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New Retirement Plans

More choices for 401(k) and 403(b) plans mean the sky's the limit on your retirement-planning options.

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This story appears in the April 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Roth IRA has been with us since 1997. It gave us, for the first time, a choice between paying taxes on retirement-plan contributions at the beginning of the process or deferring them until the end. Starting this year, we get the same option for employer-sponsored 401(k) and 403(b) plans.

If your company offers the new option, you'll be able to waive immediate tax deductions for retirement contributions. In place of the immediate tax deductions (which you've given up), you'll get the right to tax-free growth and withdrawals later. Unless you're likely to be in a significantly lower tax bracket in retirement than you're in now, it's a good option to consider. But be aware that taking the Roth option will decrease your take-home pay in the short term, since your 401(k) contribution will no longer be pretax. Still, as long as you wait until you're at least 59 and a half years old and you've had the account five years or more before making withdrawals, you'll make it up later. (Since you've already paid taxes on your contribution dollars, you can take what you've contributed at any time with no tax or penalty. Just remember that removing anything limits your growth potential.)

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