Find out whether this tax-advantaged account should be part of your retirement plan. March 8, 2007 So, how do you decide whether a Roth IRA belongs in your retirement plan?You don't get a tax write-off for contributions as you would with a traditional IRA. Nor can you set aside pre-tax income as you can with a 401(k). But Roth earnings can be withdrawn TAX FREE in retirement. Yes, tax-free income. Can't beat that. And there's no mandatory withdrawals as with a traditional IRA, and money in a Roth can go to an heir tax free. And you don't have to relegate Roth savings just toward retirement. You can use the money to help buy a first home or pay college bills (of course, certain rules apply). Roth IRAs definitely have plenty of benefits. But not everyone can take advantage of one (income limits do apply). The stories below will help you figure out whether a Roth is right for you. Why You Need a Roth IRA With this indispensable savings tool, your money grows tax-free, you can invest in almost anything and you get several cool perks. But open your account soon. You only have until April 17 to make contributions for 2006. Advertisement Earned Income Required for a Roth You can open and fund this tax-advantaged retirement account at any age -- as long as you have earnings from a job. Dealing With Excess Roth Contributions You have a couple of options if you discovered you topped the income limit for contributing to a Roth after you already stashed money in your account. Roth IRAs for Children Your child needs earned income to open an account but doesn't have to contribute his or her own money. Learn more about the rules. Use a Roth to Save for College? A Roth IRA can double as your retirement fund and your child's college fund, but there are better savings options available. Roth IRAs Not Best for Emergency Savings You can withdraw contributions without a penalty or tax bill, but there is a big downside.