In the State of the Union Address, President Obama announced plans to create a new “myRA” retirement account to help low and middle income taxpayers, with household incomes below $191,000, who do not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, to start building their own next eggs. The accounts will be government-backed.
The initial required investment is $25, but contributions thereafter, through payroll deduction plans, can be as low as $5. The yearly investment is limited to $5,500.
MyRAs will be offered through a pilot program to workers whose employers sign on by the end of 2014. Employers are not required to administer or contribute to the accounts. Once the program is up and running, anyone who has a direct deposit for his or her paycheck can sign up.
The account functions like a Roth IRA, so contributions are after tax and withdrawals are tax-free. The accounts are invested only in government bonds. The account is retained whenever the saver changes jobs, and the saver can contribute to the account from multiple part-time jobs.
Withdrawals can be made without penalty, but if the saver withdraws the interest earned in the account before age 59 1⁄2, the withdrawals will be taxed and there may be a penalty.
Once the saver’s account balance reaches $15,000 or the account has been open for 30 years, the saver can roll it over to a Roth IRA where the money can continue to grow tax free. The saver can transfer the account to a Roth IRA at any time.
The account will earn the same interest rate as the Investment Fund the government offers to federal workers, which earned about 11⁄2% in 2012 and has had an average rate of return of 3.6% between 2003 and 2012.
While the saver has no risk in this account, he or she also has no potential for huge earnings.