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Individual Retirement Account (traditional IRA)

a plan that encourages people to save for their retirement through certain tax incentives. An IRA may be opened with a financial services firm such as a bank, a brokerage firm or an investment company as custodian, with contributions to the account being potentially tax deductible and any gains in the account tax-deferred. The accounts are self-directed, meaning the account holder may choose to invest contributed funds among any investments the custodian makes available. Distributions (withdrawals) from the account may begin at age 59 1/2, with a penalty charged for withdrawals before that age. Annual minimum required distributions begin at age 70 1/2. Distributions are taxed at the account holder's regular tax rate as they are withdrawn.