With the limitations of how much money we can put in IRA, Roth IRA, or 401(k) account, I just thought, what if we plan to buy the stock and know we won't sell it until age 60 or 65, when our income will be drastically lower?

In this case, isn't it just as good to simply buy it in our regular stock account, instead of IRA Roth IRA, 401(k) account? There are quite many rules to how much we could put in, such as if our income is above about $170k, then we can't put any money in IRA or Roth IRA, but then if we don't plan to sell and invest in something else, then isn't it exactly the same either way?

(except for the case that Roth IRA is already post taxed investment that won't be taxed again, so it may be the same only for IRA and 401k?).

1 Answer 1


A few differences

  • Eventually, most stocks pay dividends. If you're holding a stock that you're going to continue holding for decades, it will probably produce a reasonable amount of dividends which will be taxable in the years the dividends are paid. There may be other taxable events if, say, the company gets bought out.
  • If you hold stocks in a taxable account and you sell them in several decades, you'll owe capital gains taxes which are, at least currently, lower than income taxes. If you hold stocks in a 401(k) or traditional, your withdrawals would be taxed as regular income (though at your presumably lower tax rate in retirement).

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