Individual Retirement Account (IRA), tax-sheltered retirement plan, originally created (1974) to assist individuals not covered by company pensions. Under the U.S. tax law of 1981, IRA provisions were liberalized to allow individuals to contribute up to $2,000 per year (up from $1,500) to such accounts, and coverage was extended to employees already in corporate pension programs. These contributions are deductible from federal income tax payments. IRA monies may be placed in high-yield investments, with taxation deferred until money is withdrawn after retirement. In 1998, Congress instituted the Roth IRA, in which the earnings are tax-free but there are no tax-deduction benefits for the contributions made each year.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.