I have done my initial homework on Roth IRA's vs Traditional IRA's and have come up with the following understanding of Roth IRA's. I am currently a single college student.

  • I pay tax on my income before choosing to put some into my Roth IRA.
  • When I pull out of my Roth IRA it will be tax free.
  • I am allowed (currently) to contribute $5500 a year to my Roth IRA; old videos I found said $5000.
  • There is a limit to how much I can save in a Roth IRA; I have to stop adding money at a certain point (I am not referring to the yearly limit here).
  • I can have multiple IRA's but they all count towards my yearly limit.
  • I can pull out money at any time from my Roth IRA without fees or tax penalties but I can not touch earnings (interest) that has accrued until I am 59 1/2 years old.

My Questions
Some of the videos I watched and articles I read either left me with the following questions or confused me to the point that I'm questioning what I thought I knew above. Can you please help me answer these questions:

  1. Are any of my points above incorrect?
  2. Is there really a limit to how much I can save over the Roth IRA's lifetime and if so what is it?
  3. How does marriage effect this? Can my wife for example have her own Roth IRA and be subject to her own $5500 yearly limit or do we get combined together?
  4. Are there any fees associated with having a Roth IRA? I would imagine this is bank specific?

I completely misunderstood question 2. After watching Roth IRA Contributions: 3 Keys You Need to Know I misunderstood earning to much in a year with a limit being placed on my Roth IRA.

For those interested in further clarification of Roth IRA rules, fees, and penalties see this question as well: Roth-IRA withdrawal penalty: 10% of what?

  • Instead of a link, can you summarize in a sentence what that video said? Links break, but more important, that's a lot of work for a reader to go through to just get the question . Apr 23, 2016 at 17:33
  • @JoeTaxpayer - This is a situation where the video makes more sense than what I could type and also provides more info to future users. I'm aware of link rot which is why that link goes to a YouTube video (low percentage of links rot from there) and included the full video name so people can find in on other blog sites besides YouTube. Apr 23, 2016 at 23:03
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    Minor exceptions: Roth earnings can be withdrawn taxfree (called 'qualified') after 59.5 OR IF you are disabled, die (to your beneficiary or estate, of course), or a first-time homebuyer (as defined in detail in pub 590-B, limited to $10k), but in all cases ONLY IF the account has been open 5 years. With the possible exception of homebuyer, you should ignore those in planning your retirement savings. Apr 24, 2016 at 3:26
  • @dave_thompson_085 - When you say "you should ignore those in planning your retirement savings" are you saying Roth IRA is not a good retirement strategy? I'm a 100% sole proprietor so I am looking at self funding my own retirement in multiple ways if possible. Apr 24, 2016 at 4:22
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    (1) I meant if you use a Roth IRA you should expect to delay earnings until 59.5 (or more) (and 5 years, but that's easy) and you should not expect to get them earlier by using the exceptions for disabled or dead. Being disabled or dead gives a tax benefit, but the nontax disadvantages outweigh the benefit. (2) Sole proprietor was not in your question and opens up more options, with higher contribution limits -- more than could be dealt with in a comment or maybe even a single question. See irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/… and/or Publication 560. Apr 25, 2016 at 3:09

1 Answer 1


Looks like you mostly have it right, a few comments on your points.

  • The amount you are allowed to contribute changes over time, your age, and your income level. You can check the limits here on the IRS website.
  • I'm not aware of any hard limit to how much total you can have in a RothIRA, just how much you can contribute.
  • Generally, your spouse can contribute to a Roth with the same rules as if you were not married. The exception is that a non-working spouse may contribute if filing jointly with a working spouse.
  • Fees - I'm not aware of any Roth specific fees other than plans administered by an employer. They will typically get the fees on trading transactions.
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    Bits of proposed tax code contained a limit, all retirement accounts having a maximum future of about $3M. Which of course, makes the PV a moving target. It hasn't passed and likely won't . Fees - brokers can charge an annual fee, often for accounts below a certain minimum. I'd research and be sure to know the cost of trading or any account fees. Apr 23, 2016 at 17:55
  • @JoeTaxpayer - That is a very good point about fees. Everywhere I research no one mentions that. Apr 23, 2016 at 23:04
  • @JohnFx - Do you have an more specifics on the rules about a spouse? I'm trying to find them myself and I think that would make this a more complete answer. Thanks. Apr 23, 2016 at 23:06
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    "Generally, your spouse can contribute to a Roth with the same rules as if you were not married." Not exactly. If filing as Married Filing Jointly, each of the spouses can contribute $5500 (for a total of $11000) if the joint income exceeds $11000, even if one of the spouses has no income. This would not be possible if the spouses weren't married.
    – user102008
    Apr 24, 2016 at 2:32

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