Difference Between IRA vs 401 (k)
IRA stands for Individual Retirement Accounts which is used as a retirement savings tool. Investment in IRA for retirement savings comes with tax saving advantage. There are mainly three types of IRA i.e. Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and Rollover IRA. IRA can be opened with financial institutions by either individuals or businessmen for retirement savings with taxation benefits.
401 (k) similar to IRA is also a retirement saving plan with taxation advantage. 401 (k) plan shall be sponsored and established by employer wherein employer has the option to contribute in the 401 (k) account. Employers offering the 401 (k) may choose to offer matching contribution or any other contribution to the 401 (k) account.
IRA vs 401 (k) are very frequently used and common retirement saving options with taxation advantage. Both IRA vs 401 (k) can be used by either individuals and businessmen. The employees or businessmen can choose to use one or both the tools IRA vs 401 (k) for their retirement savings plan.
Head To Head Comparison Between IRA vs 401 (k) (Infographics)
Below is the top 8 difference between IRA vs 401 (k)
Key Differences Between IRA vs 401 (k)
Both IRA vs 401 (k) are popular choices in the market; let us discuss some of the major Difference Between IRA vs 401 (k)
- IRA vs 401 (k) both are frequently used and common retirement saving options with taxation advantage. Both can be used by individuals and businessmen. One may choose to use either IRA or IRA and 401 (k) both for their retirement savings plan.
- IRA can be opened by individuals and doesn’t have any linkage with an employer. However, 401 (k) shall be established and sponsored by the employer.
- There is no employer contribution to the IRA. However, an employer may choose to offer a matching contribution or any other contribution in the 401 (k) account in a 401 (k) plan.
- Individuals or Businessmen with income can contribute to the age of 70.5 Years in IRA. However, one must be working for a Company/Employer to be eligible for participation in the 401 (k) plan and to meet the eligibility criteria set by the Employer.
- The contribution limits in 401 (k) are significantly higher than the one in IRA plans.
- The cost involved in maintaining the 401 (k) plans for retirement saving is higher than the IRA.
- IRA is more flexible in terms of withdrawal of savings from the retirement plan in comparison to 401 (k).
- The withdrawals in IRA vs 401 (k) both are taxed at 10% as early distribution tax if the age of the account holder is less than 59.5 Years during the withdrawal year.
- IRA has relatively much higher investment options than a 401 (k) plan.
IRA vs 401 (k) Comparison Table
Below is the 8 topmost comparison between IRA vs 401 (k)
|S No.||Particulars||Individual Retirement Account (IRA)||401 (k) Plan|
|1||Definition||IRA is a retirement savings tool with tax saving advantage which can be used by individuals and businessmen both.||401(k) is also a retirement saving tool with tax benefits which is sponsored and established by an employer.|
|2||Employer Contribution||Not applicable in IRA as it is not linked to the employer.||An employer may choose to offer a matching contribution equivalent to employee contribution or any other contribution in the 401 (k) plan.|
|3||Eligibility for Retirement Plans||Individuals or Businessmen with income can contribute to the age of 70.5 Years. If someone using both the tools IRA vs 401 (k), then there is the limitation on income for the tax deduction.||One must be working for a Company/Employer to be eligible for participation in a 401 (k) plan and to meet the eligibility criteria set by the Employer.|
|4||Contribution limit in the Retirement Plans||Total contribution limit in IRA is capped at $6500, which includes $5500 of regular contribution and $1000 of additional catch-up contribution for those who are more than 50 Years old.
The contribution limit under IRA is much lesser than a 401 (k) plan.
|Total contribution limit in 401 (k) plan is capped for the employee at $24500, which includes $18500 of regular contribution and $6000 of additional catch-up contribution for those who are more than 50 Years old.
Popular Course in this category
Accounting Course Bundle (39 Courses, includes IFRS & US GAAP) 39 Online Courses | 160+ Hours | Verifiable Certificate of Completion | Lifetime Access
4.8 (934 ratings)
Related CoursesFinance for Non Finance Managers Course (7 Courses)Cost Accounting Course (5 Courses )US GAAP Course (12 Courses with Online Certificate)
The total contribution limit for employee and employer both combined is capped at $55000.
|5||Cost Associated with Retirement Plans||Cost of opening the IRA, putting money under individual retirement accounts and managing them is much lesser than 401 (k) plans.||The cost involved in maintaining the 401 (k) plans for retirement saving is higher than the IRA.|
|6||Withdrawal from the Retirement Plans||The employee or businessmen owning the retirement account may choose to withdraw the savings from retirement account at any point in time. There is no such limitation for withdrawal from the retirement savings account.||Under the 401 (k) plan, the employee should reach to certain withdrawal events as per rules of the plan to be eligible to withdraw the savings from 401 (k) plan. Generally, employees are allowed to withdraw savings once they stop working with the employer or they reach the age of 59.5 Years or an employee suffering from any critical illness, etc.|
|7||Tax on withdrawals for Retirement Plans||Savings under the IRA is subject to the applicability of income tax on the amount of money withdrawn from the IRA in that respective year of withdrawal. Such withdrawal amount is taxed at 10% as early distribution tax if the age of the account holder is less than 59.5 Years during the withdrawal year.||In the 401 (k) plan, the employee contribution, employer contribution and the withdrawals from 401 (k) plan in the year of withdrawal are subject the applicable income tax. The withdrawals are taxed at 10% as early distribution tax if the age of the account holder is less than 59.5 Years during the withdrawal year.|
|8||Availability of Investment Options||IRA has much more investment options than 401 (k) plan as it is more like a regular brokerage account.||401 (k), when compared with the IRA, has limited investment options. However, there are few 401 (k) plans which come up with an option of operating the account as regular brokerage account having multiple investment options.|
Individual retirement accounts and 401 (k) plan both are very popular retirement savings plan in use. Both IRA vs 401 (k) comes with tax saving advantage with different contribution limits, availability of investment options, cost associated and withdrawal options. 401 (k) differs in multiple ways from the IRA with a key difference of 401 (k) being an employer-sponsored plan. 401 (k) scores higher in terms of contribution limit being significantly higher than IRA and cost of maintaining the plan being lower than IRA. However, IRA has significantly higher investment options and thereby provide higher flexibility in comparison to 401 (k). Individual or businessmen can use both IRA vs 401 (k) plan to optimize their retirement savings.
This has a been a guide to the top difference between IRA vs 401 (k). Here we also discuss the IRA vs 401 (k) key differences with infographics, and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more.
- Difference between Finance vs Economics
- Economic Growth vs Economic Development
- Common stock vs Preferred stock – Top Comparison
- Differences of Growth Stock and Value Stock
All in One Financial Analyst Bundle (250+ Courses, 40+ Projects)
250+ Online Courses
Investment Banking Course (with 25+ Projects)
Financial Modeling Course (with 15+ Projects)
Equity Research Training Course (with 6+ Projects)
Project Finance Course
Business Valuation Course (with 10+ Projects)