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Roth IRA for Kids: Benefits, Rules, How to Open an Account

Have you thought about starting a Roth IRA for your little one? If not, this is the time to consider it. A Roth IRA for your kids can give them a head start on saving for retirement. They can leverage compound interest over many years. It also offers several other benefits.

Also known as custodial Roth IRA, kid’s Roth IRA is a great way to introduce them to the concept of saving and investing. But before you go ahead and find out how to open a Roth IRA for kids, there are some related critical concepts that you must understand.

So, keep reading to find out more to make an informed decision and secure the financial future of your children.

What is a Kid’s Roth IRA or a Custodial Roth IRA?

A custodial Roth IRA is a retirement account a parent/guardian opens for a child. When you open the kid’s Roth IRA, you name yourself as the custodian and your child as the beneficiary. This unique retirement account for a minor allows them to contribute to the account and start enjoying the benefits of tax-free compounding early on.

How Does a Roth IRA for Kids Work?

Well, a kid’s Roth IRA is pretty similar to a regular Roth IRA. The main difference is that money earned by the child can be contributed to the account. Plus, an adult needs to open the account on behalf of the kid. The critical thing to remember is that your child must have earned income in that year.

According to the IRS, earned income includes taxable income and wages received from working for someone who pays you or from your own business. But it doesn’t include money from allowances or investment income.

What are the Rules for Roth IRAs for Kids?

Make sure you understand all the specific guidelines and custodial Roth IRA rules to follow and ensure it’s the right move for your family.

  • Your Child Needs Earned Income
    If your kid is working as a babysitter or earns money by doing chores such as lawn mowing or walking the dog, they can contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • There are Contribution Limits
    The kid’s Roth IRA has the same contribution limits as an adult Roth IRA. For 2024, the maximum contribution for account holders under 50 was $7,000. However, the contribution cannot be more than your child’s income. So, if your child earns $2000 in a year, the maximum they can contribute is $2000, regardless of who contributes.
  • Their Age Doesn’t Matter
    Roth IRA eligibility for kids is based on income and not their age.
  • Tax Implications
    Matching your child’s earnings and adding money to their IRA is a great way to help them save for the future! Just remember, there are some gift tax restrictions to consider. Keep in mind that contributions made to a Roth IRA for your child will count towards the tax-free gift limit.
  • Switch to a Regular Roth IRA
    Once your child turns 18, they can take control of their custodial Roth IRA. At that point, the account’s assets need to be transferred to a standard Roth IRA in their name. The legal age for the transfer is considered according to their state. It is typically either 18 or 21.
  • Withdrawals
    Your children can withdraw any money you put into a Roth IRA at any time without incurring a 10% penalty. It is not usually advised, but it is a possibility. However, if your kid withdraws the profits, they must pay a 10% penalty charge and may be taxed on the amount as income.

How Do You Open a Roth IRA for Kids?

Check out how to open a Roth IRA for kids in 5 easy steps:-

  • Step 1: Establish Eligibility
    Before you start a Roth IRA for your children, be sure they fulfill the qualifying requirements. Your child must have earned income, whether from a part-time job, babysitting, or any other genuine source, to be eligible. Their contribution cannot exceed their earned income for the year.
  • Step 2: Select a Custodian
    You can serve as the custodian for your child’s Roth IRA until they become an adult. It is critical to choose a trustworthy custodian to administer your child’s account. Many financial institutions provide Roth IRA custodial accounts tailored exclusively for kids.
  • Step 3: Register for an Account
    The procedure of opening an account of a Roth IRA for kids usually includes filling out papers and submitting appropriate identity documents.
  • Step 4: Make Donations
    After successfully establishing the Roth IRA account, you can begin making contributions on your child’s behalf. Roth IRA contributions are made with after-tax income. Therefore, they are not tax-deductible.
  • Step 5: Keep Track of Your Expenses
    It’s critical to maintain track of your child’s Roth IRA costs to guarantee compliance. While retirement withdrawals are tax-free, there are special regulations for early withdrawals. Tracking these expenses allows you to remain up to date on the condition of your account and make educated decisions about how to use the cash.

Why is a Roth IRA Ideal for Kids?

