What is the IRS Code for an IRA?

IRAs allow you to defer taxes on investment income. For optimal returns from an IRA investment plan, aim to invest at least as much money as you can afford to lose.

Beneficiaries should carefully consider the impact of taxes and penalties when accessing their inherited IRA funds. They should also make sure all beneficiaries listed on their accounts are up-to-date.

Types of IRAs

IRAs may seem complicated, but they’re intended to help people save for retirement. There are various options available but most provide similar advantages.

The primary difference lies in whether taxes will be assessed before or after withdrawing money, as well as your choice of investments, such as mutual funds.

Traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). A traditional IRA allows you to make tax-deductible contributions that reduce your current taxable income, with any returns not subject to taxes until withdrawn in retirement.

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRAs are designed for self-employed individuals and small business owners. Contributors can contribute up to either 25% of their profits or $69,000 by 2023; employers can also make contributions under salary reduction plans like SIMPLE IRA plans; however eligibility criteria can be more stringent for SEP or SIMPLE plans than traditional ones.


Your IRA can generate tax-deferred income through investments you select within it; however, certain assets could also generate unrelated business taxable income (UBTI).

The Internal Revenue Service imposes taxes on distributions from an IRA depending on your age and other considerations. For instance, withdrawals made prior to turning 59 1/2 may incur a 10% penalty (unless an exception exists).

Redirecting distributions within 60 days to another IRA or eligible retirement plan account may help avoid penalties; this must be your only attempt within any 12-month period. Use code J, IRA-to-IRA rollover, to report this type of transaction; K is for other types of IRA distributions which do not readily available fair market values (for instance ownership interests in corporations not traded on established securities markets), while L can be used when moving the distribution from an IRA into an employer-sponsored retirement plan.


An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) gives you more freedom of investment choice than company retirement plans such as 401(k). An IRA enables you to select assets such as exchange-traded funds and individual stocks from a diverse pool, while offering flexibility suited to your time horizon, risk tolerance and financial circumstances.

Fidelity offers low-cost robo-advisors for its IRA custodians that can assist with creating tailored investment strategies, or you could choose a self-directed investing account and invest with an online broker (NerdWallet’s scoring system rates these).

Government restrictions limit your annual IRA contribution limit to $6,500/$7,000 depending on age or inflation; Roth IRA contributions also phase out as your earnings reach certain thresholds.


At times, borrowing from your IRA may become necessary; however, whenever possible try to avoid doing so. Dipping into retirement savings reduces what will be available during retirement and may incur penalties and taxes as well.

When investing through your self-directed IRA in loans, make sure they are secured by collateral or another asset easily liquidated; this reduces risk as the collateral can be easily sequestered if payments stop being made by the borrower.

Employer-sponsored plans such as profit-sharing, money purchase and 401(k) plans may offer loans to plan participants. When using code 4, any distribution made after the death of an owner of Traditional or Roth IRA (or SIMPLE plan participant), or payment of reportable death benefits should also be reported here.

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