2

Can an individual have separate traditional IRA, roth IRA, 401k, roth 401k etc...? Assuming they somehow have the income to put into them, and yet are still eligible to have such accounts?

If not, what is the limit to types of retirement accounts a single person may have, (minus multiple accounts of the same type which I assume is possible, but the limits to what you can contribute will be capped the same as one account).

5

There's no limit on the number of accounts you can have. You can have one of each, or more than one of each. The limits generally apply across all accounts of a given type, or of related types. For instance, the IRA contribution limit is the total amount you can contribute to all of your IRA and/or Roth IRAs in a single year; having multiple accounts (or having a Roth and traditional IRA) doesn't increase the limit. Likewise, the 401k limit is the same no matter how many different 401ks you have.

So there's no intrinsic benefit to having more than one of each kind. It just makes it harder to keep track of, and increases the risk of contributing too much (because each provider may track your contributions into their account, but they can't know if your overall contributions are too high because you also contributed to other accounts). Sometimes you may wind up with multiple ones temporarily if you change banks for some reason, or you may keep multiple ones to take advantage of particular advantages of each one, but opening extra ones in and of itself doesn't gain you anything.

  • 3
    I disagree about "no extra benefit". Consider free trades for IRA on various brokerages, discounted fees for "own" ETFs etc, various types of investments that you can only do in one place but don't want to put all your money there... There are definitely benefits. – littleadv Jan 10 '16 at 8:33
  • 1
    @littleadv: What I mean is that open extra ones in and of itself provides no advantage. It may make sense to open a new IRA at a particular provider to take advantage of things like those you describe, but if you want to do those things, you get the benefits regardless of how many other IRAs you have. In other words, there may be an advantage to specifically "opening an IRA at bank X", but there's not an advantage to generally "having more IRAs". – BrenBarn Jan 10 '16 at 19:21
  • There's if you want to have different advantages of different providers... If you want part, but not all, of your IRA be in a self directed Lending Club, another part, but not all, be in gold bullions, and another part, but not all, invested in stock market, etc etc etc. – littleadv Jan 11 '16 at 1:24
3

Yes, you can most definitely have multiple accounts.

Keep in mind that 401(k) accounts depend on your employers - you have an account with the employer's plan, which can be traditional/Roth/after-tax/combination of the above. Some employers allow keeping your accounts with the plan after you leave, others don't. So, after switching multiple employers, it is definitely possible to have multiple 401(k) accounts. These accounts are entirely separate and independent.

IRA is individual retirement arrangement. You can have multiple accounts with multiple providers, but from legal perspective they're all pooled together. This is important for the backdoor Roth IRA transactions, RMD, etc.

Contribution limits are per account type, regardless of how many accounts you have. So if you have multiple employers with multiple 401(k) accounts, you still can only contribute $18K a year from your deferrals.

  • so between all my IRA's i would be capped to 5500 per year contribution, and between all my 401k accounts: 18k a year? – frogeyedpeas Jan 11 '16 at 2:16
  • @frogeyedpeas yes – littleadv Jan 11 '16 at 2:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.