What is a Qualified Annuity?

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Many employers allow their employees to contribute to an annuity program. This becomes an investment option in a salary reduction retirement plan. Under this plan your current taxable salary is reduced and in addition it accumulates tax-deferred earnings. Some companies have added annuities to their retirement list. If you work for a non-profit organization you'll probably be able to choose either a fixed or variable annuity or both. If you have a small business, or work for yourself, you can invest in a qualified annuity by setting up a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) or a Keogh. Many financial plans are available that you can adopt or you can use a specialist to create a plan for you.

Most qualified retirement plans are self-directed. This means that you can choose where you want your money directed depending on what the employer offers. You generally can direct these investments in percentages. For example, you can put half of your investment into one equity investment and perhaps a fourth into another equity portfolio, and still another into a money market or fixed-income account.

Eligibility

Law requires that everyone in the company, including the boss, are subject to the same eligibility rules. This means you can contribute as much as any other person can and also receive the same benefit as far as rates go. Most companies make it mandatory to work one year before you can contribute. It would be a good idea to ask, however, as soon as you start working how soon you can contribute.

Remember that qualified annuities have contribution limits whereas there are no contribution limits to a nonqualified annuity. Also in a qualified annuity you must begin withdrawals at age 70 ½ whereas there are no federal laws for a nonqualified.

IRA

Another option you may have is to open your own IRA with an annuity provider. Then the IRA stands for individual retirement annuity instead of individual retirement account. You are limited to put in $3,000 a year which applies to all IRA's except rollovers and you are required to begin withdrawing when you reach 701/2 years old. Nevertheless, you can take advantage of the growth and payout options that annuities provide. You may be able to take a tax deduction for the contribution amount if you are not eligible for an employee-sponsored retirement plan or if your income is less than the current ceiling for deductibility.

TSA

A plan that appeals to teachers and health care workers is the TSA. This is a tax-sheltered annuity that provides more flexibility on contributions amounts than many other plans. This plan allows a person to contribute for the past years that they were not able to contribute. However, the employer's don't always make matching contributions.

Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary therefore, the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.