RMDs)

  • Can withdraw contributions at any time without penalty

Cons of a Roth IRA

  • Income limits for contributions

  • Lower contribution limits compared to Roth 401k

  • No employer matching contributions

Comparing Roth 401k and Roth IRA

Now that we've covered the basics of each retirement account, let's compare the two in more detail.

Contribution Limits

One of the main differences between the Roth 401k and Roth IRA is the contribution limits. For 2024, the contribution limit for a Roth 401k is $23,000, with an additional $7,500 catch-up contribution for those over 50. On the other hand, the contribution limit for a Roth IRA is $7,000, with an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution for those over 50.

This means that if you have the means to contribute more to your retirement savings, a Roth 401k may be the better option for you. However, if you are unable to contribute the maximum amount, a Roth IRA may be a more feasible choice.

Income Limits

Another key difference between the two retirement accounts is the income limits for contributions. With a Roth 401k, there are no income limits for contributions. This means that anyone, regardless of their income, can contribute to a Roth 401k.

On the other hand, a Roth IRA has income limits for contributions. For 2024, the income limit for single filers is $161,000 and for married couples filing jointly, it is $240,000. If you make more than these amounts, you are not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Investment Options

When it comes to investment options, a Roth IRA offers more flexibility compared to a Roth 401k. With a Roth IRA, you can choose from a wide range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more. On the other hand, a Roth 401k typically has a limited selection of investment options chosen by your employer.

If you prefer to have more control over your investments, a Roth IRA may be the better choice for you. However, if you are comfortable with your employer's investment options, a Roth 401k may be a suitable option.

Employer Matching Contributions

One of the biggest advantages of a Roth 401k is the potential for employer matching contributions. This means that your employer contributes a certain amount to your retirement savings based on your contributions. This can significantly boost your retirement savings and is not an option with a Roth IRA.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Another key difference between the two retirement accounts is the requirement for minimum distributions. With a Roth 401k, you are required to start taking distributions at age 72, even if you don't need the money. This is known as a required minimum distribution (RMD).

On the other hand, a Roth IRA does not have RMDs. This means that you can leave your money in the account for as long as you want, allowing it to continue growing tax-free.

Which is Right for You?

Now that we've compared the Roth 401k and Roth IRA, you may be wondering which is the right choice for you. The truth is, it depends on your individual financial situation and goals. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

If You Want to Maximize Your Contributions

If you have the means to contribute the maximum amount to your retirement savings, a Roth 401k may be the better option for you. With a higher contribution limit, you can save more for retirement and potentially reach your savings goals faster.

If You Want More Investment Options

If you prefer to have more control over your investments, a Roth IRA may be the better choice for you. With a wider range of investment options, you can choose the ones that align with your risk tolerance and financial goals.

If You Want Employer Matching Contributions

If your employer offers matching contributions, a Roth 401k may be the better option for you. This can significantly boost your retirement savings and is not an option with a Roth IRA.

If You Want to Avoid Required Minimum Distributions

If you want to avoid required minimum distributions, a Roth IRA may be the better choice for you. This allows you to leave your money in the account for as long as you want, allowing it to continue growing tax-free.

Comparing options

Both the Roth 401k and Roth IRA offer tax-free growth and withdrawals in retirement, but there are some key differences between the two. By considering factors such as contribution limits, income limits, investment options, and employer matching contributions, you can determine which option is the right choice for your retirement savings.

How Justworks Helps

Offering a 401(k) as a small business doesn’t have to be difficult. With Justworks, a 401(k) option is built right into our platform for your employees to access. When you opt in, we help with setup so the hard part is off your plate. Simply sit back and watch your employees grow their retirement savings. Get started today!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Keertana Anandraj
Keertana Anandraj
Feb 14, 20244 minutes

Keertana Anandraj is a part-time freelance writer and full-time sustainability analyst. Before Justworks, she began her freelance career writing for The Financial Diet and Career Contessa. She currently resides in New York City.

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