Now is the time to explore why Roth IRAs for kids are a good idea! Here are some of the most critical reasons why a Roth IRA can be beneficial for your child’s future:

  • Facility of Withdrawing Contributions at Any Time
    Most retirement accounts charge a 10% early withdrawal fee for taking out money before age 59½. But contributions made to a Roth IRA for kids can be withdrawn at any time and used for anything.
  • The Power of Compound Growth
    When the kid starts investing early on, they have decades to reach their retirement. This means the invested money if left in a Roth IRA, grows tax-free until the child reaches retirement age.
  • Better Growth Than a Savings Account
    A savings account cannot offer the kind of growth that a Roth IRA offers. A Roth IRA allows your child to select investments that can provide significant growth over the long term. In comparison, a savings account pays a flat interest rate, which is currently hovering at 0.09%.
  • Prime Tax Advantages
    There is no tax break for making contributions into a Roth IRA for kids, and the qualified distributions at retirement are not taxed. So, all the growth that happens in a Roth IRA is entirely tax-free as long as all the distribution rules are followed.
  • Freedom to Withdraw Penalty-free
    Unlike other retirement accounts, Roth IRAs offer flexibility. Your children may be able to withdraw contributions penalty-free, provided the account has been open for at least five years. This feature allows them to access the funds for other important expenses if needed.
  • Ability to Afford Education Expenses
    While earnings on withdrawals for education expenses are subject to taxes, there is no 10% early withdrawal penalty. This means that your child can use the funds for qualified education expenses without incurring additional penalties.
  • Finance for Buying a House
    If your child decides to purchase a house, a Roth IRA can help. They can withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free for a down payment or closing costs. This option provides them with a valuable source of funds to kick-start their homeownership journey.
  • Fund For Emergencies
    Life is unpredictable, and emergencies can arise at any time. Having a Roth IRA can provide your child with a safety net. While withdrawals in emergencies are subject to taxes on earnings and a 10% early withdrawal fee, it’s comforting to know that they have a financial backup plan.

Roth IRA for Kids vs. 4 Popular Investment Alternatives

To further understand the advantages of a custodial Roth IRA, let’s compare it to four popular investment alternatives:

  1. Savings Bonds: Savings bonds can be a safe investment option, but their returns are generally lower compared to Roth IRAs. Additionally, Roth IRAs offer more flexibility in terms of accessing the funds and the potential for higher returns.
  2. 529 Plans: 529 plans are specifically designed for educational expenses. So, they may have limitations on how the funds can be used. Roth IRAs, as discussed earlier, offer more flexibility in utilizing the funds for both education and retirement purposes.
  3. Whole Life Insurance Policies: While whole life insurance policies offer a death benefit, they often come with high fees and limited investment options. Roth IRAs, on the other hand, provide tax-free growth potential and greater investment flexibility.
  4. UTMA/UGMA: Uniform Transfer to Minors Act/Uniform Gift to Minors Act accounts are custodial accounts that allow parents to manage investments on behalf of their children. While these accounts have their benefits, they lack the tax advantages and flexibility of a Roth IRA.

Help Your Child Become a Millionaire!

The Roth IRA offers many perks that a child can enjoy before retirement. Still, if the money is left in the account, it grows substantially over time to make your child a millionaire.

For example, if your child earns money as a model, and you decide to open a child IRA at age 13. The account is funded with $7,000 every year by contributions made by your child or you. Assuming that the annualized interest rate is 7% and there are no withdrawals made, your child’s nest egg becomes more than $1 million even before they turn 55.

If they wait until they reach 59½, every penny of that million-dollar Roth IRA account is tax-free.

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FAQs

How much may a child contribute to a Roth IRA?

Children may contribute up to the lesser of their earned income for the year or the yearly contribution limit. In 2024, the contribution limit for a Roth IRA for kids was $7,000.

Can parents contribute to their child’s Roth IRA?

Parents can make contributions on their kid’s behalf as long as the youngster has earned income.

How can I demonstrate my child’s earnings for a Roth IRA?

To prove your child’s earned income, you can use papers such as pay stubs, W-2 forms, or a letter from the employer.

Are home tasks considered earned income?

No, domestic activities do not qualify as earned income for Roth IRA contributions.

What if a kid gets a donation but is not eligible?

Suppose a kid gets a Roth IRA contribution but is not qualified. In that case, the excess contribution may be subject to penalties and taxes.

How do I relinquish custody of the child after they reach adulthood?

Once the kid achieves adulthood, which is usually 18 or 21, depending on the state, you can contact the respective financial institution to hand over your custodial Roth IRA and request that the account be transferred to the child.

Please note that these answers are general, and it’s always recommended to consult a financial advisor or tax professional for personalized advice.

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