When the IRS extended the 2019 tax-filing deadline to July 15, 2020, it also extended the deadline for contributing to an IRA. If you haven't made your 2019 contribution yet and are worried that you may need the money for emergencies, a Roth IRA can provide a double benefit: Your money grows tax-free for retirement, but you can withdraw your contributions without penalties or taxes anytime.
"Funding your Roth is a use-it-or-lose-it opportunity each year,” says Mari Adam, a certified financial planner in Boca Raton, Florida. “A Roth IRA lets you move money into a special forever-tax-free account. Once you put money in that account, it will never be taxed again, for you or your heirs. That's an amazing opportunity rarely available in the investment world.” You can withdraw your earnings tax-free after age 59 1/2, as long as you've had a Roth IRA for at least five years.
Contributing to this type of IRA can be particularly valuable during volatile times. “The financial disruption being felt by so many is a harsh reminder of the value of having an emergency fund holding three to six months of essential living expenses,” observes Didi Dorsett, a certified financial planner in Occoquan, Virginia. “A Roth IRA, while intended to build retirement assets, may also provide much-needed relief during financially stressful periods, since you can withdraw your contributions (but not earnings) at any time without penalty or taxes.”
Who can contribute
You have until July 15 to contribute up to $6,000 to a traditional or Roth IRA for 2019 (or $7,000 if you were 50 or older). To qualify to make Roth IRA contributions, your 2019 modified adjusted gross income must have been less than $203,000 if you are married and filing jointly or $137,000 if you are single. The amount you can contribute to a Roth starts to phase out if your income is more than $193,000 as a joint filer or $122,000 as a single filer.
Some people don't realize they're eligible for a Roth IRA. You generally need to earn income from a job to make IRA contributions, but if you work and your spouse does not, you can contribute to a spousal IRA on his or her behalf (Roth eligibility is based on your joint income). If you are retired but earn part-time or freelance income, you can contribute up to the amount you earned from working for the year (up to the $6,000 maximum or $7,000 if 50 or older). There's no minimum or maximum age limit for contributions.
"One of the smartest steps you can take as a parent is to encourage your child to set up a Roth IRA account, with you as the custodian, and start contributing each year.”