Get the basics

What is a Roth IRA?

A Roth IRA is a type of IRA account for retirement savings. The advantages of a Roth IRA include no withdrawal requirements and tax-free qualified withdrawals after age 59½.

To be eligible for a Roth IRA, you must have earned income and meet adjusted gross income requirements. You can begin taking tax-free withdrawals after 59½ and continue making contributions after age 70½. The annual contribution limit for 2021 and 2022 is $6,000, or $7,000 if you're age 50+.

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Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA

The main difference between a Roth IRA and Traditional IRA is the way they are taxed. Your Roth IRA contributions are not tax deductible, but your qualified withdrawals in retirement will be tax-free. Read more about Traditional IRAs

Traditional IRA

  • Contributions may be tax deductible.
  • Anyone with earned income can contribute.
  • No age limit on contributions beginning with tax year 2020 provided you have earned income. 
  • Pay no taxes until money is withdrawn.
  • Starting with tax year 2020 you must begin making withdrawals by age 72 if you did not attain age 70½ by December 31, 2019.

Roth IRA

  • Contributions are not tax deductible.
  • Eligibility is based on how much you earn. Contribute at any age.
  • Never pay taxes on qualified withdrawals after age 59 ½.
  • Withdrawals are never required.

Roth IRA conversion

You can roll over most retirement plans including Traditional IRAs, 403(b)s and Roth 401(k)s to a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA conversion, you pay taxes when you convert, but you can withdraw your money tax-free in retirement. Learn more about IRA rollovers here.

converting might be a good choice if you want to…
  • Receive income-tax-free earnings in retirement
  • Keep funds in a retirement account as long as possible
  • Leave income-tax-free assets to your family and your heirs
Worth Considering
  • Money converted today is taxed at your current income tax rate.
  • Anyone can convert retirement savings to a Roth, regardless of income.

Thinking about converting?

Give us a call at 844-TIAA-IRA and we'll talk it through

Next steps

How to open a Roth IRA

Find out about your Roth IRA eligibility by starting a Roth IRA application online or calling us at


The steps to opening a Roth IRA are:

  1. Start your online Roth IRA application
  2. Fund your Roth IRA by making a contribution or rolling over money from your previous retirement account (by direct transfer or check)
  3. Review the investment options and choose the ones that are right for you
  4. Log in to your account and track your progress

What makes TIAA IRAs different?

Advice and support at no additional cost to help you figure everything out*

A wide array of investments

Flexible retirement income options

Learn more Learn more about TIAA IRA's Opens dialog
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This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.

* Some IRAs may be eligible for support only, and not advice services. Advice services use a methodology from an independent third party.

Withdrawals of earnings prior to age 59½ are subject to ordinary income tax and a 10% penalty may apply. Earnings can be distributed tax free if distribution is no earlier than five years after contributions were first made and you meet at least one of the following conditions: age 59½ or older or permanently disabled. Beneficiaries may receive a distribution in the event of your death. For governmental 457(b) plans, withdrawals are only allowed following separation from service or when you reach age 70½.

Before rolling over or consolidating assets, consider your other options. You may be able to leave money in your current plan, withdraw cash or roll over the assets to your new employer's plan if one is available and rollovers are permitted. Compare the differences in investment options, services, fees and expenses, withdrawal options, required minimum distributions, other plan features, and tax treatment. Speak with a TIAA consultant and your tax advisor regarding your situation. Learn more at

Certain securities may not be suitable for all investors. Brokerage Services are provided by TIAA-CREF Brokerage Services, a division of TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC.