Choice between pre-tax and Roth 401k plans trickier than you think

Difference Between Pre-Tax Vs. After-Tax Investments

He oversees editorial coverage of banking, investing, the economy and all things money. Be sure you understand how it could affect your savings plans and RMDs. If you’re young and confident that you’ll be earning more and in a higher tax bracket in the future, the Roth 401 may be a good choice. But even if you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s, you might want to take a close look at the Roth option. Damian Davila is a Honolulu-based writer with an MBA from the University of Hawaii.

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  • After-tax contributions are made to your DCP account after taxes are deducted from your paycheck.
  • For example, you contribute pre-tax dollars to your 401 plan, but you will eventually pay tax on those dollars when you withdraw the money from the plan.
  • Choosing between pre-tax and Roth 401 contributions may be trickier than you expect, according to financial experts.
  • Once you’ve opened a specific type of account—for instance a traditional 401—it’s tempting to just figure you’re set.
  • Traditional contributions give you an income tax break right away.
  • For additional perspectives on services provided by Brighton Jones, please seek out other publicly available reviews and information, or ask us to see additional client perspectives.

• There are exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty, such as a first-time home purchase, college expenses, and birth or Difference Between Pre-Tax Vs. After-Tax Investments adoption expenses. Provides options for different taxadvantaged distribution strategies at different stages of retirement.

Roth IRAs

Eighty-eight percent of employers are concerned about their employees’ personal information, yet only 35% offer data security and protection as a benefit today. You can choose to allocate part of, or all of your salary deferral to the Roth, or all or part of your salary deferral to your traditional 457 or 401 pre-tax account. Of course, these financial guidelines are quite general, and your personal financial profile must be taken into account. Speak to your financial planner about the ideal way to structure your accounts. Virtual Assistant is Fidelity’s automated natural language search engine to help you find information on the site.

Form 8606 must be filed for every year you make after-tax (non-deductible) contributions to a traditional IRA and for every subsequent year until you have used up all of your after-tax balance. Julia Kagan has written about personal finance for more than 25 years and for Investopedia since 2014. The former editor of Consumer Reports, she is an expert in credit and debt, retirement planning, home ownership, employment issues, and insurance.

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That means you can avoid taxes on earnings, such as capital gains and dividends, until you withdraw them from the account at retirement. A traditional 401 is the original version of the plan and is usually referred to simply as a 401.

If it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make a meaningful difference in your tax bucketing strategy. For example, if you plan to change jobs soon, only plan to make Roth 401 additions temporarily, etc. Client testimonials are not representative of all third-party opinions. For additional perspectives on services provided by Brighton Jones, please seek out other publicly available reviews and information, or ask us to see additional client perspectives.

Understanding After-Tax Contributions

Lately, however, financial advisers have been pointing their older clients toward Roth accounts as well. Unlike a Roth IRA, there are no income limits on a Roth 401, so the door is wide open for older, higher-earning employees to get the benefits of tax-free withdrawals later on. No income limits – Most tax-advantaged plans have income limits. Employer plans limit the degree of participation for workers with high incomes through anti-discrimination rules. IRAs and Roth IRAs impose income caps which prohibit contributions for years in which the caps are exceeded, although non-deductible IRA contributions are not subject to an income limit. An after-tax account is available to anyone, regardless of income.

When you retire what happens to your 401k?

Generally speaking, retirees with a 401(k) are left with the following choices—leave your money in the plan until you reach the age of required minimum distributions (RMDs), convert the account into an individual retirement account (IRA), or start cashing out via a lump-sum distribution, installment payments, or …

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How to Calculate the Pretax Rate of Return

If you aren’t sure whether your employer sponsors a 401 or Roth 401 plan, then reach out to its human resources department. Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice, and the information provided is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney, tax professional, or other advisor regarding your specific legal or tax situation. In general, to roll after-tax money to a Roth IRA, earnings on the after-tax balance must, in most cases, also be withdrawn. Converting after-tax 401 contributions to a Roth account is an option. After converting to a Roth, earnings can grow and be distributed tax-free if certain requirements are met.

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You pay federal and state income tax on the money you put into the Supplemental Retirement and Savings Plan on an after-tax basis. The investment earnings accumulate tax-free and are paid to you tax-free at the time you receive it as long as the withdrawal is qualified.

Pre-tax retirement savings accounts

Contributing the amount needed to get the maximum employer matching contribution is another reason to consider pretax contributions. It is easier to contribute the amount needed to get the full match because the tax savings results in a smaller reduction in an employee’s paycheck.

Is it better to invest pre-tax or post-tax?

Pre-tax contributions may help reduce income taxes in your pre-retirement years while after-tax contributions may help reduce your income tax burden during retirement. You may also save for retirement outside of a retirement plan, such as in an investment account.

Brighton Jones LLC (“Brighton Jones”) is an SEC-registered investment adviser located in Seattle, Washington. Brighton Jones and its representatives are in compliance with the current filing requirements imposed upon SEC registered investment advisers by those states in which Brighton Jones maintains clients. Brighton Jones may only transact business in those states in which it is registered, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. For example, say you’re retired and decide to start pulling $5,000 a year out of your Roth IRA. That’s money you don’t have to pay any taxes on; it’s all «post-tax» money. There are many factors to consider regarding taxes during retirement. Do some research to understand some important elements that may impact the level of taxes you pay.


The Supplemental Retirement & Savings Plan gives you a choice between making your contributions on a tax-deferred or after-tax basis or a combination of tax-deferred and Roth after-tax. We highly recommend that you seek help—if needed—from a tax professional. When you retire, income you receive may be taxed differently than when you were working.

Difference Between Pre-Tax Vs. After-Tax Investments

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