Tax-Deferred Savings Plan Definition

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Tax-Deferred Savings Plan Definition

What Is a Tax-Deferred Savings Plan?

A tax-deferred savings plan is a kind of investment account that enables a taxpayer to avoid paying taxes on money invested until it is withdrawn, usually after retirement. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s are the most well-known examples of such programs.

Key Takeaways

  • Two typical forms of tax-deferred savings programs are the 401(k) and conventional IRA.
  • The investor’s savings are not taxed as income until they are withdrawn, which is normally after retirement.
  • Because the money saved is subtracted from gross income, the investor receives an immediate tax advantage.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) qualifies tax-deferred savings programs, which enable taxpayers to contribute to the plan and deduct the amount from their taxable gross income for the year. Taxes on the contribution and its investment returns are only owed when the money is withdrawn, which is usually after the person retires.

Traditional IRA contributions are tax deductible, with certain income limits if the individual or their spouse has a workplace retirement plan. Contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, and income limitations apply to who may contribute to a Roth IRA. Money maintained in any sort of IRA, however, grows tax-free until withdrawn.

Benefits of Tax-Deferred Plans

The federal government established the tax-deferred savings scheme to encourage Americans to save for retirement. A person may contribute a part of his or her pretax earnings to an investing account.

There are several benefits to the individual:

  • The amount donated to the account reduces taxable earned income each year. This reduces the individual’s federal tax liability for the year.
  • The money is subsequently invested in mutual funds or other forms of investments of the individual’s choosing, with a balance that rises consistently until retirement. The pretax money increases the amount invested as well as its potential for development over time.
  • After retirement, the person may receive income from the fund.
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Tax-deferred 401(k) and IRA plans

Many employers provide their workers with a 401(k) plan for tax-deferred retirement savings. Similar vehicles exist, such as the 403(b) for public workers and the 457 for government personnel.

When an employer sponsors the plan, some firms may match a part of the employee’s contribution up to a specified amount (usually 3%).

Anyone with taxable income, including self-employed individuals, may create an IRA. These are accessible via banks and brokerages, and there are other investment possibilities available.

401(k) and conventional IRA owners must take required minimum distributions (RMDs) at the age of 72, which are normally taxed at individual income rates.

Other tax-deferred savings options

Aside from 401(k) plans and IRAs, numerous additional forms of investments provide tax deferral:

  • Tax-deferred annuities: A tax-deferred annuity, also known as a tax-sheltered annuity, is a long-term investment account that, like a pension, is meant to generate monthly income payments after retirement. This annuity is accessible from insurance providers. The investor contributes to the annuity account over time in order to accumulate a balance that will be paid out in installments after retirement. Contributions are not tax deductible, however taxes on gains in the account are not owed until annuitized distributions begin. Fixed annuities provide a guaranteed rate of return, while variable annuities enable the person to pick from a choice of assets that may enhance (or reduce) the payments received.
  • Tax-deferred US savings bonds: The Series EE Bond and the Series I Bond are government-issued US savings bonds that are tax-deferred and offer an extra tax advantage if used to fund educational expenditures. Series EE Bonds pay interest throughout the life of the bond, which is typically 20 years. Series I bonds pay interest for a period of up to 30 years. The interest paid to the bondholder is not taxed until the bond expires or is redeemed. Furthermore, if interest payments are utilized to pay for educational expenditures, they are exempt from income taxes.
  • Canadian RRSPs: A tax-deferred savings plan for Canadian taxpayers is the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). The RRSP shields what would otherwise be taxable income produced inside the account until it is withdrawn. Profits, including interest, dividends, and capital gains, are also tax-deferred until withdrawn.
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The interest on certain US savings bonds is tax-deferred and may be tax-free if utilized for educational purposes.

Non-Penalized Early Withdrawal

The withdrawal may be exempt from the early withdrawal penalty if it fits one of the following conditions (among many others):

  • The cash will be used to buy or rebuild a first house.
  • The account holder is rendered inactive.
  • Following the death of the account holder, the assets are distributed to a beneficiary.
  • Medical costs that were not paid are classified as assets.
  • College tuition, fees, and other higher education expenditures are covered by assets.

The Bottom Line

A tax-deferred savings plan enables you to postpone paying taxes on your invested funds until you need them in retirement. There are several methods for doing this, but if you have any issues, consult with a financial adviser or tax specialist.

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