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What is a Traditional IRA?

A Traditional IRA is a type of IRA account for retirement savings. With a Traditional IRA account, contributions are tax-deductible (for most people) and only subject to income taxes at the time of withdrawal.

To be eligible for a Traditional IRA, you must have earned income. There is no age limit on contributions beginning with tax year 2020 provided you have earned income. You can begin taking penalty-free withdrawals after 59½. The annual contribution limit for 2023 is $6,500, or $7,500 if you're age 50+.

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Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA

The main difference between a Traditional IRA and Roth IRA is the way they are taxed. Your Traditional IRA contributions are tax deductible, but you will pay taxes on your withdrawals in retirement. Read more about Roth 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  • Pay no taxes until money is withdrawn.
  • Withdrawals are required by age 73.1

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.

What are the key benefits and features of a Traditional IRA?

Make contributions, regardless of your income.

Contributions are often tax deductible.

Pay no taxes until you take money out.

Next steps

How to open a Traditional IRA

Find out about your Traditional IRA eligibility by starting a Traditional IRA application online or calling us at 844-TIAA-IRA

The steps to opening a Traditional IRA are:

  1. Start your online Traditional IRA application
  2. Fund your Traditional 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 costs to help you figure everything out*

A wide array of investments

Flexible retirement income options

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1Your RMD Applicable Age was 70 ½ if you were born before 7/1/49; 72 if you were born on or after 7/1/49 or in 1950; 73 if you were born between 1951 and 1958; 75 if you were born in 1960 or later. If you were born in 1959, federal guidance is needed to determine if your RMD Applicable Age is 73 or 75.

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 Morningstar Investment Managment, LLC.

Withdrawals of earnings prior to age 59½ may be subject to ordinary income tax and a 10% penalty.

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.